Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The first fitting!

So we got to the fitting, at long last actor has disappeared off to an audition without telling Ase, and Natalie's actor is awol!

Things clearly can never be simple.

I feel as though this situation can reflect how it is professionally, in real life. At the costume fittings at AUCB the actors rarely don't turn up. This is probably because there is so much publicity about the fittings beforehand, and also we are in touch with a lot of them on a social level and can remind them about it when we see them. This is not to say that Ase didn't remind them: I am sure that she did many times. If I had managed to meet the actor beforehand to measure him, I could have asked to take his mobile number or e-mail, and reminded him the day before. However I think that ultimately this is not part of my responsibility, as fittnings are generally organised by the costume supervisor. Which is what happened.

The solution we found was to fit the suit on another actor of a similar size. Not an ideal situation for a fitted tailored suit it must be said, but I fully accept that it was necessary to compromise! It was more of less OK to do this in this situation because firstly, the suit was not for a specific actor in a play, but as a stock piece in their wardrobe; and secondly, the theatrical seam allowances we put in to the suit meant that we were able to do this. (At which point I really salute theatrical seam allowances, and think that I will continue to use large seam allowances whilst I am less experienced, even if not necessarily required at all points [such as traditional tailoring] . Better safe than sorry & all that.) This would be less of an issue if I lived closer to the place where the fitting was. When I move back to London after graduating this will be an advantage, as I won't have to travel quite so far.

Ase managed to find another actor with measurements slightly akin, and very fortunately he was both available to do the fitting immediately, and very co-operative. I took some measurements from him myself this time and discovered that he was slightly larger and slightly taller than the actor that the suit was made for. The suit had to be let out accordingly, around the torso and the seat of the trousers; and also the trousers and the sleeve were lengthened. These alterations should not be too drastic, which is good. The top  pocket of the waistcoat should be moved but again this was expected. It's so good to put the suit on an actual person in order to gauge how the design lines will be. These often change when on a real body rather than a mannequin!

Now I admit that I had been fairly apprehensive about this fitting before coming to it. I have never worked with anyone from Arts Ed before and so wasn't sure what to expect personality wise. (As I have generally known the people I've worked with at AUCB). On reflection this is definitely a good experience as of course it will be like this in the professional world. But I resolved to be as confident as I could. Before breaking up for the holidays Graham gave us a list of things to go through and look for at the fitting, in a fairly methodical manner. I brought my notes with me to the fitting and also read them through on the train. However on hindsight I think it would have been most beneficial to type them up clearly in a bullet pointed list, and physically pick them up and refer to them during the fitting, ticking things off if necessary. The fit was generally alright but there were a few things that I'm not sure if I remembered to definitely check, which would have improved the general accuracy.

Fitting the trousers felt like a delicate situation, for both myself at the actor. We fit along the centre back seam, and as I had to let it out quite a bit I will distribute this across the 2 side seams as wel as the CB. All this of course involved a lot of pinning and chalking and general fiddling around in an intimate area. I was as professional as I could be, though did feel the actor's apprehension. In order to try and put him at ease a bit I maintained a detached but friendly professional manner, making a little bit of small talk and asking him about himself. He was really nice. I think that bedside manner is extremely important at a fitting. I was polite to him and asked him to move, turn around, etc in a courteous manner. I also thanked him a lot (particularly as he turned up at such short notice, and as a favour.) I admit that the small talk did make it difficult to concentrate some times but I think that this will improve as I do more fittings. (Obviously I will  concentrate on what I am doing and looking at as I do the fitting, but I think that a bit of friendly conversation would dispel any nervousness.)

It was good to have Mary & Natalie around to have a second opinion, as well as Ase. I brought along my historical references which was helpful.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Organising the fitting

When it was decided that the fitting should be at the start of the holiday I felt very relieved, as I would have the rest of the holiday to apply alterations and work on the waistcoat, ideally to completion.

As I am working over the easter holidays I initially wanted to try to organise the fittings to be on Friday 8th April, just at the very start of the holiday.

Trying to organise this fitting has been quite frankly a headache. I volunteered myself for the job as it was due to my own time restrictions that there would have to be a specific date.
The following problems arose:
Firstly I couldn't get hold of Ase, the wardrobe supervisor.  Phoned several times, also sent e-mails. When we finally got through to her, she seemed happy to organise a fitting for the 8th. At this point it was a week before.

