Costume-ology on the First Week of Bonnie and Clyde

Good grief I have become so lazy… This last week, I was getting up at 6:00am in order to join a carpool to work at 8:00, whereupon I’d work until 4:30pm, then carpool back home.

And I am so tired. Ha! No good excuses, except to explain that I have developed some horrible habits since my job at my former university ended, and screwing up my sleeping habits was high among them! By the time this last Friday came around, I was so tired at work my coffee was no longer effective, my eyes were watering, and it was all I could do just to keep quiet as I continually yawned…

But I have to say, I am having a blast!! I love this experience so far! The small group of people that I am working with on La Jolla Playhouse’s Bonnie and Clyde are really great–there were 6 costume technicians sewing in the shop–and we laugh and joke and debate together but we don’t waste time. Every one of us truly loves what we’re doing, and it’s fun to make things together, but we know we must remain diligent and on task. It’s truly a professional group of folk that can have fun and still get things done.

I’ve been hired as a Stitcher. In costume-shop-terms, that’s the member of a “cutting team” who is responsible for actually sewing the garments that have been previously patterned and cut out by other people. I assemble whatever pieces of the costumes I’m told to, as well as help complete the myriad of alterations that are needed on clothing already built.

Usually, a cutting team involves a Cutter/Draper as the leader. She translates the designer’s picture into reality, developing the pattern and cutting it out of craft paper. Then this person hands off the pattern to her assistant, also known as a First Hand who cuts the pattern out of the chosen fabric as well as all the linings & interfacings and such. Then it gets handed to me (the stitcher), and I assemble those pieces under their supervision. There may be several stitchers or first hands on a team, depending on how many costumes are assigned to it and the nature of the construction.

My experience in this shop is unique, since there are so few of us that there is really only one team. This week, we did mostly alterations, but toward the end we cut out some of the garments from the fabric that had arrived for us from New York City, chosen by the designer and his assistants who are selecting it from the plethora of options there in NYC’s fabric district.

At this point in the process of Bonnie and Clyde, the designer has already conceptualized what the costumes look like, drawn pictures, and had fittings with the actors using “mockups” (cheap versions of the costumes, usually out of muslin) that were altered and adjusted as needed. Now, the patterns have been tweeked and we’re actually assembling the garments for real out of real fabric.

The Costume Shop.  Sorry for the blurriness...

The Costume Shop. Sorry for the blurriness...

We have a lot to do… I’m not sure of the exact number of garments we have to build, but it’s somewhere between 9 to 11 different dresses and several miscellaneous pieces in about 3 weeks… All of them are period representations of 1930’s dust bowl fashion–charming and simple on the surface, but complicated and precise when you scratch under the surface. The colors chosen by the designer are in the sage greens, dusty roses, and rich browns that lend themselves to the antique feel of yesteryear. It’s going to be quite beautiful when it’s all done!

And so we press forward! This week, I helped repair several men’s suits from a rental house that were literally rotting away and in horrible shape, switched out a decrepit vest back for a new one, significantly altered a thick wool vest completely bound in knit ribbing, helped cut out two dresses (one of which was a linen-look asymmetrical plaid that was cut on the bias–ugh–which sadly had to be done twice because I messed up the first time), and assembled some mockup slips.

And I’ve listened to “The Lost Symbol” by Dan Brown on audiobook, as well as falling in love with the completely and totally enchanting “Inkheart” By Cornelia Funke (& read by Lynn Redgrave) that I am in the middle of and can’t recommend enough for bed-time storytelling to young girls. Any other suggestions for good audiobooks? Hard to find one on sewing…hehe…

And so. This coming week will be another adventure, and I will update you all on what I’m doing, with some pics and such. Relished Artistry is still coming along–not much to say on that front. I have to earn money to buy some lining to move onto my next projects. I am trying to figure out what I can make that’s more in the “affordable” range–$10-20, but haven’t hit upon anything yet. Perhaps I will stumble upon something soon.

Take care! Talk with ya soon! Live life with Relish!!


A Tad Bit of Frustration

I’ve been working in my garage/studio, and the heat is starting to get to me.  I’ve found that my sleeping habits have totally changed–I’m up much much later than I used to be, so by the time I wake up, it’s sweltering out.  The heat has been a bit of a problem lately, and the halogen lights aren’t helping the matter.  However, I find that working in the studio is easier than working in the house–at least there’s a breeze with the garage door open!

I still haven’t received anything in the mail back from the state about the registering of my business.  I think it will take a while, that’s for sure.  Who knows how the budget crisis in California is affecting the normal course of business…

I’m feeling wary about posting things on Etsy before I get all the paperwork finished.  I don’t know for sure  if I can go back in and change things around regarding payment options, contact info, how accounts get credited, etc.  I need to investigate that a bit more.

