Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tired, oh so tired!

Last night's events with Patternista caused my brain to swirl just like the colors on the fabrics. You see, I watched the tutorial that Jenny did on how to make the stars from a jelly roll strip, and I thought it a bit odd that she showed how to make 3/4 of a star, and left the rest up to our imagination.

She showed the pattern that she was making the quilt from, and I looked it up on the website. It is very cool, and is shown several ways to make the quilt, some were made with the duller, lower contrast colors, and one made with black background and bright batiks.

I thought I could figure out how to make the quilt by just making stars and somehow connecting them together. But in looking carefully at the pattern, it seems that some of the corner squares are shared with several adjoining stars. Whoa, that caused my brain to spin as fast as the spirograph patterns in the fabric! How on earth did they do that? I couldn't turn off the brain cells trying to figure that one out, but finally got to sleep about 1 a.m.

When I have a sewing issue to resolve, I usiually do my best thinking while in bed trying to get to sleep. It makes for a rather restless night when I can't figure out a solution. I know I thought out many of the costume challenges I've had in the past during some late night toss-and-turn sessions. This one was stirring my brain like those dilemmas did in past years and with past projects.

I still haven't quite figured it out, guess I'll have to spring for buying the pattern and getting directions, or I can just connect the blocks in my own way. Until then, I'll have to settle for letting the brain cells swirl on, and hopefully they won't interfere with my afternoon nap, which I desperately need, since I had to get up at 6 for my early morning class. Can't function on 5 hours of broken sleep anymore. Bye! It's naptime for this old gal!

Monday, February 27, 2012

What's not to love?

Jelly Roll stars made from Patternista by Paula Nadelstern for Benartex Fabrics

9 of the fabrics from the collection

Yesterday and Friday, this pattern of fabric, called Patternista, was part of the daily deal on Missouri Star Quilt Company's website. They posted the Daily Deal on Facebook with the disclaimer that some of the people who worked at the shop loved the fabric, and some hated it.

Comments from FB users ranged from "loved it", "beautiful", "have to have it so I ordered it", to "ugly", "doesn't appeal to me", "makes me nauseous to look at it". I guess you couldn't ask for a more diverse set of opinions about a line of fabrics than this one engendered!

This is the one a customer claimed would make her nauseous if she worked on it! It also is the one I bought 2 yards of fabric of to make a border for my own quilt! I love it!

Well, I for one absolutely loved it the minute I saw it. I had some jelly rolls ordered before 6 a.m. on Friday. Then one of my local quilt shops sent an email advertising several new fabric lines, and Patternista was one of them. Since I like to add borders to my quilts, I was determined to get some yardage from this store. Then, on Sunday, the layer cake of Patternista was the Daily Deal.

I managed to sneak in a trip to the LQS to pick up some yardage of several of the prints, and saw the whole line in glorious color. It is so rich, so colorful and with such symmetry and design, I wish I could have hogged it all and taken home all the bolts.

Today, I was lucky, my first order of jelly rolls of Patternista was in my mailbox, and so tonight, I got started making jelly roll stars, trimmed with black, which was my vision for how this fabric would best be displyed. I don't think the pictures do justice to the richness of color in this line. I didn't think the web pictures were that great, but when I saw it in person, I was totally smitten!

You can judge for yourself if you like this type of wild fabric or not. I'm not the kind of person who goes for civil war, shabby chic, or muted colors in quilt fabrics. I'll never make a quilt in shades of beige, cream and taupe, unless there is a shot of red or yellow somewhere in it. I like vibrant, alive and high contrast colors. You can tell from the quilts I have made so far that this is my preference. So I put on my old Pink Floyd records, my bell-bottom hip huggers and tie dyed shirt, and started sewing away, and finished 9 jelly roll stars tonight using my beautiful Patternista.

You can decide for yourself--but I say, what's not to love about this fabric line?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sure and Begorra, St. Patty's Day is near!

My bed setting for March and St. Patrick's Day!
The rainbow backing with SITD quilting.

I'm on a roll with making a quilt per month for my bed. It gives me such joy to slip into a snuggly bed each night wrapped up in a warm and colorful quilt! The concept I had for this quilt came to me months ago, and I've been collecting rainbow colored fabrics since then.

