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This fancy dress costume was made for the host of the Russian Burlesque Circus, an event held to gather and showcase burlesque acts, to raise money for a worthy cause and just for an all round great night out.
The client described what she wanted and I did my best to create something to have them feel amazingly awesome wearing it.
Once the design has been created, the next step is to go out and find materials that match.
People often think that the materials they want exists and that they can just go out and buy it. Sometimes however it can take several visits to different stores around town to find the right kind of fabric. Sometimes the exact colour they are after doesn’t exist and one needs to compromise on either fabric type or colour.
After years of making costumes for people I’ve learnt that all fabrics must be approved by the client before making the costume, never assume to understand where to compromise. Two people can have a conversation and using the same words believe they understand each other but the images in the two separate minds are subjectively based on individual experiences, and can be very different.
Fabric sourcing can take 40 minutes, or it can take several hours, sometimes it can take all day, or cover a course of several days, each case is different.
One way to save money on a custom made costume is to source the materials yourself, but make sure to source the right kind of fabrics, stretchy if they need to be, or firm if they need to be.
You might want a particular colour satin for a jacket, and then you purchase one not realising that if you were willing to compromise on colour you could have picked a fabric that does not require a backing to be ironed on, saving on labour costs. This decision could add time to your costume making so you need to be aware of this stuff before you purchase.
After searching several stores a fabric was chosen from the samples taken.
A pattern was drawn up and stitched together. To save time the lining and outside were treated as one and stitched together in such a way that would make alterations faster after the first fitting.
For a high-end costume a mock up is made from a cheaper fabric of similar weight to define the exact body shape and lines of the garment. To save on labour costs, the costume can be made directly from the chosen materials if you are confidant the appropriate alterations can be made from it. You should be experienced to do this, because if you cut the pattern the wrong shape, sometimes it’s impossible to adjust without patchworking.
There are many ways to stitch a garment together. To get a clean line, there are techniques that need to be employed to get that special haute couture finish, but if you are on a budget some of those techniques will have to go by the wayside. You can still get some very satisfactory finish without that extra time and expertise, and most people are satisfied with this level of effort if it means saving on their costume costs.
There was also hardware to consider, chains, sequins, studs, buttons.
and undergarments, hot pants and boob tube, choker, and headpiece.
Because of budget constraints, I made some accessories to match and lent them to the client so that the outfit would look complete.
Total Hours spent – 37 hours
Total materials – $162
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The client bought stockings, her own boots, and underwear (worn over the top).She also had a gorgeous feathered collar which added a great sense of ostentation and some tulle cuffs for some playful fun.
So that you can get some idea of where the time and expense goes, here’s a breakown:
Sourcing materials and hardware – 3 hours
Jacket making – 29 hours:
meetings 2 hrs, patternmaking – 2 hrs, preparing pieces – 4 hrs, machine sewing – 8 hrs, fitting 30 mins, hand sewing 6 hrs, fitting 30 mins, design adjustments and more hand sewing 6 hrs
Jacket materials – $104:
1.5 metres Satin: $24, lining $9, buttons $6, shoulder pads $5, sequin shoulders $10, chains x 3 $15, interfacing $5, black sequin fabric $20, red threads $5, lace detailing $5
Boob tube and hot pants – 2hrs and 10 mins:
pattern making 40 mins, sewing 40 mins, fitting 20 mins, adjustments 30 mins
Boob tube and hot pants materials – $45:
wet look lycra $40, elastic $5, threads (4 reels) $14
Choker 1.5 hrs: designing, patternmaking, construction, adding studs.
choker materials $14.50:
stretch velvet – $5, diamonte buckles x 3 $9, snap fastenings .50c
lace headpiece 1 hr
lace off cut $1, head comb $2.50