Forte Say Sew

This week, we hand over the blog reins to Amanda Johnston. 

Amanda sings with Forte and will also be overseeing the costumes for our Summer School production of Beauty and the Beast, but before she starts designing giant teapots and candlesticks for us, she, along with members of one of our choirs, has put her time and talent towards our upcoming concert, Summersault. Her blog is testament to the wonderful friendships and commitment the Starling Arts community has, and we're very grateful for it. 

- Anna & Emily

Words and Pictures by Amanda Johnston 

While the song and dance of a show certainly takes up a large chunk of preparation time, it's the details that help us take the show to a higher level. Personally, costumes and set are a huge part of what makes live theatre so magical, as they provide an additional outlet through which to tell the story. When Becki, one of our singers, suggested Forte wear aprons for a big dance number (the logic of this will become clear during Summersault), I jumped on it, and practically begged Emily and Anna to agree to the idea. 


Naturally, all our singers use Singer sewing machines, as Linda proves.

It’s something of a myth that “making your own” is a cheaper option - good quality fabric and supplies combined with the time invested will often make a handmade project more expensive than the high street - but in this case it turned out to be the best option, even compared to cheap aprons on eBay. I trundled off to my local supermarket to buy king sized sheets (the cheapest way to get a large amount of fabric, if you're not too fussy about fabric quality), and spent the best part of a weekend tearing the sheets into apron shaped pieces, 

While aprons are easy to make, and a brilliant beginner project, they take longer than you might imagine. Multiply this by 22 singers, and there's suddenly a lot of time to be dedicated to sewing a few strips of fabric together. Thankfully, the Starling community is full of wonderful people willing to volunteer their time, and a number of Forte singers have been working hard to bring the aprons to life in the last few weeks. Some have taken away kits of fabric to work on at home, while others came together to work on them as a group.

Tom irons around the teal frills that give the aprons a Starling touch

Last Saturday, a group of eager stitchers gathered in my flat for a sewing bee, and we had quite the production line organised. Everyone did a fantastic job, and thanks to an open mind and willingness to take on any task I could throw at them, we got a lot done, despite having a wide range of sewing ability amongst us (everything from those who'd never sewn so much as a single stitch to those who've been cutting holes in the middle of their mother's good fabric for as long as they can remember). After 5 hours of sewing and multiple cups of tea each, drunk from my collection of enormous mugs, we had lots of half-finished aprons, ready to have their waistbands sewn on.

Shalini completes Forte's frills and furbelows

There’s still a little work to be done, and then the whole batch needs to be ironed, however the aprons have come together wonderfully, with some even sporting Starling teal frills. We're looking forward to showing them off at Summersault - see you there!

Tickets for Summersault are available from our WHAT'S ON page. The show takes place on July 14th & 15th, 7.30pm at Toynbee Studios, and is an evening not to be missed!