Monday, February 6, 2012

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.

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