Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dressing Melibea

A friend has asked me to help with the costumes for her theatre company, TKapow.  They are putting on The Illusion by Tony Kushner and I am working on one of Melibea's costumes.  Honestly, I agreed to do it because I had no experience making costumes beyond a giant felt pumpkin thirty years ago and the occasional princess.  And, of course, I like and admire Carey so I felt I could take something away from this adventure.  The pattern is Simplicity 3782, which may be out of print, but seems to be readily available on the internet and it has two versions of an Elizabethan costume.  For those of you who are true costumers, we are taking some liberties as this is community theatre.  

 One of my first challenges was boning.  Between the three bodice pieces there are sixteen channels of boning!  I had never put boning in before so a good deal of yesterday was spent reading up on it, especially how get it to lay flat!  I know now that there are many kinds and that steel is probably the choice of most professionals, but I only had featherweight available to me and decided that since this was, in fact, a costume, I would make do.  I struggled initially with tracing off the sixteen channels which were sewn into the lining and interfacing which had been basted together (I did not use fusible, of course, but rather a nice piece for sew-in from Pam at Off The Cuff).  I really didn't want to do tailor tacks for these sixteen channels so I put my light box to work and laid the pattern down first on the box with the lining/interfacing on top of it and was able to trace off the channels easily with an iron away marking pen.

 I then stitched the channels and inserted the boning which had been ironed flat.  I had to remove the casing for the boning first in order to fit it into the channels.


The costume consists of an underskirt and an over dress which opens to expose the skirt.  Between both pieces there are about 12 yards of cloth.  Only the front panel of the underskirt is done in good fabric in order to cut down on cost.  The remainder is done with a simple cotton as it will not show.  This is attached to a grograin ribbon which snaps in the back.

 The sleeves come in two parts -- upper and lower -- which are seamed with contrasting piping inserted between them and a ruffle at the end.

 More to come as I'd like to wrap this up in the next day or two.



  1. This is spectacular! Can't wait to see the finished costume.

  2. Your costume is looking fabulous.

  3. This is looking utterly amazing!