The Movie Costume Project

Today I decided that I should watch all of the movies that have won for Best Costume Design, and report my findings here.  I’m sure I’ve seen many of them, but I’d like to go through the list, starting at the very beginning – I think it’ll be an important study!

Stay tuned for that, and for move West Side Story pictures!

The Dresses of West Side Story

I suppose this is technically the second update on the upcoming production of West Side Story.  This weekend I did some major costume work, completing three out of Maria’s five costumes – well, the bases for them in any case.  They still need to be fitted and likely hemmed more, for they seem a tad too long.  I also completed two slips for the two main girls so that they have a proper base under all of their costumes.

This first picture is of Maria’s first costume.  She’ll wear this at the “Dance at the Gym” scene.  It keeps her very covered, which is what most of the other characters want at the beginning of the story.  As you might be able to tell, it is a bit sheer, which is also why the slip for underneath it is so important (it also acts as a crinoline!, though I have to add some layers to it).

This next dress is Maria’s nightgown for “Tonight.”  This is when the red of the Sharks is fading from her, and the nightgown is pink.  This needs a new sash, as the one cut is too small.  I also need to add lace to the hem and more embellishment to the lace at the collar.

This last dress is going to be for when Maria sings “I Feel Pretty.”  This is purple, to show that she has completely separated from the Sharks at this point, and combined forces with Tony (he’ll have purple on as well).  This originally did not have the purple bow, but I added it on just to see what it would look like, and I think it definitely completes it.

I have one more costume planned for Maria, another full skirted dress for when she and Tony sing “One Hand, One Heart” in the dress shop.  I think this one will be white with purple flowers on it – I found the fabric I want to use for it.

This week I want to work on:

-Anita’s “Dance at the Gym” dress

-finalizing sketches for the Shark and Jet girls

-collecting clothes for the Shark and Jet boys

-find fabric for Anita’s dress shop smock

-start working on Anita’s “A Boy Like That” dress

The West Side Story Project

It’s been a while since I’ve had anything to report in the design and creation area lately.  Let’s just say it’s been a busy couple of months, with kind of a lull in creativity.  In any case, things are back in full swing now, as I prepare for my fourth costuming project.  This year my school is doing West Side Story, which happens to be my favorite musical, and one that I realized I have been costuming in my head without even realizing it.  I am happy to report that today we had our first rehearsal, and everything went exceptionally well as far as the costumes go.  My assistants and I cut out three different dresses and have them ready to sew, and I finally figured out how I am going to create crinolines for 10 – that’s right, you read that correctly – girls.

Maria and Anita are my main focus right now.  I feel that if I can get their costumes out of the way and ready, then I can begin to tackle the seemingly impossible job of getting the other girls in dresses.  That would be eight more Shark girls, and I think an equal amount of Jet girls.  The Jet girls, however, are not getting the crinolines.  One of the ways I am distinguishing groups is by having the Sharks in full skirts and the Jets in either A-line or pencil skirts.  The other distinguishing factor is, of course, color.  I am playing with colors this year, and I think I have it all worked out.  I’m excited to see where this all goes.

I have finished most of Maria’s dress for the dance at the gym scene.  It’s white, of course, because that’s what she complains about to Anita when she first appears, but also features a red sash (much like the movie version, though the actual design of the dress is different) to tie her to the Sharks.  After she meets Tony, her clothes are pink, to show the influence of the Sharks bleeding out of her (in turn, Tony will have on a lighter shade of blue, whereas most of the Jets will be in darker shades).  By the time they gather in the dress shop for “One Hand, One Heart,” they are both wearing shades of purple, to show that their former associations have faded, combined and have created something new.  I have no idea if an audience is going to get this, but I hope they at least feel it in some way.

Anita’s dress for the dance at the gym is likely to be my masterpiece for this show.  I’m planning something with chiffon and feathers, and that’s all I’m going to say about that for now!

Thankfully, a lot of our boys have clothes that work already, and so I can save money by having them wear their own jeans and shirts.  Converse sneakers will abound.  I still need to figure out what the background girls will wear when they’re not at the dance.  Probably “Bye Bye Birdie”-esque capris and shell tops.  We shall see.

In Praise of a Pattern

Since I taught myself to sew, one of my favorite sources for patterns has been Sense and Sensibility Patterns.  I have been a fan of this website since I saw the movie Titanic back in 1997 and wanted to create my own clothes from the movie.  At the time that I stumbled upon the website, Mrs. Chancey had not yet begun her own pattern line, but I was thrilled when she did!  It took me a few years to get “the guts” to actually try a project on my own, but I finally did and it began a whole new work of sewing, creating and designing that I have loved every minute of!

