Mr.Punch Fabrics

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Mr.Punch Fabrics

Postby Prof Dan » 15 Feb 2007, 16:24

Hello,
Ive just finished carving my Mr.Punch head and am in need of some good fabric. Can anyone recommend me some red fabric which is preferable available online?

Any help would be greatly apprieciated

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Postby Tony James » 16 Feb 2007, 11:22

Obviously you have a reason for wanting to buy on the internet.

Personally I would want to see and handle the material before I bought.

I think a lot of us buy - when we do spend money - end of roll fabrics from markets and similar places. You can get good quality quite cheaply.

The other source has to be friends and relatives who have left-over fabrics and even old dress and curtain fabrics from items no longer used.

Be careful of used curtain, the sun may well have caused the fabric to weaken.

The most important thing if you're working outside is colour fastness. If you've ever had a dress leech colour when it's wet you'll know what I mean.

Punch scarlet running everywhere is not funny.
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Postby shorty » 17 Feb 2007, 21:51

Hi Dan
You could try www.cheapfabrics.co.uk
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Postby Mark Poulton » 17 Feb 2007, 23:47

Some good things on on that site Shorty!
It can be a gamble but it's amazing what you can find on ebay!
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Postby CvdC » 18 Feb 2007, 02:16

Now if you go to that site click on Heavyweight fabrics
The sort of fabric you want is Gaberdine or cotton drill.
I like the way you can click to enlarge a piece of material and get a close look at the folds.
But no red?
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Postby James » 18 Feb 2007, 02:23

You could always try purples, or greens and blues. Have seen some great Punchs dressed in these colours.

The aubergine corduroy on http://www.cheapfabrics.co.uk would be great, and is less than £5 per metre.
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Postby CvdC » 18 Feb 2007, 06:09

It takes about half a metre, maybe a width 60cm or 2ft wide to make a puppet costume. I walk into the material shop and I buy good solid material that will cope with the wear and tear. I then find the right colour. I do not even think about the cost because the work that will go into making the puppet and the use you will put it to means that this small initial outlay is of no consequence. A costume made of cheap poly cotton will take as long to make, look worse and wear out more quickly. I really think the first comment was the one to take notice of: Feel the quality, have a good look for what you want. Then you can wander over to the ribbons and laces. You'll need to go to the football and have a few pints at the pub afterwards though.
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Postby Tony James » 18 Feb 2007, 11:23

I don't make dresses for my figures any more. Not since the mid 90s anyway. I use a professional theatrical costume designer and maker. It is interesting when we're talking through costume changes and she has pulled out fabric samples to illustrate her designs.

Sometimes she washes fabrics to shrink them. In fact, I think she does this more times than I realise. It's to avoid not only general shrinkage but differential shrinkages which would wreck the costumes.

And of course everything is checked for colourfastness.
Last edited by Tony James on 18 Feb 2007, 11:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Chris » 18 Feb 2007, 11:24

Addendum This was meant to be in answer to CvdC, I had not realised that Tony James was posting his valuable information at the same time.
<p>
Now my advice would differ slightly. I'd buy the cheap poly-cotton because this will be far more hard wearing than many more attractive materials. I would buy the poly-cotton to use as a lining. Then when I was choosing the outer costume material I could be more concerned with appearance.
Actually the lining of a punch figure's costume is very important. As well as extending the life of the garment immensely it also makes the the costume hang better, makes the garment easier to construct, gives body and bulk which compensates for the large head, and makes the puppet easier to get on and off the hand.
Lining material should be smooth, but not too slippery - your hand would slide in and out of satin beautifully but your grip through the cloth would be impaired - and hard wearing. I have used shirting and thin poly-denim effectively.
Another advantage of lining is to protect the outer garment from your sweaty paws. Most people's hands do get hot inside the glove.

That web address given by Carl looks most useful. And while I agree with CvdC that to feel the material is very desireable, you will find that most firms will send you small cuttings from the materials you are interested in if you ask. Indeed many firms supplying materials for stage use have prepared booklets of samples which will be supplied on request.<p>
Last edited by Chris on 18 Feb 2007, 20:27, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby David Wilde » 18 Feb 2007, 19:50

"I don't make dresses for my figures any more. Not since the mid 90s anyway."

Did Fred put a dress on the policeman as well? With a blue and white striped hem on the edge of the skirt?
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Postby Tony James » 18 Feb 2007, 20:32

Absolutely David, only the blue and white stripes are around the left arm - Metropolitan Police band. I recall mentioning this previously.

Actually the material Fred used for the PC was very good and wore well. like a thick serge. Judy's dress didn't wear so well and her's was the first I had to remake. Joey was the second one. Like Judy, his wore across the front from wear on the playboard edge and in the arm/chest area where the end of the stick action rubbed. Then followed the Doctor. The Policeman was next.

I did not find redressing easy, even with the originals as templates. The dresses my lady makes for me are bigger and lined as Chris describes. Gives body to the figure, fits my hands perfectly and they are longer, better covering my lower arms.

The Punch dress Fred supplied was well made but not fast and if it became sufficiently wet would bleed red dye over any dresses that came in contact. The Ghost was most vulnerable, being white and particularly as I use it at the end, when Punch will be at his wetest.

It wasn't too hard to get it out of the Ghost's dress. I mixed up some 'colour run' restorer and sponged it on. It removed the red almost at once and then I rinsed the dress under the tap to prevent any possible damage to the fabric.

Interestingly I tried this on one of the boxers whose stripy costume was blotched with red. It took the red away immediately but turned the blue stripes yellowy-brown. I thought I had done permanent damage.

Strange to say as I rinsed the dress- and I didn't expect this - the yellowy-brown stripes turned back to blue which was a relief.

Put me in mind of the old 'wine and water' trick.
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Postby Chris » 18 Feb 2007, 20:37

David, I don't feel you are showing proper respect to one who can employ a professional theatrical costume designer to make his hand puppet costumes and design the costume changes, as well as handling differential shrinkage. I realise that this is a different league to the Punch & Judy you are involved with, but you'll get there one day, especially if you heed the words of those who have achieved greatness.
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Postby Tony James » 18 Feb 2007, 20:46

While we're talking about fabrics it's easy even for a professional to use the wrong fabric. My Joey has a hat and a few years ago it was a bright yellow with small red polka dots. Looked good.

But within a few weeks it was looking mucky. I was told it looked all right from out front but I could see it wasn't as clean as it should be.

I never understood why but that fabric attracted dirt like magnet. She made another in the same material and that was no better. I know that steam fairs weren't helping - the amount of greasy soot at these events is greater than you realise and I put a lot of it down to that.

Shame - it was lovely fabric. So getting a practical fabric is not always easy.
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Postby Tony James » 18 Feb 2007, 20:50

Chris - we crossed over again!

I'm deeply appreciative of your kind words and your personal humbleness in my presence.

I sincerely trust you will recover your usual demeanour because this isn't like you!!!!!
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Postby David Wilde » 19 Feb 2007, 00:32

I'm striving to achieve the standards set by others.

You missed my initial joke then? Are all your puppets female Tony? (dresses!)

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