Monday, 1 October 2012

Challenges!



Readers of my blog earlier in the year may remember that I make costumes for a local vocal school in Cardiff - Louise Ryan Vocal School as I did a series of blogs on Making the Costumes for Seussical the Musical. 

Seussical was zany and bright, with lots of characters from Jungle Animals to the Whos who lived in Whoville. And of course, The Cat in The Hat. 

I loved making these costumes -  especially the challenge of creating different costumes for all the different characters. Lycra is amazing - it comes in loads of bright colors, doesn't need hemming and stretches to fit! 
 




Well, next year's show will have not one, but three musicals - The Sound of Music, Les Miserables and We Will Rock You - with nearly all the 65 kids and young people in the cast needing costumes for all of these - I'd better get started then! A slightly different challenge this time - there will be less individual costumes as there are lots of nuns, soldiers, workers, poor, Ga-Ga kids, yuppies - who will need to have similar or identical costumes.  The colours will need to be more subdued than Seussical, but I still have to make each group stand out. 

I've been scouring the internet for inspiration - and discovered the wonderful Pinterest. Brilliant for keeping all my ideas together- I've set up a Costume Making Board where I have pinned images from the official shows and local productions, design ideas and links to web sites or shops where I may be able to buy clothes that can be adapted into costumes.   

One area where I can add a bit of colour is for the Lovely Ladies in Les Miserables - the prostitutes or ladies of the night that persuade Fantine to join them.  I am really keen on authenticity, but I wasn't sure if I wanted these ladies to be bright and gaudy in satin and lace like the original West End show, or whether I wanted them to look more like 19th century french whores by using pale chemises and bloomers. 

I thought I'd have a go at gaudy by designing a Les Miserables costume that would double up as an entry for a design challenge I am doing.   I'm a member of the Monthly Craft Challenge Design Team over on Creative ConnectionsThe Design Team works to promote the challenge through networking, blogging and of course through sharing their own design ideas on the theme.   

Why not pop over and take a look - the Monthly Craft Challenge is easy to join and we would love to see your entries - any craft / any media - whether it is metalwork or macrame, card making or crochet, felting or filo modelling - we want to see it all. 

October's challenge is Halloween, so for my entry, I designed a red and black "Lovely Ladies" costume that I think is just perfect as a Gothic Halloween outfit for a teenage girl.

As I am going to be doing lots of costumes, I recycle and upcycle where I can, rather than creating everything from scratch. I picked up a red satin corset and black gypsy skirt on Ebay - used but in great condition. I made a soft muslin blouse/sleeve and used lots of black and red lace. The skirt is hitched up to show some leg - essential for those Lovely Ladies. Just need to add some fishnets and button boots and a feathered hat!
 


I do like this look, and I think it will inject a vivid touch to the show against the drab costumes of the workers and poor. I'm going to use some other rich jewel colours such as turquoise, orange and purple, but I think I'll mix up the colours in the skirts and tops so they are less "matched" for the show. I am considering making them a little more tattered too, although I am thinking they could be re-used as burlesque or gypsy costumes for other shows if I don't tatter them too much.  

In the meantime, my daughter has her eye on this combination for a Halloween party! 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Loving Blogs - The Craftfest 'I love your blog' blog thing

Pass on the Craftfest lurve

Logging on to the computer this morning I picked up a cryptic comment on my blog from Found in Keswick to take a look at the Craftfest Blog Awards and inviting me to pass on the love.  Well, I couldn't resist.


So this is the Craftfest 'I LOVE Your Blog' Award 
which I am awarding to See Kate Sew  
whose blog I found this weekend when doing some Stumbling. 
I love her enthusiastic writing and her dry humour, but most of all, I love her wicked tutorials. Just check out the clutch bag from an old book! 

If you are sent a Craftfest 'I Love Your Blog' Award and you would like to 
Share The Lurve, then have a look at this.


How To Share The Craftfest Lurve

1. Paste our 'I love Your Blog' Badge to your page

2. Put a on a link to the blogger who sent it you

3. Put a link to the blogger you are awarding the Lurve to

4. List some other blogs you like

5. Inform all the bloggers you have mentioned by commenting on their blogs.

6. List 'How To Share The Craftfest Lurve'
7. Tell us something you'd like to say, or show us something you'd like to sell.