One of my favorite quilt stores had packs of fat quarters on sale, 12 for $8 last fall. This was as cheap as I've ever seen them. Granted, the fabrics weren't the quality of the $11 a yard fabrics they carry in their regular stock, so this may end up being the worse for wear in the washing machine, but I'll be careful and hope I can use it for a long time. They had all the rainbow colors that I wanted, so I bought 6 packs for this quilt. I should say, at least 6 packs, maybe more, do I have to tell that? Oh, OK, now you know! I bought more than 6 packs--just for my stash, right?

The method for making the quilt is the same as the one I've used for October through February. I've used some sort of half-square triangle pattern, starting out with an 8-1/2" square. For the last two quilts I've done, I used 10 squares across and 10 down, giving me a finished length of top of 78" and I added a 5" border. My October through January quilts were 8 squares across by 9 squares down, requiring a much deeper border, using multiple fabrrics. For this one, I ended up with a quilt that was 87" square (somehow, can't figure out exactly how that happened!)

I saw a posting on the net this week that called quilts with high contrast fabrics a "value" quilt. I love that name, because my quilts have been value quilts. The interplay of light and dark fascinates me, and this one was no exception. But,this one was especially challenging because instead of randomly putting the light and dark fabrics together,I had to connect specific colors together in a random pattern to make the rainbow pattern possible. It ended up with the pairings of Yellow/Orange, Orange/Pink, Pink/purple, purple/blue, blue/green and green/yellow. I needeed anywhere from 16-18 squares of each combination for the quilt. It all depends on which color combination you start with, because you need more for the rows that end up in the middle of the quilt, since the rows are longer.

You all saw my last post where I was toying with the concept of the pot at the end of the rainbow. Yes, it might have been a cool idea, but I couldn't make it work. I asked for opinions, and it was 2 zillion to 1 for no pot. Unfortunately, after I got the one opinion to "go for it", I sewed it on, double stitched it, with regular and applique stitching. Now that was NOT EASY to rip off! It took me over an hour to rip it, being ever so careful to cut only thread and not fabric! My old eyes aren't made to work on black fabrics anymore, need many more lights than in the past!

I made the backing of rainbow striped fabric. There was barely enough in the store to make this backing, and my quilt needed 1" more in width than two pieces of backing sewed together. So, I added a gusset in the middle to give me more width. When I laid it out, it ended up being close in length, but I had plenty of width.

I stitched in the ditch across all seams with multicolored thread. Not my favorite look, but it's OK. Some day I'll learn to stipple! Bound it and the quilt was finished last night, late into the night. This morning I got up early and did my pillow cases, and so now, I'm ready for March 1 to roll around. For those of you who saw my previous post and commented on the pillowcases, I loved that fabric by itself, but it was too dull next to the bright colors. I had this rainbow fabric from way back when, and found a use for it for the pillowcases. I think I'm happier with this choice than the duller fabric.

It is bright and cheery, and I am 1/2 pure Irish, so St. Patty's Day is meaningful to me. I do love these bright colors, and will enjoy my month of sleeping with shamrocks cradling my head, and the rainbow keeping me warm and cozy!

Next month, Dogwood Trail, in memory of my dear late husband, who loved dogwood trees, planted and nurtured three of the neighborhood's most beautiful dogwood trees (one still living and giving pleasure after 46 years!) I resisted twice at the fabric store from purchasing the necessary materials to make a quilt using this pattern, but someone on the forum said, "do it in memory of him!" So I did purchase the fabrics yesterday, and am itching to get going on it. I'm going to use D9P pattern for that one.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pot or Not?

My concept for my March quilt is getting closer to being a finished product. I had the idea to make this "value" quilt from half-square triangles in rainbow stripes. It was a bit tricky to lay out, when I had it laying on my two cutting tables, I locked the door to the room so zooming grandkids wouldn't disturb it and make the squares fly off until I sewed it together.

Now my question is to add the pot or not to add it. It will be a pain to do, and the coins will definitely be delicate and hard to attach. I may rethink the pot at the end of the rainbow for the sake of a more long lasting quilt.

What do you think?

