Dapper Day Fall 2017

I’ve participated in almost every single Dapper Day since it was started, ranging from “let me throw on this cute dress and call it a day” to “let me hand sew my dress and craft my accessories and wear fancy shoes.” This fall’s Dapper Day was kind of in the middle. Now that it’s a two day event, I skipped the first Magic Kingdom day and attended the second day at Epcot.

I wore the dress I made to perform in Kiss Me Kate, which was adapted from Simplicity 1459. It’s a very comfortable dress, although it had been boxed up with the rest of my costumes since the show closed so it was a little wrinkled. Oops! I also wore my Malco Modes chiffon petticoat as well, but I think it’s starting to deflate. Anyone have recommendations for re-fluffing a chiffon petticoat, or where to find a new one?

My shoes were on clearance in the kids’ section of Target and were only $6. The Cat and Jack brand at Target is fantastic- I fit in their shoes and they’re so very cute. I didn’t go with any other accessories really, other than my Alex and Ani bracelets and my Ariel hairbow from Hot Topic. It wasn’t really an Ariel disneybound per se, but the colors of the dress and the colors of the bow matched enough that I went with it.

I’m planning to do a more elaborate ensemble for spring Dapper Day next year…I just need to get started! You might have noticed one particular recurring theme in my sewing posts- I procrastinate. I procrastinate like crazy. I always leave projects until the very last minute, and that has come back to bite me in the butt more than a few times.

I’ve already picked out my big Dapper Day outfit for next spring, and as long as there aren’t any bumps in the road in the next six months, I’ll be Disneybounding as Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, with my boyfriend as Gilbert Blythe. It’s the dream, you guys.

(Source: anneofgreengables.com)

I know, I know- Anne isn’t a Disney character. But that’s all right. The plan is to make a sweet and simple dress, with puffed sleeves of course! I’ll add black boots and lace trimmed socks, and I’ll freshly dye my hair back to red right before. I’m also going to get a slate, put it on a purse, and write “carrots” on it.

Here’s hoping that I get it all done! Are you already planning your Dapper Day attire? Tell me your ideas in the comments!

Costuming the Wedding Singer

Before I costumed The Wedding Singer…I actually hadn’t listened to any of the songs from the show. Oops. I had seen the Adam Sandler movie, ages ago, but I had some research to do for the production.

Wedding Singer is a super cute, super lively musical about a (duh) wedding singer and a waitress who fall in love, even though he’s not over his ex who left him at the altar and she’s engaged to a (really awful) CEO. It’s an incredibly high energy show from start to finish, and it’s set in the 1980s, so clearly that makes it a lot of fun.

I just didn’t have any idea how challenging this show would be to costume! Here are just a few of the problems I ran into:

-a huge cast! There were about 25 people that needed costumes. Not only that, but each lead had an understudy, plus all of the ensemble members had multiple costume changes.

-multiple specialty costumes! I needed three blue blazers, plus four wedding gowns, plus four sets of bridesmaids. It was super intense.

-minimal budget and no wardrobe to pull from! This production was done through the Stage cast club, which is for Disney cast members, so we didn’t have a specific theater that belongs strictly to us. The show was actually performed in the Ballroom of the Americas in the Contemporary resort. So you can see how it was an interesting set up from the beginning.

I pulled as much as I could from Goodwill and from the actors’ wardrobes, but I did end up making a lot of specialty pieces.

One of the actors actually found the iconic blue blazers online! They weren’t exactly, uh, the best craftsmanship, but it was easier to alter these guys than sew blazers from scratch. The director also found the piano ties on eBay. George’s top was a ladies’ blouse from Goodwill and I added copious amounts of ruffles.

IMG_1506 (1)Robbie also had some pretty sweet parachute pants “that his grandma bought for [him].” They were actually tracksuit pants with extra zippers attached.

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The ensemble for “All About the Green” needed to be identical, so there were about ten navy dirndl skirts. Yikes. Luckily, one of the cast members, Madison, was an absolute angel and helped me with a lot of projects, including this one.