Here are some other blogs I'm in to at the moment

 

Lottie Of London       Craftfest Blogs

KKMaries    TheMacsX

Beaded Bazaar      Rachel in Wonderland

The Dressmaker's Closet

Cola Creations       The Crystal Cavern  

     Siog Designs         Pins and Needles

Free Spirit Designs       Scent Cosmetics

Revive Holistic Beauty 



And The Thing I'd Like To Show You 

Work in progress - this is a draft design for one side of a reversible appliqued play mat I am  making for a friend's little boy who loves cars. Sorry that drawing isn't my best skill, I just drew it out to help me plan my layout and cutting as this is the most complicated design I've done.   I will be sharing progress on this play mat in my blog over the next few weeks, so why not pop back and see how it develops.   

 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Teal - Blue or Green?


I’ve just come back from a fantastic weekend camping in the Forest of Dean with a great group of friends. After a damp first night, the weather was kind and we had a lovely picnic and a not too strenuous walk looking for woodland sculptures. It was then all back to camp for some rest and relaxation with a few beers. Among the civilised discussions we had round the “camp fire” (ok, it was a Safety Lantern) was the way different people see colours.  I’ve always been fascinated by blues and greens and any shade that is a mixture of both. Turquoise, Cyan, Cerulean, Aquamarine, Teal - do they belong to the green family, or to the blue. It appeared that we often have different opinions. 

One of my favourite shades, Teal, is defined as "A moderate or dark bluish green to greenish blue.” Well - bluish green to greenish blue - not sure if they've made their mind up on this one. Teal apparently gets its name from the fact that it surrounds the eyes of the common teal, a member of the duck family. Well, well, my maiden name was Duck so it is not surprising I love the colour! Not so keen on the common though!

So where is this all leading? Well, I’m helping out with CRAFTfest - a virtual craft extravaganza stuffed full of fabulous craft stalls with an international on-line craft fair between the 1st and 8th of September.  Each stall holder is placed in a different group where they can network with other crafters, get help and support for the CRAFTfest event and do some promoting of each other’s work.   

The groups are named after colours. And surprise, surprise, in the Teal Group! They must have seen my fabric stash which seems to be getting more and more bluey-green.  


The Teal Group is great. We have a very friendly and experienced leader, Lorraine, who as well as running her own craft business Lorraine Dowdle Creations in New Zealand, welcomes newcomers from all over the world and, together with the CRAFTfest team, makes sure we do all the right things to get our stalls up and running.  We are an active bunch on-line, with our Teal Page stuffed full of posts and comments such as tips on taking good photos, ideas on how to promote our crafts and easy guides to using Twitter or Pinterest - which I admit were a godsend to a Luddite like me!   My fellow “Tealies” have also been fantastic in promoting each other’s work - with blogs, treasuries, pinboards and tweets showcasing the most beautiful craftwork and spreading the word about CRAFTfest.  Global social networking at its best. 

So, keeping up the Tealie tradition, I’ve been looking through some of the Teal Group stalls and found some absolute gems. The theme is, of course, the colour Teal. Enjoy.


 I would love to own this stunning Teal and Brown Camera Case from My Calico Heart. It is made with the most fabulous retro fabric with a lovely strong teal colour for the strap.  

I don't carry a camera around very often, but I'm sure I could have put this bag to great use for my phone and sunglasses when walking in the forest this weekend. 






Of course, a group of 30 odd adults, teenagers and kids with lots to catch up on, meant that most of the forest wildlife heard us coming and scarpered. We did see some beautiful blue-green dragonflies (not sure if they were teal!), and a squirrel or two. No owls though. 

So this little beauty from Pins and Needles is especially welcome in this blog. Don't you think he has the cutest expression? 
 






I just love this gorgeous Jasper & Amethyst Pendant by Ostra's Creations.

The Forest of Dean nestles between the Wye and the Severn, two beautiful rivers that are renowned for salmon fishing as well as for great walks.  

The swirly metal loops and the lovely veins running through the jasper stone remind me of the running rivers and the silvery fish. 





 
  

The crafters taking part in CRAFTfest come from all world - Milly and Me Designs is based in Australia, and like many of us, ships internationally through her shop on Etsy.  

Her custom personalised wooden letters have lovely clean shapes and a wonderful selection of prints and colours. 

