I didn't set out to become a costumer. I sort of tripped and fell into it. I get most of my jobs that way, actually.

I've generally known how to sew since I was a kid. It was one of the few useful things my mother ever intentionally taught me. It's a common skill on her side of the family, who all picked it up for roughly the same reason I did, which is that I am very short, very leggy, and very wasp-waisted. Nobody in the entire history of pret-à-porter fashion has ever manufactured clothing for my body shape. I had to learn how to tailor pants in sheer self-defense. Once you've taken enough things apart to fix them, putting them together in the first place is a lot less intimidating.

I also like dressing funny, so after I moved out of my parents' house, it was inevitable that I'd cave to temptation and start making elaborate costumes for Halloween. I was de facto in charge of the annual nerdery for about a decade, back in Flagstaff. It started out small, with me lending bits of wardrobe or helping people sift through thrift stores, but eventually it got to the point where friends and friends of friends would hunt me down to ask for help. My deal was always that if they paid for their own materials and ordered the pizza, I'd help them construct whatever they wanted. Moggie and I worked together a lot, after I picked her up; she has experience as stage crew and owns a sewing machine.

We've built a number of pretty impressive costumes. There was a Lulu costume for Moggie's first college roommate; a Princess Peach dress for a coworker at Target, with blonde Farrah Fawcett flip wig and collar brooch; an Alice dress for Mog; a set of seven(!) Hogwarts uniforms for a whole group, for which I had to start knitting all the scarves in July; a set of voluminous Final Fantasy white mage robes the one year I decided I didn't want to freeze my ass off; a very tiny Princess Garnet-style white mage mini-dress the year my roommates went out with me as the red mage and the black mage; a devil costume made out of upholstery vinyl, paired with Moggie in an angel costume that consisted of pretty much the same thing she always wore, except in white (UV-reflective white, which glowed with the power of HOLY in the campus haunted house); and a set of classic Starfleet uniforms, which as it turns out are a giant pain in the ass and also require matching bike shorts, and for which I also constructed myself an overcoat based off of Kirk's green wraparound thing.

tl;dr: I've made a lot of weird outfits specifically for the purpose of stopping traffic when I walk around on Halloween.

How I ended up costuming for the Post-Meridian Radio Players is mostly that I am constitutionally unable to not dress myself properly for a performance, and I have absolutely no idea how my standards match up to anyone else's. The first show I was cast in was a Sherlock Holmes piece, and I figured if I was playing a Victorian lady I should show up looking like a Victorian lady. I had a ruffled blouse and a jacket and a waist cincher, and skirts are not hard to make. Polonaises can be, but I just made a giant swag out of plaid suiting that hung down the back. I had absolutely no idea this would make everybody go 'bwah?' when I walked in wearing the thing for the first time. I wear far weirder outfits than that on a regular basis, and have probably lost my ability to judge.

Comments

  1. i aspire to that level of costuming. i've only sewn one costume and cobbled together a few from thrift shop finds. it is awesome to see that i'm not the only one who learned to sew as a child out of the sheer necessity of making clothes fit. being a leggy child with zip for a figure made getting clothes a huge pain. it's a bit easier since i had my kids (i actually have a waist now!) but i'm still hemming pants because my legs are now shorter than what is expected with my waist size.

    it's great that you're sharing your costuming experience and stories. i love reading them. i hope you're having a wonderful day!

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