May the 4th Be with Your Sewing Projects

May the 4th Be with Your Sewing Projects

Not every holiday has to be one that leaves the shelves of stores stocked with accessories and baking supplies that are that-holiday-themed. Some of them can pass by with a lot less glitz and glamour, with only those people who are interested and aware of said holiday embracing it on their own terms. National Talk Like a Pirate Day, anyone?

Pirate talk included, one of my absolute favorite holidays of that category is one that embraces a very real part of my nerdy heart: Star Wars Day.

That’s right. May the 4th is a good day for me! In fact, for this Star Wars Day, I’m planning on trying to introduce my youngest niece to the first movie of the original trilogy. Here’s hoping she loves Chewbacca as much as her Aunt Connie does!

There are a number of options for this kind of product, but one that really stuck out to me was this Death Star quilt.

There are a number of options for this kind of product, but one that really stuck out to me was this Death Star quilt.

And there are plenty of sewing projects that are fitting for the day. Of course, it’s a little late in the game to make these for this Star Wars Day, but they’re ideas to keep in your head for 2018!

For instance, you could make a Star Wars blanket or quilt. There are a number of options for this kind of product, but one that really stuck out to me was this Death Star quilt. I absolutely love the collage element that makes up the Death Star in this project, and the galaxy-esque material it’s on is a perfect fit for the theme. It’s dark and looming, just like the Death Star should be! I, personally, would be proud to be the maker of such an interesting take on the empire’s weapon!

For a person — like me — who adores baking, making a character-inspired apron like this one feels like a wonderful option!

For a person — like me — who adores baking, making a character-inspired apron like this one feels like a wonderful option!

But if you’re feeling a little more Jedi/Rebel Alliance-inclined, maybe you’d rather embrace a concept from their side of things — like R2-D2. For a person — like me — who adores baking, making a character-inspired apron like this one feels like a wonderful option! Since I may or may not have a series of Star Wars kitchen supplies on an Amazon wish list, this would be a wonderful addition to the mix. I could totally see myself wearing an R2-D2 apron and oven mitts while my R2-D2 oven timer buzzes…

Oh, & remember how I said I loved Chewbacca? Imagine your little one decked out in this Chewbacca costume!

Oh, & remember how I said I loved Chewbacca? Imagine your little one decked out in this Chewbacca costume!

Oh, and remember how I said I loved Chewbacca? Imagine your little one decked out in this Chewbacca costume! This one could double as a Star Wars Day project and a Halloween one since this would make an adorable costume for trick-or-treating time! It would include a number of pieces — like ammo belt details — so you might want to make sure you start early enough to tend to all of these aspects!

Another Star Wars project that you could make for your little one is this BB-8 skirt.

Another Star Wars project that you could make for your little one is this BB-8 skirt.

Another Star Wars project that you could make for your little one is this BB-8 skirt. It’s a nod to the more recent Star Wars movies with one of the two awesome droids that have come to the surface through them. Seriously! I adore BB-8, and K-2 is so awesome! This skirt would be something that could be worn any other day of the year as well since while it’s a nod to BB-8, it’s basic enough that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a skirt that’s Star Wars themed. It could easily just be a skirt with stripes, which isn’t day-specific! Essentially, with this product, you could have a perfect piece of clothing to wear through the day that’s general enough to wear again and again, regardless of the day.

One last project applies to anyone in need of carrying around documents & such — whether that something to carry is the sketch pad shown or a stack of papers that you, as a teacher, graded!

One last project applies to anyone in need of carrying around documents & such — whether that something to carry is the sketch pad shown or a stack of papers that you, as a teacher, graded!

One last project applies to anyone in need of carrying around documents and such — whether that something to carry is the sketch pad shown or a stack of papers that you, as a teacher, graded! Now, obviously, you might want to make sure that this project is okay with your employer before you carry it into a formal meeting, but if you get a thumbs-up, there’s something awesome to me about the idea of carrying a Star Wars case into said meeting with your company-important documents. This could also be used for things around the house, like keeping your receipts or pictures in, and it’s a small enough project to easily manage between today and May 4, 2018!

