Friday, March 19, 2010

Forever Plaid

The official baby countdown today is 33 days until my due date and 12 days until I'm considered full-term. Yowser!
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I have quite a few projects left that I wanted to complete before the new baby boy arrives. One project is cleaning out my laundry/sewing supply room. As I was going through one of the boxes, I uncovered order forms from September and I realized...I never wrote about the costume work I did for my town's production of Forever Plaid!
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There were five men to costume. The Four Plaids and One accompanist. My costume responsibilities were:
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* White Tuxedo Jackets with Shawls and 1 button: 4 Plaids
* Plaid Tuxedo Jackets: 4 Plaids
* Black Tuxedo Pants: 4 Plaids, 1 Accompanist
* White Tuxedo Shirts with Wings: 4 Plaids, 1 Accompanist
* Black Tails Tuxedo Jacket: 1 Accompanist
* Plaid Suspenders: 4 Plaids
* Black Suspenders: 1 Accompanist
* Plaid Cumberbunds: 4 Plaids
* Black Cumberbund: 1 Accompanist
* Plaid Bow Ties: 4 Plaids
* Black Bow Tie: 1 Accompanist
* Black Tuxedo Shoes: 4 Plaids, 1 Accompanist
* Plaid Tartan Sash: 4 Plaids
* Plaid Pocket Handkerchief Square: 4 Plaids

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Did your jaw just drop? Mine did when I saw the list.
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I thought I was part of a costuming team, like I had been for Into the Woods. We had three ladies working on costumes with myself being responsible for just three. This time, however, the costuming team was split into 1) Costumer (me) and 2) Props (not me). It makes sense since there were only five guys to costume, but still! I was a bit overwhelmed as I contemplated the time and energy this project would require. Did I mention the costuming occurred during my first trimester? The trimester where I was super dizzy, nauseous, and tired?
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Fortunately for me, the producer had already arranged for her Mother to sew the Plaid Tuxedo Jackets. The dear director worried that I would be offended that I wouldn't be the one to make the Plaid Tuxedo Jackets. On the contrary, I was THRILLED! Hahaha! I've never sewn a Tuxedo Jacket before. Of course, I had never sewn any renaissance costumes either, but I did alright with those. It's a good thing that my own Dear Mother taught me how to read and follow a sewing pattern. But I was glad that I wouldn't have to sew those Plaid Jackets. Do you know how hard it is to work with plaids?? No?? Well, let me tell you...
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Working with Plaids is one of the most difficult, hair-pulling things to do in this world. Seriously! You have to be so careful when you cut out the pattern pieces, taking into account where each seam line will be, how the material will fold and hang. Matching up plaid pieces perfectly could be an Olympic Sport. And I am not exaggerating in the slightest. It really is that difficult. I knew that I could do it, but I also knew that by the end my eyes would probably have fallen out of my head. I was happy to let someone else do that nasty job.
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As for the other items, at first I was going to make the white tuxedo jackets, suspenders, cumberbunds, and bow ties. Luckily for me, before I had purchased the material or started sewing, I had stroke of brilliance...Check E-Bay! I am so, so glad that I did. I found a used tuxedo dealer in Florida. He was great to work with over the phone. He had a generous knowledge of tailoring and was familiar with the Forever Plaid costumes. The only draw back...he didn't write my order down correctly! Aargh! Fortunately, I had paid extra for two day delivery so I was able to sort out most of the problems. But even on the second order he sent me things that were incorrect. Sheesh!!! It's a good thing everything was so inexpensive. I offered to pay for the mistakes out of my own pocket. The producer told me not to worry. Her production company is just starting out. Their costumes at that point only consisted of things that were made for Into the Woods and Beauty and the Beast. She cheerfully told me she would just add the items to her costume stock for future productions.
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Can I just tell you what a pleasure it is to work with people who are optimists! People who take what could have been a lemon situation and see it as lemonade instead! I love working with those kinds of people. :)
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There were a a couple of changes to the original costume idea. Instead of black shoes, the Plaids wore white shoes. The white shoes were sent by mistake, but I loved how they looked! Instead of plaid suspenders, the guys wore white ones. That change was due to limited time and limited material.
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You might be wondering where my time went if I just ordered everything from the tuxedo dealer. Well, I'll tell you. First, not every item was ordered. Some things I still had to make. Second, the items that were ordered were used. They had buttons missing, zippers that didn't work, were too big, etc. I had to do some major tailoring to get those outfits to fit and function. Third, I live in a small town with only one material store. The plaid material had to be ordered online. It took a while to get here and when it did, the plaid jackets had to be cut out first. Remember how I said it took a lot of time and energy to make sure all the pattern pieces will line up perfectly...waiting for the material to arrive and then waiting for the jackets to be cut out took up quite a bit of time. My plaid items were cut from the jacket leftovers.
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And now, a list of all the things I did to costume those four Plaids and their accompanist:


