Friday, February 28, 2014

Project Renway - AKA the 24 hour panic

My panic face is clearly not as good as my friend Nicole's

The Oklahoma Renaissance Festival does something I've found to be unique in the Ren Faire world.  We call it "Project Renway".  Born out of the love our costume mistress has for the TV show Project Runway, a group of seamstresses are given a single day to make an entire festival appropriate outfit.

The first weekend of academy we get paired up with a brand new performer.  The performer gives us $50 and a general idea of what kind of character they will be making.  We go over a quick sketch of the outfit we'll be making them, then it's off to the fabric store.  The $50 goes into buying supplies (I usually go about $10 over, but I always fund any overage myself) and our time is donated.

11:00am - Meeting the performer

The lovely Miranda paired up with me this year, and really wanted to play a gypsy character.  Her favorite colors are pinks, purples, and teal.

Really quick sketch
11:30am - Off to the fabric store

Armed with this, I invaded the Muskogee Hancock store, where I promptly hit a road block.  Pinks were not my friend.  At all.  Even a little bit.  After agonizing over fabrics for far, far longer than I'm willing to admit, I finally found a gorgeous sari fabric which became the piece all others were matched to.

1:00pm - Return from Fabric Store

These were the fabrics I came back with.  I overspent again this year (oops) but wanted her to have several tiered skirts which were very full.

1:30 - Cutting out the basics

I started by cutting out the shirt and skirts.  I brought my basic shirt patterns with me, so I didn't have to do any patterning for that.  I remembered, however, why I prefer muslin over cotton gauze.  The gauze is so nice to wear, and catches every breeze on hot days, but it bunches like no other.  It took as long to make the fabric lay smooth as it did to actually cut it out.
I decided on a simple circle skirt for the bottom layer, and two handkerchief style skirts above it.  I almost skipped the middle skirt, but felt it added to the eclectic look of the outfit.

2:00 or 2:30 - Pattern Drafting

I think I started on the pattern drafting by mid afternoon.  She got a custom fit set of effigy stays, which I draft via computer.  Here was the table for three of the seamstresses.  The clutter by the computer (and the Java Monsters, as I expected a long night) were mine.

And here is my friend Nicole, working on her girl's outfit.

3:30(ish?) - Take the drafting to the table

Normally I print my patterns when I am done drafting them, but I didn't bring my printer with me.  So I got out my rulers and started on it the old fashioned way.  I used the digital pattern to give me all the measurements and anchor points, and drew them out on pattern board.  Then I cut and assembled the pattern, before using it on the black twill.  I had friends lovely enough to bring me dinner from the barracks so I didn't have to interrupt the sewing.

 Custom drafting is a lengthy process, especially when I'm away from my studio and can't find anything.  I must have misplaced various pencils half a dozen times.  I'm not sure when the drafting ended and the sewing began, but the rest of the evening was all effigy stays.  Effigy stays, and their two hundred boning channels!  (This may or may not be hyperbole.  I've never counted the channels on a set of stays)

1:00am - Packing it in for the night

Phew, and what a night it was!  After the ladies at my table tucked it in, I decided to pop in my ear buds and listen to podcasts.  Unfortunately, I decided it was a wonderful idea to listen to scary story podcasts.  Normally, while sewing in my studio, this is fine.  However, in an empty castle at one in the morning it was not such a bright idea.

I shut everything down right after I finished sewing the boning channels, which is the majority of the stitch work on these stays.

7:00 am - It begins again

The next morning I squeezed in a little sewing before our leadership team meeting, and the opening hour of Academy, and then by 10:00 I was back to the sewing.

I was too busy to take many pictures, but somewhere in here was the shirt and skirts construction, the stuffing of the boning, grommeting, and (right as the deadline was bearing down on us) finishing the binding.  I was almost sweating bullets at this point, so the binding got a simple Hong Kong finish.  I distinctly remember, most of a Java Monster in, singing "I looooove aaaaaa  HONGKONGFINISH" while stitching it down, probably to the chagrin of my table mates.

"I looooove aaaaaa  HONGKONGFINISH"

She's a gypsy character, so I added a couple of patches to the stays.

Alas, I had time for neither the hat or the jacket, but with the shirt, skirts, and stays Miranda was fully dressed.

3:30pm - Walking the Runway

At 3:15 we all dressed our girls (no men signed up this year) and piled into the hallway to start the show.

If I recall correctly, "I'm sexy and I know it" was playing.  Miranda was a wonderful model, strutting through the audience and spinning for them.  I was sad I didn't get to see it, but one of the performers caught the moment on camera.

Once the ladies have all walked the runway, we come back out with them to line up at the front of the Chalice Hall and talk about our outfits.  The costume mistress, Chris Ryan, went over some of the details, and how they were appropriate for each character, and then we spoke a bit about the outfit ourselves.

I'm the one in red and black clapping.

 These were the other lovely outfits made during the 24 hour rush.

This is an event I am so proud to be a part of.  Festival is an expensive hobby to start, and the price of costuming can be a really big barrier for a lot of new performers.

So here are pictures of the final outfit!

Let me know what you think!