I have had fabulous results with all of Mrs. Chancey’s patterns, but my favorite by far is the 1910’s Tea Gown.  The Titanic/Edwardian era has long been one of my favorite clothing periods, and I was excited to get a pattern that would help me create a dress from that time period.  I actually bought it and didn’t use it for a long time, thinking it was a little too advanced for me.  However, when I took on the task of costuming my school’s production of The Music Man (which takes place in 1912), I knew I had to try!  I achieved amazing results!  I actually used the pattern for THREE different dresses from the show.  I made the dresses up completely differently each time, which was something I loved about the pattern (how versatile it was and how easily I, still a relative beginner, was able to take it and change it up slightly).  No one knew that I had used the same pattern for three of the costumes.

Even with this one being my favorite, it took until THIS year to make a dress for myself!  I decided to be Rose from Titanic for Halloween, and I didn’t even have to think twice about the pattern.  I made the dress up for the first time for myself, and I loved wearing it!

The 1910’s Tea Gown made up for myself for Halloween 2010.  This spring I plan to do something a little different with the pattern again, and make it tea length so that it can be worn for springtime parties and events.

Halloween Costume 2010: Rose DeWitt Bukater, Part Two

Not too many photos from the progress yesterday and not much progress made as I stopped in order to help my sister make her costume (photos of that one coming soon as well!).  Here’s the nearly completed bodice.  These were taken with my phone so they’re not the greatest.  Today I’ll remember the actual camera!

Halloween Costume 2010: Rose DeWitt Bukater, Part One

This year I’ve decided to be Rose DeWitt Bukater from Titanic.  I’ve been a fan of Titanic since it came out (though thankfully the crazy obsession I once had with it no longer applies; now I just appreciate the movie for the costume design and tend to turn it off once the sinking begins!).  I have always loved all of Kate Winslet’s costumes in the movie, and have been determined to have a similar piece in my wardrobe, however my life doesn’t really call for long Edwardian gowns.  Halloween does, thankfully and this year I decided to fulfill my dream of having an Edwardian-esque gown to wear.

I’m starting off with the Tea Gown Pattern from Sense & Sensiblity.  I’ve long been a fan of the pattern and the website, and have had the e-pattern for quite some time.  Today I printed it out, taped it together and cut out my size.

The progress thus far is small – I have only cut the lining for the bodice, wanting to ensure a decent fit (though a perfect fit it not 100% needed, as I will be modifying the sash in an effort to save time and can pin anything that doesn’t work), so I erred on the side of slightly too big, rather than worrying about it being too small.  (My motto always is that it’s easier to take something in rather than let it out!)  I plan to really get moving on this project over the weekend, and at least get the bodice done and the skirt pieces prepared.  It’ll be nice to have two full days to work on my projects, and hopefully I’ll be able to show off some other new dresses I’ve been wanting to make for myself lately.  All those “current projects” I showed off many moons ago are still works-in-progress.

The first thing I needed to do was study the costume so that I could create a decent representation.  I wanted a three layered skirt.  I chose a purple rayon for the base and the underskirt, and then a baby pink and light blue for the overskirts.  They look a little odd all clumped together on the couch, but I think they will drape nicely over each other and make for a fantastic skirt in the end.

What looks like red fabric at the top is actually a coral-ly colored satin that I am using for the sash.  The lace is for the bodice inset.

This dark purple is the lining, with the bodice pattern piece atop it, all ready to be cut.

So that’s my progress for the evening.  Stay tuned for Saturday and Sunday, when I will likely update with more progress!

Current Project Update

With work starting last month, time for sewing has been sparing. In fact, I’ve only been to my sewing room to look for patterns and to find some fabric for someone else! I miss it though, and hope to get back to it this week, as I’ve now gotten into a pretty comfortable routine and think I can make time for an hour or two in the sewing room each day. I’ve got some fantastickly fun sewing projects coming up this month, and in the next few months and I do want to be able to share all that I can.

Project number one is this year’s Halloween costume. I have decided to be Rose from Titanic, after much deliberation. I like to wear costumes, but I still like to be girly and pretty (which would explain why I was always a princess as a child!). I’ve never been Rose from Titanic, though the movie is thirteen years old at this point (where DOES the time go?!). I’d really like to document the making of this dress, even though I’ve already done something similar when I made the Sense and Sensibility 1910’s Tea Gown for The Music Man a few years ago, but I’ve never made this dress for me, so I’m pretty excited.  I’ve got a hairstyle picked out to go with it and everything!

The other exciting upcoming project is this year’s musical.  We’re doing West Side Story so that means crinolines galore and lots and lots of amazing dresses!


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