The impersonators posed a definite challenge- Mr. T, Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, Imelda Marcos, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Nancy’s dress and cardigan was already in her closet; Ronald and Imelda got their outfits from Goodwill with some alterations. Mr. T and Billy Idol pieced their costumes themselves (with some extra fringe stitched carefully to Billy’s vest). Cyndi was the biggest challenge. I pulled a cute Betsey Johnson dress from my closet, added some multicolored tulle left from Holly’s skirt (you’ll see in a second), and we added a lot of accessories. A lot. Unfortunately the zipper popped during tech week! We had to replace it at the last minute. But it worked!

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Linda, Robbie’s ex-fiancee, also got a great pleated skirt. I made it without a pattern and it worked out really well, especially with the leather jacket.

There were also four wedding dresses used in the show! One was donated to the production- a truly massive 80s satin nightmare. I also donated a wedding dress from my own closet for the bride in the opening number; the crinoline was cut out to make it easier to dance in, and I added a set of massive puff sleeves.

The bodice of Linda’s dress was sewn from an out of print McCall’s pattern, 5580. It’s a simple bustier pattern that I made from muslin with a lace overlay. The skirt was also muslin with a lace overlay, and then a truly bonkers high-low hem tulle skirt. It moved so well during Linda’s act one number, and with combat boots and a silver belt it was perfect. (And that wig…just look at that glorious wig.)

Julia’s wedding gown was a super important project for me. She’s the female lead and the object of Robbie’s affections, so it was important that her wedding gown was as simple, sweet, and lovely as she is. My friend Molly played the role with the perfect balance of sweetness and quirkiness and it was so fun making her a gown. I used an actual 80s formalwear pattern that I found on eBay, Butterick 5965, but I made the skirt long and full. The dress was lined in muslin (no budget to be had!) with a layer of satin over it, and then a layer of very soft tulle over it. It actually wasn’t even tulle- technically it was mosquito netting. But it draped beautifully and it looked so soft and dreamy. The dress itself is very simple, but I made sure it fit her well, and I added a rhinestone trim (also from the 1980s- it was actually vintage!) so that Robbie’s question about “is that bedazzling?” made sense. She wore it with a veil from my closet and a petticoat, but there wasn’t a train to make it easier to dance in.

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(you can also see the super cute bridesmaids’ skirts that Madison whipped up!)

Holly, Julia’s cousin, had one of the most challenging costumes. For most of the show, she wore an IMMENSE poofy skirt. It was made of three layers of pink organza, with multiple layers of tulle circle skirts in a rainbow of colors. It was so time intensive to make, but isn’t the final result great?

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But guess what! That isn’t even the final result! Under that skirt, Holly is wearing a mini dress made of pink swimwear material! See, at the end of act one, Holly pulls a Flashdance and does the whole pull-the-chain-and-the-water-comes-down bit. She needed a dress that could get wet and be completely dry by the next performance. So you see that fancy tulle circle skirt? Yeah, it’s actually a tearaway! It fastened with two extremely sturdy magnetic snaps at the waist so she could pop it off, and underneath was a pink minidress made from McCall’s 5580. If I could do it again, I would make my own bias tape from black spandex rather than using the woven premade tape, but it still worked out and she looked great. (“Like a fairy godmother…only slutty.”)

IMG_1505 Wedding Singer is a complicated show to costume even without the constraints I had, but overall it was a great show- definitely one of the most high energy and dedicated casts I’ve worked with! I’m glad I had the chance to make them look good onstage. And I can’t wait to costume the show again this spring!

upcoming shows for 2018: Legally Blonde, Little Shop of Horrors, and more!

It’s only January 2nd, and oh boy, is my schedule already filling up with theatre! That’s not a bad problem to have though, right?

If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know about what’s happening this weekend. If you don’t- well, I’m making my debut in the Orlando Fringe Festival! Usually Fringe happens in the spring, but they’re doing a winter mini festival of the top twenty-five shows from the previous spring. I was not part of the original cast, but I also I kind of was? Okay, it’s weird, here’s the explanation.

