Indiana Repertory Theatre’s production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol remains my favorite show to work on every season. Last season, Linda Pisano redesigned all the costumes for the show, bringing a fresh look to this classic story. During the COVID-19 shutdown, I was fortunate enough to continue working in my home studio, draping and sewing new dresses designed by Linda for our next incarnation of A Christmas Carol.
Victorian dresses require several interior layers to create the desired shape of the period. Coutil, a tightly woven cotton fabric serves as the bodice base, with casings sewn in strategic locations as channels for the steel boning that takes the place of the traditional whale bone. Another layer of soft flannel is smoothed on top of each piece, and then these puzzle pieces are fitted together to create a support for the additional yards of silk or cotton that will be draped to fashion the bodice. A fancy 1840s party dress might use as many as 20 yards of fabric, lace, and trims, with most of Dickens’ characters dressed in more modest styles. Regardless of the design, Victorian dressmakers stitched all of their creations by hand—often by candlelight. So although working from home during the pandemic has had its own challenges, I am very grateful for the single greatest advancement in the field of costume creation—electricity!
—Guy Clark, Costume Shop Manager
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