Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"Do You Have a Licence for that Monkey?"

Inspector Clouseau may never have uttered that exact phrase, but it was in my head when I found this fabric at Emporos in Greytown, and as I made this lampshade last Saturday.
My bestie Ross brought this floor stand and shade to me recently with a casual, "See if you can do something with this" that only friends of 35 years plus can pull off.
Knowing what an amazing house they have and what a penchant for the exotic they have, I went with Mr Monkey.
My naughty monkey in his flamboyant Aladdin's costume. I LOVE this fabric!!!

I didn't take a before shot of the shade, but it was right at home with these boring beige beasties

 A full length body shot.
 Close up and Personal
 One of the other Monkeys and the trims - a beaded one sewn to a braided one - I only bought two metres of it but the wonderful Zara from Off Grid Chic got me an extra metre as the shop is near her place of work. :) Yes I have a shop full of trims and a stash full of trims. But blue? Not one inch of blue did I own!
 Same trim with the edge trimmed flat.
 I was so lazy but it worked - I reused the original lining. It was in good nick and of course, fit perfectly!


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Teeny, tiny Peacock and BIG costume!

The peacock is done! He is very blingy which is a good thing!
He is based on a white bird with a long white feather tail. Said bird got coated in Mod Podge then green glitter, before being covered in rhinestones, sequins, and the tiny eyes cut out of the main fabric. I eschewed making the lovely little feathers as against my dark hair, none of the detail would show up. Instead I just built up the tail by sticking the eyes directly onto the original feathers, building it out and up as I went. I like it. It's a little bit smaller than I imagined but with some flowers, it will make a stunning hair piece.

To go with: This corset top!
This top is built onto a torselet type top that was brown, so I covered the front in purple charmeuse and appliqued the cut out scallopy eyes onto it in a radiating pattern. Then I applied an extra piece to make a V at the bottom (nothing like making it up as you go along!) to which I'd added the purple and green fringing. The last touch is covering the fringing top with scallops.
It amuses me that this way up, the fabric says Peacock, but the other way up I think it would say Mermaid. 
The last piece, the duster jacket, was the first I made - I wore it out on Sunday. This is made from the fabric as it was, a shimmering wonder of peacock eyes. The trouble with sequin dusters though, is how easily you can look like "Valmay from Brizzy going to the RSL on a Friday night" i.e. just tasteless, not outrageous. So, I added the same purple with green fringe combo to the hem, and I still need to hand stitch the scallops to it. Currently pinned.
I suspect this outfit will be seen first in an out of town gig in July, however if I get called in to Emcee a show in Wellington before that, I know I am READY.
So, that leaves more encrusting of my current ringmaster's costume with recently acquired rhinestones along with a new sequin jacket for that, and another red sequin outfit from the piece I just received that is AWESOME too.
Oh, the bling. :)



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Teeny, tiny peacock feathers

I'm making a peacock for Constance to wear in her hair. That means tiny feathers. The "hair peacock" is the cherry on top of an outfit I've been working on every possible moment since Sunday. With three days almost off in a row, I've put a lot of time into the corset and over jacket in the most exquisite sequinned net.
But I am not showing you that yet!! No no no!
What I want to show you is the teeny, tiny peacock feather I just made. It is about 4 inches (10cm) long.
The eye is cut from the sequinned fabric and the plumes are frayed organza.
 'Scuse bad night time photos.
I think I will add a second layer of plume in green. Isn't it a cutie?
While I was not sleeping last night, I went over and over how to make it and my plan worked almost exactly as I imagined.
That's kinda satisfying, although I'd have been better to sleep and trust I could sort it out as I go. But that's not how it works, yeah?
I had one white bird left at the shop that is kind of peacockish, and I've coated it in green glitter. It will be the base upon which I build this...this...well, let's find out shall we? It is for Constance so it will need to be visible from space. I reckon 25 of these little feather will do it.
More on Peacockalooza soon!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Eglantyne's Hat

This week, I made a hat for Eglantyne Jebb, circa 1918. She was the Founder of Save The Children. A fierce and passionate, intelligent woman who made a huge difference to the plight of children after the first world war and beyond.