This is the perfect day, in my opinion, to embrace your inner nerd and run with your sewing projects! It’s for what could be labeled the epitome of Sci Fi/Fantasy movies, and there’s plenty of room to work these mentioned projects into your May the 4th schedule. Need proof? Here you go: You could grab that Star Wars quilt and the baked goods you made while wearing your apron, toss that quilt over you and your kids in the Chewy costume and BB-8 skirt, put your distractions in your carrying case, and watch some Han Solo!

Costume Department Positions for Movies and Television Shows

Costume Department Positions for Movies and Television Shows

Last week, I wrote about how it takes a whole team of individuals to make a television show or movie, often more than most people realize. Then I got to thinking about all the conversations I’ve had throughout my life trying to explain to family, friends, acquaintances and sometimes strangers, what I do at work and what others in my department do.

One of the daily call sheets for Blindspot which lists the positions with call time (time to report to work). O/C means on call and is what is used for those who do not need to be on the actual shooting set.

One of the daily call sheets for Blindspot which lists the positions with call time (time to report to work). O/C means on call and is what is used for those who do not need to be on the actual shooting set.

Here’s a list of some common positions found in costume and wardrobe departments of films and television shows.

But first, the difference between the costume and wardrobe departments. Theses terms are basically interchangeable but, if a dividing line were to be drawn it would separate the costume and wardrobe departments by union locals.

The labor union for theatre, film, television and live events, founded in 1893, is IATSE or, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, its Territories and Canada.

Designers, assistant designers, shoppers and coordinators are normally members of Locals 829 (United Scenic Artists) or 892 (Costume Designers Guild). There are various locals across the country that are wardrobe specific. In New York City, the wardrobe local is 764.

Common costume and wardrobe positions on movies and television shows

Design/Costume Department:

Costume Designer

This is fairly self-explanatory. The costume designer is responsible for developing the look and feel of a show. They usually spend time talking with producers or the creators of a show, reading scripts and discussing character with the actors and actresses, as well as researching. They conduct fittings and manage the entire department.

Assistant Costume Designer

Again, pretty self-explanatory. Often, the assistant designer is the one who dresses the background actors. They also often deal with the budgets.

Shopper

The shopper spends his or her day out in the world, shopping. Being a shopper in NYC is completely different than being a shopper anywhere else because well, you can’t get around NYC efficiently in a car. NYC shoppers spend a lot of time walking, schlepping and taking the subway. There’s often a costume department driver who will meet them to pick up purchases.

Wardrobe Department (764 positions):

Wardrobe Supervisor

This position is the department head. He or she manages the day-to-day execution of the designers vision. They are responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly on set. They spend a lot of time looking ahead and anticipating problems and catastrophes before they arise. They are also very good at putting out fires.

Set Costumer

A set costumer takes care of the actors on set. He or she is responsible for continuity (making sure the correct outfit is worn at the correct time in the proper manner). Shows are rarely, if ever, filmed in order. A set costumer watches during filming and makes adjustments as needed. He or she pays attention to things like: How many buttons are buttoned, are the sleeves of the shirt supposed to be rolled, should that bag be over the right or left shoulder.

There is usually more than one set costumer on a show. Some actors have personal set costumers who only take care of them but most television shows don’t have the budget for this. Some high paid, “famous” actors have a personal costumer written into their contracts.

In Europe, a set costumer is often called a stand by costumer.

Production Assistant

Every department tends to have a production assistants who are usually people just starting out in the business. They do all sorts of things. In the world of television they spend a lot of time returning unused clothing and organizing receipts.

Costume Coordinator

I always think of the Costume Coordinator as the glue that holds the entire department together. They should really be paid more money than what they are.

They are the accountants of the department, the phone call makers, the calmer of nerves, the birthday party planners, the detectives, the soothsayers, the joke makers, the ice cream and alcohol buyers, the lunatic whisperers and the magicians. A costume department with a shoddy coordinator will most certainly fall apart at some point.

