Monday, November 23, 2009

On Costume-Making

This weekend I made the majority (save for two shirts) of my puppets' costumes; I embarked on this little endeavour mid-Saturday-morning and finished the last one up earlier today.

I'll be honest - working on these wasn't exactly a piece of cake; in fact I think they've been the most fiddlesome things I've made to date. There are a number of potentially vexatious variables when it comes to costume-making; these include working with a sewing machine (that's a separate world unto itself), materials and their properties (is the material slippery? bulky? prone to fraying?), materials and their relationship with sewing machines (the aforementioned properties and how they run through the feed-dogs and needle - if the material is a knit, it can sometimes get 'flattened' out by being run under the needle, which causes stretching and subsequent curling of the fabric edges you're working on) - not to mention everything is on the miniscule side (is there enough seam allowance? will the leg and arm holes be wide enough for the hands and feet to fit through? will you be able to turn it inside-out once you've got it all sewn?) and the list goes on. So if you ever see (or hear) me while I'm sewing, it's highly likely I'm not in the pleasantest of moods.

That all aside though, I really do enjoy this part of the creative process, even as an ends in itself. I've got a couple years of experience making barbie-doll outfits, and I'll admit I still have fun doing that as a hobby. (Nerdy, yes, but obviously it's paid off). The main differences here were that A) I was making something that had to be somewhat functional (the characters have to be able to move in their clothing), B) it involved hand-stitching (usually on an inside seam) the clothes to the puppets, so less accessibility in fitting and tailoring and final tweaking, and C) the puppets aren't solid chunks of plastic, so it's harder to fit the clothing shape to a foam body that has alot of leeway in its form/volume.

But overall I'm ridiculously pleased with the results.

As for my process, I'm not sure what could all be said on that. Alot of it is simply a combination of intuition and experience; I figure out the rough sizes things need to be as I go, make mistakes, re-do portions, eyeball it some more, try it on the puppet, etc., and it differs with every piece. The best (and most blatantly obvious) advice I can give is to practice.

p.s. yes, I'll post photos of the final results soon. After that I might drop off the face of blogging for a while until my sets are done.

p.s.s. I watched 'Mary and Max' last night and it was everything I'd hoped it would be.


jam said...

The costumes (and puppets) really looked beautiful, especially the grandmother. Great work! :D

Anno said...

I can't wait to see those outfits and the whole thing put together!
Hang in there and though you may leave the blogging world for a time, keep me updated, okay?

Your work is amazing!

Lauren Thomas said...

Hi there!

I can't wait to see your puppets too. ps - I'm the girl who begged to go on the stop-mo tour last week. I'm still very passionate about exploring stop-mo but I failed the pin cushion in home-ed in jr. high. Do you think that bodes poorly in favor of an aspiring stop motion animator? haha.

Ps - Mary and Max was awesome. I'm grateful the theatre was nearly empty so no one was annoyed with my squealing and saying, 'wow' too loudly about a million times.

best of luck!

Carla Veldman said...

Jen: thanks! and thanks again for your help on the hands.

Lyd: (thank-ya too); don't worry, I'll keep you in the loop.

Lauren: I think you'll be alright without sewing proficiency:) It was really great watching Mary and Max in a theater as well, listening to the audience reactions.
p.s. feel free to send along any images of the stop-mo stuff you're working on!