With the Pot
The pot and its coins
No Pot

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Information about extra wide Jelly Roll Quilts

There has been a lot of chatter on the Missouri Star Quilt Company Community Forum about Jelly Roll quilts. If you use one jelly roll (with 40 pieces of fabric in it), your quilt comes out to be about 55" wide by about 64" long. Since the Jelly Roll quilts are so easy to make and turn out so pretty, a lot of people have beeen wanting to make one that would fit a regular size bed. I know I did, so I figured out how to enlarge the concept to fit a twin, queen or any width bed.

First of all, you need to know how wide you want your quilt top to be. To get it to be wider than about 55", you are going to have to add jelly roll strips to your original long strip that you start with. You can add length later, but not width.

So here's how I did it:

Measure how wide you want it to end up. I made my top from the jelly rolls end up to be 72". This made the jelly roll portion cover my queen bed, and fall over the side of the mattress a couple of inches. I added an 8" border all around to make it completely cover the mattress.

So: take that number of the width of the jelly roll portion of the top and multiply by 32. You use the number 32, because that is how many rows the jelly roll quilt will have when you are finished sewing it. I got a number that was big, I think mine was around 2350". Then I measured how long each of my jelly roll strips would end up being after I sewed them with a bias seam, mine were 44" and I took off about 3" in seaming to give me approximately 41" long for each strip. Then I divided that number into the big number to get the number of strips I needed to put into my first long strip. So the math was 72 x 32 = 2350 divided by 41 = 56. I used 56 jelly rolls in my first long strip and it did indeed come out to about 72" wide.

Then I sewed some more jelly roll strips together and added them one at a time to the length of the finished jelly roll top to make it longer. I added 8 rows. I kind of overdid it on that, because by adding the border, it is longer than I normally want my quilts to be, but I guess too long is better than too short.

This one is still in the flimsy stage, I need some time to sandwich, quilt and bind. My primo Janome Horizon was in for a good cleaning this weekend, so I wanted to wait til it was back before tackling a big quilt. I plan to stitch in the ditch between the rows. Got the machine back today, will quilt on Friday.

I am excited about making more of these quilts. They are fun and fast and colorful and unpredictable as to how they will turn out. But they can be made various sizes, just be doing a little math. And when you purchase jelly rolls, you might want to get two matching ones, if you intend to make a larger top than lap size. I know they are expensive, but if you are going to make something pretty and colorful for you or a friend, just bite the bullet and go for it. Or you can use yardage and cut your own strips. I did that to add to this jelly roll, and I did it completely for my boys' alien quilt (See "A Busy Weekend" blog entry for a picture of that one.)

To use yardage: figure 1/2 yard will make 7 2-1/2" jelly roll strips, so you will need 3 yards for a regular jelly roll quilt, or more if you want to make it larger. I think you could easily use leftovers for these, they don't even have to be full strips, but then your width of the quilt might be harder to predict unless you measured your long strip as you sewed it. I don't think I would want to do that!

Good luck on your next jelly roll quilt--I have jelly rolls lined up waiting for a chance to be made into pretty colorful quilts, can't wait to do my next one!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

And I thought I was a genius!

I woke up this morning with shamrocks on my brain. I had created a whole Valentine themed bed set using a simple heart block I learned from a tutorial on Missouri Star Quilt Co's wonderful website. (See Tutorial"Quilting Valentine Hearts Using Charm Pack's" posted Jan. 19, 2012 , also look at their Feb. 13 blog entry, my quilt set is shown there!)

So I had a flash of inspiration this morning, I could improvise from that idea to made a shamrock out of 4 squares of green fabric. Instead of sleeping in, I just went downstairs, dug through my stash for green fabrics, and started playing around. In about 30 minutes, I had a block that looked like a shamrock! Spurred on to further my collection of shamrocks, I kept making them! Now I have 4 made! They are really cute.

Assessing my own genius for inventing things, I got to thinking how absolutely simple this really was. Someone for sure had thought of it before I had. Sure enough, a Google search came up with this much fancier version of my creation.