Last winter I did my third show with Playwrights Round Table, which is a really great local group that produces new (usually short) plays by local playwrights. I played the role of Peggy in Welcome to Intercourse, a sweet and sassy ten minute play about two girls stranded on the side of the road who get rescued by a pair of Amish boys. It was a lot of fun, and when the full version of the show was accepted into the 2016 Orlando Fringe, I was offered the role, as well as two other roles since the show is made up of four short plays. But I had to turn it down- I was going to be a bridesmaid in my friend Song’s wedding, and her wedding weekend overlapped with the Fringe schedule. Womp womp. So I wasn’t part of the show in the original Fringe run, but when the show was accepted to the mini festival, the actress who originally performed in the full show couldn’t come back, so I was asked and I accepted!

I’m playing three roles in three of the four short plays- Peggy in Welcome to Intercourse, Alex in Meet the Pets, and Grace in Buried. It’s been kind of a whirlwind getting everything together, but the show opens this Friday and I’m really excited! I’ll do a full recap post when the show is over, and you can always keep up with my adventures on Instagram and Snapchat too.

After that, I’m working on the costumes for three shows…all in the month of May. Yikes! But at least none of them overlap, and I’ve already gotten a head start.

First coming up is a production of Legally Blonde with Brightstage. I’m super excited about this one; my friend Taylor (the Horton to my Gertrude in Seussical and my director for Heathers) is the executive artistic director for the company and is directing the show, and he brought me on board as the costume designer. I’m even going to have my own team! It’s the inaugural production for the company, but the production team is fabulous and I’m really thrilled to be working on the show. We’ve had our first production meeting already and auditions will be coming up in late January, so I’m ready to get started.

Then I’ll be working on a production of The Wedding Singer with Melon Patch Players in Leesburg. It’s a little far, but I’m looking forward to it for a couple of reasons.

#1: I’ve costumed the show before, on a significantly smaller budget (that blog post is coming soon!)

#2: the director, Tad, was my director in Evil Dead so I think the production team aspect is going to go just fine

#3: the Melon Patch theater has a full costume shop I can pull from

The Wedding Singer is a complicated show to costume- not only do you have four wedding dresses, plus their wedding guests, but also every ensemble member has multiple characters to play, not to mention the celebrity impersonators- but it’s a truly delightful show. It’s still one of my bucket list shows to perform too!

The other show I’ll be working on in the spring is Little Shop of Horrors with Celebration Theatre Company. Not only did I perform with them twice last season (in the summer cabaret and Heathers) but this is my second year as their costumer in residence. So basically, I’m not fully costuming the show, but I’m there to assist with the production. I’m also most likely going to audition for the show. Audrey has been one of my dream roles since high school, and it’s one of the roles that people kind of assume I’ve played before because of my voice (along with Adelaide from Guys and Dolls). It’s going to be pretty competitive, but I want to audition for the show- I’ve got my song picked out and everything.

 

There’s a couple of projects that might potentially come down the pipeline later in the year (several auditions, more costuming….maybe even directing??) but I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch, you know? In any case, the productions I’m already committed to doing are going to be great, and I can’t wait to get started!

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown had always been one of my top choices to direct when I started teaching- it’s a really accessible show, fairly simple to sing and simple to stage. So when I was working for a school that wanted to invest as little as possible in its arts program, it was a solid choice, especially when I found out they had done it about five years earlier and we had some key costume pieces in storage! Life was a lot easier when I realized that Schroeder, Charlie Brown, and Linus already had their shirts.

While the show only has a few cast members originally (Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Sally, Schroeder, and Snoopy) I decided to expand the cast to include more kids. Because that’s what needs to happen for a middle/high school production, especially when there’s only two shows a year and you want to give as many kids as possible a chance to be part of a performance. Woodstock was added (a nonspeaking role for literally the most precious second grader you’ve ever seen) along with several other birds from the elementary school, and then an ensemble of older kids that, while they didn’t have lines, were all chosen from Peanuts characters- Peppermint Patty, Frieda, Patty, Marcy, Violet, the Little Redheaded Girl, and Pigpen. Most of my kids had minimal to no stage experience, but they were absolutely fantastic. All of them hard workers, all of them super eager to learn, and it turned out to be a great production. If it hadn’t been for the garrulous music teacher (which is a whole ‘nother story, but for reference please picture the Queen of Hearts from the animated Alice in Wonderland and you’re just about there) it would have been perfect.

