December 17, 2011

Holiday Treats

Oftentimes, beginning quilters start with what I've heard entitled "The Pillow and Placemat Stage".  I certainly did!  But now, all these years later, I've really gotten away from making little quilty doo-dads, focusing more on the quilt repair and art quilt realms.  But sometimes these things are still fun, and sometimes gifts are called for.  So here are my holiday treats:

Last weekend, I joined a couple of other local artists in a holiday open studio sale.  For that, I made two little wall quilts, each about 12" square.

These are made of wool, machine appliquéd and quilted in the same step, with a hand-done running stitch at the edge.  With the blue one, I dipped into my growing button collection!  Boy, was that fun!

I also made a few ornaments.  The cottages are a pattern I've had forever, and don't remember where I got it.  So apologies to the designer, because I think they are super adorable, and she should get full credit.  They are wool, with fringed thatch roofs, felt doors and windows, and embroidered posies.

This next style is made with two cathedral window pieces put back to back, and a few more finds from the button collection.  They are by far the most time consuming of the bunch.  

These fun ones are patterned after Christmas ribbon candies!  I found the idea at:

And these are made using little fabric stars and bells I found at estate sales.  The spacer beads are pearls left over from the beaded wedding dress I mended this fall.

And finally - Baby gifts for a sweet 8 month old.  These little balls are also made with a pattern I've had so long that I have no idea where I got it.  They make great little baby toys that can be thrown, caught, or sat on without danger.  They also made great pincushions for older folks.  

And a size 2 vest that he'll grow into, made with a pattern published way back in 1979 by a company called Patch Press, which seems to be no longer in business.  The little elephants are taken from a wrapping paper design from about the same era.  The remnants of the grass fabrics used in the bog quilt also make a great African savannah.  I am pleased with the two colors, so the inside of the vest looks like it's in the shade.  

As you can see from all my pattern sources, I really haven't updated my collection of cute things in quite a while.  The ones I like, I really like.  I am loyal, I guess.  

December 15, 2011

more Little Women: On Stage!

Success!  All those rebuilt dresses, altered suit jackets, added sashes, replaced buttons, and redesigned hats later, the show was a great success.  And, while you're at it, please enjoy the wonderful set built by Joyce and her crew.

The iconic pose of the daughters listening to Marmee read a letter from Mr. March:

Mr. March's Christmas toast, with both our casts:

From left to right:  Jo, Meg, John Brooke, Laurie, Jo, Hannah, Beth on the loveseat, Amy, Marmee, Mr. Laurence, and Mr. March.

From left to right:  Jo, Meg, John Brooke, Laurie, Hannah, Beth on the loveseat, Amy, Marmee, Mr. Laurence, and Mr. March.

And about double casting - yes, it gets tricky.  Jo, John, Laurie, Hannah, Beth, and Amy were double cast. Our two Jo's had nearly the same measurements in both directions, and could wear the same costumes.  And the Hannah dress was forgiving enough to serve both actresses.  But for all the other characters, yep, separate costumes.  Makes the head spin a bit.

You can see a few more production photos on my website, here.  And the full set of costume portraits is here.

December 13, 2011

more Little Women: Before, After, and In-between

Welcome to my first guest posting!  This is Annie Guter, Thin Ice Theater's great costume re-builder.  You saw lots of her work on the gowns worn in last year's "An Ideal Husband".  So - take it away, Annie:

On a thrift store excursion, as this is THE place to find yards of fabric extra cheap, I came across three voluminous plus size dresses, all yoked, with enough skirt for any respectable Civil War era lass.  I set to dismantling all three and then realized a before photo might be in order.  Two were already too far gone for a photo but I caught Beth’s winter dress, so I think you can at least get an idea of what the float dresses looked like.  

Beth’s “dress” was a khaki skirt constructed from the original plus size dress, worn over a blue check dress from our collection.  We changed the buttons because pearl and gold were just too fancy for Beth.  Her blue under dress had some nice basic buttons so we tried to match those.  The sleeves from the khaki dress became lower sleeves added to the blue cotton under dress, and the original lace was removed from one bodice and sewn on the other.  There wasn’t really enough of one piece of lace to cover the entire front so I had to hand sew several smaller pieces of lace together to get the length that was needed. (This was actually a masterpiece of hand sewing but I once again failed to get photographic proof.) I had the blue soutash trim in my stash, it was actually a remnant from an “Ideal Husband” costume purchase, and added that to the lower sleeve so they didn’t just disappear when Beth put her hands at her sides.  Then just a bit of khaki trim around the neck on the little stand up collar. 

Jo’s winter dress was made from a similar deep plum short-sleeved affair, and I cannibalized an old dress-up item for sleeves and trim.  Jo’s summer skirt came from the third dress, a mauve nubby silk. We just added some piping here and there to better coordinate it with the blouse she wore.

Meg’s party dress started out as an 80’s bridesmaid gown that one of my sisters must have worn, and it arrived at my house when mom cleaned out her dress-up box.  The dress was actually a size 11/12, and our poor little Meg struggled to fill out a size 3.  

I dismantled the entire dress, recut to a better size and reassembled the bodice.  After some research of skirts from the era I decided an underskirt would work, and began scavenging for material, finding an old drape in champagne with a bit of a shimmer.  I did struggle with “seeing” this dress, sometimes ideas are just there in my head and I can instantly visualize a finished product.  That did not happen with this dress.  So when ideas don’t come easily I start sketching to help my inner eye.  This is the sketch of Meg’s dress that set me on the path to the finished product.   

I sliced the skirt into four parts and found it still wasn’t really full enough to lay nicely over the underskirt.  So I added the ribbon trim and scrunched the edges of the over skirt to make it drape better.  A ribbon sash to which more ribbon was added helped to tie it together. (no pun intended)   
There were poofs, gathered bits of fabric meant to help the sleeves stand out, inside the original sleeves and I kept meaning to get them back in the sleeves of the new gown, but in the flurry of tech week some how they remained in my “to do” bag.   Oops.  So the sleeves drooped a bit more than they should have, but it still worked.


Thanks, Annie!