Sunday, 5 June 2016

Aladdin Wigs: Headdresses

Once the hair was done, it was time to move onto the individual designs for each costume.

The six wig designs for Widow Twanky were as follows:
  • Imperial China inspired semi-circular headdress
  • Juliet Bravo police hat
  • "Lampshade" hat, riffing off of Asian conical hats
  • Carmen Miranda fruit headdress
  • Slosh scene headscarf
  • "Pagoda" hat, with matching Pagoda themed structural costume.
Of these, only the Slosh and Carmen Miranda designs didn't have a visible hairdo underneath.

I started by mocking up the Imperial headdress in card.

The headdress was made with two layers of buckram sandwiching a layer of plastazote.  The gold fabric was glued on with copydex, and additional decorations added with uhu.  I drilled a hole in the end of each hairstick, pulling the end of the tassel through, wrapping it round the stick, and fixing with uhu.  Still, the headdress looked a bit bare for my liking...

Much better!
The Lampshade hat ended up taking a lot longer than anticipated.  The structure was made from millinery wire, and then the whole thing had to be covered by hand as it obviously wouldn't fit under a sewing machine.  I used bias tape to hide the millinery wire.  Chinese lantern baubles served as earrings, sewn onto the wig itself.
Carmen Miranda was also trickier than expected.  I first built a base plate for the fruit to sit on, before covering  this with a layer of wadding, and then the outer sequin fabric draped into a turban look.
The difficulty came with getting the fruit to stick.  I used a hot glue gun, but initially had trouble with the glue peeling off.  The central pineapple texture was especially bad at adhering to the rest of the fruit.  To combat this I attached pins to the fruit that would be touching the pineapple, then drilled small holes in the pineapple, slotting the pins in place (pointed downwards so they wouldn't slip out) and secured it all with more glue.  This seemed to fix it better, but I am going to keep mulling that one over for alternative methods in the future.
The slosh scene required a particularly robust headdress.  For those not familiar with Panto; the slosh scene is a traditionally messy part of the show, usually involving a food fight, or mud being chucked about, or in the case of Aladdin, an extended laundry scene in which the Dame goes head first through a clothes wringer, and is doused with soap suds.  Obviously an actual head of hair wouldn't last one night, so I usually get given some kind of headscarf design.

I started with a millinery wire foundation, covered in waterproof fabric.

For this costume, the mic pack needed to be inside the wig to protect it, so I left a window in the back for it to be slotted through.

The headscarf top fabric was lined with a layer of crin and another of waterproof fabric. 
And one more layer of waterproof fabric for good luck!
I don't have any more process photos, but the triangular headscarf was wrapped over the waterproof lining, and the two long ends knotted together at the front.  When I was happy with the positioning, I sewed the headscarf to the fitted lining.  The whole thing can be pulled off the wig base (it's secured with poppers so it won't slip during the performance) so that it can be cleaned between shows.  I actually made two of these, so there's no need to worry about one drying in time for an evening show after a matinee.  The front of the wig base also has a row of heavily pva-d curls along the forehead.

This post is getting rather picture heavy, so I'll conclude next time with the Pagoda wig and costume, and some photos of everything in action.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Regency Drop Front Dress

I recently joined the CoBloWriMo(Costume Blog Writing Month) group on facebook, which is encouraging costume bloggers to increase their blogging prolificacy with daily prompts throughout the month of June.  Today's prompt is to write about a new technique you've recently learned or would like to learn.

Since writing my to do list a couple of weeks ago, I'm pleased to say that I've made some progress, and now have my very own Regency day dress!  I certainly learned a few new things along the way.

Hungarian Chick Bib Front Gown
I decided to make a bib front dress; as The Hungarian Chick's tutorial (here) was very clear and easy to follow.  I wanted to make it more historically accurate though, so I poured over the fantastic close up photos of (this) gown at the National Museum of Australia, before discovering Katherine's Drop Front dress construction photos on her blog (here).  I ended up following her instructions almost to the letter.

1810-13 Silver and Blue Shot Silk Dress - Australian Dress Register

For the bodice I used the pattern in Patterns of Fashion as a guide, and draped on the stand, before checking the fit on myself.  This is the final pattern after alterations.

Cassie guarding the dress fabric for me.

The interesting thing about 18th and early 19th century bodice construction is that the lining is put together first, and the top fabric is then mounted on it in sections, and top stitched in place.  This is the new technique I wanted to try out for myself, so first I cut the lining in linen and felled the side back and shoulder seams by hand.

I then placed the brown cotton back piece over the top, and secured it with a running stitch within the seam allowances.  Next I smoothed one of the front pieces over the lining, and pinned it in place.  I turned under the seam allowance at the side back, shoulder seam, and front edge, and topstitched each one with a half back stitch.  I did the same for the other side, and secured the top and lining layers together with a running stitch along the neckline and hem.

I'd given the bodice a 1cm seam allowance all the way round, so I turned this under and slipstitched it down.  As you can see, the bodice top fabric doesn't extend as far as the linen flaps at the front.  When this is worn, the flaps cross over at the front, and the bib is secured over the top, hiding them from view.  Using only one layer for the flaps allow them to lay more smoothly over the bust.

Back view prior to slipstitching.

Cassie helping me cartridge pleat the skirt.

I don't have any more photos of the construction, or of the finished garment, as I've yet to wear it anywhere, and my dress stand is currently in use (next up, a chemise a la reine!), but as soon as I have some nice ones, I'll be sure to post them here.