Hark! A new-to-me blog, La Bricoleuse, courtesy of Rachel Pollock, a costume artisan and graduate school professor at UNC Chapel Hill. I don’t remember how I found the site but I was immediately attracted to its high quality content. For example, this entry on making a half scale dress form. While it may not be as in depth as one would like, the materials and chemicals used in the process are obvious if you’re of a mind to make your own. I think many of the form tutorials available keep sources close to the vest. But maybe not now, I haven’t looked in awhile.
Another feature of the site is an inside look at student costuming projects. I can’t speak for you but I had never had to do anything like this. A sample is shown in the image at right. Kaitlin Fara‘s drape is on the left and Adrienne Corral‘s work is on the right. I’m very impressed with the level of craftsmanship, the result being very polished. It provides a striking counterpoint to a lot of costuming work seen on the web, much of the latter looks as though it has been glued together.
Another example of the site’s content is an interview with Daniel Weger; the head tailor and pattern maker at Eric Winterling, the lauded NY costume house which produces for myriad Broadway musicals as well as commercial work for Disney, Sea World and film and television entertainers. An excerpt:
Q. What are some of the specific considerations you have to take into account when creating tailored garments for the stage and screen? Do you have any tips and tricks to share for speeding up parts of the process while retaining quality level?
A. Unlike many regional theatres I have worked in, New York shops use a lot of fusible interfacing such as tricot. Some fabrics take dye better than others, so it is not out of the question to make suitings out of stabilized spandex. We also use a lot of custom printed polyester. The tailors here use premade canvasses that they beef up with a little extra canvas or felt. With the high volume of suits we make and the often tight turn-around, it is most cost-effective to have these one hand ready to go. As a patternmaker, I come from a theatrical background so I was trained in the theatre. I am accustomed to making suits that include large seam allowances, etc., in order to improve the versatility of the garment. A majority of the tailors who work with me are from the commercial industry, so they bring the techniques of manufactured garments with them. The quality level is very high, the main difference is that the clothes are completed to be used for a single actor, and not to be returned to costume stock to be used and altered over the years.
Daniel mentions his most important tools are his shears and his L-square. The divisional scale on the latter saves him the work of math calculations. I wrote about it before; the L-square includes a chart of aliquot parts. I don’t think hardly anyone uses it these days so I was gratified to read he does.
Last but not least, Rachel has had significant impact funding sewing and costuming arts programs in public schools with very little backing. I tried to donate on her project page but it wasn’t working -a browser conflict perhaps? Keep her mind if you have some materials or machines to donate. Other than her blog, you can keep in touch with her via Facebook and Twitter. I’ll leave you to explore her site and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.