My block came out to be the same size as the one on this website, 12-1/2" unfinished, which will be a 12" block when sewed into a quilt or wall hanging. I intend to use my shamrocks for pillows, as I did for the Valentine's Day Heart block. I'm sure you could make table runners, lap quilts, entire quilts out of shamrocks, pair them up with some jelly roll strips or disappearing 9 patch blocks or something. I already have my March quilt top sewn together, hope to get it ready for quilting today, wish me luck! Ha, Ha, Luck of the Irish!

Here's how I did it. Took 4 5" green charm squares ( I actually cut mine out of fat quarters), 3 strips of the same green cut 2" wide, and 4 white charm squares. Cut the 3 white squares into 2-1/2" squares, you need 9 (you'll have 3 leftover for the next shamrock!) Iron the 2-1/2" squares in half diagonally, and sew three of them on the corners of the green charm square. Trim away the excess fabric and iron the white back. Do this three times. For the stem, I made it 1" wide. I cut my 4th white charm square in half diagonaly, and ironed a diagonal crease in the green charm square. Then I marked a line 1/2" from the crease for the seamline for sewing the white triangle to the green square. Fold the white back and trim off the green. Do it on both sides of the crease. This makes the stem square. Then lay them out to form the shamrock shape, and sew together like a 4 patch. I used a log cabin technique to sew on my borders, sewed the 2" strip to one side, trimmed and squared, then sewed to the second side, then continued on till all sides were bordered. Soooooooo Simple!

They are all cute, go simple or fancy, but get in the mood for March, because that is when all of us, whether or not we have one drop of Irish blood in us, will be claiming our Irish roots, and be "wearin' the green!"

Happy St. Patty's Day a month early! Start your shamrock quilt today!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A special Valentine gift

My oldest daughter is a crafter, but her specialty is paper crafting. She has all the fun tools to make awesome scrapbook pages, decorations, invitations and cards. She found this idea on a craft site, and decided to make one for me for Valentine's Day.

This is extra special, not only because she made it for me, but that she used my mother's wooden spools that I still had in my thread collection for the materials for the heart. She left Mom's threads on the spools for extra color, and cut new tops for the spools using her awesome Cricut machine! She even "fussy cut" some of the labels to include flowers and other motifs. She left one very special spool bare, because it has the name of the company actually branded into the wood--I'm sure others have these "Belding Corticelli" thread spools in their collection.

She used quilt pattern fabric for mine, She made another one for her sister, using balking motif paper, a talent her sister excells in.

So sweet, I wasn't expecting this, so it made my Valentine's Day extra special, plus we three girls had a nice visit tonight, so that was great also.

On a Jelly Roll Roll

I am so intrigued by the idea of making a quilt in a day, I just had to try the jelly roll idea for a larger size quilt. I wanted to see if I could make one that would fit my queen size bed.

This is unironed, unquilted, totally unfinished, but hot off the sewing machine at 10:30 tonight!

So here's what I did. I had a 40 piece jelly roll with 7 different batiks. The colors are pinks and blues. I added some more pink, blue and purple strips from some left-over yardage because I had to make more strips. I wanted to make the quilt wider than the quilts I had made earlier in the week, which averaged between 57-61 inches wide when they were finished, using 40-45 jelly roll strips. I figured out that if a 1600" strip would sew down to a 60 x 70 inch quilt top, by adding some more strips, it would sew down to a wider top. Then I could add rows to the bottom of it to make it a longer length. Basically, this took fabric that would probably be what you would find in 2 jelly rolls. So, I sewed 55 strips together, and my top came out close to 70" wide. I then took some of the other jelly roll strips left over, and sewed them one strip at a time to make the quilt longer. As you can see, it covers the queen bed quite adequately, I will add a 5-6" border around the edges, and it will be the right size for an 80" x 80" Queen size quilt. I managed to do this much, including cutting about 30 strips in an evening. I'm pretty excited about how neat these jelly roll quilts turn out, it looks different for every one you do. I don't know what border I'll use yet, I'll have to see what I have in my stash, or (darn the luck) make another trip to the fabric store. I think I will enjoy this quilt, since it is so colorful, it may be my April quilt of the month!

