We have been painting up a storm over at Midnight Costume Services this past few weeks for a production of Cats to tour Europe next year!
The brief was to create the Lycra suits and Tails, to fit in with pieces the production currently has. It was to be a cost effective way to revitalize Costumes the production had already toured with but felt needed to be *ahem* freshened up!
We have an amazing Leotard pattern over here, developed to be fitted but to allow a lot of movement so, after some discussion (as we had created a production of Cats in 2015 and we wanted to develop the techniques used on this), we decided to cut the suits, then paint.
Two of the suits, front and back, as they’re painted.
We have a very large Pattern Table in the Midnight Costume Services workroom and we plastic covered it and were able to paint the front and back of each suit together, so we could ensure they matched.
We used a combination of textile paints and acrylics mixed with Textile Medium to create paint that would flex and move with the performer but also be hard wearing for the production run. We also used a lot, a lot, of different brush techniques to build up the patterns you see.
The bliss of the fabric paints we used is that they were heat fix-able. I always utilize the local laundry for my heat fixing. Each Suit was heat fixed, washed cool, and then heat fixed again. Just to be sure!
Each suit draped on a dress stand to check the art design and look.
We couldn’t resist taking a peek at the suits design and feel before we sewed them up. The heat fixing process alters the texture of the fabric and intensity of some of the colours used so this was a good way to discover if we needed to overlay more paint.
Ech suit was sewn up with stretch stitch, finished with an invisible zip, lycra bias binding at the neck and overlocked seams to provide a long lasting and durable Cat Suit. Re-sizing was also built in so that each suit can be taken apart and re-sized for future productions.
We were super happy with the results, can’t wait to see this in production!
See the final Cat Suits in the musical here.