I had never heard of her until yesterday, when a customer came into the shop to buy some trims for a hat.
 The customer is Anne Chamberlain, who has written and performs a one woman show about Eglantyne Jebb. The frail, 100 year old hat had belonged to Anne's Great Aunt, and I declared that it was not to be used as a prop any longer, we were going to remake the Hat. As the Hat has appeared in all of the publicity shots, we set out to create something very like it, only with a few concessions to stage and the demands of touring.
I dispatched Anne off to get a $5 black straw hat and half a metre of black silk satin and off we went.
Nach, I forgot to take progress shots and have no pic of the original $5 hat, but it was just the typical sort. I cut it into shape, reapplied the edge with a zigzag, steamed the shaping out of the crown, applied cotton sateen bias and millinery wire to the edge of the brim, cut the sash out and wired it. All this while sitting at the back of the shop with Anne, chatting about everything from Eglantyne's life to her life to my life to hats and, well, bonding! Anne whisked the hat off overnight to do some handsewing. 
This is the hat when it came back to me this morning:

 The lining and inner band are pinned in. Sewing it in will be the final job.
 A side back view - the sash tucks under the brim at the back.

 Today I stuck the trim on the underside of the brim with Aleene's tacky, held on with pegs as it dries. The brim shape is typical of the time - shortest at the back, longest at the sides.

 A front view - the rather exciting extra bow thing that extends across the front and is anchored by the flowers is wired inside - I've never seen the like but the original had it and it works. Actually the flowers are not this bright - the velvet leaves that look dark pink here are burgundy.
 A side front view
 Side and front views all at once.

 The original hat - it is more dashing in lots of ways and is a bit bigger - ours shrunk a bit during the making. The very shiny fabric I think is glazed cotton - we opted for silk satin as there was no time to find such a specific fabric.
The whole outfit - the suit is Anne's Grandmother's from the late 1920s. Although the show is set earlier, the style is pretty old fashioned and works just fine.
Those in the know will know that the "straw" of our hat is wrong - too coarse by far. but on stage noone will notice this I hope, and in every other way, inside and out, I think it will pass muster.
Now any readers in or near Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Hereford, Cambridge or Richmond in the UK could look out for Anne's show later in the year. (Link to her website). It had great reviews here.
The whole Hat experience has been quiet magical for us both - cathartic and timely. I loved being able to contribute to this show. AND, as we were sitting today adding finishing touches, in walked Jan Bolwell, another amazing performer who has done a one woman show about her Grandfather's experiences  in WW1. They know one another, of course, and it was such a privilege to share a table with two such talented women.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mad Skills

Last Saturday, I held a class called, "Finishing Techniques - what the patterns won't tell you." Next time, I'm calling it "Mad Skills!"
Five experienced sewists came to the class to hone their skills in working with silk chiffon and other wriggly things. Instead of making a garment, we crammed by making samples of the techniques. I think this is the best way to learn if you are experienced, because you get all the cream at once.
We went over:
  • Pattern matching for a pocket,
  • Using bias as a facing so it sits flat and perfectly,
  • Perfect bias binding
  • Using organza as a facing for silk chiffon,
  • Teeny, tiny french seams
  • Teeny, tiny, tidy rolled hems
and a bunch of other stuff.

I noticed a couple of really interesting things:
  •  These were all really smart, experienced sewists yet they got a huge amount from the class, because they had the understanding to hang the new information onto;
  • They got really, really excited about the new stuff! Like REALLY excited! It was lovely, like Christmas morning with children!
It struck me how often we think of skills as something that the more you have, the less you will get out of a class, yet it seems to be the other way around. I guess the more you know, not only are there more likely to be gaps, but also the more you can get out of new learning as you can then take that and extrapolate it.
It was FUN, I am doing it again, because I can't think of a nicer way to spend a Saturday than seeing sewists get excited about sewing silk chiffon!
Unfortunately for the Blogging world, we were FAR too busy to take any photos. Next time, maybe. :)
UPDATE: Next class scheduled for 27 June.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Massive Catch up

Every now and then I read some old posts and I notice how often I have said I'll share something then don't.
So, here are a few catch up things.

