Category Archives: Costuming

Christmas Carol Everywhere

Since August, I’ve been surrounded by Christmas Carol.

At home, I’m working on my 1,000,000,000-th revision of a MG Carol retelling (which I love!). By the time I came back for the new season (a week late), CC had already engulfed the entire theatre. It’s not every year we build the beastie from scratch. In fact, this is the first new production my theatre’s had in 16 (or so) years.

It’s a lot of holly.

While I’m normally a firsthand, sewing and assisting a draper, for this show I’m focusing on the painting/ dying/ crafting aspects of my job description. Which is okay by me! I love making beautiful things, but I like making character-appropriate and unusual things even more. So far, most of my craftwork has involved distressing (making things look old) and “moment” creation.

Like I said, it’s a lot of holly.


In case you’re wondering which store has the best/most supplies for Moment building, I’d recommend Hobby Lobby. Vastly superior to JoAnn’s and Michaels when it comes to quantity, price, and enthusiasm for Christmas. I mean, Michaels was pretty much all about Halloween still. Psshaw.


My (dwindled) pile of supplies. Please note the headphones (complete with gaff tape). One of the best parts of working by myself is listening to audiobooks.


The Ghost of Christmas Present will be the prettiest Christmas Queen in all the land.


Four of my favorite creations, prepped and ready to be sewed together. (No glue here, folks!)


Sometimes your gloves aren’t quite tall enough… (This was the only pic I have on my phone of my distressing work on this show. Will have to take more this week.)


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Old Camera Surprise!




My nephew came out this past week to visit. He’d never been to NJ to see us, and we wanted him to know where we lived and what our lives were like here. He was pretty excited. Not really about visiting us, though. More because it meant he got to go on an airplane, then take a subtrain (his word) in NYC and see the Statue of Liberty.

To make his visit special, we gave him an old digital camera to use. Before doing so, we wanted to make sure it was empty. Lo and behold! It was not. Included in some random shots of our old place and a vacation to Florida, was this pretty little bonnet I remade for Christmas Carol 2 years ago.

Not the best photographs, but I’m still quite pleased with the hat itself. And it’s held up! 3 Christmas Carols later, it’s still going strong.

And this one seems to be focused more on the headblock than the bonnet.

Side view! With tools in the background. Photography fail.

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A Lady in Red

I’m so bad about posting this sort of stuff, but the vast majority of what I do isn’t quite so flashy.

But here: A Thing I Made! Isn’t she pretty? She took approximately 1 million hours. Or…two weeks? I think. The cutting of the fabric alone took 10+ hours.



In case anyone ever tells you that theatrical costuming isn’t detailed or precise, please show them the little lace do-dads on this bodice. Not only is each one hand applied, but they’re individually cut out of yardage, and then hand applied. In the scheme of things, not something that took a long time, but also not something you probably even noticed in the full-scale image, and DEFINITELY not something you notice on the actress when she’s on stage.

Still, pretty.

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The Crown of Isis


This picture was taken after 6 weeks in rehearsal/performance. It held up pretty well!

I thought everyone would like to see what I made this September. Among other things: a headdress for our Antony & Cleopatra!




Sorry about the blurriness, but the back was my favorite.

It’s constructed on a covered foss-shape base. The folded, golden pieces are thermagauze, a thin thermaplastic that molds and bends with heat. The thermagauze is covered in a textured spray paint, gilded with (faux) gold leaf., and then slightly painted into to add depth and age.


An in-progress pic. Before the “wings” were added to the front and sides.


The roughest of drafts. A very in-progress mock up made with a thicker thermaplastic, oaktag and brown paper. Believe it or not, this wasn’t even the very first attempt!

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The Best Gown of the Figaros…

…had to be the Count’s dressing gown, of course.

Hanging out. LIke ya do.

Hanging out, pre-painting.


Dulling down the pink, brightening up the yellow.

It’s long-past time that I posted some of what I worked on this Spring for the two new Stephen Wadsworth productions (Marriage of Figaro and Barber of Seville). These two monsters were, well, monsters. Far too large for our little shop to appropriately handle, but we made it through, somehow (lots of overhire! lots of overtime!).

One of my favorite projects to build was the Count’s dressing gown. Although it was a simple pattern, it was still intense. To begin, I had to cut it so that the largest flowers were offset from one another and went yellow-pink-yellow-pink around the body. There wasn’t enough fabric. (There’s never enough fabric.) But working together, my draper and I squeezed the pattern on and I cut it. I didn’t even close my eyes or look away, though I wanted to.

That managed and still alive, I had to hand paint each flower so that the pink flowers didn’t totally dominate the print. The pink got dulled down and the yellow got brightened up. This was by far my favorite part of the project. (Look how pretty those yellow flowers are!) And it wasn’t scary. It was, however, time consuming. Painting the flowers took a whole 8-hour day.

