Saturday, November 22, 2014

Dead Tragic opens tomorrow night!

And we're done! I am so relieved that everything is functioning as it ought to. Nothing is too tight or too loose, or too big to get behind the set or too delicate to crawl around on the floor - all that functional stuff that you only find out about once a couple of full dressed runs have taken place.
We had the "Preview" on Friday, which is like a dress rehearsal with a paying audience (cheaper price tickets of course). It's a great idea as it gives the cast the chance to really test the show with an audience reacting (laughing their heads off!) with the extra buzz of not being able to just stop, but the option to do so.
It was a perfect run.
Because video is king, and this one is only shirt, here's the promo video:
Here are some fantastic photos taken by Jasmyne Chung, who laughed so much during the photo run I thought all the photos would come out blurry! She's quite marvellous as the light is not ideal for photo taking and the colours are amazing!
 Running away together, Angelo! Darren Young, Lyndee-Jane Rutherford, Emma Kinane, Jon Pheloung
 At the Copa, they fell in loooove...
 Some rock and roll number, probably about a motorbike accident. SO many songs like that in the world!
 Emma being cool, not entirely sure which song this is!
And Honey, I miss you, and I'm feeling good...Note White satin curtains. Thank you, yes I made them.
 Emma and Michael looking gorgeous together as only they can :-)
Michael Nicholas Williams, musical maestro. By the way, he was interviewed on NZ Radio recently and it is a delightfully entertaining interview for anyone interested in the machinations of musical theatre. Here's the link if you're interested.

Now there's just a month of laundry duty to look forward to ;-)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dead Tragic!

Why I am so quiet, because as usual I am insanely busy.  Working six days plus extras takes its toll on my blogging time. The next thing looming at me is this:

Circa Theatre is the "proper" professional theatre in Wellington. By this I mean that real grown ups pay real money to see plays there, and I've never seen a show there I didn't really enjoy.
So it is great fun to be assisting the staging of a show in the smaller of the two theatres. I am working with dear friends, whose professionalism just blows me away. Really, throw some choreography at them, a new harmony or a move or a joke and they pick it up and run with it.
This show was first put on in 1991, and you can be entertained by the youthful zest of the cast 23 years ago.
This time everyone is 40+ or even 50+, and the production values run to more than red t-shirts and jeans.
That's where I come in. The last time they did it was four years ago, this was the advertising image, and methinks the designer was a fan of Baz Luhrmann.

 Our new approach is about the TV variety shows of the 60s and 70s.

We really love the orange suit on Middle Brother Brady far left.

 Oh Donny, we love you!

We ended up much closer to the Partridge family formula, but more on that soon.
This was the stuff of our family evenings around the Telly, and the time from which many of the hilariously tragic songs in this show come from. So, we've gone for a 'basic' look for each of the five performers entirely inspired by these fabulous early '70s looks. Big collared satin shirts, fitted vests and flares. Because the stage is wide but shallow, we went for black overs and coloured unders.
A publicity photo taken this week of the cast who had just nailed Bohemian Rhapsody Live. Queen never even tried. They rock! From left clockwise, Emma Kinane, Jon Pheloung, Darren Young, Lyndee-Jane Rutherford. Not pictured in genius music man Michael Nicholas Williams, who is directing and musical directing and performing in this show, while also being Musical Director to the only two other musicals on in Wellington this Christmas! His colour is blue, BTW.
It's easiest to see on Darren, the fitted scoop neck vest out of textured polyester with silver zip front, over satin shirt. Jon's shirt wasn't finished so he is wearing a t-shirt.
Every character is assigned a colour and every costume piece they wear is also that colour.
So, when Lyndee-Jane is Lola the show girl in the Copo Cabana, she realy does have yellow feathers in her hair. Darren's Running Bear sports a red feather, and the guys have t-shirts for several of the Biker type songs like Teen Angel, Leader of the Pack etc. I had to dye them to match their shirts as it's not as easy as you would think finding plain t-shirts in specific colours!
The only exception is the Angels, a necessary device in a show with so many tragically killed heroes and heroines going to Heaven. They will have white wings and halos, of course!
More soon...
PS I have cheated and got a fantastic pattern maker to make up the basics while I concentrate on the extras. I just don't have time to do so much sewing, Although I am hand hemming and button holing and button sewing on the basics so it's not all beer and skittles. And while this is going on, I am frantically writing more material for my own shows in late Nov/early December.
More soon...!