The boys were very easy to costume. Since, for the most part, their shirts were pulled from storage, it was a matter of them bringing in the right shorts and sneakers from home. Pigpen had a brown shirt that he brought from home as well, but again, super easy to get. My philosophy (pun accidental) when costuming is to either make everything my cast needs, or have them bring in items they already own; I don’t like sending my actors to buy costume pieces. Which is what made it even more miraculous when my Charlie Brown found a pair of yellow and black striped pajamas that worked perfectly for the opening number.

Snoopy’s costume was also fairly simple. I didn’t want to do a full body dog costume, so Snoopy wore white pants and a white shirt with a black and white baseball cap. With some slight makeup (mostly the black nose) he was perfectly believable as Snoopy. For the Red Baron sequence at the top of act two, he added goggles, a flight cap, and a white scarf pulled from my sister’s costume collection.

The birds were also very simply costumed- yellow shirts, black shorts, and sneakers. Woodstock also wore a yellow tutu and we tied yellow ribbons in her pigtails. She was literally the cutest.

Sally and Lucy were slightly more tricky. A lot of productions try to copy the comics exactly and put their actresses in drop waisted dresses with short skirts that stick out like hula hoops. I ended up putting them in more 50s style fit and flare dresses, mostly because I had Sally’s dress already! I played Janice Vickery in The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds in college and made my own costume, a pink and white polka dot dress with a half circle skirt and a peter pan collar (I used Simplicity 4116, which has been out of print for quite a while, but it’s pretty easy to find comparable patterns). To make it work for my Sally, I took the dress in and made a sash and a hairbow; with frilly ankle socks, pink low top converses, and a small petticoat, it was perfect. I wanted Lucy in something similar, so I used McCall’s 4948 (their Alice in Wonderland pattern) to make a plain blue dress with puffed sleeves and a circle skirt, but I eliminated the peter pan collar to keep it looking more like Lucy and less like Alice in Wonderland. The school’s powers-that-be thought the skirt was too short (despite all my actors in skirts wearing shorts under their costumes) so I added a ruffle to the hem. I made two bows to match, and then added a petticoat, frilly ankle socks, and saddle shoes.

The other girls in the ensemble wore outfits reminiscent of their characters in the comics, mostly by colors. Peppermint Patty wore sandals, a sports jersey, a backwards baseball cap, and drawn-on freckles, and Marcy wore a sailor dress and Harry Potter glasses. Violet wore purple, Frieda wore red (and had naturally curly hair!) and Patty wore an orange and gold plaid dress that I had previously used when I directed David Ives’ Words Words Words.

The most unique part of my production, in my personal opinion, was adding the Little Redheaded Girl, the object of Charlie Brown’s affections. I had a redheaded student that I costumed in a white dress and a pink floral print cardigan, and incorporated her into the group scenes. She was there when Charlie Brown did his lunchtime monologue, and she skipped past him during the baseball song. My favorite part was the very end, when he’s holding her pencil at the end of “Happiness.” All the other actors had already left in twos and threes, and he was alone onstage with the pencil. It’s scripted that Lucy gives the final line, but instead I had the Little Redheaded Girl tap him on the shoulder and hold out her hand. He gave her the pencil back, she said “you’re a good man, Charlie Brown,” and then took his hand to walk him offstage. It was such a sweet moment and a great ending to the show!

Amy March from Little Women

This dress didn’t begin life as Amy March. It just kind of…happened.

Picture it: my junior year of college, 2000 and something. My English literature class was doing group projects, and mine decided to do an Oprah-type interview of Jane Austen. Who was selected to play Jane Austen? Me! But I needed a costume.

I ran to Joann’s and grabbed Butterick 6630, their regency-era pattern, and whipped it up in white muslin. I mostly followed the pattern to the letter, although the laced back was a little tricky- I ended up using little white eyes for the loops instead of messing with punching eyelets. I also added a little bit of eyelet to the sleeve cuffs and added a full lining to the skirt, also trimmed with eyelet (I’m always a slut for eyelet). I pulled my hair back in a loose knot, added a pair of black ballet slippers, and it made for a pretty decent Jane Austen costume!

