This topic has 7 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 2 years, 6 months ago by Mary Novodvorsky.

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  • #14970

    Hello everyone.

    I am going to jump right in:

    Once again I am putting down an old drop of ours for some repainting and what once was square now has a lovely hourglass figure that Marilyn Monroe would be jealous of. I am know the source of the problem (they are getting hosed down when hung to deal with the wrinkles without stretching the sides.) That problem is being dealt with.

    My question/issue/quest is ‘now what do I do with the drop’? Is there any hope of getting it back into shape? In the past I have cut and resewn the sides on some serious offenders. This won’t work on this particular drop as much of the design involves vertical lines.

    I am wondering how others deal with this issue on the drop itself.

    #15960
     Cobaltgosa
    • Experience: 20+ years
    • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

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    I don’t know what your set up is, but keeping in mind that we paint our drops down, the way we deal with this is to staple the top and bottom back down, get people and staplers ready, then spray the drop down with water. Before it starts drying, you’ll need a pull/staple party to get the sides back into place. The pulling needs to happen no more than five minutes after it gets wet before it starts to shrink back up. We will sometimes use pliers or vice grips to grip and pull while a second person staples. Hope this helps!

    #15961
     Mary Novodvorsky
    • Experience: 20+ years
    • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

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    We do the same as Cobalt. It might take a couple of passes to get it pulled out depending on how much has to be pulled out of it. First pass gets you about 3 inches. If you need to pull 6 out of it, do a second run. It will be easier to pull two runs of three than one run to get 6 pulled back out.

    #15962
     Mary Novodvorsky
    • Experience: 20+ years
    • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

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    We do the same as Cobalt. It might take a couple of passes to get it pulled out depending on how much has to be pulled out of it. First pass gets you about 3 inches. If you need to pull 6 out of it, do a second run. It will be easier to pull two runs of three than one run to get 6 pulled back out.

    #15963

    I paint my drops down as well. Unfortunately, I do not have a crew of people to help me. I am a shop of 1.

    What you have suggested (spraying and stretching) is my typical approach. But then I started thinking about it more. If we are pulling that hard to get the drop into shape, won’t the fabric just relax back after time? Especially if there aren’t layers of paint going on it to lock it into place.

    I had a drop & legs that did just that. I think the original had never been starched so as soon as they sprayed it while it hung, the fabric just went wild. The first time I put them down, I did the spray & stretch, and stretch…and stretch. Then I just some light sprays to adjust color and highlights/shadows. I gave strict instructions that they were not to be sprayed out under any circumstances. Several years later I am putting said softgoods back down for some additional alterations and again had to contend with serious hourglassing. I had gotten those suckers square in my first go-round, and nearly scraped all the skin off my fingers doing so. If they truly hadn’t been sprayed out in the years between the two sessions on my shop floor, then I can only conclude that in the long run all the spraying and stretching is only a temporary fix. (I have bouts of insomnia and have lots of time to think about these things)

    This current drop is used in our annual production of The Nutcracker, therefore I need a more permanent solution. So I decided to experiment since I have some wiggle room regarding size. My basic theory is instead of stretching it to fit the size I want it, I will try to shrink it down to the size it wants to be. The actual dimensions aren’t that important to me, I just want to get it square again. I added additional lines in 1″ increments to the box drawn on the floor along the bottom and two sides. I stapled down the top to the width it comfortably stretched to. Once the bottom corners were secured, the absurdity began. I worked around the whole drop down to a size it comfortably fit into. If I encountered a section that required extensive stretching to make the measurements then I brought it into the next line (or two) and worked the ease back into the rest of the drop. I was keeping the drop wet with cold water while doing this. When I got it pretty well set I gave it a good hosing with very hot water. It is almost dry now. There is still some puckering on one end and once it is dry I will try and pull that side out some more and see how it goes.

    It may fail completely, but I figured it was worth a shot. Does this theory make sense or do I just sound like a rambling twit?

    I will post an update on my mad scientist experiment as it progresses.

    #15964
     Mary Novodvorsky
    • Experience: 20+ years
    • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

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    Perhaps the goods were stretched too tight on the original paint job and they didn’t allow enough ease for shrinkage. I really only have this problem if someone hasn’t stapled good and the drop lets go when it’s down for starching. On stage, we have side stretchers that we put on to help block it out square for spraying. When the goods come out for a remount 4 years later, they are still pretty square.

    #15965

    You’re beyond this point, but here’s stuff for the future. In my experience, it is best to avoid spraying the back of the drop down. I’ve spoken with Rachel Keebler at Cobalt and she says to steam your wrinkles. Steaming the problem spots specifically allows that spot to relax, but the dry fabric around the steamed spot will not allow hourglassing. If the drop is square, the threads WANT to be vertical, so she says an hour glassed drop (in theory) should return to normal with enough time–providing it started nice and square. Humidity helps. However not everyone has the time or space to hang a drop until it behaves. If you absolutely cannot get access to a steamer, try to have the drop hung as soon as possible so the weight at the bottom can straighten out the wrinkles. To minimize vertical wrinkles, make sure the drops are being folded bottom to top, then in from the sides. There’s a diagram in the Backstage Handbook if (like me) you have a TD that tells you it doesn’t matter how they’re folded, or if you won’t be around when they get put away.

    If the squaring and sizing of these pieces went well, I would posit your problems may stem from the fabric itself-especially FR fabric. In my experience–even when people spray our drops down, they don’t change shape. If some of your drops work out and these are the outliers, you may be looking at problems that didn’t start with you. Without seeing your process and the way the drop started, it’s hard to have insight about what you’re doing, but don’t rule out flawed material if this is an unusual result of your usual process. Sorry if this was a bunch of information you already know. Good luck!

    **I’d also love to see these side stretchers**

    #15966
     Mary Novodvorsky
    • Experience: 20+ years
    • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

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    I’ll try and remember to post a picture the next time we use the side stretchers. It won’t be until the holiday show loads in next season though.

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