Sunday, August 17, 2014

Many Months Of Costume Creativity

To say we've been "busy" is an understatement!

Our last entry was in November.  We were getting ready for Portland Festival Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker".  Performances ran through Christmas Eve, and after a brief "exhale" over winter break, we went to work on the next project: 

Portland Festival Ballet's spring production of "Alice In Wonderland", a brand new production with all new costumes, sets and props. And so we began . . .

The red bengaline fabric in the workroom beckoned. The fabric was chosen to make a set of corps costumes. Red bodices to be paired with red tulle romantic skirts. These would also be the Courtier costumes for the Red Queen's court. Cutting began on December 28th, and on January 14th the red Venice lace to embellish the bodices arrived.

To keep costs down, we added our own beads and crystals to the lace to create a beautiful embellishment.  This takes time, so work on these began well in advance of the production. Some of the work was done by us and some was handed off to volunteers who like to do hand beading.
Glass bugle beads are hand sewn to the lace that shimmer under the stage lights. This bodice is ready for Swarovski crystals to be added for more intensity and sparkle.
The end result complete with Swarovski crystal crown!
The red romantic costume is an example of one design done for "Alice".  We had the daunting task of coming up with 30 different costume designs.  This included 21 single character costumes and 9 designs for corps costumes that included teacups, playing cards, meadow sprites, mushrooms, tears, courtiers, and flowers.

We received a very nice shout out from Dasa Obereigner and the Portland Tribune. Follow the links to articles about our costume work.  A huge thank you to our faithful and hard working volunteers!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Costume Craftiness in the Sewing Room!

Nutcracker fittings are zipping along, and mostly the costumes fit this years cast without alterations....

"Mostly."  lol

The soldiers received a beautiful new set of hats, thanks to a very generous donation from one of our dance families.  So now our little "soldier dolls" hats have been updated to match.

Lots of thanks to our parent volunteers who helped this project happen.  So cute! (There was a lot of giggling over those itty little feather plums!)  I'll try and get a "before" picture up tonight so you can see where those hats started in life.  It's a very big change!

In the meantime, Teri has been working on a beautiful new snow crown (along with about 10 other projects that you don't get to see yet...)

This is just the first layer and already SO pretty!  I can't wait to see it finished!


Monday, October 28, 2013

What have we been up to?

It's GATSBY TIME!  Two very different dresses all finished off.  I'll be finding sequin bits all over the sewing room for weeks!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The newest sewing machine in the Accoutré Workroom!

Today we added a great chain-stitch machine to our arsenal!

I have to be honest though....I'm not sure how much use we'll get out of it.

Owing to the fact that it's only about this big.

Look at her go!  Not bad for a toy sewing machine, huh? 

How To: Sew Elastics Onto Your Shoes

Everyone's foot is a little different.   Most ballet shoes come with loose elastics, or with the elastic only sewn in the back of the shoe.  Sewing them on correctly is important because it can enhance the look of your foot or it can totally work against you, depending on where it's placed.

I REALLY encourage any dancer over the age of about 10 to sew their own elastics.  It's an important skill to have!

My young friend, Alyssa, let me take some photos of her first sewing lesson to share with you.  :)

Step 1:
Decide where to place the back elastic (if it didn't come pre-sewn. )

   Chances are, you won't need this.  Most shoes come with this step already complete.  To place the back elastics, fold the back/heel of the shoe down toward the insole so that the seam is directly down the center of the shoe.  This will make a folded corner on each side of the heel, where your elastics should be attached.   Pin them in place and skip to Step 3 for sewing instructions.

Step 2:
Determine the length and placement of the front elastics.

Put the shoe on, and with your ankle flexed, gentle stretch the elastic across the top of your instep to the highest part of your arch.  For most dancers this will land right at the seam on the side of the shoe. 
Make a small pencil mark on the inside of the elastic where it lines up with the edge of the shoe.

Step 3: 
Sewing!  :)

Start by threading your needle with a double length of strong pink or ivory thread, and tie a good knot at the end.  I use Coats and Clark Hand Quilting thread.

Line your elastic up with the side seam of the shoe. Be sure that the pencil mark is even with the top edge of your slipper, and hold it firmly in place. 

Using small, snug stitches, sew around the elastic tail.  It takes three for four stitches on each side.  Be careful not to stitch through the drawstring at the upper edge!  The goal here is to stitch through the lining, but not all the way through the outside of the shoe.  It takes some practice, so don't worry if you go through a few times.  That's why we're using pink thread!
In the end, it should look something like this.  These shoes don't have an elastic drawstring to worry about, so they are sewn all the way to the top.  If you have a drawstring, just sew up to the seam of the drawstring casing.

Last Step:
The Drawstring

Gently pull the drawstring until the shoe is sitting snug against the foot all the way around, with no gaps.  Don't pull too tight!  Tie a knot in the elastic cord, pull it down towards your toes, and snip it off at the end of the your foot.  When you put your shoe on, push the cord ends into the shoe first.  They'll stay tucked down along the top of the foot, out of the way, for the entire class or performance. 

 That's it!  Your shoes are ready for class!  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

What's in the bag?

A dancer's bag is like a lady's purse.  Stuffed to the gills and oh-so-mysterious.  What's in there, anyway?  We've found some brave souls willing to share it all with us and we're bringing it here the first Saturday of every month.

Whose bag are we snooping in?

Photo credit: A Little RoJo © 2012 - Rowan & Jocelyn Gillson
This months dancer is Lorianne Barclay.   Lorianne is originally from Portland, Oregon and is very excited and honored to be joining Ballet 5:8 this season. You can learn more about Lorianne here in her company bio. 

 What's in the bag?

 Items: Nylon shorts, technique shoes socks, bandaids, gel toe strips, Icy Hot, Oragel, Neosporin, Voss bottle, iPod, dental floss and needle, toe tape, KT tape, box cutter, scissors, tea tree oil hand lotion, arnica pills, clear nail polish, spork, tincture of arnica, baby powder, soft ball, wrap skirts, leg warmer, masking tape, tennis ball, sock toe pads, mints, thera-bands, tiger balm, burt's bee lip balm, deodorant, tin of bobby pins, metal hair piece, dance bag, pointe shoes.

Lorianne says, " I like to be prepared when disaster strikes, at the same time, I don't want the "lead dance bag" tragedy. I carry a lot of first aid and foot remedies in various zipper bags and only a few clothing articles, such as a single leg warmer. I like to make my own skirts to wear, I usually carry more than one option to choose from, or one for a friend. The item I absolutely couldn't live without is my bottle of tincture of arnica for my chronically bruised toenails. Bruised toenails can be extremely painful on pointe, but tincture of arnica is one of the few remedies."


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Workroom Sneak Peek

What's new in the sewing room?

Dance season is picking up and  the workroom is a busy place!  Here's a peek at what we've started this week.

We've had adventures in fabric dye...

This is a trial run to test the cut and dye colors for a set of flower skirts.

We're giving some soldiers a step up...

These sleeveless jackets were new last year and were worn over long sleeve red leos. This year they get new sleeves and some sharp white cuffs.

And a spirit soldier is being fitted for his uniform...

This contemporary jazz costume is in the early stages.   I can't wait to see it all come together. 

Stay posted to see more from the Accoutre workroom!