I will be costuming two shows in April, so I'm not sure how much quilting I'll get done then. But I have many plans for more quilts, and some UFOs that need to be made into a sandwich, quilted and bound. I'll work on them every chance I get, because I am addicted to this hobby! Hope I keep up my enthusiasm until the stash is reduced!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Oh, and by the way.......

Put this together this weekend also. I had the blocks cut and sewed earlier in the week, and sewed them all together on Thursday. This will be my "St. Patty's Day" quilt for March. Colorful start to the month, but I still have a lot to do to finish this.

A Busy Weekend

Aliens for boys, and cute caterpillars, dragonflies and butterflies for girls! And my weekend of jelly roll race quilting is complete, and I finished 2 kids quilts in one weekend! (Oh, I had a three day weekend!)
Here's the aliens, ready to land on some lucky little boys' bed!
The quilt and matching pillowcase were so much fun to do! I had made this one out of yardage, because I didn't have a jelly roll with these little space men on it. But I did have yardage planned for an alien-themed quilt, but wasn't sure of what pattern for the quilt I would use. I'm so happy with this design, because it is so colorful and cute!
The little girl can have her "Bug themed quilt".
This one is so pretty and colorful, this was the first one I made and was so surprised at how cute it turned out to be. Since it has a lot of pink into it, it really works well for a girl.

I learned how to make the jelly roll race quilt from watching some YouTube videos of various quilt clubs that actually had races with their members making the quilts during a quilting bee. One lady actually finished sewing her quilt top in 35 minutes! It took me about 90 minutes to sew my quilt top, about 2-3 hours to quilt and bind them. Since I have a wonderful cutting mat called an Altos Quilt Cut 2, with attached rulers, the cutting of the strips for the alien quilt didn't really take that long. I cut the strips, sewed them together and made the quilt top from 7-10::30 Saturday morning. Then I sewed the backing, made the sandwich Sunday morning and got to quilt it and bind it Sunday evening. I'm now posting my results, I feel like this was a really good weekend of quilting. Plus I got to see 2 shows this weekend, so it was a full weekend, but fruitful!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Off to the races!

I finished blogging about the jelly roll race quilt last night at midnight. It's barely 7 a.m. the next morning, and I want to do it again today! Wonder if I can do a second one in a day? I'm off to the races! Will post results if they are good!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Jelly Roll Race Quilt

Can you imagine having a race to finish a quilt? Well, on You Tube, they showed such a race, and the winner finished her quilt top in 35 minutes! Look at Heirloom Creations website for the 1600 Jelly Roll race video. (Tried to make a link, but I'm not good at this!)

The ladies in the race used jelly rolls, which are collections of 40 strips of fabric 2-1/2" wide that can be used to make many different types of quilt tops. I happen to have quite a few of these in my stash of fabrics.

The idea of making a quilt top in 35 minutes certainly sounded intriguing to me, so I had to try it. I've seen pictures of other quilters' jelly roll race quilts and they certainly look bright and cheerful, just right for a kid's bed. I like fast projects, so I gave up one of my less expensive jelly roll assortments to give it a go!

Needless to say, I didn't finish in 35 minutes, but here's how long it took:
1 hour to sew all the jelly roll strips into one long 1600" strip
90 minutes to sew the strips together to make a quilt top
about an hour to shop for the sashing and backing (oh, maybe to look at a few other things at the fabric store also!)
about 3 hours to sash, sandwich, quilt and bind.

And here is the finished product. This was a cheap jelly roll, only cost $15, where most cost near $40. So it had only 6 different fabrics in it, most jelly rolls have 20 different prints. I added a few plain ones from other jelly rolls to add a bit more variety. The print has little caterpillars, butterflies, dragonflies and lady bugs on it, I'm hoping it isn't percieved as being too girly, so maybe it could be used for a baby blanket for a boy or a girl. It certainly turned out larger than I thought it would. It is about 65" x 69"--pretty near twin bed size.

I used snuggly blue marble flannel for the backing. And because I used my Accufeed foot on my Janome Horizon machine (for the first time--just learned how to attach it last weekend!), the quilting went so well! I could never figure out how to install the foot, that is why I have never used it in the past. Thank you, Janome, for inventing that thing!

