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
Are you looking to create the perfect mask? Check out these bias ties method instructions from Costume Shop Assistant Jason Gill for a safe and stylish mask.
Follow the below step-by-step instructions with the corresponding photos in the slideshow.
Materials (Per Mask):
1. Cut one layer of flannel and one layer of cotton. Place layers wrong side together lining up edges.
2. Stitch ¼” from the edge all the way around, sewing the two layers together.
3. Pleat the sides down to 3” in three ½” pleats.
4. Make sure the pleats line up all the way across the mask.
5. Stitch the pleats down along the ¼” stitching line.
6. On the flannel side of the mask place the 3” lengths of bias tape along the sides lining up with the stitch line. Topstitch the bias down.
7. Press the bias down on the opposite side of the mask.
8. Topstitch the bias down encasing the seam allowance.
9. Repeat on the other pleated side of the mask. Make sure the bias is flush with the edge of the top and bottom of the mask.
10. Using the 49” length of bias, center on the top edge of the mask, lining up with the ¼” stitching line. Leave tails of bias hanging off both edges. These tails will become the ties of the mask.
11. Topstitch the bias along the top of the mask.
12. Press ½” in at the end of the bias tails.
13. Press the bias in half lengthwise.
14. Edgestitch the bias together encasing the mask seam allowance.
15. Make sure to topstitch the end of the ties. Repeat both steps 14 & 15 on the other edge of the mask.
16. Trim all threads and check over for quality and sturdiness.
17. Package masks in plastic bags if they will be distributed to others.
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