Coming Home

whilst I have not been away in the physical sense, on holiday or business, my mind has been in a faraway place, a make-believe world with unusual people and strange goings on.

I have finished all the knitting for the art department. In a way I was re- knitting a heap of clothes already finished, so the characters are filmed working those garments.

One more tunic hem needs to be embroidered, and there is a seriously funny twist to that one.
So, this third tunic is for the main actresses body double (the second being for her stunt person).
I will be that body double – because of my great hands and my knitting skills, but also because I am simply the same size entirely. As I dropped off the final bits for the art department yesterday, I was whisked away into a costume fitting, trying on the very costume I made, and into the make up trailer to have a wig fitting and all.

I love being back at home, resuming the daily dog walks through the bush, being there for anybody who needs me.
Touching base with friends and family is also a treat, I am glad they are still there for me, unchanged and beautiful.

Last night I enjoyed a wonderful concert by the Dutch pianist/ composer Joe Beving at the Opera House and was bedazzled by all the stunning lights of the Vivid festival!

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A non- post

A definition of a non- post: a post in which all I can talk about is that what isn’t happening…

I really wish I was proudly presenting a tailored jacket that I have been working on (for myself) for a fairly long time. *SIGH* I came across a number of complications and challenges… but before I got really fed up with it, Karen witnessed my enthusiasm and kindly alerted me to the fact that Spotlight had a massive sale on Vogue patterns.

(I put the amazing jacket on hold and will definitely return to it…)

Then all of a sudden “this” happened, and I cannot speak about it, but it will keep me very busy.

Then this arrived yesterday, and I am not allowed to touch it, until “this” is over. 

And what good news can I blog about? I think I never posted a photo of the suits I made last year for Friday on my Mind, the EASYBEAT’s story… so there, have a great weekend!

La Boheme

La Boheme holds a very special place in my heart, of ALL the fabulous operas out there!

In 1991 I spent my first ever date with my (now) husband sitting next to him during the last act of La Boheme at the English National Opera. Wow, that was really special…

During my time at the English National Opera i did work on a production of L B sometime between 1992 and 1994. It was a beautiful show designed by a very nice German designer, who I work with later in Hamburg on Macbeth. 

More importantly – I saw L B during the Sydney Festival in 2015 with my brother in law, Matthew and it was such a moving performance, during which both of us cried through the entire show, that I decided to quit academia and return to costume work!

Thursday night Patrick and I attended the dress rehearsal for L B on Sydney Harbour. It was raining cats and dogs… but the show just went on. My costumes were in Act I… so we admired the acrobat that was flown in on a hot air balloon and the accordion player… and went home to enjoy a cup of tea in a hot bubble bath… brrrr.

 

 

Willy Wonka 2

despite my best intentions, I didn’t do an amazing job documenting the making of the tailcoat for the rugby promotion. But here is what I have got!

actually, the only interesting photos I took are of the preparation of the canvas. The canvas is the inner shell of a suit – it is sculptured into the body shape in the chest area and the shape is “locked in place” by padstitches. After a good press with plenty of hot steam, the shape stays in the canvas permanently… and this is the secret of a good quality suit.

there are many ways of cutting the canvas. I still have not got the “one and only” way to do it. My cutting of the canvas is usually determined by what types of canvas I managed to get hold of, since that usually poses the first problem! The quality and thickness of the main fabric also plays a roll in choosing the canvas type and shape. This tailcoat was made from fairly thick furnishing fabric, so I chose to add a shoulder piece.

The main canvas piece, the largest one, has the same grain as th main fabric. The grain of the chest piece, usually cut from horsehair canvas, is determined by the angle of the break line. Both canvases have 2 darts to give shape to the chest. These darts are closed with fusing tape, that is iron on tape. In addition, after the tape is applied, they are secured by zig zag stitches.

the break line is pulled in and prevented from stretching by either applying fusing tape or, when doing it the “proper way”, by basting a piece of selvage from lining fabric tightly in place. A slightly tightened break line promotes additional room for the chest.

in the above photo the pad stitches are clearly visible. All layers are held in place with padstitching – and the direction of the stitches gives a clue that the  layers are rolled into different directions whilst being stitched together. An additional layer of thin wadding gives extra volume to the chest shape.