I think this combination of light teal and other blue-greens with the sharper acid greens is gorgeous, and I love the mix of cute little animals with bolder geometric shapes. 


I hope you've enjoyed this Teal coloured blog and I'll be back soon with some more Teal Group creations.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Bread of Heaven - Feed Me til I Want No More


Watching the filming of the Only Kids Aloud Choir on Rhossilli Beach
I stayed up really late last night watching the most amazing show on earth - London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony.  I don’t normally watch the Olympics - but my son was in the Welsh children’s choir - Only Kids Aloud - singing Bread of Heaven, so we all sat down together to watch the bit he was in at least. 



The videos of the children's choirs from all corners of the British Isles were lovely - they sang really well with loads of enthusiasm. And Only Kids Aloud - you did Wales proud - gorgeous sound with fantastic harmonies. 

Update and blatant plug here - all the the children's songs  Jerusalem / Flower Of Scotland / Danny Boy / Bread Of Heaven are Track 2 on the Isles of Wonder compilation album.  This track has reached Number 2 in the classical singles chart and the whole album has also reached Number 2 in the compilation album charts!


However the whole show was all incredible so we carried on watching. I rather liked the cutesy rural scene - I loved all the different cameo scenes and the geese were brilliant. But when they started on the Industrial Revolution I was hooked. I thought the attention to detail was brilliant and I loved the way they incorporated the removal of the grassy scene into the ripping up of the earth. Living in South Wales, this was such a powerful reminder of the way the Welsh Valleys were torn apart in the search for coal to feed the ugly beast of progress.

Working in the Health Service, I was especially delighted by the NHS scene - I loved all the references to children’s books and thought that the flying Mary Poppins were fantastic. I also loved the scene with the Queen and James Bond, and I thought the cycling doves were brilliant.

Danny Boyle’s whole show was a blur of zany, mad, touching and wickedly funny. I appreciate some of the references may have baffled some of the world, but the spectacle was very much a tale of the British Isles and I’m proud to be British as well as Welsh. 

The show also made me think of our wonderful heritage of industry and invention and how modern crafters are blending the old skills and techniques with new ideas to create their own unique styles…. 

So I'd like to share with you a feast of wonderful creations from just a few of the wonderful crafters from the UK and the rest of the world that I’ve met through CRAFTfest. Oh and sorry, I just can't seem to get Danny Boyle’s ideas out of my head.....



Olympic flame or Glastonbury Tor?

This gorgeous green fluorescent candle from The Wax Worx seems to be glowing already, even before it has been lit.

















Ok, so your construction project may not be as big as the Olympic Stadium, but here is a great mug warmer from Kosmic Dreams to keep your builder's brew warm.




 






I just love the craftsmanship in this beautiful writing slope by Norfolk Woodcrafts. Beautiful reclaimed mahogany wood with boxwood stringing and inlaid centre.

I haven't checked my Lottery ticket yet, but if I'm one of the 100 millionaires from last night, I'll be buying this!









And finally, I can't forget the corgis. 

This cute pet bed has been designed for cats. However, I'm sure that if the Queen asked nicely, All Things Blankets & More could design a dog bed fit for the palace.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Lost in Space


My 11 year old son and I watched a fantastic programme a couple of nights ago about the universe which got me thinking about my little travel play mats. These are quilted fold-up mats with appliqued and embroidered play scenes and have little toys hiding in a pocket. They are a perfect size for using on a child's lap or a plane or train table when travelling.

Each of the travel play mats I've already made has a different theme - the first one was Dinosaurs, complete with cave pocket. This play mat was bought by a lady who was sending it out to Australia so her grandson could play with it on his first airplane trip to Britain to see her. I've also made a Fairy Cottage scene which went to Germany and an Under-The-Sea scene complete with fearsome sharks.

So, back to the TV programme which reminded me that I'd bought some fantastic fabric that was just perfect for a space themed play mat. It just had to be started there and then! 

With lots of critical advice from my son - who is a bit of an expert on matters in the sky - I cut out a slice of the moon, a world and an orange planet and laid them on this gorgeous starry fabric. I started adding some chain stitching to the planet, but got carried away so you can't see the felt circle!



