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…

Jean Valjean’s new coat

I didn’t realise that it’s been that long since I posted something…

Let’s get the big news out: I have got a 6 months contract to work on the costumes for Disney’s Aladdin, which opens in Sydney next August. I have known for a bit, but it has not sunk in yet. And what’s more – as of Monday I will be making a new outfit for the male lead in Les Miserables. I am really besides myself.

Whilst my family went bush for a few days, I recovered from the Christmas/ birthday marathon. I never seem to manage to pace myself over the festive season – there is so much on, so many friends and family to catch up with, I enjoy all aspects of it entirely… But then I flake out.

So, I had real fun making the patterns for the outfit.image

imageimageAnd I made a fancy folder for the patterns.image

And this was my lunch when I paused from my very hard work.image

Getting my work stuff ready felt almost like a ceremony. I would have never thought I’d work again in this mad profession, I certainly wasn’t going to look for work, because usually it’s all word by mouth (you can look as hard as you like and just never come across the right people) you have to work your way up for years before getting on a decent show, etc. I wasn’t prepared to do that again here in Sydney after taking years establishing myself in London.image

So since I had a bit of peace and quiet on my hands, I decided to cover my pressing horse. This is mainly used to shape the chest canvas in jackets. You have to apply a fair amount of steam to work the canvas, a lot gets absorbed into the untreated wood, but more gets absorbed (and there is less a chance you burn yourself on the hot steam), if the horse is covered with wool.

I made the wool cover from 4 layers of an old woolen blanket. Three layers are cut to size for the top. They are densely stitched together on the industrial sewing machine to form a very firm layer. Doesn’t it look like a beetle upside down???image

The 4th layer is wider and hemmed, so a cord is threaded through the hem. When pulled tight, The cover fits snugly and the surface is smooth.image

I also made a cover from linen – it’s easier to wash.imageimage

Before Christmas, we had a wonderful week on the South Coast. We packed up kids & dogs on the last day of term. There was lots of sunshine, walks, surf to play in and beach babes to admire.image

There was also some successful hunting and gathering.imageimage

And I turned 50! Yay. image

Best wishes for the New Year to you all! May it be filled with much love, good health, fun and sense of purpose.