This photo illustrates the main fabric having been mounted onto the canvas, the cut in the canvas through which the pocket bag of the chest pocket has been pulled and the lapel having been padstitched. Finally the canvas on the front edge is being cut back to the actual sewing line and fusing tape is applied to hold it in place before sewing the lapel fabric to the main body.

and then… as if through magic… the coat has got sleeves and lining and a collar!

Willy Wonka 1

I am making a Willy Wonka suit for a Rugby commercial.

It was lucky that the Costume supervisor had hired a number of suits to see what looks best on the busy celebrity. So I just copied the one that looked great, incorporating a few changes to improve the fit and style. So this suit I will make straight through to finish – no fitting! This saves a lot of time – but YIKES, is also a wee bit scary, having to get it right without being able to check the details!

The waistcoat was interesting to make, since it has got a beautifully shaped collar – this is basically just a one piece facing.

Like I would on a jacket, I ran a bridle along the break line with a piece of salvage from the lining. This pulled the break line in slightly and made the collar sit beautifully.

They chose furnishing fabric for this, it is a nice color, but very thick…

Here is a close up of the trouser waist band… I did not do a great job documenting this process…

I have cut the tailcoat and have started photos more frequently…

Lions ready to roar

Let he story about he lions continue… I finished the last post with four finished lion faces.

I had the shapes of the individual mane pieces cut only roughly, as I sewed them, I used the pattern piece for a template. And I tried not not muddle them all up…

Shapes cut with a tiny seam allowance and turned to the right side.

Then I turned my attention to the ears! White patch pinned to ear pieces.

Zigzagged all patches to the ears. Cut brown away from the back.

Ears sew, turned, stitched to face: Mark with pins, then machine.

All the mane pieces tacked to the face before machining – it was all too thick to use pins.

The seam that joins front and back of the hood marked and sewn.

Edges overlocked and front hem turned and machined.

Face pinned to finished hood and attached by hand.

Neckline marked, cut, overlocked, machined.

Hood pinned and machined to body.

Tail and belt sewn, turned, tip of tail stitched to tail, tail machined to body.

This shot is great: lions neatly folded and packed up, ready to go!!!

And on a quiet suburban street, in the garage of the house in front of which all the trucks are parked, I set up a mobile workshop to finish the size of the bodies after a quick fitting on the starlets.

It seems to work! Cut, overlock and hem!

On my way home, a quick stop at Bilgola Beach, washing off all that preoccupation with work and looking forward to some quiet time.

 

 

Calling mum

Today would be, IS, my mother’s birthday. She died nearly 20 years ago, six weeks after my father – it was an unimaginable tragedy. They were so young, late fifties and early sixties, when they both succumbed to terminal illnesses. My sadness, all our sadnesses were endless for their lost lives, their incompleted lives and it then seemed, this bottomless sadness was never ever going to end. But everybody who has lived through grief knows that humans get through tragedy somehow, receiving scars and bumps and burns. It becomes part of us, makes us who we are, it doesn’t go away.

Grief is an ever changing process. For so many years now, my grief is really all about me, my loss, my children’s loss, our family’s loss. All the love we have missed out on! All the moments of sharing successes or losses, when “you have to ring to tell mum/ granny”. My parents never lived to find out I had two more children…img_9280

Today is also a day of celebration, indeed a day I would desperately want to share with my parents and make that phone call!

It is exactly a year ago that I returned to my first career as theatrical tailor. Last January I made my first tailored coat in nearly 20 years, it was for the character of Jean Valjean for the Manila production of Les Miserables. Today I have finished the same coat, for the same character (different performer), but the Brazil production. This coincidence, finishing this coat on my personal ‘coat making coming out of hiatus anniversary’ and my mother’s birthday so makes me want to ring her and share one of the biggest mysteries of life: you win some, you lose some – we never know what happens next, you just don’t know how things will turn out. Be in the moment, spot opportunities, grab them with both hands, be always guides by your heart.

Happy Birthday, mum.