The Sewing Blog World according to Dr Seuss

The Star Bellied bloggers are testing Francoise.
The Plain Bellied bloggers have none upon thars.
I open my blog feed and what do I see
A galaxy of Francoises staring at me.
I'm sure it is lovely,
I'm sure it is fine
But no Francoise will be gracing
This body of mine.
When Indie designers like BHL and Tilly
Go looking for testers,
They are not THAT silly!
Their sizes are teeny!
Their testers are cool!
With multitude followers - the unspoken rule
But watch it, I tell you,
For Dr Seuss showed
That this kind of behaviour
Your fans can erode

Seriously, this is becoming an ever decreasing circle of boring. No matter how fabulous the pattens may or may not be, I'm not interested in patterns, or pattern designers, I am interested in sewing and those who sew and their adventures. But increasingly all I see every time I open my blogfeeds are RARA posts about the same pattern. Therefore the adventures are all the same.
Hey if you follow my blog and I've never commented on yours, how about you leave me a comment about yours? Especially if you sew and you are not cool enough or popular enough to be on the same-old same-old circuit? I could do with some fresh blogs to follow :)
 Welcome pattern testers!

Update: I've had a lot of unexpected traffic from my flippant little poem. I really want to be clear that I am all for indie patterns, and I can understand the usefulness of using popular bloggers to test or promote your patterns. I would probably do the same. My prime gripe is the constant and unrelenting overuse of blogs to promote commercial endeavours from books and patterns to online sales. I don't mind these things in smaller doses, I just think there is too much of it flooding our relatively small community. I wish those doing this would back off. We are a community first, not a 'target market' to be exploited, and the lack of diversity in content this has created is going to alter the landscape considerably. Take heed, Star Bellied Bloggers, we Plain Bellied types may just go and have our own barbecues, and we won't be around to buy your sausages in a bun (to overuse a metaphor!)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Makes - on Saturday

I know, I can get away with it as it is Saturday for many of you, but I am too honest ;-)
Anyway, on Thursday and Friday this week, with the delicious MrC in the shop to help out, I finally indulged myself in making a lampshade.
 Here she is! Our Lady of Guadaloupe
In stereo!
I discovered this panel fabric recently via a customer, and it is very different to the one I already have, in which the colours are more jewel-like. Out of the four panels in a row, I chose these two to begin.
The beaded fringing is from The Fabric Warehouse; an ombre green with a more sparse but longer gold one under it. The trim around the top and bottom is a green Cluny lace by Riley Blake, with a red pearl trim over the top.
Yup, Over The Top! that about sums it up! :) Am I bothered? NO!!!
Opinions so far are polarised about my Mary Lamps - The Embroidenator, who is usually first in line for a more is more experience, hates them. She pulls all kinds of hilarious faces and makes wry comments about what they could be used for. Likewise several of my friends also don't like them. However, the fan base is enthusiastic in the extreme.
One friend has suggested I set up a site called It's an idea...
Right, off to tackle another one. I have plans for this one that mean letting go of it, and that means I need a few on and to help the grieving process...
Thoughts? Yay or Nay to exuberant Mexican iconography as homewares?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Am I an iceberg, or a piece of polystyrene bobbing on the surface?

