Monday, July 16, 2018

I Ate'nt Dead

Hello! I have been so busy lifing I haven't had a chance to talk about it! Typical!
 Three huge shows, day job and other stuff have just sucked my time away. But now I am an "unemployed bum" as the business is being run very well by the husband and staff, I have three weeks before my next stage appearance and just some free lance work and job hunting to take up my time. Oooh!
So, I'm a sharing about this show which is very dear to my heart We took Time Travel Cabaret to an air raid shelter in 1944. In the (obviously) fictitious Time Travel Cabaret tube station. Moi played the self appointed entertainment officer complete with made up uniform, the real husband played stage husband ARP warden and a group of wonderful performers cam together to play regulars and mystery visitors when the siren sounded, to entertain the audience.
 SO carry on! This publicity shot was done last year and i am not wearing me jacket because I forgot it had daisy buttons on it, so I improvised.
 On teh night, SO LITTLE MAKEUP. Goodness me!
 The grim reality - tube stations made ideal air raid shelters but what a miserable way to spend each night! I t was interesting though how few people int he audience realised that people slept in these place EVERY NIGHT not jsut when a siren went off because by then it could be too late. And if you didn't have a ticket you'd be out on your ear. But Constance wasn't having any of that and found room for the newcomers.
 Sorry the light is a bit dusky! Here we are in our underground bar warming up the audience with a singalog.
Where ther'e smoke there's fire - Andrew and Debbie are the other two corners of the producing triangle!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Winifred Atwell and Me

I was in Facebook minding my own business when a second hand bookshop that I follow posted a photo of this sheet music from Winifred Atwell.
Called, "Let's Have a Gay and Hearty! Let's have a Ding-Dong"
I mean, how could I resist! I messaged them, they couriered it to me, it arrived today.
Naturally, I had PLANS for it. Ahem.

I can play Chopsticks...is that ding dong enough?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

So much for Plan A!

Hello lovelies, my plan to blog about sewing has resulted in tumbleweed hehe. It does reflect the amount of sewing I have done to be honest, which is zip.
The lovely Emma from Emma's Atelier has told me that I need to put more details into my posts about makes, with close up photos and things. Well that makes a lot of sense! So, I will go back over a few posts like the Kimono one and do just that.
In the meantime here is a teaser about my latest make, which admittedly is a costume but it is very "sewisty" and uses lots of fun techniques.
Tomorrow I am off to the New Zealand Burlesque Festival for a long weekend, which means hanging out on the pretty village of Devonport on Auckland's  North Shore. I will be teaching at Cushla's Village Fabrics too, a Lampshade making class on Saturday morning! Might as well combine favourite pastimes to up the interest of the weekend eh!

Friday, March 9, 2018

V1493 The World's Most Delicious Kimono pattern!

I am a big fan of Plus Size pattern sections! I am so tired of seeing a pattern, wondering if it will fit me, looking up the size range and playing Size Range Roulette. But every now and then I hit the jackpot, and when I saw that this gorgeous beauty came in up to 26, I Squealed with delight!
For the record, I seriously love the treatment shown in the sample, and the instructions cover how to recreate this applique. Me, I just wanted a devore velvet kimono robe that would pass as 1920s, and in this pattern, I saw my chance.
The two fabrics are an odd polyester knit (?!) faux devore velvet, figured in burgundy and purple paisleys, and a plum rayon velvet for the trim. Not seen is a plum velvet ribbon and lace trim and burgundy satin bias binding.
Apologies for the revealing photo, but as it just appeared in the national press I figure what the heck! I had a photo shoot for this article and cheekily took the robe along to ask them to get some pics of it for my blog. I wasn't expecting one to make it to the article!
So as you can see, I cut it longer than the pattern, and also made it fuller by slashing all the pieces long ways and spreading them a little bit at the bottom without changing the shoulder. It was only a little bit as with three backs and four fronts, it adds up. I left the pockets off as they would show and this is not a practical garment!
Look this is a hack job. No seam finishing inside as the weird not really devore velvet doesn't fray. I sewed the cuffs on without any pinning and they fitted perfectly, even given the fabrics are different! The front band is sewn right sides together, then I sewed the ribbon and lace trim to the free edge of the band, and hand stitched it to the seam allowance on the inside. This saved trying to fold bulky velvet under, making MANY LAYERS of velvet seam allowance. It does droop a little but that's mostly down to the velvet being a lot heavier than the main fabric.
Lastly, the hem I machine sewed but I did use a satin bias binding to finish it as there is no nice way to finish such a hem. I messed up the ends a bit where they joined the band, all harmless for this costume piece and learning for the real thing.
I LOVE this robe. I wear it pretty much with this outfit in a back stage scene where my stage hubby and I sing a bittersweet duet about the shifting nature of love and relationships.
I am looking forward to making a couple more in cotton and silk - I think I have one of the world's largest collections of embroidered silks and cottons that are THE MOST DIFFICULT fabric types to find an actual use for! And this robe with its gorgeous cross over cuff will look amazing.
But you know, don't hold your breath!




