Woodminster costume designer, Christina Weiland, knew that CATS in September was going to be the big costuming challenge of the 2012 season. so her planning started months ago. Even before the August show opened, there were volunteers in the costume shop every day helping to build tails and headpieces for CATS. Chris started with a wig design she found on instructables.com, adapting it for greater durability. Her 30 cat costumes have to be functional enough that actors can execute complex gymnastics and dance sequences, night after night. Her experience building costumes for circus performers gives Chris exactly the experience she needs to design for very athletic cats!
Cat headpieces at three different stages ranging from the basic hood (no fur attached yet) on the left to completed on the right.
Each individual strand of yarn is separated into three "tufts" of fur to be glued to a headpiece.
Here, you can see a "mapped" headpiece that's been partially glued.
Shorter tufts are glued onto the back, and longer ones in the front.
Chris and Nancy are each working on gluing a head.
Three stages of the tail: On the right you see the fabric that gets braided (center) to make it easy to work the yarn "fur" into it.
In April, the preparation of the yarn began, a process that wound up taking about 165 hours.
Each strand of yarn starts its "deconstruction" into cat fur by having the strongest threads pulled out.
Each strand is knotted, then pulled apart to create three separate pieces (see left).
Each piece is knotted for easier gluing.
The cat heads are built on hoods made from stretchy fabric, with foam ears attached.
Once the fabric hoods are "mapped," a volunteer uses a wooden tool to attach the correct colors of yarn.
A costume sketch, with fabric and yarn samples. These original, locally-built costumes include handpainted unitards, hand-tied tails and hand-crafted headpieces
Each fabric hood is individually "mapped," marked with dots to show where to put the glue, and what color yarn to affix. The glue is called E-6000; it's a waterproof, washable, flexible glue often used to affix rhinestones to circus and ballroom costumes. Once the glue has dried for 24 hours, the wigs can be brushed to create a fur-like effect.
Volunteer Laurie Donaldson and costume designer Chris Weiland show off a cat head and tail in progress.
To start the tails, stretchy fabric is braided, and then yarn lengths are worked into the braid with a crochet hook.
Once the tail is complete, it is gently brushed to further separate the yarn strands and make it look more like fur.
Designer Chris Weiland checks on the work of her sister, Nancy.
This one is perfect!
Several completed cat headpieces await dress rehearsals.