Flash forward to Akaicon 2016. I was planning on attending the masquerade, but I didn’t have a ballgown cosplay completed. And I was running out of time fast (and money- the yardage for ballgowns ain’t cheap). I played around with a couple of options but ended up pulling my white Jane Austen dress out of storage and set to work with a different literary character in mind.

In the book Little Women there’s a scene in the second half where Amy, the youngest sister, is preparing to go to a ball. She ends up taking a hand-me-down white ballgown, adds tulle and some flowers, and goes to the ball without anyone suspecting that she’s wearing someone else’s old dress. In fact, it’s that scene where she runs into Laurie again and…well, I would say spoiler alert but the book was published in the 1880s. But it’s a great scene. Amy’s a great character (not in the beginning, I know, but she grows up to be awesome) and I thought the scene would the perfect setup for an (admittedly obscure) amazing cosplay for the masquerade.

It must be recorded of Amy that she deliberately prinked that night. Time and absence had done its work on both the young people. She had seen her old friend in a new light, not as ‘our boy’, but as a handsome and agreeable man, and she was conscious of a very natural desire to find favor in his sight. Amy knew her good points, and made the most of them with the taste and skill which is a fortune to a poor and pretty woman.

Tarlatan and tulle were cheap at Nice, so she enveloped herself in them on such occasions, and following the sensible English fashion of simple dress for young girls, got up charming little toilettes with fresh flowers, a few trinkets, and all manner of dainty devices, which were both inexpensive and effective. It must be confessed that the artist sometimes got possession of the woman, and indulged in antique coiffures, statuesque attitudes, and classic draperies. But, dear heart, we all have our little weaknesses, and find it easy to pardon such in the young, who satisfy our eyes with their comeliness, and keep our hearts merry with their artless vanities.

“I do want him to think I look well, and tell them so at home,” said Amy to herself, as she put on Flo’s old white silk ball dress, and covered it with a cloud of fresh illusion, out of which her white shoulders and golden head emerged with a most artistic effect. Her hair she had the sense to let alone, after gathering up the thick waves and curls into a Hebe-like knot at the back of her head.

“It’s not the fashion, but it’s becoming, and I can’t afford to make a fright of myself,” she used to say, when advised to frizzle, puff, or braid, as the latest style commanded.

Having no ornaments fine enough for this important occasion, Amy looped her fleecy skirts with rosy clusters of azalea, and framed the white shoulders in delicate green vines. Remembering the painted boots, she surveyed her white satin slippers with girlish satisfaction, and chasseed down the room, admiring her aristocratic feet all by herself.

“My new fan just matches my flowers, my gloves fit to a charm, and the real lace on Aunt’s mouchoir gives an air to my whole dress. If I only had a classical nose and mouth I should be perfectly happy,” she said, surveying herself with a critical eye and a candle in each hand.

In Amy-ish fashion, I dug around to see what I had in my costume supplies, and lo and behold, I found a set of white Ikea Lill curtains, still in their packaging. Basically I had a panel of soft, already hemmed tulle. I cut up the curtains to make a multilayered tulle skirt and added a waistband and a hook and eye and voila! The addition of the long tulle skirt made my simple muslin dress look dreamy.

It wasn’t quite complete though, so I added a blue satin ribbon sash, a blonde wig (the same one I wore for Eleven), and a flower crown from Claire’s. My boots are a beautiful pair of ivory high heeled Seychelles Romance boots that look gorgeous but HURT. I was relieved I was only wearing them for the masquerade because wow, so much pain.

I have a couple of (awkward) photos in the costume, and while no one knew who I was, I was really happy with how it turned out. The fit could have been better and it could have been a little fancier, but for a costume I only wore for two hours it worked really well!

Astrid Hofferson from How to Train Your Dragon

The only way I can describe this is “Princess Astrid.” Really.

I love How to Train Your Dragon, so for Not So Scary in 2015 I decided to make a costume inspired by her. Her full outfit was going to be impractical, especially for Florida (faux fur! Leather! weaponry!) so I designed a one piece dress reminiscent of Astrid using my trusty Simplicity 1873 as a base.

