ok, i admit it. i was one of those girls. you know, one of those girls who, circa 1996, saw “RENT” for the first time and never. let. it. go. it was such an eye-opener: AIDS, sexuality, and especially the idea that the East Village/Alphabet City had ever been something other than overpriced, over-crowded and too hip for its own good. its music has a way of getting into your head and staying there for weeks.
as it happens, 1998 was the first time i saw “RENT.” it was for my friend cherry (real name redacted to protect the innocent) and her 16th birthday. a few of us had decided that year, instead of doing a birthday party or a sweet 16, to celebrate with just our little trio of pals, and her parents treated us to an overnight stay in new york and an evening performance of “RENT”. it was post-original cast, so i never saw taye diggs, adam pascal, tony rapp, idina menzel, et, al, in the roles that really started to make them famous, but it was pretty intense, exciting stuff for a 16-year-old. (AND, i did eventually see adam pascal in “AIDA” with idina menzel, AND i saw idina and kristen chenoweth in “wicked”, AND the understudy for the scare crow that night was taye diggs. true story.)
so, yeah, i was one of those girls. yes, i could recite every word of the 2-hour libretto–and, in fact, spent the summer of 1998 doing just that, since my “RENT” soundtrack ended up being the only CD i had with me on a 6-week teen tour in israel. fortunately, i was not alone in this, and spent 6 very happy weeks with the soundtrack to “RENT” (and, interestingly, to “newsies”) as one of the only things constantly on. we even got it on the bus sound system one day until the boys revolted. my own seat buddy that day, ari, even threatened to revoke my sitting privileges if i didn’t stop singing along with the tape–although that could have been a commentary on my voice, and not my taste.
and, i am one of those girls who doesn’t even remember when she bought this shirt, because i actually lost count of how many times i saw the show. it was at least 4, possibly as many as 6 times, and i think i bought this t-shirt when my original top — a funky, cubist drawing of mimi with the caption “light my candle” — mysteriously vanished into that dark black hole where missing socks go in the laundry. (either that, or my mom stole it and got rid of it, which actually happened sometimes. true story.)
this is actually a refashion of a refashion. the t-shirt was huge, an XL at least, because that was all the gift shop had and i was determined to have my shirt. also, 1998-1999 was a very unfortunate period for me in which i bought all of my t-shirts huge. not sure why i thought that was cool or attractive, but 12 years later it means i have plenty of extra knit jersey fabric to play with, so i look on the bright side.
so 3 years ago this T ended up in my original sewing project box, a summer-long endeavor to redesign t-shirts. but i was never satisfied with the result, and a few weeks ago i disassembled the T again in order to try for this number from alabama studio sewing + design.
the dropped waist of the design appealed to me, and it was easy to get extra fabric (from ann) to make the tiers. this was fun: i spread out the knit, folded crosswise, on the dining table at my house. obviously i didn’t have a 60-inch ruler, so i tried something a little weird to measure and cut my tiers–i used my laser level! (i was very proud of this bit of innovation.)
i thought the fabric called for in the original pattern was a bit excessive (each tier being 3x the length of the previous one, for 4 tiers!) and consulted my pattern-making text book for additional instructions…and then just started cutting lengths of fabric.
Fabric: circa 1998 “RENT” souvenir T, black rayon jersey from gorgeous fabrics, gray cotton/rayon jersey from gorgeous fabrics
Pattern: fitted tunic pattern, modified, per instructions in alabama studio sewing + design
Time to Complete:
First Worn: June
Total Price: ~$30
Challenge Theme: “On Trend”