More often than not, I design and make period and theatrical costumes as well as wedding and formal wear. In a departure from this, I recently made a snake dance costume modeled after one from the Chinese Ballet. It was a fun change of pace. It is worn by Miki Reaume, who dances the part of the snake in the Easter Production How Love Wins. If you live in the Corning, NY area and would like to see it, you will find dates and times here. Photos by Becky Enders.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Yesterday I was called upon to create a last minute costume for a last minute understudy in a production of 42nd Street. The actress needed a red dress from the 1930’s. I do this sort of makeover frequently, though I rarely start it at noon of the performance day.
A red dress, several sizes too big with plenty of extra room in the skirt was purchased for $3 from a local thrift store.
While I awaited its arrival, I studied my condensed version of the Sears Catalog of the 1930’s.
The dress was a size 16; the actress generally wears a 12. I started by removing the collar, facing, and sleeves. I put the dress on a properly sized dress form. Since there was no waist seam, I marked the waist, cutting the skirt off an inch below the waist, removing the stitching around the zipper so that it could still be used in the final product. After pressing the pleats out of the skirt fabric, I carefully squeezed the pattern pieces onto it. I used a pattern from my collection that had the proper shape.
The bodice was taken in at the back darts and the new skirt attached. All of the dress fabric- sleeves included- was required to make a properly shaped skirt. Fortunately in the 1930’s it was trendy to use a second fabric for the sleeves and trimmings.
. I chose a red and white polka dot fabric from my stash for this.
The actress came out for a fitting before I put in the sleeves, so I was able to tweak the fit first. It took me about 3 ½ hours to convert a well-used garment from the 1980’s into a stylish dress of the 1930’s. It was challenging and fun, and is a great way to save both time and production costs.