1) Ordered a ton of stuff from the tuxedo dealer.
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2) Tailor five white tuxedo shirts. This included shortening the sleeves on two shirts and replacing buttons (an easy, but time-consuming job!).
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3) Tailor five white tuxedo jackets. Why five? I ordered an extra one. The jackets all had to be the same style, but the dealer didn't have the same style available in one guy's size. I ordered a smaller version to get the right lapel. Tailoring the jackets included swapping out the lapel (that was tricky work to make it look seamless and natural), removing one type of button, adding another type of button, reattaching the jacket lining in both the torso and sleeve portions, and cleaning up the jackets so they looked crisp and fresh.
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4) Tailor five pairs of black tuxedo pants. This included replacing zippers, hemming pant legs, taking in one pair of pants, letting out another pair, and a lecture to all the men about wearing the "right type of underwear" when wearing tuxedo pants. And yes! I seriously did look five grown men in the eyes and tell them to be sure and wear supportive undies because tuxedo pants show everything.
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5) Make four plaid bow ties. This was tough because my Simplicity pattern called for bow tie hardware, yet Simplicity doesn't sell that hardware anymore! Aargh! I only used Simplicity because I wanted to be sure I could get all the necessary pieces. I just used Velcro to hold the thing together in the back. How tacky! :(
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6) Make four plaid cumberbunds. I ordered four white cumberbunds from the dealer because it was cheaper than buying the hardware! All I had to do was add a plaid panel to the front portion. They looked great!
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7) Make four tartan sashes. Tartan means plaid. These were easy to make and didn't have to from the same plaid material as the other pieces. I used a plaid tablecloth, cut it into four long sections, and hemmed the two long sides, leaving the two short sides to fray beautifully. :)
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8) Make four plaid pocket handkerchief squares. I just cut out four squares and hemmed on all sides. Easy, breezy.
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9) Help make the plaid jackets. The producer's Mom works full-time and was making these jackets in between work and family obligations. Yikes! I went over one Saturday and spent the whole day just sewing with her. It was a blast! She was such a fun lady to spend time with. My job with her was all the hand sewing. She said that by the end of the work-day her eyes were shot, then having to look at those plaids...she just didn't have the eyesight or the patience to hand sew. Haha! So while she sat at the sewing machine, I made myself comfortable on her couch and stitched away. I also ironed and helped with whatever else she needed. It felt like being at home sewing with my Mom. It was a great feeling.
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It seems like I did some other stuff too, I just can't remember right now. Oh well. I am going to stop typing now and let you enjoy pictures of the final product.
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The Plaids getting ready to go on stage.
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The Plaids performing Lady of Spain. .
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Don't the Plaids look great in their white tuxedo jackets with the plaid bowties, cumberbunds, and pocket squares! The red rose boutonnieres just pop against the white. Very dapper! .
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See how well that jacket fits! .
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Close-up of another Plaid. Check out the lapels on that jacket! .


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Do you see what I mean about a ton of props? .
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A Plaid duet. .
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The quartet performing. On this night they forgot to put in their pocket squares.
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Wearing the tartan sash.
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Performing in the plaid jackets. Don't they hang beautifully!




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The venue was the garden area of a local restaurant. This production was a dinner theater. Such fun! It sold out both nights. The restaurant added a few tables to accommodate more people.

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The Plaids looking fine after the show. Do you see how well the plaids match up? That is professional quality right there!




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The cast and crew. This is the only picture I found of the accompanist. He looked quite nice in his black tuxedo tails sitting at the piano.

3 comments:

Lisa and Troy Love said...

Sarah, I didn't know you had sewn so much!! Thank you for your hard work! I am not a seamstress but I know enough to know that you most certainly deserve a gold medal for the plaid items!! It is you behind the scenes people that make any production amazing! Thanks again.

Megan said...

Wo!
That's a lot of work! They look great!

Tina said...

I remember you talking about this while you were doing it. It is amazing to see the pictures though. What a ton of work!