Then began the weeklong nightmare (actually it lasted well into the second week as well) of trying to get hold of the actors. It turned out that the term dates at Arts Ed are different from ours as Bournemouth, and they were on holiday. Despite living in the vicinity only one out of three boys was willing to come in for the fitting. (The others were uncontactable.) So days and days of calling and texting Ase who was calling and calling the boys on her side too!

Eventually it transpired that they were coming back on the 18th April, i.e. the second week of our holiday. Ase was on holiday that week but willing to come in for the fitting which was really considerate of her and I did thank her several times for this! So we set a second date for Tuesday 19th April at 2pm, when it was lunchtime and we wouldn't be disturbing classes.

The methods of communication used overall have been  Ascallinge's mobile and texting. Writing e-mails seems more formal and perhaps the "correct" thing to do but in actual fact things change so quickly (and so often) that making a phone call is just the easiest and most practical way to go about organising. Getting things in writing is of course important, so for crucial happenings I think in the future I would e-mail to confirm the time/date and that I was coming.
Throughout the organisation process, and whilst away from uni, I have stayed in close contact with my tailoring team Natalie & Mary via text and also the Facebook group that has been created. 

From this I have learnt the importance of planning ahead! Once again this is one for the future: now that I have more idea of how long would be needed to put together a 3 piece suit for a fitting, when embarking on similar projects in the future I will set a date for a fitting at the outstart, and a date where everyone would be available. Ase could have put it in her diary and the actors should also have been free. As it was, in hindsight I should have checked the term dates right at the first meeting with Ase, and have noted down possible dates for a fitting. This may have avoided lots of stress and confusion!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

End of week summary

I am somewhat surprised, but after worrying so much about whether or not I would get the suit ready for the fitting stage by the end of this week, I find that not only have I managed to finish it but I have actually done this in good time, without really having to rush myself. I have learnt that tacking up the suit pieces ready for the fitting does not take very much time. Actually cutting out the pieces also did not take that long (probably one morning.) On the other hand, pattern drafting took a really long time (longer than expected), as did mark tacking.

This has aided me in altering my workplan. I think that what I am learning about the timing here, and the duration of stages will be incredibly helpful in the future as I will be able to plot out a work plan much more accurately, and set deadlines that are both achievable and realistic.

Now that I am actually sewing up the suit I find that I am enjoying the project much more. I still want to conquer pattern cutting (as I find it challenging, having only cut a handful of things since coming to uni) but do find the actual making more enjoyable. It is good to be putting it together and see the suit come together in this way. I have put the suit on the mannequin and hopefully it will be ok for the fitting!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Current time management & thoughts on fitting

Over the week-end, I've been considering my use of time and checked back on my work plan. Last week (Thursday) Graham listed out clearly all the steps to complete for the fitting. This was really helpful as it clarified what a tailoring fitting entailed; I had been nervous of what procedures we would have to use before so it was good to simply be given a list of things to go through. I will write this out clearly in preparation for the fitting.

Anyway point being that Graham let us know exactly what we needed to do, which was good because when I was writing out the workplan I was just guessing the steps and plotting out the time, as I didn't know what steps we would be going through. Looking back on the workplan, I am currently more or less on time. I will have to re-jig it a litte due to factors like I thought we would have completed the pockets (at least on the waistcoat) for the fitting, but this will not happen until afterwards. Additionally now I am trying to schedule a fitting at Arts Ed for Friday 8th April, which means that I should be able to complete the waistcoat during the holidays. Previously the fitting was pencilled in for 26 April so this is much better!

All of this will serve me very well for the future, should I take on another tailoring project. I will be then be able to work more independently as I won't be relying as much on instruction.

Additionally I am learning how important it is to be flexible within a time plan. Some things have taken much longer than I had even anticipated, e.g. pattern drafting. Others have been much quicker, such as actually cutting the pieces out. I am trying to leave myself plenty of margin within the timeplan so that if I manage to get jobs completed more quickly it's a bonus.
I am also trying to be flexible in my use of time, for instance, I was doing lots of research for POP whilst Graham was unavailable for the tailoring.

Overall though I am still nervous about the ability to complete the suit for the deadline, as well as the POP essay.