Sometimes I wonder whether there really is more underneath the surface! Very deep. This came up the other day when I was explaining, or rather admitting, to a customer that I had exhausted all of my knowledge about a particular craft in our conversation, all the while sounding like I knew so much more. At least I am an honest knowall ;-)
The blogging world is a strange thing. I spend at least an hour a day reading others' blogs so I feel all "up and in it," but my own remains silent. And of course, there's the whole paradox - busy life = harder to find time to blog even thought here's more to blog about! And the internet rule, that if there's no photos it never happened, mean that many fun things have happened that I can't share. Because when I am having fun, I don't remember to get out the darned camera. SO this is an anti-post - covering several things that ought to be posts in their own right, with photos. I may break the internet!
These include:
Spending last weekend teaching lampshade making in Martinborough again - only this time instead of a huge classes in the church hall, we were in a converted church. Peonies new Home and Living shop - full of glorious homewares from shutters taken from an old french farmhouse to pottery from South Africa. We were in the stock room, which is also fabulous, and also in the back of the shop itself. In the morning we held the usual Make a Lampshade class, and afternoons were for the Advanced class- on Saturday we covered lamps in wallpaper and on Sunday we lined them with wallpaper and covered them in fabric.
We stayed in a gorgeous old farmhouse that isn't even on the internet yet so I can't even steal photos of it! It was freezing all weekend and the grape growers were out all night with tractors keeping the frost off the grapes. But as always we had a fantastic time and felt very much at home in our favourite village outside of our own urban village.
Christmas is arriving at Made on Marion and Made Marion - so boxes and boxes of Christmas ribbons and wraps and projects and the works. It takes forever to process it all, right before going away which is a real planning mission with all of the supplies etc. When it is all sorted into colour families or stories or whatever lyrical nonsense, I will take pics to share.
Last week, I got another unusual commission - 30m of bunting for a boy's birthday party. For a TV commercial! It was so much fun in spite of everything else I had to do.
It gave me an idea - because I make and sell bunting strings, we get a lot of inquiries about wedding bunting, and non-sewers are often disappointed at the overall cost of making it. Even sewers who don't have a stash to raid - it really adds up. So, I am working on a set for hire. All in warm apricots/pinks, soft greens, creams and taupe. It's all double sided for durability, and with 130+ flags it will take a while, but I am pottering away. Many have lace and ricrac etc sewn to them. I can't wait to show you!
Also, yesterday was the very last day I had to register a show in the Fringe festival. I did it! In spite of their website being horrific to use, and constant interruptions, I did it!
And so I am off to make more flags and do the things shop owners do. And hopefully I can get some good pics of Christmas. :)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

So many different sewing projects

Sewing for me has never just been about clothes. I should be so lucky!
Owning the oldest and biggest haberdashery business in downtown Wellington means that all manner of projects come my way. Sometimes I deflect them to dressmakers, but if the idea appeals to me and I have the time, I will take it on.
The latest projects are pretty diverse. This last fortnight, I made metres of Oktoberfest bunting and hemmed endless blue and white draping cloths, to decorate the St Johns Bar for the annual Brass Band showdown and fund raiser. But I cannot find a single photo of it online!
This week, I got a mysterious call on Monday about red, white and blue ribbon. When questioned, the caller admitted it was for the opening of the new Arras Tunnel in Wellington. I explained that one could not buy 15cm (6 inch) wide red, white and blue ribbon just like that, but I could make it for them. And so, I did just that.
Here it is; and the news story I pinched the photo from. I carefully sewed 50mm wide satin ribbons together, with only a scant 3mm overlap. Matching the top and bottom thread to the ribbon it was lined up with even.
I am never going to get a civic statue for my work in this area, but it is becoming a fairly regular thing. And because I can say, I made this or that ribbon for an opening, the requesters are always impressed.
I think this comes down to contextual satisfaction. I do not particularly enjoy sewing straight lines like this, but to know that I have in a tiny way contributed to a project so special, and with so much input by luminaries such as Peter Jackson, gives me a bit of a thrill. :)
I take my thrills where I can!