The bodice is made of a red brocade that I bought online. Sadly it is far too shiny in person and I wasn’t happy with it at all. I also wasn’t happy with the faux lacing- the neckline sits too high and the waistline sits too low, making me seem lumpy and uneven. The sleeves were fairly simple though; I used cream cotton from my stash and stitched on brown ribbon to look like the lacing of her arm guards.

The skirt was a brown cotton that I originally purchased for my Vanellope Von Schweetz cosplay (although I found a much better fabric later). I used a wide burlap ribbon to cover the waist and stitched stripes of narrow burlap ribbon onto the skirt to look like the fur and leather panels. I tracked down skull buttons on Ali Express that literally arrived at the last possible second.

The headband was a length of brown twill belting with elastic stitched to the center, and I wore navy Walmart leggings and my Rocketdog boots. Super classy, eh?

Here’s where I really messed up, though. Because…I’m a procrastinator. A really dreadful procrastinator. I waited until the day of Not So Scary to get started on my project. And I slept in too. And also I was working on my friend’s Belle costume, which I hadn’t completed either. I am literally THE WORST. I cried. Often. And I wasn’t happy with the final products of either cosplay. But oh well. We still made it to Be Our Guest on time (so Bri got to eat at the castle while dressed as Belle) and we still had a great time at the party. Will I wear my Astrid dress again? Not without significant changes. But at least we had a good time!

Dapper Day Queen Elinor from Brave

Fall Dapper Day is somehow always harder to plan for. Dapper Day in the spring naturally lends itself to soft pastels and fluffy petticoats, but picking something in a fall color scheme is harder. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s just me.

I went through multiple options for my Dapper Day attire until I finally settled on Queen Elinor from Brave. I love the character and I hadn’t sewn anything in that rich green color before. I also decided to make it easier on myself by making a skirt and cape instead of a dress.

The skirt was self drafted- if I’m making a dirndl or circle skirt, you can bet I’ve drafted it myself. (Comment below if you want to see tutorials!) I made a basic circle skirt (with pockets) out of a gorgeous green taffeta I had in my stash that had been sitting around for years, waiting for the right project. The zipper came from my stash too, so I ended up not paying anything out of pocket for the skirt! I also pulled out my trusty Malco Modes skirt.

The cape was a little more complicated. I wanted to do something special with it. I bought a super basic New Look pattern for a cape and used the hood pattern piece from McCall’s 5534 (it’s out of print, but if you can find it it’s a super cute hooded bathrobe pattern). I bought a cream and green plaid and a black textured fabric, and made the cape fully reversible. I also made little ears and sewed them to the black hood. Why? So I could turn into a bear, of course! It was lightweight, easy to wear, and added just the right touch to the outfit.

I paired the skirt with a cream colored lace top from Forever 21 and a brown leather belt from…someplace. Walmart, maybe? I’ve had it since college, so who knows. The boots were bought at TJ Maxx after a long, nearly fruitless search. Really, why is it so hard to find plain brown lace up ankle boots without zippers and cuffs on them? But I found them at last and paired them with lace trimmed socks folded over the tops. My hair was straightened and I added a pearl circlet headband from Claire’s.

Dapper Day was actually scheduled to be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the fall, but beforehand I needed to go to Magic Kingdom to meet Merida (obviously). It was by far one of the best meet and greet experiences I’ve ever had. Merida was very sweet when I came up, and in order to make things easier (I get weirdly awkward and nervous when I meet characters and I have no idea why) I blurted out “Hey, Merida, I’m dressed like your mum and I can turn into a bear.”

She stopped and looked at me in confusion, and I took off my cape and started flipping it inside out. You can actually pinpoint the moment that she realized what was going on.

It was so great. She adjusted my ears for me and we posed like bears, and then she told me to make my best mum face and scold her (but she kept sticking her tongue out at me). It was a great interaction, and as I was about to leave, she stopped me and with the most sincere expression said “you’re beautiful.” I’m not going to lie, I got a little teary walking away. It was a great moment.

After a few more shenanigans at Magic Kingdom, my friend and I moved on to Studios, where clearly photoshoots had to happen, especially in front of Great Movie Ride.

All in all, it was a really successful (and comfortable!) outfit, and one of the best dapper days I’ve experienced.