Update September 2014: 




I have recently re-launched my range of travel playmats with a Safari Zoo Play On the Go © Play Scene.  I'm currently creating a farm scene version, and working on designs for fairy castle and pirates themes too.

Made by hand in limited numbers for each theme, my playmats are available for sale on my Folksy and Etsy shops.

CE tested and marked - my play mats have been tested and meets the European toy safety requirements. Recommended for children aged 3 and above.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Making the Costumes for Seussical the Musicals – Part 5 - Money Around


Over the last 4 blogs you have met nearly all the cast and their costumes and although I have a few more for you, we haven’t reached the end of the first half of the show yet.  So here is a whistle-stop tour of the rest of the plot.
In Monkey Around, Horton’s clover is stolen by a group of mischievous monkeys, the Wickersham Brothers, and lost in a large patch of identical clovers in Chasing the Whos. Mayzie LaBird finds Horton desperately trying to find the right clover and persuades him to sit on her egg so she can take an afternoon off - however she doesn't return. As winter approaches, Horton is captured by hunters and although Gertrude tries to rescue him in Horton Sits on the Egg, her huge tail means she can’t fly. 
The second half opens with Horton being auctioned off to the Circus McGurkus where he sadly sings about a magical world called Solla Sollew. Back on the Planet of Who, Green Eggs and Ham shows us the cadets fighting the Butter Battle when Jo-Jo declaring the war is wrong and deserts the army - only to be blown up in an explosion.  The rest of the Whos are enjoying a very special visitor in the Christmas Pageant - The Grinch, dressed as Father Christmas - when A Message From The Front tells Jojo's parents about his death. All is not lost though - The Cat in the Hat shows that Jojo is not dead, but lost in a dark and scary place, and tells him to follow your hunch back home in Havin' a Hunch.  
More good news in All For You - Gertrude has had her huge tail plucked, found the clover and flown across the world to free Horton who finally falls in love with her. However, the Jungle Animals drag him back to face trial on Nool for the crimes of "talking to a speck of dust and loitering on an egg “. The People Versus Horton the Elephant shows Gertrude and Horton trying to make the animals believe in the Whos, but Yertle the Turtle orders the clover to be boiled in a kettle of beezlenut oil. The Whos shout to prove their existence, but they can’t be heard until Jojo comes up with a "think": the word "YOPP". Finally the animals believe, and on Who, Jojo is hailed as "Thinker Non-Stop". The show ends with the hatching of the egg and Horton and Gertrude find themselves proud parents of an "Elephant-Bird". And join the whole cast in telling the audience to keep on thinking in Oh, the Thinks You Can Think.

The Wickersham Brothers (Copyright Peter Cook)
The Wickershams Steal the Clover 
“Ha, Laughed a Voice! Ha, laughed some others! Ha Ha Ha laughed the Wickersham Brothers!” These three are the villains of the piece - stealing the clover and helping the Sour Kangaroo capture Horton.

Brilliantly cast, this trio, Emma, Kia and Imogen strutted, cavorted and aped their way around the stage, switching between menacing, frustrating and hilarious. 

With a nod to 1920s gangster style, the Wickersham wore pin stripe suits and Trilbys. The dark suits set them apart from the other brightly coloured jungle animals, and the rolled up sleeves and trousers together with a riotous mix of fluorescent vests, braces, socks and hats added a shot of fun.


The Cat laughs as Vlad Vladikoff the Eagle drops the Clover 
Vlad Vladikoff the Eagle (Copyright Peter Cook)
Bradley, who played Vlad Vladicoff the Eagle, did such a fantastic job flying around the room with the clover in rehearsal that the whole room fell about laughing and couldn't sing anything!



I made him some silver and black wings which looked great sewn to the sleeves of a large black satin shirt - he looked a little like Elvis. The Eagle look was completed with a silver and black Mohican wig and Ziggy Stardust style silver stars on his face.


Circus McGurkus Acrobat (Copyright Peter Cook)
Circus McGurkus Magician
The Circus McGurkus performers were played by some of smaller Jungle Animals and Whos.

I needed some very quick changes here so kept the costumes simple and just added accessories where I could, such as Magician’s cape and hat.  
 
