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Forum > Creative Sewing > Need Help Designing Costumes ( Moderated by Lynnelle)

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Need Help Designing Costumes
Beauty and the Beast
Sherril Miller
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Sherril Miller  Friend of PR
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Date: 1/11/12 11:23 PM



The Middle School I teach at is performing Beauty and the Beast in early March and I have been asked along with a sewing friend of mine to make costumes. We will be designing and sewing the costumes for these three characters plus Salt and Pepper. These are middle school students and we don't have a really large budget but they have done some fundraising. The principal told me she would be me anything I need.

Does anyone have a place to start for us? Have you made costumes like this before. I make costumes for my son's community theater every summer, but I usually have a pattern and I've never done a fictional character before.

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Visit my blog at http://sewingsaga.blogspot.com

If it's worth sewing, it's worth sewing well;
and if it's worth sewing well, it's worth FITTING FIRST! - TSL

kwpanthermom
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Date: 1/12/12 9:28 AM

How very intriguing! I have made theatre costumes for high school and community theatre plays. The last was Seussical (I made Maizie and a Who). I think the main things are fabric and trim choices as well as durability and ease of getting in/out of the costume for that age group. For Halloween I did Jasmine and her prince (for adults) , and my upcoming project is a character in Cinderella, yet to be determined, for a high school play. If I could figure out how to post a picture into this box, I would. But alas I am much better with a sewing machine than a computer!

I would be happy to share tips, advice, ideas with you!

From the picture, the "easiest" place to start is the girl on the left, that looks like a pretty basic dirndl skirt, a top with a peplum, and an apron, but it is the fabric choices that make the fabulousness of it. I use two online places for fabrics almost exclusively.
-- Edited on 1/12/12 10:03 AM --

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kwpanthermom

Sauvage
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Date: 1/15/12 10:43 AM

My kids' theater group did that show a while back. I thought the inanimate-object characters would be the hardest so I stayed out of the way of those, being new to the scene, but the people who did them did a lovely job. (The music's just great, too--I smile thinking of it.)

Let's see--you have Babette, Lumiere and Cogsworth plus salt and pepper.

One thing you might want to know is whether the director wants the characters to look more or less like the ones from the animated movie, or whether you can go off in your own direction.

Also, do you need to do both before and after outfits for them (after being when the enchantment has been broken and they're "Human Again")? Easiest for everyone is if they have their human costumes on under accessories or structures representing the teapot, clock, candlestick, etc.....then they have a quicker costume change.

Babette is a feather duster. Feathers can be dreadful to work with (expensive, takes a lot of them to make an impression at stage distance and they don't glue consistently). Consider making big "feathers" of felt (I've done this with bird costumes) or using feathery novelty yarn in the right colors (usually black and white evoking the French maid look of the human Babette).

Our Lumiere, the candlestick, had a "flame" hat made with gold fabric, and big cuffs and possibly gloves to represent flames as well. (Hmmm. I guess Lumiere is really a candelabra.) The outfit was mostly white with a gold vest.

Cogsworth had a sandwich board/box-ish costume painted as a clock. It's really cute when the furniture characters have big, bulky costumes; but then you can also suggest "clock" or "dresser" with something less bulky.

For salt and pepper, you'll probably want to get the shaker tops across clearly--maybe with hats that look like shaker tops (colanders??). If one or both are girls, you could use a long skirts in white or grey/black.

Good luck! It's work but so much fun, and you get to see kids enjoying themselves in something you've made.

kwpanthermom--did you use scads of feathers for Maizie?
-- Edited on 1/15/12 10:45 AM --

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Jeanne
2014 yards in inventory: (to be counted)
Yards cut/sewn:58
Yards purchased: 46.3

"People....so much bigger on the inside." Doctor Who, "The Doctor's Wife," 6.04, by Neil Gaiman.

Sherril Miller
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Date: 1/15/12 11:03 AM

Those are some really good ideas, I especially love the one about using yarns on felt instead of buying feathers. I live fairly close to the downtown Los Angeles garment district so I'll have easy access to fabrics. I hadn't even thought to ask about the before and after costumes. I guess that's fairly important. We are renting some of the costumes and some of the parents are making costumes as well.

I was thinking that peltex could be used for the furniture structure ans well as the salt and pepper shapes. Overstock.com sells it by the 10 yd bolt. I wish I could find it wider than 20"

I'm definitely going to keep the 30 foot rule going. Which is to say it only has to look good from a distance of 30 feet. These costumes could take months if they had to look good from up close.

------
Visit my blog at http://sewingsaga.blogspot.com

If it's worth sewing, it's worth sewing well;
and if it's worth sewing well, it's worth FITTING FIRST! - TSL

Kathi R
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Date: 1/15/12 11:41 AM

Another way to give the impression of feathers is to buy really cheap fake fur with a deep/stringy pile and use it against the grain - rather than allowing it lay flat, turn it around so the pile falls away from the body. I'm sure you can find something downtown on a rack of fake fur that just won't sell because it is too fake looking. I made a flock of Woodstock costumes for a production of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown this way.

I wouldn't invest in peltex for the clock, it would consume too much of a limited budget --- think big cardboard box, made into a sandwich board, reinforced at the edges with packing tape and covered with fabric or paper and paint. Foam core would work too, but it gets pricey.

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2012 : starting stash 386, net additions 206, used 164, ending stash 428...I'm never going to get in front of this pile of fabric!

koo104
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Date: 1/15/12 12:53 PM

Other resources:
The Costumer's handbook or it was later called
The Costumer's technician handbook.
Is excellent but it has gotten pricey but you might find in the local library system.
Liz Cover & Rosemary ingram.

Thrift stores might be of help for old ornate bedspreads tassels fringes etc.
Find out if the familes have any items they can donate.
Evening clothes items that can be altered.

auntie bellums
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Date: 1/15/12 1:04 PM

Think outside of the box, or maybe inside. We have done some amazing things with refrigerator boxes, wall paper, painted pennies, bottle caps, rope spray painted gold etc. Don't forget, you can spray paint shoes too. You have to get the budget set and then work within it.

Last year I was approached to do wise man costumes that they wanted for dirt cheap but they wanted gold braid, jewels, tassels etc. The budget per costume was $15. When I explained that what they wanted was beautiful satin with real stones and that couldn't happen on $15. But, having the conversation was good, expectations can sometimes be hard to live up to if you don't know what they are expecting.

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It's not your mamma's sewing.....It's your great grandmamma's

Sauvage
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In reply to Sherril Miller


Date: 1/15/12 10:38 PM

Quote:
I'm definitely going to keep the 30 foot rule going. Which is to say it only has to look good from a distance of 30 feet. These costumes could take months if they had to look good from up close.


Yes, nobody's going to be examining the seam finishing details! Plus, they don't have to last for years. I actually really like that about costumes for short-run kid shows. They are like sketches compared to paintings. They just have to hang together and spark, or at least not hamper, the kid's imagination....

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Jeanne
2014 yards in inventory: (to be counted)
Yards cut/sewn:58
Yards purchased: 46.3

"People....so much bigger on the inside." Doctor Who, "The Doctor's Wife," 6.04, by Neil Gaiman.

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