Monday, January 26, 2015

Flying monkey jackets!!

For this year's full-length ballet, the dance company did The Wizard of Oz, and they asked if I could make jackets for the flying monkeys. Of course the answer was yes! At first I was searching for costumes or bellhop uniforms, but those were either too heavy, too expensive or needed to be altered to be practical to dance in.
So from scratch it is! They needed 21 costumes for various-sized girls. This is what I used to go off of: 

And this is what I made: 

plus hats, of course. 

I chose poplin for the fabric; unfortunately I couldn't get it in the grey-blue that would match, but royal blue looks pretty good I think. I found this in the NYC Garment District, at A&H. 
The raglan-sleeve jacket pattern was tricky... I had a hard time finding a pattern for tween/teen sizes that would work. Eventually I combined the Field Trip and Nature Walk patterns from Oliver + S to make a raglan-sleeved cropped jacket. The size 12 worked well enough for the 27 inch chest, but for the other sizes I graded the pattern pieces. I left the collar off because they were smearing makeup as they turned. For wings, craft foam worked well -- I drew 3 pairs onto each 12x18" sheet and cut them out.
For the red and white design, at first I thought I could just stencil it onto the poplin before constructing the jackets. I made some stencils from plastic, cut with an x-acto knife, and tried it.
Straight-on fabric paint (actually screenprinting ink from dickblick) didn't work because the blue showed through. I realized that i needed a white background to paint the red onto, then still applique that onto the blue main fabric. I found 60" poly-cotton broadcloth in white from Fabric Wholesale Direct (a great online store, I wish I'd found them before hauling 15 yards of heavy poplin on the train!) Back to the art store I went as well, to get a silkscreen and a consultation... the trial also showed me that I needed to mix two reds to get the color I wanted.

After measuring my stencils, I figured out that if cut into 14" widths, the 60" broadcloth could lay over my kitchen counter and fit 7 of the back design at a time.
After screenprinting the design on, I had nowhere else to let them dry so I hung the pieces on the wall; I didn't want red splotched walls so I taped them straddling corners.

I then ironed them to heat-set. I did the same for the sleeves and the hats.

For the front pieces, I decided to make a stencil that could do two at a time and just flip it for half of them... after I'd made quite a few ;D! I figured out an alternative way to heat-set is with a low oven for 10 minutes -- just watch the time or they melt :(
After the fabric strips were heat-set, I cut out the pieces with a generous white border. 
Pinning, pinning, lots of pinning. 

Using the edge of the presser foot as a guide, I stitched the appliques on with a wide satin stitch and black thread.

Then the jackets could be put together, with the wings sandwiched into the back seams.

Then just hems and they're done! Hats are the 9-12 month Bucket Hat (from Little Things to Sew, and from the o+S website, under free patterns) without the brim. 4" rolls of interfacing and grippy clips from toptrimming... (they don't have them on the website, but do in the store)! 

and here they are in action. 

whoohoo! one of my biggest sewing undertakings yet. And that was just the jackets. There was also 40 red poppy dresses that took 4-5 appliques each,

skirts for the Scarecrow, Tin (wo)man, and Lion, 

 14 Emerald City tutus with 6 appliques each,

and trims for Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch. 

A good time was had by all... they even gave me a thank-you card and a show circle shoutout. Happy girl, looks like they have me roped in for the next 10 years!