Sunday, March 4, 2018

Tidying up my blogging

Hello lovelies!
I used Blogger to set up a website for Constance a few years ago. It's just been an online reference really, but as of yesterday I have started to write blog posts on it. About being CC.
I realise that this blog is like me - an eclectic jumble of topics that appeal to some people some of the time. I'd like to return to the daily happenings of my off stage life however, and the show stuff will go on the other blog.
So, if you want to read about being and Emcee, pop over to Constance's Blog.
Cheers!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Planning our Creativity

I am not a planner. I have two jobs that take up 60+ hours of my week where planning is key. I am all planned out after that.
My best bet is to watch for patterns of success, and work those patterns. Only then does planning come naturally to me. One of the successful patterns is having a range of different scales of projects.
In sewing this means a complex garment or a big quilt maybe, with a few simple jobs like repairs or small craft projects mixed around them. (my sewing lately has been short on big projects!)
Same with show projects - I've just come off one huge show project and I'm looking forward to the next couple being much simpler affairs for me - a photo shoot to accompany n interview I did recently and then just MCing on the night and belting out a couple of songs from my usual repertoire. The trick is to not convince myself that I need to make a new costume or write a new song for them - that's where all the panic and time wasting happens!
I am also the unapologetic owner of a personal whiteboard. It's BIG and it was free - it's actually the back of an annual planning whiteboard that was being thrown out. I learned from my corporate career that being able to write all over a whiteboard really did help us to organise thoughts and ideas and make them achievable. Not just wispy words in our heads.
So when I feel overwhelmed by projects and things to do, I write them on the board. This board covers the whole year to mid November, but not too deep unless it needs to be. It's the things I need to plan ahead for. The details I write down in lists on pads.
OK, OK This IS planning. I am deluded! But it is simple, visual and effective. And no time sheets and the budgets are far more fun!



Saturday, February 24, 2018

On busy weeks and running away

My goodness what a busy time I've had! Between WIGSTOCK and last weekend it was all about Kabarett presents NACKTMUSIK. Rehearsing and sewing and travelling and organising and...all in a very hot summer!
Here we all are in the foyer afterwards Back row - Audience member, Trillian, Clever Hansel, Ellie Kat, Dahlia Dangerous, me, Front: Madame Vestris, Cherry Boomb, Leo Lennox.

Here's a weird selfie that Cherry took before the show, with me in the background.
Gosh it was full on but from a sewing point of view the highlight would have to be the robe I made for one little scene from Vogue 1493. With the amazing sleeves. More on that in its own post, when I get some photos! I'm doing a photo shoot on Thursday and thought I would wear it so hopefully Ill get some good ones.


Friday, February 23, 2018

Censored!

This photo of Clever and I was refused by the editor of a regional paper last week. The same paper happily runs beauty queens in bikinis and other scantily clad young women in the context of news (not page 3 stuff) but this was not acceptable. Why?
We never found out, but I have a few ideas. Gender ambiguity maybe? Daring to be old and fat and scantily clad instead of young and pretty maybe? It WAS by far the least confronting image from a photoshoot full of images. None of them really scandalous at all, not really.
Anyway as we had no time, I sent in this one instead and they ran with it:
It worked anyway. We oversold the 330 seat theatre and they had to add more seats!
More later!<3 p="">