Monday, September 22, 2014

WSBN Tour #22 - My Sewing Space

Well, have I got a story for you. I joined the WSBN sewing room tour mid way through, as it just was so much fun looking at the others', I got FOMO and jumped in. With a week to go, I took lots of photos of my incredibly messy space, and wrote a post. But you know what? I kept qualifying and justifying the mess, and after reading Joy's post on Acharmofmagpies (see below) and her ponderings on messiness vs creativity vs productivity in the face of messiness, or lack of it, I realised that I wasn't content to leave it that way, let alone show it that way.
So, today MrC and I got stuck in and transformed it.. It only took us a couple of hours, which given how bad things were was quite amazing. Plenty of trips to the skip to chuck out things we had been hanging onto for years, sorting a pile for donating, things to go to the shop or downstairs, a really thorough vacuum and a cursory dust and here we are.
Presenting my work room. It is 24sqm (about 250 sqft) which is pretty big eh! Spesh since our whole floor space is only about 85sqm. It IS the reason we bought the apartment though. It triples as an office, a work studio and a guest bedroom. Yay!
First up, the costume rack. It is to the right by the top of the stairs as you come up (so the stairs are on the right of the pic, see?) Usually it is draped in a sheet and a quilt, to keep dust and light off it.
And now, turning around and facing into the room from the top of the stairs, we have the office station. My quilt design wall is to the left. The stereo by the printer is essential, for listening to National Radio or books on CD while I am sewing.
Moving into the room, tall stash cupboards - the futon couch for guests in the corner. Up top are patterns, boxes of projects and felt, trims and laces. A pile of books I collated today from various spots around the room. My threads in several boxes. I am tall and it is really easy to hook things down from up there!
The dressmaker's dummy, and a pile of things to go to the Sallies. The alcove formed by the big shelf and this second bank of tall stash cupboards holds a bookcase and a tall laundry basket of rolls of buckram, Vilene, paper, etc. etc. The big shelf holds board games, quilt batting, bedding, books, fabric, tools - so much stuff. Up top of the cupboards is interfacing, more tools and notions and projects.
And here we are, at the business area! Yesterday you couldn't see the wood of that table top for stuff. The tables are arranged like this to make best use of space - the area by the stairs has angled beam coming into the room. It works.
My Bernina 1230 - replacing the 1120 I bought in 1991 that died three years ago. I was so lucky to find this honey on trademe (NZ's ebay) for under $1000 - yup even a 25 year old machine is worth that much. I am looking after this honey, she is going to see me out! Behind are baskets of tools, machine parts, needles etc etc. I love baskets. My angle poise lamp is essential for night work as the overhead lights are not great. Looking past the desk is the costume rack and the stairs
My work table. I use it for cutting small projects but big ones I take to work, or use the kitchen bench. It's  big enough table, just quite low. It's awesome to have it cleared! The lower photo is of the same table yesterday.
The stacker tray behind my chair - my brown frock coat and some mending jobs piled on top. It also got a workover today and now has paper craft things, small gifts and UFOs in it.
And now, stash cupboards. RED things - this cupboard is about heavy fabrics and synthetics. Except the top shelf which holds the most gorgeous cotton voiles I bought recently for this summer.
Another blurry one, sorry! Silks, cottons and other glorious stuff.
The other cupboards - notions in the drawers, fat quarters in boxes, random fabrics in the bottom. The right cupboard is all quilting fabrics.
Under the table is my box and basket of shirt fabrics. And a green container of costume jewelry from my grandmother. The box on the left is for cotton offcuts. This was a mess and a half until this afternoon.
See? A mess.

I am just so happy to have a tidy space. It is a big space and gets messy fast, but now it is set to rights it won't take much to restore it. Nothing we threw out today was sewing related, either.
It's particularly useful as I have TWO big shows coming up to costume, so I need the mental space of a tidy space. I am happy with a lot of stuff and some clutter, I prefer it. But when I can't find things it drives me nuts.
Tomorrow I will do a short post of my other work area, at the shop. In the meantime, here is the list of other posts in the tour. I hope you find or found it as inspiring and motivating as I did!
1st: Gemma at 66 Stitches
2nd: Laura at Laulipopnz
4th: Nikki at NikkiStitches
5th: Juliet at Crazy Gypsy Chronicles
6th: Sandra at SewistStitch
7th: Sophie-Lee at Two Random Words
8th: Kat at Macskakat
9th: Holly at Polycraftual
10th: MaryLouise at Thanks I made this myself
11th: Nina at Ninavirgo
12th: Sandra at FlossieFT
13th: Melissa at The Curous Kiwi
14th: Zara at Off-Grid Chic
15th: Crafty Mermaid
16th: Gillian at Sewing Down Under
17th: Leimomi at The Dreamstress
18th: Teresa at Adventures of a Girl from the Naki
19th: Joy at Acharmofmagpies
20th: Nicola at Silvern Swan
21st: Jenna at Ruby Dust
22nd: Moi!
25th: Elisabeth at The Sewphist

Happy blog hopping everyone! And if we have inspired any of you to get into your pace and sew - be it a tiny corner of your bedroom or a huge mezzanine floor, (I have had both and it never changes my output!) then it was all worth it. And if it makes you feel better about your space, that's good too:)