I was dreading this weekend. I knew that there wouldn't be a moment to spare for anything other than sewing costumes for Seussical. Between Jane's birthday last weekend, and me having a very nasty stomach virus this week, I was desperately behind in my costuming schedule. However, I was pleasantly surprised. My good friend Laura came over to keep me company in my mad rush of sewing. I don't see Laura often enough to suit me. We holed ourselves up in my basement (also known to me as my studio/library...I have a good imagination), we popped in a movie, drank tea and coffee and nibbled on vegetarian black bean enchiladas. Laura knitted, Jane played, and I cut and stitched away. Somehow, the cosy closeness of friendship seemed to take the edge off of all the work.
In addition to several smaller mending and altering jobs, the main characters I worked on were Sour Kangaroo and the 5 Bird Girls. I do not have completed outfits pictured here, so use a little imagination where accessories are missing, and crazy hair is lacking. Every actor will also have face paint and/or make-up to enhance their animal qualities.
Jane is modeling Sour Kangaroo's (and Baby Kangaroo's..they wear the same outfit) turban. I cut the foot off of a pair of old stockings, stuffed it with bits of old cloth, and slipped it onto Jane's head. This created the cone shape I needed to wrap the fabric around. Jane's little neck was unfortunately not strong enough to hold the turban up (it should be angled up and not so horizontal), but I tried it on, and with the stocking part pinned to my hair there was very little shifting.
Both Kangaroos will be wearing brown leggings and shirts under their "fashion capes" or ponchos. The light was fading by the time I took this picture, so I apologize for the yellowish glow. The fabric is a brown suede-like material with silk and sequined rick-rack strips applied to it. The whole effect is very tribal. Ears will be made and attached to the outside of the turban, but I am wondering if tails are necessary...I mean, the urban jungle creatures (aka - the chorus) probably won't have tails, only ears...so should the main jungle animals (kangaroo, Horton, etc.) have them or not? Thoughts?
On to the Bird Girls...
*Disclaimer, all photos of dresses are mine, but birds are images found on Bing. I have no sources.*
You have already seen the costume I made for Gertrude McFuzz. Well, here's the bird image I had in mind for her. Adorable, but not a little goofy and awkward, right. In addition to Gertrude, there are other Birds in the cast, and these costumes were my primary focus this weekend.
*FYI, all Bird Girls will be decked out in color coordinating feather boas and will be wearing these lovely orange fishnet tights.*
Mayzie, for starters is the flashy one that Gertrude wishes she could be like, and the leader of the Bird Girls pack. No other bird would do, of course, except for the peacock. I don't have Mayzie's dress yet, but this is the one I'm thinking of. What do you think?
The Chorus of Bird Girls are in the following colors: red, green, purple, pink and yellow. I found all of their dresses at local vintage/thrift stores. A couple were perfect as is, but the rest I altered.
Let's start with red, shall we.
Sassy, strong, gorgeous...a real stand out in the crowd type. I didn't do any alterations to this dress....didn't think it needed it. You should see the shoulder pads on this 80's baby...a mile thick, if not two!
Next is green...my favorite color, and probably my favorite dress out of all of them.
Fun, frilly, and again, very 80's. I just adore the texture of the bodice, and frilly sleeves set this one apart from the rest. A very ruffled feathers kind of look. This dress was perfect as is, and didn't need any alterations either.
Purple's next in line. I loved these purple birds...so sleek, long, and elegant...
...as was this dress. I did alter it though.
I took up the length of the dress, because I wanted all of the dresses short enough to see the orange tights. But I still think the tailored sleekness (and yet still ruffled) look of this dress said "bird" to me.
Ok...so maybe pink wasn't the perfect choice for a bird, because the only pink bird I could find was a flamingo. Still, some may think of flamingo as gangly and awkward, but I don't. I think they are long and graceful, with a big puff of unusually pink frilly feathers to set them off.
Finding a pink dress wasn't hard, but finding one to fit the actress wearing it was. (This dress is actually a little more pink in real life than it appears in the photo.) I did find the one above, and at first glance it did not say "bird" to me...nor did it fit in with the other three dresses above. I knew that if I were going to make this one work, I would need to do some major alterations. But, should I cut up something so classically 70's prairie style...could I really do it...should I really do? There were more than a few agonizing moments about weather I could convince myself to cut up a dress like this. But, in the end I did. I decided to go ahead and alter it for two main reasons...first off, Laura said I should...and secondly, the lace and lining were shredded, torn and moth eaten in places anyway, so I figured I was putting it to better use than letting it hang around in a closet where it would slowly rot away.
And here was the result. Does it say "bird" to you now? Does it make you think a bit of a flamingo? I sure hope so, because it's never going to be what it was before.
Finally, there is yellow. I love this little bird...so fresh, cheerful, bright.
It was surprisingly hard to find a yellow formal dress that was not modern. I stumbled upon this one for only $5. Again, I agonized over cutting this one up, but if I was going to use it for the play, it had to fit in with the other Bird Girls styles. But in the end, for similar reasons as the pink one, I altered it too.
This the front altered view...
...but it's the back view that's my favorite, and really says "bird" to me. The really sweet girl who plays the role of the yellow bird wasn't too excited about getting assigned the color yellow. I do hope that this dress cheers her up a bit, as I think it's a very bright, and fun outfit.
I'll try to take a picture of all of the Bird Girls together with their dresses on when I get the chance. I hope they like them. I don't know why I always worry so much about the actors liking their costumes. As costume director, it's ultimately my vision and my choice, but I still like to think about the actors being happy with what they are wearing. It's very important to me that what they wear fits perfectly with their character's personality.
Well, I'm off to work on Horton's costume now. A little coffee and a good night's rest has geared me up for another day of sewing.