On Blindspot, we are very lucky to have an amazing coordinator named Sade.

Tailor

Most contemporary television shows have one full time tailor who is responsible for alterations and clothing construction. Big, costume heavy shows often have a full in house costume shop.

How to See in the Dark

How to See in the Dark

During the course of my career, I’ve had the good fortune to work on quite a few large film productions with some highly recognizable actors and actresses. Film-making is exciting and tedious all at once, both exhilarating and debilitating. It’s not a life choice to venture into lightly – at least not if you require a steady, dependable job and paycheck.

You’ll never work again…

In movie making, and even more so in television, nothing is ever a sure thing. Shows get cancelled or pushed (postponed), people get let go for various, and sometimes odd, political (company) and personal reasons. I, personally, never believe a gig is going to happen until I’m actually there on the first day, filling out the inevitable novel of start paperwork you must complete at the commencement of every single job.

I’ve worked like this for twenty-five years now and I can say only two things for sure. One, explaining to people not in the business, be it your family, friends, or the bank you want a mortgage from, what you do and how you are hired, is never an easy thing. And two, that weird space you enter when you’re between jobs and the phone isn’t ringing and the little voice inside your head whispers you’ll never work again, never gets easier, not really. It doesn’t matter that history has always proven that you will indeed work again; you simply believe, irrationally, that this time is different.

At least that’s how it usually is for me. Yet, at the same time, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I can’t fathom going to the same office every day for thirty years or more and doing the same thing over and over. It’s just not how I’m made. So I take the uncertainty and the freelance roller coaster ride in exchange for getting to do something that, most days, I love.

If you’re thinking of a freelance career in film, television and the theatre, you need to be really honest about whether or not you’re able to live with a heightened amount of insecurity.

I fought, bit, screamed, clawed and scratched my way in. There was no way I was giving up.

Here are a few of the things that I’ve found invaluable and helpful in surviving the freelance life.

1. Tenacity

Be determined. Wholly and truly give it your all. Remain persistent. Things don’t necessarily come easily. I remember a conversation I had long ago with a friend and colleague. We were talking about ‘breaking in’ to the movie business and how we landed our first job on a major film.

“I fought, bit, screamed, clawed and scratched my way in,” my friend said, “There was no way I was giving up.”

2. Resilience

It’s easy to believe in yourself and your talents when other people do. The true feat, though, is to believe in yourself and your abilities when no one else seems to. There will be failures and missteps and things that you wished had turned out differently. That’s all part of the whole thing.

There will, of course, always be that odd, seemingly infinitely lucky individual, who coasts, completely upright, into a successful freelance career with out skinning even one knee. But that’s the exception.

Most of us arrive a bit battered and disheveled with grass stains on our knees and twigs in our hair.

3. Vision

As the extremely successful celebrity stylist (and all around nice guy), Derek Roche has said, Build your own dreams or someone will hire you to build theirs.

 4. Learn how to see in the dark

When the darkness comes (and it will) you have to be able to navigate your way out and through it…

Some of my first theatre jobs were as a backstage dresser during live performances. This involved laundry and maintaining the costumes, as well as, helping the actors get dressed if needed (period things like corsets and garments with multiple back closures) and doing quick changes backstage in the dark.

Many backstage dressers use small bite lights to help them see while performing fast costume changes. I never really did. If you spend enough time in the wings in the dark, you eventually are able to see. I have no idea if this is a scientific fact; I only know that it was true for me. I have no problem finding zipper ends, or a slew of hooks or snaps in the dark.

Darkness, of course, can come in different forms – it can be literal like working backstage or it can be figurative like not being certain what your next move should be or being unable to see the path in front of you. When the darkness comes (and it will) you have to be able to navigate your way out and through it, you have to reach for that zipper and be able to insert one end into the other by feel.

Seeing in the dark is a tricky thing to master. It involves taking all your tenacity, resilience and vision at once and stepping forward, all the while trusting that the ground is indeed beneath your feet – just as it should be.