Sunday, April 17, 2011

Orchestra Banners, Volume 2

I mentioned in a recent entry that I had a little update, regarding the Slingers banner - here it is, in a wonderful photo taken at the recently restored Kessler Theatre. If you can look past Matt's fantastic 1920s Odd Fellows robe, you'll see the set of six stand-flags that I designed and executed. They come from the same panels of surplus velveteen and crushed velvet as the original orchestra banner (standing faithfully in the rear) - just smaller versions, focusing on the lotus flower element. I would have gone with an initialed concept, but seeing the letters "SS" just might not have communicated the positive vibe I was going for...

As with the banner, the flags were initially designed on newsprint, which was then cut into a template. After much cutting and pinning, the layers were sewn by machine (my much-beloved Pfaff 7550) - finished, they are secured to the music stands with velcro. I'm very happy with how they turned out, adding yet more vintage character to the performances.

I'm currently working on a couple of costume projects - once ready, I'm eager to post photos here. Once again, keep your eye out!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fun with Folkwear

This summer I've taken it upon myself to review and strengthen my sewing skills, reaching outside of my prior comfort zone with new patterns, fabrics and techniques. The Slingers banner posed new design challenges (more on that with an update to come) - this time around, I couldn't help but play with wispy textiles. When I saw this wonderful, Art Deco-inspired yoryu fabric in the clearance section of Joann Fabrics, I knew I would finally work on a pattern I'd longed to approach: Folkwear #214, a 1927 tea frock.

The design is very simple, and offers several options - long or short sleeves, collar or no collar, smocking or a flat drop-waist, as well as period-correct embroidery patterns. I decided to go with short sleeves (they're like fluid little wings!), and the basic waist - adding a sash to the left side, thus concealing the closure hooks and snaps. It had to be cool and free-flowing for dancing, as I'm gradually retiring my fragile vintage pieces, in favor of dance-friendly new ones. I performed on April 8th in this, and it is Ideal for the Charleston. The yoryu was a joy to play with, especially once I'd figured out the secret of sewing sheer fabric on top of newsprint - it made the work immensely faster and easier!

The cloche is an original, circa 1927-29, found at a wonderful estate sale on Eastern Avenue in Cincinnati, OH back in the early 1990s. These photos were taken at a garden party today, at our dear friend Rawlins Gilliland's beautiful home - Matt and Tom Pecena (a great friend, as well as my dance partner) were happy to pose for these photos.

I'm certain there will be more costumes to come - I recently bought a slew of reprint patterns from the 1910s -1930s, and expect this summer to be busy! Stay tuned...

A Moment of Calm in a Creative Storm

This is just a quick update, before photographing (and posting) a few recent projects that I'm happy to share. With the increase in Slingers activity this season, I've been working at both the drawing board and sewing machine - one project is shown today, several more to follow in very short order.

So, to the poster! For this event, I wanted to break away from my recent tendency toward pretty ladies, and decided to simplify. I figured that muted colors, simple lines and kooky whimsy would work well - so I went with dancing instruments, a male crooner (based on Matt's wardrobe) and a background largely inspired by the ceiling of Cincinnati's Art Deco masterpiece, Union Terminal:

This is a landmark that I grew up admiring - as would any Cincinnatian with any level of good taste. The building is graced throughout with magnificent architectural details, but what strikes me indescribably is the incredible ceiling. Soft tones radiate from the center, trimmed with silver-leaf... impeccable artistry. Like so many marvels in our country, Union Terminal was once at risk of being razed - fortunately it now serves as Cincinnati's Museum of Natural History, as well as its original purpose - the city's passenger train station.

The illustration was done, as usual, with colored pencil and ink. Mica-based metallic inks are such a joy to work with - this piece was no exception.

Keep your eye open for another post, coming along this evening - with a focus on costuming. Thanks as always for stopping by!