Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sherlock: Costume Closet: The Other Woman

After about three days of super labor intensive sewing I had Amanda J Hull's costume done.  I stood by took a look at my work, was proud for a moment, then realized with crushing fear that I had yet to make my costume for the show.  So I hopped back to the sewing machine and started all over at square one.

I also didn't do a costume sketch for my pieces because there was simply no time.  I had a pretty clear idea in my head of what I wanted, so i figured I'd just start from there.  I had roughly two days til the photo shoot, no fabric, and no car.  It was like the early days of Grimm again.  I had labor day weekend off work, and by that Monday I had Amanda's costume done, so I woke up incredibly early and jumped on a bus to the closest Joann Fabrics, which is and hour and a half bus ride.  Then I spent an extra two hours in the store arguing with myself over fabric choices.  By the time I finally got home the day was half over and the clock was ticking, photo shoot was happening in 32 hours whether or not I was done.

I started with the jacket.  I knew I wanted a peplum like skirt to the jacket:  Here's what I came up with:

Roommate lovely calls this pose my "I will eat your soul face"  so sorry.  That jacket however almost killed me. I did use a pattern; it was McCalls  6442 if anyone wants to give this look a go.

Now, the problem was money again. Like I said this production didn't have a lot of it.  So I had to find fabrics that would look  more expensive than they were.   Not. Easy.  I ended up finding the fabric for the skirt on sale for $8 a yard.  Still kind of pricey so i only got 3 yards of it, then I bought a very cheap matching cotton fabric for the jacket.  then i used a bit of the skirt fabric on the lapel to tie the look together.  The other issue with that cotton fabric is that it is not stiff at all, I had to line the jacket twice to get the right weight.  Then when it was done I didn't love the look of the sleeves, so I added some pleats and button details.  I also put the black piping around the sleeve cuff and the bottom of the coat to give it more dimension.

After I had finished the jacket it was now 1am, I was exhausted I'd been up since 6am.  I had nothing left and the photo shoot was in 16 hours.  Roommate then started playing "There Can Be Miracles" from The Prince of Egypt yelling "Si Se Puede!!! Yes, it can be done!!!!!"  I started giggling and got back to work.  In about three hours I'd finished the skirt.

 I went to sleep until 9am that next morning then got started on my hat.  It was 7 hours til the photo shoot.  I wasn't going to have time to go through the same process that I had for Amanda's hat.  Then I remembered I hat a really cheap waste paper basket from the Dollar Tree.  The thing was basically made of chicken wire.  I cut the bottom off and covered it in the right fabric, ribbon and flowers with my trusty glue gun.  Then, because the whole thing was made of wire I bent it to fit my head and attached an elastic band.  It only took about two hours.

Finally done I felt really good about the whole look and picked up a really cheap belt at Rainbow to finish the look.

Now that's all in this post for costuming.  We just had our opening weekend and it couldn't have gone better.  The cast was amazing, the audiences were incredible and we still have three more weekends!

We got just an excellent review from Russ Bickerstaff: You can read it here:  Cleverly Precise Sherlock Holmes

We also launched our kickstarted campaign to offset some of the costs of the production, it you liked the show or even if you're still coming but want to support us stop over and donate anything you can:

Thanks for everything!  Hope to see you all at the show!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sherlock: Costume Closet: Dr. John Watson

As promised here's the post on John Watson. Now I had thought that this costume was going to be the death of me before the production started, however it was actually probably one of the easiest costumes in the end.

I didn't even do a character sketch of what I wanted for John Watson, because I wasn't 100% sure of what I was really looking for.  Like I said in the last post, we cast all the guys in the show then had the first promotional photo shoot the next day... smart me.  So as a production team we sat down and the wonderful Tom Marks happened to have access to this massive storage space filled with costumes and props from an old theatre company that is no longer working.  We dug around in there and pulled a few things, and then Tom held up this suit:

I didn't even know I was looking for this, and yet it was perfect.  It was a nice study English tweed, three pieces, which to me always reads militaristic to reflect Watson's past in the army.   We paired it with a tux shirt to get the right look in the collar and Amanda Hull's boyfriend Cole had a deconstructed tie that we slapped on as an ascot. 

