Friday, April 19, 2013

The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: The Making Of

When last we met I had decided to take on the Herculean effort of making the dreamcoat myself.  

With this knowledge in my mind I took my costuming partner and headed down to the fabric district in search of the perfect material for the coat. She kept asking what it was I wanted as we were strolling up and down aisle after aisle of material but I couldn't answer her. I told her I just would know it when I saw it. Not the most helpful of answers.

Three hours and three shops later we walked into one of my favorite stores. I had a bag full of swatches that were alright, but had seen nothing that was perfect yet. I hadn't found that thing that was bright and exotic and screamed king of the gypsies. I was actually starting to think I would have to settle.

It's a lovely velvet and the gold is painted on.
I took two steps in the door and there it was. The perfect material. We stood staring at it in awe. We both knew it was the right one. Not only the right material for the outside but the right material for the lining as well (stripes for lining and the other for the outside). I texted a picture to his wife and she immediately said he would love it. It was as though it was meant to be.

I was ready to go. Well almost ready. I still did not have a pattern. I looked for a pattern everywhere and it turns out that one does not exist. You see the coat is not just any coat. If you have ever seen a production of the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat you know that when the actor spins the coat opens  up and there is a multi colored skirt underneath that flares out. This was the main thing Shado wanted in his coat.

He would want something that only existed in the mind of the designers. From what I could tell everyone pretty much made up the pattern on their own. In all the blogs I had read there was no reference to how they did it. They all glossed over that step. Any reference to a bathrobe of period pattern would have been nice, but alas there was nothing.

So if you are reading this blog in  hopes that I am going to give you some useful advice you are in luck.

I decided I was going to use the pattern I had made for his original long vest. I was simply going to make the slits in the coat up to his waist and then attach a circle skirt underneath so that when he spun it would flare out. It was the best I could figure out from the pictures I had seen. This may not be incredibly helpful but it is the best I can do.

Of course this plan would have worked better if I had had the pattern. It turns out I no longer possessed the original pattern I had made. I also did not have the long vest to pattern off of. I was sort of in a pickle. I could have called  his wife and asked to borrow the vest, but I was in a bit of a time crunch and that wasn't my best option.

Instead I took a normal vest pattern and elongated it. I took the handy measurements I had taken in January and made sure it would fit him in theory. To say I was panicking might be an understatement. I mean this was a lot of guess work as far as I was concerned.

Measure twice cut once
I made a mockup but that wasn't going to do me a lot of good since I couldn't fit it to him. I had to go to a friend who was roughly the same size and shape and try it on him. The fit was surprisingly good. I took into mind that this friend was more barrel chested and made adjustments in my head accordingly.

I was reluctantly ready to cut out the coat from the real material. Can I just say that this is the part I hate the most. This material was expensive. If I screw it up I am totally screwed. I can't afford to go buy more material. I get one chance to get this right. No pressure. I think I said a couple of prayers before I actually put my scissors to the material.

But I don't want to cut it.
Pretty much the entire sewing process was me texting my costuming partner in a panic and doubting myself every step of the way. I lost several hours to seam ripping and being overly cautious. I turned the damn coat three times before I was ready to close it and edge stitch it. I had to alter the shoulders twice. There was not end to the cursing coming out of my sewing room.

The worst part for me was cutting the slits in the coat for the skirting to show through. The coat itself was so very lovely that I didn't want to put the slits in. I was again terrified that I would screw it up. What if the slits were too long or not long enough? What if they didn't turn well? What if I just screw it all up?

Adding the trim was surprisingly easy.
Two days of intense sewing later I had completed the outside of the coat and it was gorgeous. I have been pleased with things I have made in the past, but this was by far one of my favorite things ever. This coat said King to me.

All that was left was to make the circle skirt to go underneath. Now I had bought some very pretty bright material to make the skirt out of. The thing is so did he. While he was in India he had bought a whole bunch of silk with the plans to turn it into the skirt someday. How could I pass that up?

He arrived back in the states one week before the costume had to be finished for faire. I had exactly five days I could work on the coat before I had to give it to him. This meant I had four days to somehow steal the fabric from his house so I could have at least one whole day to make the skirt.

I was so happy I had enlisted his wife in the scheme. Under pretenses of working on our fight choreography we went to their house on Wednesday. I was planning on grabbing the material and tossing it in the car while he was doing sword work with the husbeast, but he insisted he wanted to show me the material after dinner. I had to grudgingly agree.

Ill gotten goods
We were ready to leave and he still had not walked away from the silk long enough for me to grab it. Thankfully his wife stepped in. She scooped it up saying she was going to go put it in her fabric bin to be safe from the cats. I offered to help while the husbeast dragged Shado to the game room to look at gaming books. As soon as he was out of the room I ran to the car to stash the fabric. Mission accomplished.

I did have a pattern for this.
It took me an entire day to put the silk skirt together. Eight hours of doing nothing but that one item for the coat. Can I just say that rolling hems on silk is stupid. No getting around it though, it had to be done. I also french seamed the entire thing so there would be no ugly raw edges showing when he spun.

I installed snaps on the waistline and on the inside of the coat in order to attach it. The idea was it would be easier to clean that way, and he could change out the skirting if he wanted to.

Spinny spinny
I of course had no way of knowing if it would fit or look right on him. I had no one to try the final product on. The husbeast is far too broad in the shoulder and I am not shaped anything like Shado. I was just praying it would look right. I did try it on myself just to make sure the panels would open correctly when he spun. Also it is just fun to spin. Don't judge.

Finally the coat was ready. All we had to do was give it to him, and I had the perfect place to do it.

Tune in Monday for the final part of our tale where we do the big reveal and I make a friend cry.


  1. I love being sneaky with you! :)
    Lys (aka The Wife)

  2. You know, this really is a lot of work to put in for 'someone you don't like'.

    It's a good thing you are full of awesome and win!

  3. You know, this really is a lot of work to put in for 'someone you don't like'.

    It's a good thing you are full of awesome and win!

  4. You make a great accomplice.