Friday, September 21, 2012

Robe for "The Giver"

It's been anything but a dull month here! Now that school is in session again, it means a return to sewing costumes for the local high school drama department. This year they are doing something different: a play AND a musical at the same time!!!
The play is "The Giver" by Lois Lowry. It's a "dystopian future" kind of story, and if you're not familiar with it I highly recommend it (along with its sequels, "Gathering Blue" and "Messenger"). Luckily for me, most of the costumes will be purchased or rented. But the director wanted me to make a robe for the Giver, an elderly man who needs to look scholarly. She pointed me at this video to give me an idea of what she wanted. I can't embed it, but here's the link:
HEC-TV Live: Inside the Artist's Studio -- The Giver: producing the play
It's rather long, but if you go to about the 42:00 minute mark you'll see the character in his costume. This is all I had to go on.
So of course, I went to my trusty PatternMaster Tailor Made software. The actor playing the part was the same student who played Ren in last spring's "Footloose", so I already had his measurements. I started with a peplum jacket draft and elongated the skirt portion to extend to the floor. In Pattern Editor, I added flare and pleats to the back skirt section, so the hem sweep went from 40" overall to 120".
The real issue became sourcing the fabric. The director wanted it to have good body so it would hang properly, but it also had to be the right color, since color (or the lack of it) plays a major role in the production. I considered sweatshirt fleece, but couldn't find the right color. Wool would have been perfect but it was way too expensive. And then there was that contrast: how would I get that effect? After a fruitless search through two fabric stores, I decided it was time to think outside the box, and headed into WalMart.
I found what I was looking for within ten minutes:
Yes, those are curtains. Two panels, 54" wide and 82" long, were just enough fabric to make the robe. And the shirt ($5 on clearance!) would be cut up to provide the contrast trim. Total material cost: $25.
(When my son saw what I was using to make the robe, he said, "You sure do have a thing about making clothes out of curtains!")
Actual construction of the robe was a pretty quick project. The trim was attached with Heat 'n' Bond to avoid dealing with puckering.
Here's the front view:
It looks pretty much like a clerical robe, I realize, but when he's got the other costume parts (like the hoodie), it will look better. And I think it looks better unzipped anyway.

Back view, showing the trim going down the center back:

And it really twirls nicely:
So, that's one costume done. Now I have to get cracking on the costumes for the other production: "The Little Mermaid"!

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