Overall, it’s been a tad bit frustrating… I am in that stage where I have just started to climb the mountain after all the excitement of “Whee! I’m gonna climb a mountain!”  And it’s a daunting slope indeed.  Staying motivated is not the problem.  Staying focused is, since there is so very very much to do.  I have so much research to explore, so much networking to do, and under all of that the basic essential need for a “collection” of some sort (if that’s what it’s called).  It simply has to get done.

I’ll finally be finishing up my current project tomorrow–a black velour coat with blue roses on it.  I got the lining today, so it should be a simple matter to finish it all up.

The dress forms are on their way as well, so I’ll be waiting for them to take pictures of the garments.  I want to start them off on as good a note as I can for Etsy. I’m pretty sure I can’t afford models yet (unless I pay them in pizza or something–haha), let alone know any photographers with the kind of “fashion shoot” quality that I feel is necessary.  But I still have to get more of a stock worked up, so there’s no use worrying about that yet.  It’s rather the “cart before the horse”, as it were.  We’ll see how it goes.

My sister, Nicole, who lives in Columbia, Missouri, has asked me to help her make some blanks for some of her own design work.  She’s also interested in doing stuff with the patterns that I’ve made over the years…  Of course, developing patterns for non-theatrical sewers is not something I have much experience with.  Anyone who knows theatrical patterns knows that they’re simply not like the kind you can get commercially like Vogue, Butterick, McCall’s etc. I think it may take a bit of “translating” and technical writing for an average sewer to follow…  I once taught a theatrical pattern making class at our local fashion design school, and believe me it’s a totally different approach to pattern making.  Line-to-line stitching, seam allowance, mockups… they were alien to the young students at this school, so I know how confusing a theatrical patterns can be.  There is a sort of short-hand for theatrical patterns that assumes knowledge on the part of the person assembling the garment… There are no newsprint instructions.  You either know enough about construction and sewing to put it together or you don’t.  Usually, the person drafting the pattern is also in charge of the team that’s constructing the garment, so there’s no need for written instructions.  So I’d have to make them up.  And good instructions for anything can be hard to find… Haha!

But we’ll see.  It’s intriguing to see what may happen!

Nicole is also prompting me to make handbags.  So I went out to purchase some handbag “equipment” to make matching accessories for the coats.  That could be intriguing, too!  I think they’re gonna be my next project.

In my blog search I found some interesting little ditties!  Here are some links to some blogs and websites that I found interesting, and that I plan on exploring a bit more.  Perhaps, in your copious spare time, you can let me know what you think?  : )

Prosperous Artists Academy

Fast Company

The Sartorialist

Until next time, live life with relish!

“It’s Etsy as Pie!”

Last night I was up way too late for any rational human being, and I decided to start checking out what Etsy was all about.

I discovered the “teams” section, and found two teams that were specific to San Diego. Teams are groups of sellers that band together to promote their work–these teams were local ones in that their commonality as sellers was the fact they all lived in this area. So I was up until 3:00 in the morning clicking through all the different team members, scoping out their stores, looking at their profiles and searching for blogs… I found a LOT! Over 25 blogs and personal websites of just local Etsy sellers…

I found a trend. Most of the sellers were stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs for short–apparently that’s the “lingo”) or jewelry makers. And not that it’s bad at all–good grief I love making jewelry! But it was all so overwhelming at one point… The jewelry itself was all so very distinct and different, and very little of it actually looked simple to make. I am just stupefied that people can stand out from the crowd with so many actually in the crowd!

And this morning I did a search on Etsy by geographical location… and got over 100… I’m a little floored. That’s even more than were on the “teams”. So I think I will have my hands full exploring and looking…

One awesome thing that happened: I found a young lady who is also in theatre, like myself, who is selling her own wares. She puts together her own massage candles, body butter, and bath bombs in her spare time when she is not being a dresser for the Old Globe Theatre. And her stuff looks awesome! The quality of her photographs is so appealing, and her stuff is totally Vegan–I can’t tell you how cool it is! And she just started a little short of a year ago. So she’s new to this, too. I emailed her through Etsy, and she introduced herself, and we’re gonna do lunch sometime, hopefully! Here’s her Etsy store: Chicken Scratch.

So off I go to work on a my women’s coat project. My mother had suggested that I create something that was short, and I’m tired of seeing stuff made only for women that seem to be very tall and thin. I wanted to make something beautiful for someone with a figure like the average woman: a Sz 14 and larger. So I’m gonna. More pics later!