The one thing that was not ideal about this suit was the pants.  Everything else (The coat and vest) fit Max quite well, but the pants had been taken in for someone years ago and were taken in like six or seven inches in the waist. For the first photo shoot, I didn't have time to re-sew them so I just cut the seam down the back.  That's right ladies, Max's tush is hanging out the back of those pants in the picture above.  Mmmmmhhhmmmmmm, I know what sells tickets. 

Okay I did fix them for the show to protect his modesty, because while it is a very nice tush that would be fairly distracting.

Here's a shot with the pants fixed:

One of the other things you'll notice missing from this shot, and indeed the show is Watson's walking stick.  This is something we got rid of entirely.  In the books it does state that Dr. John Watson has a war injury, however Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is inconsistent about where that wound is placed.  There are some stories where it is in his leg, and some where the wound is placed in his shoulder.  Since the script was in flux, because I wrote it I asked Max where he would like the injury to be placed.  Max made the decision that to provide himself more mobility he opted for the wound to be placed in the shoulder. That's your fun Sherlock Holmes fact for the day.

I do feel a bit bad, I had promised Max a new cravat and something a bit more steampunky, along the lines of the ladies costumes but this just looked soooooooo perfect. Again. I said it in the last post and it should be repeated, if you find something that is pre-made that fits your idea this well DO NOT GET RID OF IT, there is not pride in that and you will just be causing yourself more headaches down the line trying to recreate it.

So that's it on John Watson.  Next costume closet we'll be taking a look at my costume for The Other Woman.  See you all soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sherlock: Costume Closet: Sherlock Holmes

This post will be an excellent example of how sometimes when you're costuming a show you don't get the thing that you pictured in your head, and truthfully in this case that was not a bad thing. 

In the last post I showed you the character sketch of Fanny Norton's costume and the realization was pretty close to the sketch... Now we get to Sherlock Holmes... Here's the sketch:

And here's what we ended up with:

Yeah... that's a little bit different.  Now how does something like this happen?  Well when I sat down to figure out what I wanted the show to look like and feel like, I had decided that I was going to build Sherlock's vest because I thought that Sherlock would have these pieces of clothing that were extraordinary to reflect how he feels about himself.  

Then it so happened that we had to schedule a photo for press purposes that took place literally the day after we cast everyone.  There was no way I was going to have time to sew anything in less than 12 hours, well I might have been able to, but it wouldn't have looked very good.  So we asked the guys: Michael Traynor (Sherlock) and Bryan Quinn (Inspector Lestrade) (More on Bryan in a later post): to bring in things that might suggest the character.  Then those beautiful, wonderful boys showed up with things more perfect than I could've ever made.  With time being as much of an issue as we had if it worked I wasn't going to be crazy enough to throw it away.  The fit was amazing and to be honest what Michael brought in was very similar to the sketch, except in the color scheme, and that was something I was willing to let go.

Here's a shot from the first photo shoot:

 One thing you will notice about the promo shoot is Michael Traynor's hair color switch.  Now I did like Michael's hair in that platinum blond hue, but for Sherlock I wanted him to be more grounded, more natural looking.  So we set up a hair appointment and Michael was good enough to go in and let us change his hair color for the role.

There was one thing I did build for Sherlock's character and that was the goggles pictured in the shot of Sherlock in his lab.  And by built I do mean that I found a pair of goggles and doctored them up a bit.  I don't have a great shot of those goggles on their own, so I guess you'll just have to come see the show to take a closer look.

- I started by gluing on all kinds of gears and cogs that I picked up at a local craft store.
-Then I took some wire and wrapped it around pens to create really tight small springs
-Finally after I had attached all of those pieces I took some metallic finger nail polish and lightly brushed the edges to give the goggles a more metal feel.

I do intend to make Sherlock a nice lab apron that is sort of leathery and earthy, but I might not get time.