My church is having an auction in a month and they are looking for auction items. I wanted to commit to making a quilt to donate, but was afraid I'd not have time to do it. Now, I have something to donate, and I think it will be well receieved. I would bid on this, hope it brings in some money for the church!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Story of Annie

I am going to tell the story of Annie, a show I costumed during the summer 2011. I got to work with a very talented cast and production staff. The show was very well attended (all those grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles and parents) filled the 600 seat theatre night after night!

Our production staff was led by Ken Clark, who was directing for Hawthorne Players for the first time. He is an award winning set designer, and this year the show, the director, set design, sound, lighting, musical directors and costume designer were nominated for the ARTS FOR LIFE Best Performance Awards, as well as 4 actresses, three of them were orphans, including the lead actress Grace Robertson, who played Annie.

Here is my story, from a costumer's point of view.

Annie Part I

I have costumed big shows, little shows, parts of shows, and mid-size shows. For the 4th summer in a row, I costumed Hawthorne Players big summer musical. So far, I've done Oklahoma, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Producers and Annie. They all have had their particular challenges, and they were all fun to do! Of course, the whole month of June and July is filled with fabrics, trims, thrift store finds, and every day had a plan to further along the gathering and building of costumes for the many characters.

This past summer's show, Annie, was different in its approach, because half the cast was dressed in rags, and the other half lived in a BILLIONAIRE'S mansion! The contrast was the big thing in this show. Here is Annie's journey from orphan to adopted daughter of one of the richest men in the world!

Here's the story as it was told on stage----

Annie runs away from the orphanage to find her parents. The local NYC officer wants to take the dog to the pound, but Annie convinces him that it is her dog, Sandy. Annie is dressed in her thin, raggy orphan clothes. Lt. Ward's officer's outfit was built from a man's double breasted suit, resplendent with $25 of gold buttons! Director distinctly wanted Lt. Ward's outfit to look authentic to the '30s. This is as close as I could come to authentic!

Grace, Oliver Warbucks' secretary, goes to the orhpanage to find an orphan for Oliver Warbucks to lavish his generosity on for Christmas. She picks Annie, who gives Miss Hannigan, the orphanage overseer, lots of trouble!
As Annie enters Warbucks' mansion for the first time, she reluctantly gives up the first coat she has ever owned, which reveals this cute little number. It is tan and grey plaid, with grey trim and a white sweater. Grace, Warbucks' secretary is wearing her Simplicity vintage pattern suit in this scene.
Annie appears on the "Hour of Smiles" radio show, hosted by Bert Healy. She sings "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile", and asks if her parents are listening, they should contact Oliver Warbucks.

Rooster and Lily plan to pretend to be Annie's parents, and convince Miss Hannigan to help them in their plot to try to get Annie, and of course, the reward for finding her!

Annie Part II

Oliver Warbucks is invited to the White House to talk with President Franklin Roosevelt about what to do about the Depression. He brings Annie with him to meet the President. She gets all the sad cabinet members singing and harmonizing in a rousing rendition of "Tomorrow"! Annie's little blue sailor dress was made from a vintage pattern, cost me $30, but it turned out soooooo cute!

Getting ready for the Christmas celebration at Warbucks mansion, Oliver tells the wait staff to "gussie her up!" She was gussied up in a thrift store find I bought for $3.75! I lucked out and was shopping on half price day! It fit her perfectly, and she sure did look gussied up!

Finally, as Oliver and Grace become a couple, and Oliver decides he wants to adopt Annie, she is dressed in her famous red dress--this one velveteen and lace, truly a little BILLIONAIRE'S daughter!

Annie makes her journey from rags to riches, and spreading her love all the way. Grace Robertson played Annie, with charm, and grace befitting her name. She was nominated for an ARTS FOR LIFE Best Performance Award, along with two of her fellow orphans in the best juvenile performer in an adult musical.