Alex, who played a Flamingo in the Jungle of Nool doubled up a Circus Acrobat simply by taking off her peach and yellow tutu to show off a gorgeous sparkly acrobatic outfit. I used a lovely disco dance outfit I got from eBay comprising of shorts and a crop top in foiled lycra - it was rather bare round the midriff, so I sewed a peach lycra leotard to the top and she wore ballet tights. Alex performed the most amazing flips and a lovely ribbon section in the Circus Animal’s Solla Sallew dance.
  

The Grinch (Copyright Peter Cook)
The Whos' special Christmas visitor, The Grinch was played by Gareth who stepped into Seussical especially for this part. He was delighted with his costume which was a cosy red Father Christmas coat to which I had added lots of green and white fur edging. A silly spiral Christmas Hat, green velvet trousers, boots and lots and lots of green make-up finished the look! 




Fabulous scowl Gareth, but at the Christmas Pageant the Whos describe how the Grinch’s heart grew 3 sizes that day!






Jo Jo Follows his Hunch (Copyright Peter Cook)
Havin a Hunch was one of the favourite scenes of a lot of the cast. It needed to be scary and weird so we went for UV lighting and some flashing hair bands and gloves I picked up at a rave party shop! The UV picked up the white stripes on Jo Jo and The Cat perfectly and the flashing accessories were amazing - everyone wanted to try them.

Having a Hunch (Copyright Peter Cook)





The Hunches were played by some of the Whos and a Jungle animal and I was hoping they could just wear their own costumes as the stage was blacked out.


Not so Scary Hunches - where are your gloves!
However, at the first dress rehearsal it was clear that the audience would see the bright lycra outfits.  They didn’t have time to fully change so I had to quickly run up some “Black-out” costumes overnight - I made huge long sleeved tops and added old jazz trousers and black socks that they could pull over their main costumes.

This costume change was really difficult as the Whos were in scenes immediately before and after the Hunch scene - we had mums and other cast members behind the wings in an assembly line waiting with t-shirts, trousers, socks, gloves and headbands - thanks - you were brilliant.

Yertle the Turtle (Copyright Peter Cook)


I had great fun making the costume for Yertle the Turtle - I thought this would be difficult, but it was rather easy.
 
I started with a lovely dark lime green velvet jacket (again from eBay) with an open waterfall front. I added an oval shell shape on the back and created the turtle shell pattern by hand-sewing on an outline in red sequin braid. I popped a really pretty Indian dress in yellowy-greens under the jacket - the sleeves looked a little like turtle flippers. 

Jade who played Yertle added some black leggings and stern glasses, and we gave her a hired judge’s wig for the court scene.





Giraffe & Zebra (Copyright Peter Cook)
Finally our costume story come to a close with some more fantastic Jungle Animals.

Lucy wanted to be a Giraffe, which was perfect as she is very long legged and elegant.  Not easy finding giraffe print fabric (apart from fur and I doubt she would have been too impressed!) In the end I bought a dull gold catsuit and hand-painted a giraffe pattern using a stencil I cut from cardboard. It looked very boxy, so I cut away the left side and added a beautiful velvet panel with a pretty net skirt just on the one side. 

Dayna chose to be a Zebra. Luckily zebra print was pretty fashionable last year so I picked up a great pair of leggings.  I cut away a shoulder from a long sleeved black leotard and used some zebra fabric to add a diagonal insert across the front. Dayna fancied a tutu (which seemed to be very popular with the jungle animals) so I found an old white kids net petticoat and cut it short and sassy.

Blue Cats (Copyright Peter Cook)
Alice played a Blue Tiger - I bought a sparkly Leopard catsuit which looked ok with an added fluffy tail, but wasn’t quite as “interesting” as the other animals. I promised I would try to customise it after I had finished all the others. Luckily I had time and inserted diagonal panels from old black leotard and cropped the legs. I also used one of the leg offcuts to make a long-sleeve cuff and added a sparkly tutu because Alice really wanted one!

Ginni-Beth was a Turquoise Leopard, and I used a foiled lycra dance costume I had previously designed for my daughter. The hotpants and cropped jacket fitted Ginni-Beth perfectly and I only had to add a fluffy tail and black cropped tights.  Simple but stunning.

As Alice and Ginni-Beth were also doubling up as cadets, they needed to make sure their hair and cat-stripe make-up also worked for the battle scenes. The costume change was easy - just Schmitz t-shirts with red and blue lycra jazz pants like the Who boys.

