Before high-calibre Okotoks skaters cut intricate patterns on the ice, there are hard working moms cutting intricate patterns on fabrics for the spectacular costumes.
Okotoks Skating Club volunteers Carla Mevel and Suzanne Swienink, with the help of five others, have been cutting, sewing and measuring to make the outfits for the 55 skaters at the Colour Your World Showcase this weekend.
“We’ve been working on them for about a month now,” said Mevel on April 4. “The first thing we did was gather the kids’ sizes and then we went through the club’s storage room to see what was available.”
Mevel creates competitive outfits for dance and synchronized swimming professionally. She jumped at the chance to volunteer for the club in which two of her four children skate. Swienink also has two children skating with the club.
“I love it,” Mevel said. “I’m volunteering to a club that my kids go to and it’s creative fun. It gets the mind going — it’s art.”
The pair talked with the coaches for their ideas and then set off to buy fabric for the costumes. And with the theme being Colour Your World, there was plenty of shopping needed to get the full spectrum.
However, like most non-profit organizations, their budget was tighter than a figure skating outfit on Calgary Stampeder fullback Charlie Power.
“We had a tight budget, and we bought some fabrics at Bibles for Mission (a thrift store in Okotoks) and we bought a lot of fabric in bulk,” Mevel said.
For the Purple People Eater routine, the pair was able to piece together skirts to go along with purple t-shirts. Meanwhile, more detailed work had to be done for the monster himself to ensure he could display a purple reign of terror on the ice.
“I loved being creative – making the costume for my son Luke for the monster,” Swienink said. “A one-eyed monster — take a look on Internet and see what I can make.”
She still had some work to do with 10 days before the show. Swienink is still working on a helmet, using Teddy bear stuffing.
Mevel said one of the toughest costumes was making sure some vests matched what was found in the storage room.
“There were three costumes that we found in the storage room that had a floral design, but we were short three for the kids,” Mevel said. “So Suzanne has come up with a unique idea to paint some t-shirts.”
There are some key components to a skating outfit.
“A good costume has flow and fit — so it flows on the ice,” Mevel said.
Swienink said the outfits also have to fit the songs the skaters are performing to.
Swienink and Mevel are a part of a small army of volunteers helping with Colour Your World, said the events co-ordinator Shauna McGee.
“It is absolutely a group effort,” McGee said.
One thing the costume makers can’t create is sewing a couple of extra hours on the clock.
“Time,” Swienink said when asked what was the most difficult part. “I would put everything down and do my bus route. And I have to drop the kids off for skating.”
Suzanne’s daughter Anouk is overwhelmed by her mom’s effort, calling it awesome. However, she has had to compromise her diet.
“You don’t even have time to make dinner anymore that’s how busy you are,” Anouk told her mom. “Daddy makes dinner.”
Colour Your World is at 1:30 p.m. at the Pason Centennial Arena on April 14. Admission is $5.