Bunting

Last time I wrote, I was working on a 130 flag set for hire Since then, I've made two more sets! Three different "colour stories" so far, which I made with lots of  help from one of our customers.
Here are two of them:
 The original set, all warm tones and hues
The second one, all dove grey, pink, aqua and white.
The third one is tea/natural colours and red roses - my favourite! Besides anything else, they look super pretty on the wall :)

Stand Up Gig Video

The video came through last week, yay! I let it download overnight; it is not searchable but here is a link anyway:

What else? Hmm, I'll go hunting and if I find anything else, I'll post that.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

My First Fiftieth Party

Because I am intending to have a few more! ;-) I know ad love FAR too many people to have just one party, so I've decided to have several.
This one was the closest to the actual date, and was very, very special.

 The whole gang on Sunday evening - friends from Wellington who came over for the weekend and friends from the Wairarapa who came over for dinner. From left running up that side of the table then down the right: Chris, Hedy (standing), MrC (standing) Ann, Terry, Katherine, Jo (almost entirely hidden), Me, Mike, Sue (you can just see the back of her head) John, Maria, Steve, Martin, and Paul.
 This is me in my bunny ears made by Paul, having just cut my surprise birthday cake made by sister Jo!
Fifty years teaches you how to blow out birthday candles easily. ;-)
But oh, would you believe I got a song sung in my honour! To the tune of Delta Dawn by Helen Reddy, each lot of friends wrote a verse and sang it, about me in their lives. I simply have o share it with you because it is SO good! Terry master minded this surprise, and it was very moving - I was conducting and blubbing at the same time!

Verse 1 (Jo my sister)
Born the second child of a florist and joiner
Had a love of puddles and a go at being a dancer
I wasn’t there when you got your special name
But Dolly you are and there’s no one else the same

Verse 2 (Ross my bff of 37 years)
We met in the third form at Hutt Valley High
Already a fag hag out there on the sly
It was always next to you in Latin we’d meet
A loyal friend you were to let me cheat

 Chorus:
Maryanne
Fifty years since you began
Swooping through the Hutt and on without reserve
And did I hear you say
Constance’s taking it to the stage
To get the adoration you deserve

Verse 3 (Terry; Ross's partner and my partner in much mischief)
It’s twenty years since Ross’s thirtieth party
I remember thinking you were you oh so arty
Since then we’ve founded the maximalist fabulous movement
Over six margueritas we laughed to our amusement (it was 7, actually but who's counting!)

Verse 4 (MrC)
Fourteen years since we met that night online
Who would know that you would soon be mine
It’s been a roller coaster from the start
But the thing that’s got us through is your warm heart
 
Verse 5 (Ann, who is just wonderful)
She’s 41 and allegedly she’s turned fifty
All the folks round Cuba say she’s nifty
‘Cause there’s naught to which she cannot turn her hand
‘Specially with that mysterious dark-haired man

Verse 6 (Chris and Paul, who I met when Paul came into the shop and we are now firm friends!)
On a quest to craft and get our sparkle flare on
Graced to meet beauty down at Made-on-Marion
Creative, dramatic and a good Samaritan
To befriend another immigrant gay American

Verse 7 (Ann again - this verse in honour of the day Ann, Terry and Ross were all on the same plane and fell in love with one another, before they then found out that they all knew me! I love that kind of crazy coincidence!)
She’s thoughtful and she’s generous and she’s witty
Otherwise we wouldn’t be singing this ditty
But once she forgot to introduce her friends
Left it to Air NZ to make amends

I also must acknowledge Hedy who eschewed a verse in favour of accompanying us on the ukelele. It was marvellous!
You know, nothing beats having wonderful people in one's life. :)