Well, that the end.  I feel a bit sad now we have come to the end of the story………

Never mind, rehearsals for next year’s show start in September - a slightly different approach this time, a montage of 3 different musicals to showcase all the different age groups. I’ve already started thinking about costumes - The Sound of Music - easy - nuns, sailor suits and curtains! Les Miserables - again easy - lots of suitable stuff on eBay - already picked up a lovely blue military style jacket for Javert! And finally, We Will Rock You - not so easy but great fun - just think of the costume opportunities here from futuristic to rock!

Until then, I’ll leave you with a final look at the whole Seussical cast.

Louise Ryan Vocal School Presents Seussical the Musical (Copyright Peter Cook)


The Old Button is more than happy for you to use these costume ideas as inspiration for your own production. 
Pinning through Pinterest is fine as long as you credit The Old Button but please respect the copyright of the photos, and do not reproduce in other forms without permission.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Making the Costumes for Seussical the Musicals – Part 4 - the Birds


As promised, here are the Birds….  Oh, and I was wrong about it being shorter. Blame the tail!

Gertrude McFuzz is Horton’s next door neighbour. Although she is in love with Horton, he doesn’t notice her as he is too busy looking after the Whos. In the song The One Feathered Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz, Gertrude blames her pitiful little tail for not catching his eye. Dismayed, she comes across the flamboyant Mayzie LaBird who is accompanied by three beautiful Bird Girls; all decked out with feathers galore.  Amazing Mayzie describes how she once had a sad little tail like Gertrude but a visit to the doctor means she now has an amazing feathered tail. On Mayzie’s suggestion, Gertrude visits Doctor Dake by the Lake and persuades him to give her some pills so she can grow her own magnificent tail to become Amazing Gertrude. Encouraged by the first results, Gertrude takes even more pills and her tail becomes so enormous she can’t even fly………. 

Gertrude McFuzz was played by the amazingly talented Rebecca Hazel (Becki). I was in awe of Becki throughout all the rehearsals as she was always in character - a “drab but determined little bird” who adores Horton. Both her speaking and singing voice were perfect and she demonstrated fabulous facial expressions and body language to portray this little-girl-like bird who stood by Horton all the way when everyone else was against him.  

Rebecca Hazel as Gertrude McFuzz  (Copyright Peter Cook)


I wanted to make her a little-girl dress. Pretty but understated in comparison to the other characters.  I found a lovely vintage pale blue chiffon dress which fitted Becki perfectly. 

As it was full length and A-line, I took it up from the waist to create a short full skirted dress that came to well above her knees.
 
Becki is very slender, and I added a really full net petticoat to create a round bird figure that emphasised her fragile look.


Gertrude McFuzz  (Copyright Peter Cook)











Although mostly covered by the blue dress, flashes of the shocking pink petticoat gave a lovely splash of colour as she moved, and was brilliant when she had her feet-kicking tantrum lying on the floor (with the addition of a pair of last minute matching pink knickers!) 




While Gertrude’s dress was really easy to make - her tail was not! I needed to find a way of making a tail that would “grow” from a single feather to something amazing on stage. It also had to be lengthened for the second half and then finally be “plucked off “quickly on stage, revealing the original single feather.  I convinced the Directors it would be a doddle, but the more I saw of the staging during rehearsals, the more sleepless nights I got.  

Gertrude's One Feathered Tail  (Copyright Peter Cook)

With a bit of advice from my kids (who are great at seeing outside the box) I eventually came up with a workable solution that involved multiple tails that fastened to a belt around her waist and were worn in different variations for different scenes.

Gertrude starts off with a single tail - I used a really sad, slightly bent turkey feather, dyed yellow, which I attached to her belt with a piece of Velcro, making it removable.


Gertrude's Grows a Tail (Copyright Peter Cook)



 





When Gertrude visits the Doctor and takes the pills, we arranged the curtains so that I could rip off her single tail, and quickly knot a multi coloured feather boa into her belt - all the audience saw was Gertrude reacting to the sensation of feathers sprouting from her back. 

This first new tail was pretty Amazing! But Gertrude went back for more pills to make her tail grow MORE - luckily the scene finished off stage so the longer tail could be added back stage!

