March 19, 2013


Probably the most popular or at least well-known scene from "Singin' In The Rain" is the scene where Don Lockwood sings.  In the rain.  Am I right?  Even if you have never seen the movie or the play, you know the song.  

Here is our cute Don Lockwood, he let me quickly shoot this pic between scenes.    He is such a great kid - and he had CRAZY costume changes for his character.   I  never saw anyone work harder!

Google images:  from the 1956 movie with Gene Kelly.  His classic belted grey flannel suit  is iconic, to be sure.  What's funny though, is that if I wanted to get good pictures for design details, I could not get them very well from this scene.  But what I discovered was that those original costumers played a cute trick on all of us.  This suit is worn by two other characters before Don's rain scene.  The director Roscoe Dexter wears it and the producer R.F. Simpson wears it.  (It must have been a super popular style and they all wanted one...)  Anyway, I got the best details from those characters.  Don't believe me?  Go watch it for yourself!

There were no versions available of this suit jacket anywhere, online or otherwise, so I knew I would have to create it myself (so sad... ;).  I found a suit at the Goodwill for $10.99 that was huge so I could alter it down, and use fabric scraps to construct the important details.  This suit would be getting wet at least 7 times, so I made sure it was not made of wool, or it would definitely be ruined by all the water.  I tried it on our actor, and made the markings I needed.

I first hemmed the suit pants to fit our actor and cut off the excess, then pieced them together into a long strip.  This would become the belt.  Not shown, but I actually cut it in half again longways, and sewed those strips together to make a really long skinny strip.  Then, I cut an identical size piece of dark grey denim, and sewed it to the back to create my stiff belt.  You'll see more of this in a few steps.

I cut off the sleeve hems and removed the buttons.  I will make cuffs from these pieces later.  Then I turned the center front under.  To make a new center front that not only fit better, but was now higher, to look more like 1920s.  I folded under the hem to make it a little shorter and hit the right place on our actor's hip, to look "right".

Before I officially cut anything off, I soaped (my version of chalk is soap chips) out my character "lines".  These were details that would have been part of the original coat pattern but I had to "apply" them to make it look like it was done that way.  I made sure the new bottom hem was going to be perfect, and that what I cut off would be a wide enough piece to create those said chest pattern details.  I checked that my belt piece would go around and overlap like I wanted it to.  Yep - check.  Now to cut everything off.

Here you can see the hem cut off - I serged that edge and turned it under, then topstitched it down.  The sleeve cuffs are attached and topstitched at the edge to keep them standing up (Yah, it's not pretty construction that I normally do, but it's costuming, you can get away with that...)  The new center front line is stitched in place.  I pressed the new collar roll line so it looked more natural to be higher.  

Then I added the belt.  All important for the right "look".  You can see I backed that strip I cut off earlier from the hem, with a stiffer denim.  I created a nice pointed end for the belt overlap and that is where I started my wrap around the jacket waistline, leaving a little hanging off, to start.  I just pinned it every few inches, then when I got around to the other side, I tucked it under the center front and stitched it down.  

Here are those details finished.  Also, I added buttonholes, then buttons later.  And remember when I had the bottom hem folded under and said that I would use what I cut off to make those "details"?  Well, that narrow cutoff piece became these cool strap-things that flow from the shoulder into belt loops - cool huh? 

I don't know why but this upside-down view helps us see the details better.

Whaddya think?  Not too shabby a transformation for a Goodwill suit, eh?    

And he is just a marvelous Don Lockwood - he does the suit proud!

Let's see him in action, singing in the rain...

No wonder Kathy Seldon found him irresistible, right?!

{FYI, I was the Costume Director for Ponderosa High School's "Singin' In The Rain".  This play was directed by the fantastic Geoffrey Reynolds - look for us on Broadway one day ;) ;) }

Thank you for joining me on my costume journey...stay tuned for more!

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March 6, 2013


Wow, the first performance weekend of our "Singin' In The Rain" at Ponderosa High School Theatre has gone beautifully!  Really this is a stellar cast and crew and set of directors - I am so lucky to be working with!

I wanted to share one of my favorite dresses (it is hard to choose however, which one dress was the most favorite - that's like picking your favorite child when you have 6 of them.  Although, there are days...but I digress!)  

There are certain pieces I wanted to be just right for this play.  Iconic dresses and outfits that scream "Singin'" if you know what I mean!  Anyone who loves the movie or the play wants to see key things lit up for them - it brings joy and satisfaction to the viewer or audience member and my job as Costumer was to get those things right as much as I could!

Google image: Olga Mara's Spider Web dress on the red carpet in the opening scene is one of those iconic eye-catching pieces representing the outlandishness of the flapper era.  

So I set about to create my version of this showstopper. 

I found this dress for under $5 at Salvation Army.  It had "good bones" and a bit of a plunge neckline, backless to boot.  Perfect base for my dress.

I marked off lines with a soap chip for fringe placement.

Close-up view of my fringe lines.

I started by adding my first layer of black fringe - a fabulous 10" chainette fringe that I found only at Dove Originals Trims.  This was attached to the bottom hem of the dress. 

Then I added layers and layers of 4" black chainette fringe to all my soap lines.

Making the spider web was the trickiest part.  I drew out what I wanted the spider web to look like.  At first I tried knotting with a rayon cording - and it just did not hang right.  Then I tried a rhinestone trim that I had laying around from a previous project.  I thought maybe it would read well on the stage and catch the light to reflect it well.  

I tried sewing each intersection but it was a pain and I did not feel it would be secure.  So out came the glue gun.  I put globs on the front and back where they overlapped.  It dried clear and looked OK.  

So the spider web was going to be in back because that was my biggest area to work with.  (I couldn't really do quite the plunge in the front like the original - it's a high school show after all, people!)  Plus, I actually just thought it would look cooler with the spider web in the back.  

The front piece had it's own story: I made this piece at first, then the actress and I decided it would be hard to get in and out of the dress if we attached the front piece, so we gave her a cool beaded necklace with tons of strands that resembled the fringe.  But it was all plain and black and boring really.  Then the next rehearsal we both showed up and she really wanted the rhinestone front piece and so did I!  So we only attached it partway so she could get in and out of it and just attach the other part of it with safety pins each time.  A little extra work but worth it for the look!  I love it when little things like that fall into place!

Here she is, in all her Olga Mara glory!  This is the costume room.  She was great!

Rockin' the fringe!

Love the spider web on the back!  It's flexible enough to move with her as she dances.

Loved her attitude as Olga Mara!

Now time for performance!  Here are some pics of the scenes starring this beautiful girl and showstopping dress!

Her proud mom taking a picture onstage after a performance well done! 

THAT was fun!  Stay tuned for more...

{FYI, I was the Costume Director for Ponderosa High School's "Singin' In The Rain".  This play was directed by the fantastic Geoffrey Reynolds - look for us on Broadway one day ;) ;) }

I link up to these parties. ~If you are interested in receiving updates and future posts from this blog, please sign up to "FOLLOW" on the top right of this page. Let's keep in touch!~