There seems to be a boatload of glittery fabric, as always, at this time of year. I was at my local independant fabric store where this display confirmed my suspicions that heat transfer sequins are the glitter fabric of choice. I am having my own moment of agony with this fabric, and thought some of you might also be in the throes of working with it too.
I just finished the first half of my year as artist-in-residence as costumer in the Theatre Tech department at San Francisco School of the Arts. The upcoming production is Seussical: The Musical. There is a heavy Cirque de Soleil element in the show, as SOTA has a circus arts program included in the dance department. All of the cast and crew are in full body unitards, so costuming this is whimsical and fun.
Though many of the costumes are created by the students, I have been asked to make some of the principal characters. Imagine my horror when the director brought me 3 yards of this tissue thin lurex jersey with heat transfer sequins to make the Ringmaster’s tailcoat.
The first thing I did was block-fuse the entire yardage with a medium weight tricot fusible. For this task I put a beach towel on my cutting table, laid the sequin fabric face down with the fusible on top, fusing the 2 layers together. Only then did I cut the jacket. For the pattern I adapted a Burda menswear jacket from the 1980’s.
I fused an additional layer of weft insertion on the collar and lapel facing, as the fabric was still pretty soft and drapey. I used a matching color of cotton for the undercollar. I did tape the roll line and around the lapel edges just to give some kind of structure to this otherwise limp piece of goods.
The real problems started when I sat down to sew and the machine absolutely refused to stitch – missing stitches, gummed up needle – all the nightmares you can imagine. Somewhere in the recesses of my brain I remembered Diva Ann’s advice to use wax paper while sewing this kind of fabric. It worked like a charm.
Just tear away the wax paper and your seam is perfect.
I was amazed at how well this fabric tailored up.
To finish the edge of the tails I used a lurex flat border from an old sweater project that was a perfect match. Lurex fiber comes in standard colors, so I am guessing that this royal blue is the same, even though the sweater project had to be about 10 years ago. I am hoping that the director agrees with me that the unlined tails are a good thing – just say no to lining this!
The bi-colored look for the Ringmaster is a nice touch added by the director. (Somewhere there is another pair of black/white boots just like these.) The hat is probably a Mad Hatter hat from Alice in Wonderland.