And then came the easy part–just sewing it together. Neal Bledsoe, who played the Count, makes it look stunning of course.

Before and after. Hand-painted flowers.

Before and after. Hand-painted flowers.

The finished product! Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

For more photos of the Marriage of Figaro and the Barber of Seville, head on over to McCarter Theatre’s website. I worked on a lot of the menswear, including Figaro’s amazing leather jacket.

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Read Your Contract: Christmas Carol Edition.

A draper, first hand, 6-year-old and a Mom are all in a Christmas Carol fitting. They discuss laundry.

Tiny Tim’s Mom: His shirt might get stinky, they have two or three shows a week.


Draper: Um…a few more than that.

Tiny Tim’s Mom: Like four or five?

Me: More like eight.

<blank stares all around>

End Scene.

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Back. Again. Finally. Also: CRANE!

Guys. The crane is done at last, at last. I apologize for my long absence. The last few weeks have contained an abundance of work and I’ve had little time to commit to writing of any sort– fact (blog) or fiction. I hope the cat pictures on Mondays have been keeping you all company.

The big show is behind us (finally!) and the next show is just gearing up. Until it really gets going, I have a few extra hours to my evenings. I had been spending them cleaning (not enough) and cooking (definitely not enough) and cuddling with the husband (can there be enough), BUT tonight Kyle is off learning about how economies develop at NYU or some such and I’m on my own.

So here I am, updating the blog. Hip, hip, hoorah!

First of all, because I know you’ve all been waiting: the crane is complete! It looks pretty freaking cool. Everyone’s happy. SUCH a fun project.


Brother Crane Contains: Foss Shape, Buckram, Millinery Wire, Leather, Acrylic Hair, Silk, Plastic Gems, Acrylic Paint, Super 88, Spackle, Gold Leaf Foil, Sharpie, Jessi’s Blood, Sweat and Tears… and one other sort of thermoplastic which I can’t remember the name of

Secondly, keep your eyes peeled because I have a couple of big blog posts coming. One (or maybe two) on inspiration, one on my Mutti’s Grand Opening celebration, maybe one on the editing process for the short story.

And…that’s pretty much it. Goodnight, all.

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A bit of this and that… and a cool crane hat!

So I’ve had a hard time lately finding the energy and drive to do much. Not entirely sure what that’s about, but it’s meant my writing output (both here on the blog and in fiction world) has been nill.

In other news:

I joined the Codex Writers’ Group, an online community of professional writers. You have to meet certain criteria to get in, so that’s kinda cool. I haven’t introduced myself yet, but I’m thinking I’ll do that this morning.

Kyle and I started the Couch to 5K program. I thought it would be good to do something together and I’ve been awful about going to the gym. It’s been a good experience so far (for that one whole week). We go to a local park to run/walk and there are always deer and rabbits. Yesterday we saw a fawn nursing like 10′ away.

We painted the office this past weekend. Finally! It’s now a cool grey and once I get the new shelving we bought off of Craigslist and things moved in, I’ll post the “after” pictures.

A good friend of mine recently took a job at the theatre I work for. She arrived in town this week with her boyfriend, who I hadn’t met yet. We’ve had a nice few days getting to know him and exploring and cooking together.

I made monster cookies the other week.

…I really don’t have much to share…

Oh! Except: I get to do this super cool project at work. I’ve never done anything like it, so this week I get to make little mock-ups to test out different products. I’m ridiculously excited.


As it is, the head is too heavy, so it’s straining the actress’s neck muscles, so the goal is to make it lighter. I’m going to be doing a foam version with various coatings and a moldable heat-sheet version with other coatings to see which will suit us best.

These sorts of projects are why I do what I do. I love the problem solving. I love that it’s different and weird. And I extra love that the milliner didn’t want it, so that I (usually just the painter-dyer) could do it. Although, she’s often cool about sharing the fun/pretty craft projects with me.

I’ll try to remember to take pictures of the process of building the small versions.

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Cleaning Costume Stock

Last year in my first week of work I met Christopher Durang (!), David Hyde Pierce (one of my first crushes), and Sigourney Weaver.

This year, I’ve been cleaning. And cleaning. And cleaning. The first show is small and the last show of last year was hectic to say the least, so things are seriously messy. Top off that chaos with a massive leak in costume storage (possible the worst place to have a leak in the entire building) and we’ve got a lot of cleaning to keep us busy.

Dress up at work

Who says cleaning and restocking isn’t glamorous?

I know it’s important, I know it is, but… but…

Anyway. Eventually, in a week or so, the cleaning will be behind me and I’ll get my hands on fabric and straw and foam and paint. There are some really, really cool projects lining up already this year. I can’t wait to get to that point.

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