CDG - The Costume Designer

Spring 2017

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6 The Costume Designer Spring 2017 CONTRIBUTORS CHRISTINE COVER FERRO Coming from a long line of seam- stresses, I started getting scraps from their projects when I was about four and was trusted with hand needles around six. I think the pink bubble dress I made for my Hot Looks doll is still somewhere in my parents' house, and can decidedly con- firm that junior high crushes will not believe you when you say the dolls on your dresser are dress forms, not toys. It's a minor point of pride for me is that I almost made it to age 35 before I put a machine needle through a fingernail. MARCY FROEHLICH (History of Dress, Text) My first foray into hand sew- ing was creating outfits for my troll dolls! I learned to sew on a machine in home economics class in middle school. (Do they even teach that now?) My first dress was a disaster: made out of grey rayon that draped badly. We had to wear it to school and I cried because it was so ugly. I quickly changed out of it in the bathroom. But my second piece was a print cotton skirt that was bright, cheerful, and fit well— beautiful! I was so proud. ROBIN RICHESSON (History of Dress, Illustrator) My mother and grandmother were both proficient at sewing. Grandmother started her fam- ily during The Great Depression, and made most of her clothing and that of her children. Mom was a capable young house- wife and mother, and likewise made a lot of clothes for herself, my brother, and me. When I hit high school, she insisted I take a sewing class in summer school. I never really had the patience for sewing, and only did it to get clothing I couldn't BONNIE NIPAR (Boldface Names) Not a believer in idle hands, my grandmother presented me with a small sewing box when I was nine years old. She taught me rudimentary hand stitching, cross-stitch, embroidery, and how to darn holes in socks. Soon, I was making clothing for my dolls out of her old aprons. A year later, she announced we would move on to the sewing machine. I felt a thrill of adven- ture as she pulled down the hideaway ladder in the upstairs hallway and we climbed to the attic sewing room, complete with a large cutting table, bins of fabrics and patterns, and nes- tled close to a dormer window, an old Singer sewing machine with a knee pedal. This room became my haven growing up. My grandmother was the first person to recognize my passion for clothing and design, and fos- tered my creativity. I will always be grateful to her for teaching me how to sew. STACY ELLEN RICH (Boldface Names) I learned to sew in home-ec in the eighth grade … turns out I had an affinity for the trade, but I did not really care at the time. Surprisingly enough, my grandparents bought me a sew- ing machine soon after that. They certainly saw something that I was not yet aware of and I still have that sewing machine to this day! DIANA EDEN (Legacy) Growing up in England, I learnt to do hand embroidery in school, at around seven or eight years old. As a teen, once I discovered I could have MORE clothes if I made them myself, I went to the local Singer sewing machine store for summer classes. In New York as a young adult, I bought second-hand designer clothes and took them apart to see how they were made. I took my sewing machine with me to the Alvin Theatre and the Mark Hellinger Theatre, where I per- formed eight shows a week as a dancer. On The Great White Way, I loved making clothes for my fel- low dancers. But the rest of my sewing educa- tion came from tons of observa- tion of the great pattern makers, seamstresses, tailors, and beaders upstairs at Elizabeth Courtney Costumes, where I worked for five years in the early 1980s. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: How Did You Learn to Sew? get any other way—like things she wasn't going to buy me (I distinctly remember sewing a halter maxi-dress and a halter top, which Mom thought were "too risqué"). The only sophis- ticated thing I ever made was a Chloé dress from Vogue Patterns for my college graduation, with godets to flare the skirt and bias- cut piping. It turned out great. That was many years ago, and I really haven't sewn anything since!

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