Friday, September 3, 2010

The Why of Costuming - 5 Special Influences

by Jennifer Rosbrugh
In the middle of a making a costume, do you ever stop and wonder how you got into this “mess”?  How do you convince yourself that what you are doing matters?
Does anyone else care?

Do you consider yourself “insane” when it comes to your sewing projects?  Have you wondered why you stress yourself out to complete a costume on time?

Many different answers can be given to these questions.  We all ask ourselves: “Why am I sewing this project today?” and “Why do I love making historical clothes?”
Here are 5 ideas that answer the “why” we do the sewing we do.
  1. To Escape Reality and Play “Dress Up” Who hasn’t wished for that impossible, but thoroughly delightful, adventure of jumping into a movie scene or book page to become part of the story?  Would you be the hero/heroine?  How about the best friend?  Or even the villain?

    Honestly, why else do we toil for days and weeks to find a pattern, fabrics and trims, practice familiar techniques and learn new ones, and basically make ourselves insane with completing a historical ensemble?

    You sit down to view the latest Jane Austen adaptation and then find yourself in love with a particular gown that you just have to have for yourself.  Who cares if there is no other reason than to make something lovely to wear around the house.  (Invite your friends over to view your latest vacation video over a scrumptious tea.)

    Few opportunities present themselves in our current society, to vanish for a moment our 21st Century lives, and relive a part of history.  You could be a Crusader in the 12th Century or Rosie the Riveter in 1944. 

    Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday of Halloween, the excitement of becoming someone else for a few hours is tempting and satisfying.

  2. For a Social Event This may be the strongest motivator in creating clothing from the past.

    The Victorian Ball is coming up, and you don’t want to be the only one in modern clothes.  The Halloween party is an 18th Century masked ball.  New Year’s Eve is calling for your appearance in a 1920s jazz dress.  You’ve been invited to the local Civil War Blue/Gray Cotillion - period clothing required.

    Making a historical outfit to attend social events with friends is a most rewarding part of this hobby.  Embrace those whimsical costume parties and build your historical sewing techniques while having fun.

  3. For a Reenacting Event For those with a love of historical information and a passion to share that knowledge with the current generation, you can thrive at living history events.  Getting a chance to pass on what our ancestors lived through is a means to learn from the past to eliminate future mistakes.

    What better way than to combine your love of history with your love of historical clothing!  And you have a perfect excuse to wear your historical clothes more often.

    Each event will have its own guidelines for accuracy. Some of you specialize in trying to get your period wardrobe exactly like the time you’re re-creating.  But remember: you are a modern person and sewer; you can only get so close to duplicating the picture.  But I say challenge yourself to it!

  4. To Recreate a Family Heirloom or Historical Piece Your grandparents’ 50th anniversary is next fall.  You are planning the celebration – right down to the same cake and punch served.

    Now you have to find a way to re-create your grandmother’s wedding gown.  Perhaps you have only a photograph to rely on.  Maybe you have the gown but the dear woman is not quite as skinny anymore.

    Take this as a challenge to expand your sewing skills.  Delve into the research of why the gown has lace only on the cuffs and neckline.  Or why there was no lace on it at all.

    Why does a bodice found in an old trunk at the estate sale resemble 19th Century styles, but has fabric that recalls the 18th Century?    If you can get your hands on a provenance (accurate historical ownership facts regarding an item), then use that in your research.  Once collected, use your new information to copy the piece.

  5. For Personal Achievement If you are new to sewing historical styles, you may seek the challenge of completing a project that you can be proud of.  Just for the sheer enjoyment of the process.

    You may be looking for a new hobby to fill some free time.  Everyone has their own personal interests of where they like to spend their time, whether that be sewing, music, sports, art, travel, etc.  Perhaps historical sewing is an area that achieves personal fulfillment for you.

    Or maybe someone has inspired you to win an award at an event.  Take that challenge!

    Whatever reason pushes you to sew up clothing styles from the past, take pride in your work. When that deadline is approaching, come back to these special influences about why you are sewing a particular project.  Know that making historical clothing sets you apart into a unique hobby.

    Happy Sewing!
© 2010 Brookwaite Enterprises and Cloak & Corset
Online entrepreneurs Jennifer Rosbrugh and Sara Cornthwaite, Brookwaite Enterprises, publish 'The Cloak And Corset' monthly ezine with tips and ideas on all things historical. If you're ready to jump-start your sewing projects, learn helpful hints, and have more fun in your historical reenacting, get your FREE sewing tips now at

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to read your comments and thoughts on my posts.