Thursday, February 1, 2018

WIGSTOCK - The last night of the Gardens

Starring PollyFilla and ME [and a bunch of other people] ;-) PollyFilla now lives in Melbourne and is the most recent recipient of entry into the Melbourne Drag Hall of Fame, which is a huge honour; makes me so proud to be his friend and mentee. Polly wanted to do a huge drag show to finish the Gardens Magic series of concerts that Wellington City Council operate each year. While he was in Aus up to his eyelashes in shows, we got a cast together and the rest is herstory!
The largest crowd ever (so I am told) gathered to watch us. Must have been nearly 2,000 people! Age range from babies to great grans.
 Synching to the Grass Is Always Greener from Woman of the Year. Me and PollyFilla
 Backstage, Polly (top) and Ellie Kat doing last minute sewing repairs. Two extremely talented (and qualified!) costumiers in their own rights.
 Polly opening the show!
 Here's a bit of the enormous crowd who came to watch. This is family friendly drag!
 Me on stage singing Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps. I had already done the lipsynch duet with Polly but I was still blown away singing to so many people!
 A close up taken by some lovely person on Facebook
Ross caught this moment with the breeze slightly lifting my skirt. It was a sensational evening - cool and calm which is always a huge relief when you are painted to the max and trussed into a tight frock!
All of the performers were amazing. It's surprisingly hard to find photos of us all though, and no word of any official photos as yet. So I'm not filtering out the other fantastic artists on purpose. I love them all!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Oooh look - Kaffe Fassett!

Brandon Mably and Kaffe Fassett came to visit my shop this week. Thanks to the amazing Sue and Shanon at Busy Bee quilting who sponsored the Wellington leg of their NZ tour this summer. They teach and speak and are amazing. I missed all of this as I am too busy being distracted, so I consider myself extremely blessed by this unexpected gift.
Brandon took the above pic on the verandah outside, in front of this wonderful mural. Kaffe spotted it and decided it was his kind of backdrop. Colour blending and painting is his style, not high contrast.
I love both these amazing people's work. I have a lot of Kaffe fabrics in my stash, that I treasure so much I can hardly bring myself to use them!
You couldn't meet two nicer men. They were encouraging about our beautiful shirts and shades and we had a wee gossip about some of the other players in the industry, not mean just fun things.
And, I sang them the bit of my Stashbusting about Kaffe and they wanted to see it so I sent the link.
Made my month, year, decade that did!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Courage vs Confidence

People are always admiring my confidence, because I will do mad stuff like this photoshoot in undies. The thing is, it doesn't work like that, I'm sharing this not to blow my own trumpet, but because I think it might help people who are scared of giving these things a go to understand how it works:

I do it because I am scared, but I screw up my courage and have a go. The confidence comes FROM this, it is not the beginning of the cycle. Experience has taught me that this will mostly happen, although sometimes the outcome is awful and humiliating and terrible, just as I fear it may be. But I live through it and have another go.
ANYHOO! THIS photoshoot is to publicise our show at Art Deco Weekend in Napier; KABARETT presents NacktMusik 
 This is a thrown together look that I am improving on for the show. YES, I am in a bra and cami knickers and I will be on stage. This is a really terrible idea in many ways but I'm doing it anyway. It is a terrible idea because in spite of knowing it is perfect for my character, some people will be very judgy about it.
 Especially when I am surrounded by these babes all evening! Spending a day with them all being so gorgeous in their scanties for this shoot was nerve-wracking, even though we all love each other and it is a very safe space full of trust and mutual respect.
 There's nothing typically sexy or titillating about this.
But, we will have fun and it all makes sense. Clever Hansel and I are married in this show. A somewhat unconventional relationship that is probably not a legal marriage, given my character's actual assigned gender is probably not the one I am identifying with here.

It is a Cabaret of weird, sexy and unexpected acts, tied loosely together by snippets of insight into the lives of the cast - their loves, losses, addictions and confusions.
I could have taken an easier path with this show and worn more clothes. When I first started performing, I would no more have done this than run naked down the street. But, the courage-action-confidence cycle has moved me a long way from then, and I hope that this show will be one of the wins. I am sure it will, actually, as it is something special.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Bra Busting!

People when you are my size, bras with stage appeal are non-existent.
But, I can sew! So recently in Christchurch when I had some time for once, I found this bra.
The stripy sheer fabric has a good Art Deco vibe. However, it lacks the slapper-like qualities needed for the character I am portraying. So, I hacked it!
Modesty forgoes an in situ photo of the process but basically I put it on and attacked it with the scissors, much like the red line, without cutting through the elastic and lace edging. I also cut away the black net lining so it is more transparent. Then I laid the edging back over the newly cut line and zig zagged it. It wasn't long enough but it doesn't matter as I then added a heavy lace strip along the top to hide it all. This is all for stage so the fairly rough approach is fine.


 I felt it needed some bling so I hauled out a sieve from the kitchen to act as a 3D mold to keep its shape.

