For the last few weeks I have been moonlighting as a costume mistress -for my old school and their production of midsummer night's dream. It's been a bit stressful at times but really fun also. My mum makes costumes for her school plays so it feels very familiar.
Now I'm not finished yet but I thought I'd share some thoughts on my findings so far..
1) I'm not as detail orientated as my mum. She always finishes everything beautifully and robustly -talking very wisely about costumes for young people needing to be finished properly. Mine aren't. It's hard work enough making everything on the correct time line! Luckily as older kids they are less likely to do something completely daft like climb a tree in them but you never know!
2) Costumes are messy. I'm not going to share current pictures of my flat - because it's embarrassing. Every surface is covered in bits, some important -some waste, and the bit in the middle of the floor I can continue to craft in gets smaller and smaller as the debris closes in! (I long since lost the table!) there seems little point tidying until I'm done as I've lost track of which bits are important! It's very lucky I no longer have flatmates as I would have lost them under the piles or been stabbed by one of the many pairs of scissors I have buried!
|My table at a much earlier stage - long since lost!|
3) Costuming is a passion, not a job. Now obviously some people are lucky enough to actually do this as a job, but I'm finding treating it as one a challenge. I keep planning to do things in an ordered way and get up early, with schedules. This orderly dream keeps being utterly scuppered by my inability to make costumes when I'm not inspired and my obsession with continuing when I am! I spent 4 hours procrastinating last night and then suddenly got into it at 11.30 so didn't stop until 3ish... hmm. Still, now I have most of a donkey head!
4) It's kind of an honour, in that the kids (and other hardworking drama staff! ) REALLY appreciate you. This is frankly a bizarre novelty after being a normal teacher! It's like being a teacher in a film! The vast majority of the characters that I am costuming are thrilled to have a costume mistress (they get super excited that I own a measuring tape!) and that they are getting their own costume made. It's really fun!
5) Most people are really impressed by basic sewing. Although a lot of my creations have been forged in the cave of a thousand bits (aka the flat) for the last week we've had long rehearsals so I've been taking my bags of half made stuff and sewing machine in to do it there (so much easier when you have access to the people wearing them). This has led to some significant improvement in some kids' respect for me -they love watching the flat material become a 3D outfit! I draped a dress directly onto a girl (it was forgiving fake velvet and a straightforward dress) and she and friend were fascinated as I sewed it up in 10 minutes (I pinned it on her inside out and then sewed it straight up, it's a drapey style and didn't require hemming or seam finishing ). School sewing tends to be more cushions and baby blankets (as I remember from my school days ) and it was great to show them you could do something more exciting and borderline easier! (I was saying to a fellow teacher that I think most sewing is easier than proper cushion covers -they are far too obvious if you are a little bit off!). It's also been a great opportunity to reduce my negative self thinking about my creations -I could see all the flaws in the dress (after all it was a 10 min creation!) but they loved it - one said she would happily wear it to a wedding, and when she said that I realised that I would too. She also told people I'd showed her how to make a dress - maybe we've got a future sewer there!
Well I best get back to it - that donkey head isn't going to assemble and decorate itself!