Many of our friends know that we have a history of creating our own costumes within the quartet. We’ve gravitated to that, because we have difficulty finding ready-made apparel which fits all of our particular needs for our sizes and shapes. We know there are other quartets out there who have similar costume fit challenges, so we thought we’d share some of our strategies with you, specifically with regard to custom alterations.
We are so lucky that Lori Dreyer is an excellent seamstress, and she has shared her talents with the quartet over the years, outfitting us for stage and altering items as needed to make them fit well. Sometimes Lori sews our costumes from scratch – our red dresses and purple dresses are recent examples of this.
When we were choosing these dresses, we made sure that the neckline was very open and feminine – wide and deep necklines work wonders for highlighting faces on stage. We also like empire waists and full skirts, which make our different shapes and sizes look more cohesive. With the purple dress, Lori was able to combine two different patterns to create a dress that suits our specific needs. Look closely and you will see that the red dress and purple dress have the exact same skirt!
Other times, we buy something off the rack and Lori alters it to work for our needs. For example on the blue dress, she sewed the chiffon bolero jacket that came with the dress onto the strapless bodice, creating a sweetheart neckline and nice coverage on the upper arm and back. She also added length to the dress by attaching a panel of chiffon to the lining making the dress appear to have a double layered skirt. For material, we purchased a fifth dress and cut it apart.
For our new burgundy-colored top, the alteration was quite dramatic.
How did Lori do that? Well, she purchased four tops, and then purchased five more in the largest size available to use as extra material. Then she and our good friends Gale Lewis and Lori Bader collaborated to make alterations as follows:
Not every quartet has an accomplished seamstress among its members, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have costumes customized for your needs. Look within your chorus for costume committee members who could help out, like our friends Gale and Lori B. Perhaps you have a friend or a family member who would be willing and able to help. Of course you could always find a local tailor or seamstress and work with him or her to take care of your needs.
Don’t be afraid to use your imagination and see what you can create out of off-the-rack items. Whether you have difficult sizes to fit, or you just want something unique, custom alterations are a great idea!
Have you created a unique costume, or solved a challenging costuming problem? We’d love to hear from you!