Annie, Part III

In the story, Oliver Warbucks, the BILLIONAIRE, has a full wait staff ready to fulfill his every wish and whim. The waitstaff of men and women looked crisp and ready to do Oliver's bidding in their sharp uniforms. The women's costumes were recycled in part from last year's show, "The Producers", where I made 15 old lady outfits out of sheets I found at the local Old Time Pottery store. I had left overs, and had enough to make matching blouses to the skirts, we put an apron and a ruffled cap on them, and voila, female servants were dressed. The men were dressed in formal attire, thanks to the generosity of a local tuxedo shop!
Miss Hannigan, the overseer in the orphanage, and her sleazy brother Rooster dance with his girlfriend Lily, and sing "Easy Street", their dream of striking it rich by tapping into Oliver Warbucks' generosity. A ruse, of course, which in the end, turns back on them and lands them in jail! Lily's dress was fun to make, a Vogue pattern, sleazed up by picking the loudest fabric in the fabric store! The director was pleased with this costume! Very pleased!
The beautiful Boylen Sisters and Bert Healy, part of the radio show cast that Annie sings on and requests that anyone who might be her parents to please contact Oliver Warbucks. That brings the golddiggers out of the cesspools of society in NYC, and proves that they are all after Warbucks' money, INCLUDING HANNIGAN, ROOSTER AND LILY! The dresses were made from a vintage Butterick pattern, and the little hats were thrown together during tech week, but they turned out very darling! Blondes do have more fun, so they say. Bert Healy's suit was a plaid sportwear, he loved it, along with his little vintage skimmer hat.

This was a fun show to costume, there are so many more scenes that I could share, but these were the ones where the costumes were built by me. We bought a lot of old coats and cleaned out a lot of closets to costume many of the scenes. Do you know how hard it is to find a wool coat at a thrift store in July? Not an easy task!

Jean Sewing Machine--why that name?

For people who just started reading my blog, I want to explain my nickname "Jean, Jean, Sewing Machine".

In 2007, I began a new "hobby--career" as a costumer for local community theatre groups. A friend of mine, whose mom I had worked with years earlier, was an assistant director for a play, and she was talking to her mom about looking for someone who could costume the show she was working on. Since I sewed a lot while I was working with her mom, I was recruited. It was an easy show to costume, only 8 cast members, but it had some cute things that I needed to make. During this show, I met another theatre woman, who is now one of my dearest friends. She was cast in the show, and made her own costume. Little did I know that this wonderful talented lady had been costuming and directing and acting for over 30 years. We had another thing in common, which we discovered one day when we ran into each other at Hancock--we both had become widows in the same month in 2006.

She was costuming a large show in the summer of 2007 "Man of La Mancha", and I helped her build some of the costumes. Then I was on tap to costume "The Music Man" in October of that year. That show had 55 cast members in it! I started with all those Pick-A-Little Ladies, and each had her own unique beautiful suit and hat for their roles. Then we had about 20 kids, and a bunch of teen--age dancers (EEE-GADS!), little girl and boy stars, and of course the Music Man and his lady! It was the biggest show in terms of cast members, and quite an undertaking for my first show as head costumer. I about lost my mind finishing this one. Luckily, we recruited the local high school bands for our 76 Trombones!

As we were sitting in the theatre getting "notes" from the director during tech week, one of the members of the Barbershop Quartet came over, put his arm around me and dubbed me "Jean, Jean, the Sewing Machine"! I've borne that wonderful title ever since then! He greets me in the same way every time I see him!

I started blogging in 2008, and have posted some of the pictures of the shows I've costumed on this blog. I'm over 30 shows now, somehow have lost count. Some were big shows, the biggest was "The Producers" in the summer of 2010. That was probably the biggest job, we counted over 500 costume pieces for that show. We built over 300, and luckily, I had help, but I personally built over 150 pieces. We were nominated for 13 categories in our local ARTS FOR LIFE Best Performance Awards for 2010. We won 8 awards, I was nominated but didn't win. For the summer of 2011, we did "Annie", and we've been nominated for 12 awards. I was nominated again, but if the sequins and showgirls didn't win, what chance to orphans in rags have?

I love sewing costumes, but making quilts has been a long-time dream of mine. I've had a short break from costuming during the past few weeks, and have used this time to create several bed size and lap quilts. I have two shows to do in April, so the break will be short lived.

Jean, Jean the Sewing Machine will continue with her craft as long as the sewing machines stay happy, the thread holds out and she can lift a scissors. This is a great tradition passed on to me by my own mom, her sister, and cousins. We were all sewing machines, and love the craft.