Gertrudes's bigger and longer tail was made from 20 different coloured feather boas stitched together, and stretched the length of the stage - she had to really work out her movements around stage when this was on!

The longer tail was designed to work with and without the first big tail, and fastened to her belt in a way that allowed it to be “plucked” off easily in a later scene, revealing the single feather, which had been re-attached towards the final scenes.

Gertrude's multicoloured tail (Copyright Peter Cook)
 
 
Confused?  I was! I kept trying to attach the wrong combination of tails at the wrong time and in the end, my 13 year old daughter took over and waited back stage between her scenes to help Becki out!
   








Lauren Carless as Mayzie LaBird (Copyright Peter Cook)



Mayzie LaBird - what a gorgeous, glamorous, sexy creature.  Think Latin! Think Salsa! Singing some really strong numbers, Lauren Carless, who played Mayzie, sashayed her way across the stage, flirted with the Cat, and used all of her feminine charms to persuade Horton to babysit her egg!

Her dress was created from a simple lycra diagonal-cut red salsa dress with a very low back, to which I added a silver and red lace overlay. 
Lauren is a great dancer, and the thick feather boa sewn to the hem added a lovely weight which emphasised her swaying movements.  

Mayzie’s tail had to be Amazing! I started with some red feather boas, similar to Gertrude’s. However, I didn’t think they were “sexy” enough, so I added some A Grade ostrich feathers just above the feather boas. I curled them using a set of hair straighteners (a tip I found on the internet) -and they sat beautifully on the curve of her back and Lauren loved it. Very salsa!   


Mayzie on the Nest (Copyright Peter Cook)



I wanted Mayzie to have a salsa or carnival style feathered head dress, but these were really expensive to buy or hire. While browsing the internet, I came across a shop selling coloured head dress frames and a YouTube “How to” video.
 
I ordered a red frame for Mayzie and three for the Bird Girls, together with a load of lower grade ostrich feathers. I was really impressed with how easy the instructions were to follow - the most difficult bit was keeping the glue away from the feather ends.  







Bird Girls (Copyright Peter Cook)


Mayzie has an entourage of beautiful Bird Girls, brilliantly played by Ellie, Laura and Jessica.

The Bird Girls needed to be showy, but not as Amazing as Mayzie! I thought I’d go for a Las Vegas Show Girl look, in bright colours that would stand out against the other colours I’d used for Jungle Animals. 

I made long sweeping tails from sparkly chiffon stiffened with netting, and sewed them to a trio of lycra leotards in pink, orange and lilac. Placing the tails low on the back created a very curvy shape which was emphasised by the elasticated sequin braid and feather boas. 


Song Birds(Copyright Peter Cook)




At the dress rehearsals, the girls were a bit nervous wearing such skimpy costumes, and I admit to having a few concerns myself. However by opening night, with the addition of shimmer tights, silver shoes, and striking make up, all misgivings had gone, and the Bird Girls were having a ball.  




Head dresses (Copyright Peter Cook)
  





The Bird Girls' head dresses were made in the same way as Mayzie’s, using feathers in the three colours. 

I was a bit worried that they might come off as the Birds danced around, but with strong coloured elastic secured under hair buns and lots and lots of hair grips, they didn’t move at all!  



 

So there we are. The story of five amazing, beautiful and very talented Birds.


Or were there six?

Kayed, who played our Cat in the Hat, loves to improvise, and on the opening night decided he wanted to join in one of the Bird Girls routines. Without telling the Directors, he persuaded one of the little Jungle animals to “lend” him her tutu as a skirt/tail. The audience loved it, but he got a major ticking off as he’d stretched the tutu! Undeterred, on the second night he borrowed a petticoat from one of the Adult WHOs but it looked a bit dull.

I took pity on him, and on the afternoon of the third and final performance, I found an old black net petticoat and added satin and fur trim to create red and white stripes to match his costume. As you can see, he absolutely loved it!

The Cat in the Hat joins the Bird Girls  (Copyright Peter Cook)

My next and final blog on Seussical Costumes will be introduce you to the rest of the animals from the Jungle of Nool, starting with some very mischievous monkeys, as well as a Very Important Person on the Planet of Who! There are a few stops on our way and if we get time, we'll also take a visit to the Circus. 


The Old Button is more than happy for you to use these costume ideas as inspiration for your own production.
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