Sunday, March 8, 2015

Band Uniforms- Sewn, Trimmed, Delivered and PAID!

I know you're here to see an update about my heart quilt that I started making during the 4x7 sewing challenge with berrybarndesigns, but you'll have to come back another day for that update.

Before I launched into the sewing challenge, I had agreed to make uniforms for the local high school's winter percussion team.  One of the people who runs the team is the son of a woman I've done a lot of sewing for in the past.

In the very far past, I made sleeves for the winter percussion when they did something with a mariachi theme.  I made mariachi sleeves from a rented costume they let me use and saved them a ton of money while making a pretty penny myself.

When their original costume was backordered and wouldn't be sent until most of their competitions were already over, his mother told him to ask if I'd make them.

Here's what he showed me.

My first concern was that this picture is shows a costume made of costume material, such as spandex/lycra.  He had already tried making a demo one on a t-shirt.  I explained that the flow would be totally off with a t-shirt.  

He said they know that and they were fine with it.  They had some kind of black stretchy pants to wear with it and the shirts would be just what they were looking for.

And then I told him the hood must go.  First, because I had no idea how I was going to make it and second, because it really creeped me out.  Me, and everyone we showed it to.

He said the hood had to stay because it was one of the things the kids like the most.  


So, with a deadline of mid-February, off I went in mid-January to make a trial version.

He had supplied me with a couple of gold fabric choices and a really great red.  The red was swimsuit material so it was very flowy and great.  The golds were not so great.  One was a chiffon type thing that would have no stretch and would have just popped off.

I spent a lot of time debating what to use for the gold and silver.  At one point, I was sure the best option was ribbon.  So, I bought a sampling of ribbons and then realized before I even left the parking lot that they would have no stretch and therefore wouldn't be easy to put on and take off.

These are high school kids, many of whom are boys.  There would be no putting on and taking off carefully.

And then I discovered these beauties.

I explained that the sequins were meant to catch the light, that they are not already rainbow colored.  He like it a lot and told me to go ahead.

My first plan, after cutting off the sleeve, was to cut up the same side as the missing sleeve so I could completely open the shirt to sew on the stripes.  I can't even tell you how much thinking it took before I figured out that would be the best way to do it.  And it was!!  Having the freedom of the open shirt to put on those stripes was fantastic.

When I was finished, I planned to jut serge up the sides and no one would know the difference.

My first attempt looked like this.

Without the hood, I thought it was a pretty good likeness, albeit this was the wrong side.  That's because the shirt he gave me from his demo was cut on the wrong side and I figured as long as all of them were the same side, it would be fine.

What I didn't know is that they had to be on the left side because of the way they were lined up in their performance.  You wouldn't see properly if everyone had the sleeve missing on the right.

And they liked this version but opted to completely remove the red for the real versions.

This made me happy because it was a lot less work and took away the toy soldier look to it.  But it made me a little sad because the flowing red piece was my favorite part of the whole thing!  

I was more relieved to remove the red because that band at the bottom was making me worry about kids who might be bigger in the hips than I anticipated.  It would hug them all wrong.  And for those super short kids, they'd be wearing them down by their knees.

At one point, I thought I might have to go to a rehearsal with my sewing machine and customize the red bands on each one.

That would have been a huge time suck.

So, charged with changing the side for the missing sleeve and removing the red, off I went to buy a crazy amount of fabric.  I'm no math wizard and my biggest concern was not getting enough material and then having them be out of the material when I went back to get more.  I did some ridiculous estimating and let's just say I have enough gold and silver spandex to outfit another entire winter percussion team....head to toe.

I had it all planned out, assembly line.  I'd cut off each sleeve and open the shirt.  Then I'd pin and sew the silver piece across the front.  Then the stripes.  Then serge the seams. 

Then worry about those effing hoods.

Before I went too far, I whipped up some version of what I thought could be a hood and told him it was the best option.  If he didn't like it, I had nothing else.  It was a stand alone hood that could be left down like a big shawl collar or put up like a scary gnome in the woods.


It was a simple rectangle that I serged one seam.  Since it was bathing suit material, no need to hem, which was fantastic.

So, I went along, sewing some of the silver sashes and stripes.  And then I decided as I finished each size, maybe I'd serge up those side seams so there'd be no surprises.

And this happened.

As I was happily serging along, there was a noise I can't even explain and my serger came to a DEAD HALT.  So frozen, I couldn't even turn the dial to lift the needles.  NOTHING.  It was completely dead.

After internally bursting into tears (I had 22 of these things to make and now I'd have NO SERGER???  They'd look like total crap!) I tried to see if I could figure out the problem.

It was clear that #13 and #14 had somehow smashed into each other.  #13 was currently what looked like stuck into #14 and there was no movement.  They are supposed to glide by each other like scissors, never touching.

I was sure that meant my serger was kaput.  It's almost 20 years old.  I've never had it serviced because it never gave me any trouble.

I called the one place within an hour's drive that I know repairs machines and they put me in touch with the woman who specializes in sergers.  Over the phone, she calmed me right down and said she thought it was something easily repaired and not to worry about it.   It would take a couple of days but I should be back in business.

But then it snowed and she went away and had to order parts and ONE MONTH LATER I finally got it back.

As I put it in the car to drop it off, the two cone holders in the back snapped right off, probably because the plastic is so old.  I figured I could live with that as long as the machine itself could be repaired.  She was able to order a new one and I can't even imagine how she put it on because the break wasn't a clean one.  Apparently, this is a common problem, if they actually sell them!

During that whole month without my serger, I put together all of the pieces of the shirts and got them ready and then worried I'd have to sew them shut with just a zigzag.  That would look so unprofessional and I was afraid it wouldn't allow for enough stretch and they'd be popping seams left and right.

And I was most worried about the hoods.  There was no way they'd look good or work properly if I couldn't serge them.  That material is so stretchy that no zigzag in the world would do what we needed.

With no time to spare, I got my serger  back and got everything done, delivered and actually got paid for my efforts!

There seems to be a disconnect when I ask for a sample of what they all look like when they are on.  He keeps telling me he will send a picture and then can't find one when I ask for it.  I can't figure out how they wear the hoods and how it looks, and I'm really curious.  I want to see whole ensemble together to see how it all flows.

If my serger hadn't taken a powder for a month during this, it would have been a breeze and not a lot of stress.  Not knowing if I'd get them finished to my liking in time for their competitions really put a wrench into everything.  When I finally did get my machine back, the timing was such that I had to work on them all in one day.   Not exactly what I planned.

Figuring out what to do was kind of fun.  Seeing them come together was kind of neat.  I like doing these kinds of things because it's kind of fun to problem solve.

And everything if fine and dandy until the machines turn on us!

And now, what do I do with a million gold sequin scraps??

That paper in the  background is my wild math.   You probably shouldn't look at it.   The number of shirts in each size kept changing because he couldn't find enough in each size and he cleaned out the local Joann, Michael's and AC Moore. 

Linking here:

1 comment:

  1. Oh my..these are wonderful, and I say this as a winterguard and colorguard costume seamstress who has hung up her shears!


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