In the midst of the busy season of gardening and farming right now, we are in another busy season of rehearsals and performances and non-stop dancing. A ballet that hits the stage this weekend, followed by a week of recital time. For the ballet productions throughout the year, the dance company stores and handles all of the costumes. But once-a-year recital costumes need to be lugged back and forth by the kids for picture day and dress rehearsals and multiple recitals. Each year as we do this, I've looked at the inexpensive, plastic garment bag we use that came 'free' with a tuxedo we bought Ezra and contemplated all of its faults. It could be shorter, it needs pockets on the inside, and goodness, it could certainly be a whole lot prettier.
I know. It's a garment bag. Something that we use maybe twice a year. I could just deal with it - certainly the boys aren't complaining about the ineffiecency of their recital costume garment bags. Ahem. But sometimes you just get a bee in your bonnet, you know? And each year, as I try to sort out which bow tie belongs in which bag and which white tights go with each sailor suit, I convince myself that a better organizational system would make the whole operation a great deal easier. (Aren't most problems solved with more shelving? I think so. Add bags and pockets to that list too.)
This week, before the kick off of a stretch of recital activity, I got to it. Using the old garment bag as a rough guide, I traced the pieces. Shortened the length of it all a bit and added a cotton lining with ample pockets on the inside for all the costume accessories. I used a laminate fabric (this one from Anna Maria Horner's Field Study line), and a heavy duty, extra long parka zipper. It took a little bit of brain stretching, this project - what with all the lining and pockets and laminate fabric to boot. It's a little funky to work with (I found Amy Butlers tips helpful), and so there's a little bit of wonkiness around the zipper in spots, not lying exactly as flat as I'd like it to. But overall, I'm pleased. Between the lining and the thickness of the laminate fabric, it has a great weight that helps it hold things well - without static or cling or plastic on the inside. And oh, those pockets really do help keep everything straight.
I had intended to monogram each of the boys initials on the outside so they could easily distinguish whose is whose in the dressing room. A look of horror passed over their faces when I suggested this, and I was promptly and enthusiastically informed that they wouldn't carry them if that were to be the case. (You'll don tights and dance in front of two thousand people but you won't carry a garment bag with your initials on it?, I countered, with no luck changing their minds.) Well, then. So a simple piece of ribbon is tied to each zipper - gold for Ezra, brown for Calvin. Subtle (for two boys who are anything but).
They were gracious and thankful, these sweet boys of mine. But despite my walk-through of the bags and how to use the hangers and where everything goes in which pocket and how....at the end of their first use of them, everything was a jumbled mess, off the hangers and out of the pockets, down at the bottom of the bag. Oh well. I'm happy to be the one to keep their cummerbunds and bow ties, tights and shoes in just the proper place. I'll even go so far as to call myself lucky to do so.