Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Nutcracker - As Told in the 21st Century

Keeping up with a blog has not been as easy as I thought. Of course, this time of year is always a busy time for me. I made costumes again for a ballet/theatre group for young girls. They did a twist on the Nutcracker called "The Nutcracker in the 21st Century." I made six party dresses, which was part of the original production. I also made four costumes and consulted on two others that represented ornaments from around the world.

Prepare yourself, this is a long one.

The party dresses were made using McCalls 5731. I was disappointed with how the dresses fit the young girls. Their sizes ranged from child size 5-6 to 7-8. I used Panne Velvet for all. This is a pretty basic pattern. I barely looked at the instructions.

The bodice was way too low, and I had to rip all apart, cut new pieces for the bodice insert, and redo the dresses. The bodices are all lined with a cotton/poly broadcloth I had in my stash. I tried invisible zippers, but there was too much bulk at the CB seam where the skirt is attached, so I put in centered zippers. I attached lace at the neckline and the hem of the sleeves. I applied lace to the center bodice as well. All were the same, except for Clara's, which had a little gold sparkle in the lace and a gold trim around the bodice and neckline. They each wore a purchased petticoat and I had to wait for their order to arrive before I could hem. The petticoats came in on Friday, I did a final fitting on Sunday, hemmed all six for their preview performance on Friday. It would not have been a big deal, except that I also had to fit the other costumes, alter some that were purchased elsewhere, and I have a day job, my daughters school chorus performance, and my normal alterations that I do for a store in town. I was up every night until 2am or 3am. On Saturday morning I slept until 11am. I deserved it! I also made little capelets out of a curly fur fabric with ribbon ties at the front. Since time was of the essence, I hot glued the hems. The dresses turned out pretty enough that the girls could wear them to a Christmas Party or church service.

The stage picture is not great, but you get the idea.

Next up - Ornaments from around the world.

First is the Spanish Dancer. The skirt is a self drafted circle skirt with a ruffle around the bottom. I used sequin elastic around the waist, which is very pretty, but will not stay up on the waist. I blame that on a couple of things. Girls do not know where their waist is today, because the very thought of wearing something that cinches the waist is just horrifying. Then there is the fact that these young girls are built straight up and down with have no real waist definition to speak of. The other problem is that the top was made from an inexpensive polyester costume fabric, and the sequin elastic just slid down. I also added a tulle black ruffle under the sparkle red ruffle at the bottom of the skirt. The top is also self drafted and has a ruffle neckline with red lace. I made a comb for her hair out of the tulle and red lace.

The Arabian Dancer costume was fun to make. For the skirt I used Simplicity 4249, and for the little vest I used 5359. The top was self drafted. I used a purple polyester costume fabric for the skirt and vest, and white for the top. The vest was trimmed with a gold braid, and the skirt has a
gold trim with hanging circle thingies. She absolutely loved her costume. I also made a scarf for her to dance with. We had the same problem with this skirt staying up. This skirt has a CB lapped zipper. She kept pulling it down to sit more on her hip. Every time I walked by her I would help her pull it up and adjust her top, and she would pull it down as I walked away. LOL I made a pattern size 6 and then took up the waist to fit her. The length was perfect. It was time consuming with the ruffles, but worth it.

Next is the Panamanian Dancer. I did a little research and found a traditional dress called a Polero. I did not have a pattern so I self drafted this one. I used a Christmas print quilting cotton with Poinsettias from Joann Fabrics, (the only fabric store in the area) and a burgundy quilting solid, and added a gold lame' sash for a little sparkle. Again, it was time consuming with the tiers and inserts. This dress is not as full as the traditional Polero, but it worked for this dance.

Last is the Austrian Dancer. I was given a picture of a traditional little girls dress that had been purchased in Austria. I drafted a similar dress using a couple of different patterns I had, and added design elements such as the ribbon criss-crossed across the bodice. I can not remember the pattern I saw or the pattern company that gave me that idea, as well as the rickrack and ribbon around the bottom of the skirt. I used a red and white cotton printed with holly for the sleeves and center front and a green cotton for the skirt, side fronts and back. I also added lace around the neckline. The apron is made from a white polyester that was left over from the other costumes.

The last picture includes an Oriental and St. Lucia who already had costumes.

These girls each learned a short dance representing each of their countries.

I really enjoyed the process (not the late, late nights.) I met with the set designer, and we coordinated on colors. The Director sat with us and gave us her ideas and let us do our thing. She did not see the full costumes until dress rehearsal. We have worked together on several shows, and she trusts me to interpret what she envisions. It was not only gratifying to have that kind of creative freedom, but also to have the girls love their costumes, and to see their excitement when they put them on for dress rehearsal.

In the spring, we are planning on doing "The Secret Garden." I am already planning out costumes in my head.

1 comment:

Ann's Fashion Studio said...

Congratulations!...these outfits are "all" amazing! You did such a wonderful job.