Something I’ve often been asked in relation to my dancing is, do I make my own costumes. This isn’t a simple yes or no answer really, as sometimes I make things completely from scratch, but mostly I ‘coddle’ together bits and pieces. So yes, I ‘put together’ my own costumes as opposed to buying them ready made. Part of my fun is starting with an idea or an item, and finding all the little bits and pieces that go with them. My Mum on the other hand, prefers to be able to go to the rail and pick out a hanger with a complete costume. Both methods work, but suit different occasions, and different people. Anyway, back to ‘making’…
Take my Nutcracker costume, for example. This is about my most ‘handmade from scratch’ costume. The top I made in my 2nd year of Uni for a fancy dress party (Princesses of the World…I went Arabian). It didn’t really fit, and I ended up wearing it over a leotard, but I had no pattern and it looked OK. When I wanted a top for this costume, I decided to alter it and jazz it up a bit, so made it fit, added the green sparkly bits and beaded the sleeves. Hey presto, the top I wanted, from scratch, minimal cost. Moving down…the harem trousers. I made my own pattern from newspaper, working out where the join needed to be (the front) and therefore what shape to cut. Then I beaded the edges, sewed on the decals and elasticated top and bottom. The overskirt, apart from being the most beautiful fabric, is just pleated onto a ribbon waistband. As is the little front skirt. This was then beaded along the edge. Hipbelt-wise…more complicated, and less of a success. Somewhere along the lines my measurements went awry, and then I changed the style of it, so it turns back on itself. Also, I never want to work with velvet ever again. However, considering I sewed most of it, stop-start, at the theatre during the run of Last Tango, I’m fairly happy! Add some sequins, some Christmas tassels and an old necklace of Grandma’s, and I had the reality of my initial vision. So yes, sometimes I make my costumes.
Other times, not so much. Take my Candyman costume. The bra I already had. I pinned a necklace to the underside, and a flower to the centre. Nothing permanent. The sailor’s collar was my Grandfather’s and wasn’t altered in any way. I only added a brooch to it to hide the bow. Skirt wise, I had the blue base skirt, the silk top scarf and the lacy scarf, borrowed the blue tasselled scarf from Bex, the pashmina from Mum, and added a hipbelt I’d been given. No sewing, no pinning. Hardly ‘making’…more ‘building’! Add gloves, masses of jewellery and a sailor’s cap made from a folded and pinned Peter Pan collar and a costume was created. However, none of it was permanent, and straight afterwards was taken apart and put away as separate items. A temporary costume perhaps.
So two very different approaches to costumes, but hopefully, both effective. So in answer to the initial question, yes I do make my own costumes…just with different definitions of ‘make’ 🙂
”Creativity is a natural extension of our enthusiasm” ~ Earl Nightingale