Sunday, September 23, 2012

Costumes and clothes

I am first and foremost a clothing seamstress. It's what I do best, what I enjoy most, and what I find most useful. And yet the vast majority of my sewing these days is in the costume shop at school. I spend 10 hours a week there, plugging away at all sort of things--making quilt squares, fixing stuffed animals, altering patterns, altering clothes, making muslins, and all sorts of things. I enjoy this job, I really do. It enables me to keep up and improve my skills through tons of sewing.

But at the same time, sometimes it feels like taking a path that runs right next to the one I would really like to be on. I am getting better at sewing. Since starting to work at the costume shop, I've learned how to do things I didn't know how to do, like cuff men's pants or make machine buttonholes. These are useful. And yet if I had the choice, I would cut back my costume shop hours and spend more times sewing clothes. Costume sewing is sometimes more and less precise than regular sewing, and I find this to be frustrating at times.

It's helpful for it to be more precise, when it is. I have a tendency to say good enough and let it be. On stage, the bright lights make it easy to see flaws such as poorly done hems or color mismatches. The need to get these things right is good for me.

However, there are times when you can cut corners in a really serious way, and it's fine. Last time I was in the shop, I altered a pair of pants. I needed to make them smaller. I picked them up, and this is what I saw:
The pants had been too small for someone else, and had been altered by sewing a triangle of flannel into the back of a pair of dress pants. It looked awful. But in the costume scene, it probably didn't matter--the actor probably wore a jacket to cover it up. Since costumes will be used for specific, designed movements with preordained matching clothes, there's no need for them to be able to be worn in any other circumstance. As long as no one will see it, you can cut corners in a pretty serious way. That, I think, is not so good!

For as long as I need to work this many hours a week, I will continue to be grateful that my job is in a field I love. But if I ever get the chance to step it down at the shop and up at home, I will be, as a friend would say, on it like Blue Bonnet.

Anyway, I'm sorry for the total lack of sewing reports lately. My Very Hungry Caterpillar dress has taken an unexpected and major deviation, but I should be able to report on that soon. Maybe by the end of the weekend? We'll see.

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