Ten Lessons Learned from Costuming Cats, the Musical (Part Three)

Lesson Three: There Are Always Alternatives

Okay, with the unitard plan in place, it was time to turn to the next in the director's duo...the legwarmers. I had designed 34 different pairs of legwarmers and arm gauntlets. You know, I could have just said, "To heck with it!" and bought some crazy socks and sweaters. For the socks, I could have cut the toes off, and for the sweaters, I could have cut the arms off. Voila! Instant legwarmers. Instant gauntlets-with the addition of a thumbhole, of course. But no. I wanted to keep true to my original design sketches.

So, I enlisted the help of our parents...and our community...and our staff. It was like I posted a bat-beacon, only it was a knitting beacon. Two knitting needles crossed silhouetted in the sky, flanked on either side by a pair of cat-eyes.

I reacquainted myself with how to knit since I had not knitted in over a year, and even then since I had taught myself to knit and only completed half of a scarf. Sad, huh? But nonetheless, after one night of practice, I was able to teach about three parents to knit, and they taught three parents, and they taught three parents, and so on, and so on, and pretty soon, it seemed like all of San Diego was knitting.

Costume Design for Rum Tum Tugger (San Diego Junior Theatre, Cats 2008. Designer: Walter Allen)
Costume Design for Rum Tum Tugger (San Diego Junior Theatre, Cats 2008. Designer: Walter Allen)
Costume Design for Demeter (San Diego Junior Theatre, Cats 2008. Designer: Walter Allen)
Costume Design for Demeter (San Diego Junior Theatre, Cats 2008. Designer: Walter Allen)

Now, don't get me wrong, I took advantage of those who knew how to crochet too. One of my parents was phenomenal at crocheting. She create four different quartets of gauntlets and legwarmers. The last two that she created were these fabulous full-length arms and full-length legs. They were amazing.

As we drew closer to opening night, there were still a few projects that had not been ‘picked up,' so to speak. Again, I sent out the knitting emergency beacon, and believe it or not, I had two or three additional knitters come out of the woodwork to help complete the last few jobs. Needless to say, I would have been nowhere without my volunteers. But, if I hadn't had them, I would have had to consider the alternatives:

  • Cutting the toes off of socks
  • Cutting the sleeves off of sweaters
  • Buying knit fabrics and sewing cylindrical sleeves or legs
  • Ordering white cotton legwarmers from dance companies and dying them the colors needed for each particular costume

Yes, it may seem that these alternatives would have taken less time. But would they have been as rewarding in the end? I don't think so. Again, I guess it comes down to a question of time, money, and balance. If you've got the time, don't spend the money, and learn to live a little off-balance.

Costume Design for Mungojerrie (San Diego Junior Theatre, Cats, 2008. Costume Designer: Walter Allen)
Costume Design for Mungojerrie (San Diego Junior Theatre, Cats, 2008. Costume Designer: Walter Allen)
Costume Design for Rumpleteaser (San Diego Junior Theatre, Cats, 2008. Costume Designer: Walter Allen)
Costume Design for Rumpleteaser (San Diego Junior Theatre, Cats, 2008. Costume Designer: Walter Allen)

Be sure to check out my other hubs on Costuming Cats:

And coming soon...Lesson Five: Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Comments 2 comments

Stephen 7 years ago

I think it's awesome that you put that much time and energy into doing this. The pictures and drawings I saw were phenomenal. You rock.


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wltrallen2 7 years ago from San Diego, CA Author

Thanks, Stephen. It's not hard work if you love it. :)

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