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Extreme makeover -- or carve inches off, the Costume Shop way

posted by Costume Shop on Mon, Sep 29, 2008
in Costume shop

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The dress forms in the costume shop are crucial tools in developing a costume pattern.

Once the show has been cast, we check the dress forms in stock and match them to the actors’ measurements. Seldom do they match perfectly, so we often do some shape-shifting by adding batting, quilted fabric, and spandex to pad out the forms.

Using muslin, we sculpt the shapes of the costumes over the form to build the costume silhouette, and then use that shape to create the pattern for the actual costumes.

For Joe Turner's Come and Gone, two girls have been cast for the role of Zonia Loomis. These girls are little, and our smallest dress form is a women's size 6. We can always make our dress forms bigger by padding out, but we can't make them smaller...unless the prop shop ladies give us a wonderful gift--a foam dress form.

In this case, Janet Conery became our resident Michelangelo--but instead of a hammer and chisel, she used an electric carving knife. She started by drawing a topographical map of the areas she wanted to remove directly onto the form. Then, demonstrating Michelangelo's approach to carving (he conceived of a figure being imprisoned in the block, and freed the form by removing the excess stone), Janet sliced and diced the form to release the little girl within the woman. Seldom has weight loss been this easy!

After sizing the dress form down, Janet made a spandex cover and taped the neckline, waistline, center front, center back, and side seams with twill tape.


Thanks to the prop shop, and a little creative carving, we now have a little girl's dress form--allowing Janet to begin draping the dresses and jumpers for Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.

Top: Janet marks where she will remove material from the foam dress form. Second photo: Janet carves the form to match the girls' measurements. Middle left: Fitting a spandex cover over the top of the foam form. Middle right: The finished dress form. Bottom: Muslin mock-up of Zonia's dress.


These all are really excellent photos to watch.She is really as you said in legacy of Michelangelo.Her work is crafty and excellent.

handyzubehor | Fri, Oct 9, 2009

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