Monday, January 10, 2022

Dance Costume Sewing

Well I just finished another round of dance costume sewing and it was way more work than I anticipated!!  I remembered to allot for time to assemble the pdf patterns and cut the fabric but used up all of the budgeted sewing time sewing mock ups.  The practice versions went through 7 different sleeves (different styles and different pattern pieces drafted) and 4 different skirt/ruffle combos (length of ruffles, width of ruffles, length of skirts, drafting an asymmetric front and back from symmetric front and back pieces).  I ended up sewing two and a half mock ups.  One was a final version before the last sleeve change and after 30 minutes carefully unpicking the binding I poked a hole in the bodice and had to start the bodice/sleeve over. Approx 25 hours of time printing, assembling, drafting, sewing, unpicking. Does not include time prewashing and drying fabric, searching through patterns, researching fabrics, ordering supplies, etc.

Sewing black fabric is still annoying because I can’t use my favorite and faster washable marker tracing method for the pieces and notches so it takes longer to cut everything out.

This is the Jalie Tessa with a shortened asymmetric skirt with added ruffles and double layered ruffle sleeves with bindings.

Beautiful fabrics are from Fabric Fairy!  Thank you, Megan, for custom ordering the yellow just for me!!!

10 Final Costumes

8 different sized bodices

4 different sleeves

5 different skirts

34 altered pattern pieces

30 pieces of elastic of various lengths

20 binding strips

at least 140 feet of skirt ruffles gathered and sewn

about 100 sheets of paper for printing and drafting pattern pieces

approx. 55 hours of sewing/cutting/wonder clipping/basting/unpicking

Some time saving things I did were:

I sewed it in Lisbon’s size so I could see how it fit on a person’s body.

I only cut out single notches. 

I wonder clipped back bodice pieces together after cutting and clipped the front pieces together so I wouldn’t have to use masking tape to indicate the right side and wrong sides of the fabric.

I sewed all five size J skirts/briefs at the same time.

I cut all the ruffle strips immediately after prewashing and drying 90% on extra low.  It was faster than ironing the fabric.

I skipped understitching the binding pieces.

I skipped the optional brief lining piece.

I used the shape from the size M skirt pieces as a guide for the curve for the other skirt pieces. 

I marked the quarter markings on the elastics with washable marker and cut and sewed them for the same sizes at once.  (I cut all 10 size J leg elastics and marked them before sewing the first size J brief)

For bodices that were the same size except height I drew in half inch lines on the extension strips so it was easy to cut to the next size.

I didn’t hem the knit raw edges but I had to be very careful cutting so the edges are smooth and any markings were cut off.

I tried gathering by increasing the tension of the sewing machine but it didn’t work.


To Future Me- costume sewing is a lot more work than you think it is!!!!  The opportunity costs include not sewing fun things and missing pattern tests, an extremely messy house, and a little bit of my sanity.  I really need to raise my rates and account for mock ups since so far I’ve made significantly less than minimum wage each time I’ve sewn costumes. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello! I'd love to answer your questions. If your blogger profile is private (posts from, please leave your email. Thanks!