 One sieve, one bra cup and off we go!
I could only do one cup at a time to let the glue dry (Aleene's Tacky is the best thing for sticking on rhinestones ever)

I haven't covered the whole cup as I just want to add some sparkle. The stones are black diamond so low contrast.
When it's all dry tomorrow I can try it on and decide if it needs anything else.
The photos are all at night so a bit rubbish. But not as rubbish as unpicking black lingerie was!
I bought this corset on half price sale and it fits perfectly in the front, just not enough to wrap all around moi, so I've unpicked the fastenings from down the back in order to add an extra panel of black power net on each side.
Jeepers all this naughty gear is a bit confronting. I'm not sure if I will be wearing ANY of it on stage as yet, but if I do it will be in a humorous context. :)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Fastest Costume ever!

Tonight I went upstairs to alter a bra for a show and as I was fossicking around looking for some sequins, I grabbed what I thought was a bit of trim in a pile and pulled out a dress!
Yes, this is an insight into the chaos of my studio!
Amanduh La owns the dress, I think, and I think we were going to alter it to fit her as it is a bit big, but it was so utterly perfect for my next big show, I set about embellishing it.
My go-to was a length of hideous 50cm long ombre fringing. I mean really, what WAS I thinking when I bought it?? I originally attached it to a mini skirt to wear with the outfit below when Polly filla and I did Queen vs Queen. But I couldn't do it.
 Me NOT wearing hideous fringing skirt because...
 ...it looked like a Kapa Haka skirt, as shown on these two poppets. Cultural appropriation much??

Also, I hate associating fringing with the 20s as it really wasn't a thing, contrary to millions of costumes that say otherwise. But, also I couldn't resist putting black and white with black and white.
Here we go! The big white butterflies are in my stash and just give it a bit of extra lift. LOL
The dress is SO itchy as the sequins rub though the very thin lining and trying it on nearly drove me demented. But I will have slippery things on under it so it will be ok. I NEED to wear some shapewear with it as it is a very firm fit indeed.
I think once I'm done with it I will give it back to Amanduh. But don't tell her I'm borrowing it!
That's Amanduh over my left shoulder. Oops i'm wearing one of her costumes here too! But she does borrow mine quite often... ;-)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My sewing wrap up of 2017

In 2017 I EMBELLISHED a LOT! I made a few things too. Overall I got more done than I thought I had so this is a useful exercise!
I'm not including the denim jacket and stool I wrote about already, or the mending I did after Christmas but that was most satisfying too.

1. Robe for CC 

 I cut this out but Kat my sewing fairy made this up as I was up against it early in the year. Made from Wearing History's rayon with musical notes on it, so beautiful! It has CC on the back. It's good to have a robe to throw on over costumes so as not to reveal too much before the show. Here I am with Penny and Hans before the Clever and Constance show in Feb.

 2. The Wedding!

Our Sarah got married in March I overhauled her imported dress with new lace and beading, after remaking it a lot to tidy it up. It was very pretty! Me on the end in my Liberty sundress. I also overhauled June's dress (Matt the groom's Mum second from left) which was gorgeous. The petite lovely in dove grey is Sarah's Mum, Bronwyn. I love that woman.

3. And now, show stuff!

 OK, this outfit is a purchased jacket and me-made trousers, both embellished with a pink sequin trim, by hand, Big job! Same with the pink purchased corset. I love the trousers and am making some flowy ones in rayon for summer.
 Me left, Debbie right being hilarious. A purchased dress embellished with gold sequin motifs for more stageworthiness.
 My pink kaftan. I am not in love with this to be honest - I feel a little like a Nigerian noble in it. Shiny though!
 More embellished RTW from City Chic. This lovely blue flowing top now has a fancy sequinned and beaded neck feature, and I'm slowly sticking rhinestones onto it. Embellishing can be Agile - delivery a Minimum Viable Product and building on it!
This dress I love so much, after I embellished this one with shiny oranges, I bought another for day wear. Sadly it is so polyester I feel in it like I am wrapped in gladwrap. But I have cut a pattern from it as a basis for an outfit. Not the same - besides the ethics, I don't like aspects of it as much as others.
This is a screen grab from our video playlist as I don't have a photo of it. Little blue 3D butterflies on an embroidered net - each of them carefully brushed with tacky glue and "flittered" (fine glittered). It is much more impressive in reality!

4. Flashback!

That's not everything but it will do. And now for a wee flashback to the past - about 1985 I reckon!
An about 20 year old me in my favourite shirt at the time, naturally known as The Sneeches shirt. I don't remember the lass beside me, but she's wearing a similarly shaped shirt! It was a boxy, drop shouldered style popular at the time and I had several of them in different fabrics. TNTs are not a new concept! I think I wore this until it actually fell apart.

And that's me for now xo