Well that's it for this costume closet.  Next time we'll take a look at John Watson!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sherlock: Costume Closet: Fanny Norton

It's no surprise that I have a deep love of clothes.  One of the main things I always tried to do with the photo shoots here at Reconstructing Grimm was make really interesting visual choices with the costuming for all of our photo series.  With Sherlock Holmes and A Most Irreugular Tea Party I wanted to do the same thing, even though this is more of a period costume piece than anything we've done in the past. 

The first thing I thought would be to create this Steampunk-ish world for the characters to live in.  That way we could use semi-modern costume pieces and still keep a Victorian feel intact.  That sounds easy in theory, but in practical application it gets a little tricky.  This is made even more difficult due to the fact that I was an idiot and scheduled the press photos in such a way that only gave me a week to finish all the costumes. Yeah.... shall we see what I came up with?

Okay let's start with the character of Fanny Norton played by the incomparable cute-as-a-button Amanda J. Hull.  Fanny Norton was one of two costumes I built completely from scratch.  Here's the sketch I did for what I had hoped the costume would end up like:

And here's what we ended up with:

Not too bad.  Several things were added in the realization of the pieces.  For example, the leather collar and the belt.  The belt gave the waist more definition, which is incredibly flattering.  Sometimes Victorian costuming can get a bit frumpy, which while that is historically probably more accurate however nobody wants to watch frumptastic matrons prance around the stage for two hours.  You gotta give it a little umph and think the fit of the jacket and the addition of the leather collar really gave it the edge I was looking for.

Now the skirt I am proud to say I did without a pattern... well sort of.  I found this great online tutorial link here:  The Incredible Easy Bustle Skirt

You just plug in the measurements of the person you're building the costume for and boom in about two hours you're done.  I will say I did modify the pattern a bit and did some nipping and tucking here and there, but one of the best things of this skirt is that it's light weight.  For the movement Amanda (the actress pictured above) that she does in the show keeping the costumes able to flow was vital.

Then there was the headache of the hat.

Yes I made that hat.  Over the course of about 6 and a half hours I built that puppy.  Now why would I do that? Especially when I could just buy one that might look just as good if not better.  A couple of reasons.  One; I suppose I'm a glutton for punishment.  Two; we don't have a massive budget on this project and I could built the hat for about 10 bucks while buying one would put us into $50- $75 dollar range on the cheaper side.  In fact Amanda's entire costume only cost about $30 to make (To be fair the fabric was found in some old costume storage and a lot of the other smaller pieces needed I had, if you were buying everything you needed for the costume it would have been a lot more expensive).  The third reason was that buying a hat would insure that it would match the costume the way I wanted it to.  So how was this done:
 - Firstly I got a frozen pizza box and cut out the brim.  Then I spent three hours sewing by hand steel wiring onto the outer edge.
-Next I used my sewing machine to sew the green fabric to the brim of the hat then set that piece aside.
 -The crown was a circular piece of the pizza box that I dredged in water and placed in a bowl to get the right shape and the assaulted with a can of spray starch.  Then I let that sit over night to dry.
-The next night I fired up the glue gun and covered the crown of the hat in the same fabric that I used on the brim. Then put the two together and bent the brim until I liked the shape.
-Finally it was time for all the trimmings.  The flowers and ribbon I held up to the hat adjusting and fussing with it until I was happy then glued all the pieces to the hat.  
-The last bit was attaching a bit of elastic to that it would stay in place on someone's head.  Then I was done and ate lots of chocolate.

(If there is a demand for it one day I'll do a step by step tutorial on how to make the hat with pictures; however this won't be til after the show closes. I won't have time till then.  But, if you want to learn how add a comment and I'll get off my tush and show you.)

The whole ensemble from start to finish took about three days, eight hours a day.  I do have a day job, I just got up very early and went to bed very late for about a week.  I don't suggest anyone else do this... ever.  It makes you extremely cranky and in this case I got really sick buy the time I wrapped every thing up.  

That's all for tonight.  Next Costume Closet we'll be looking as Sherlock's costume.