Costumes – A Sneaking Suspicion

The costume drawings are done. Finally. You survey the row with a prideful and practiced eye. Then something looks wrong. You don’t know what it is, but that dress over there isn’t quite right, and this jacket looks strange. Is it just you, or is this really a problem? That, my friend, is what we are going to discuss.

(Into a two-second commercial voice.) Disclaimer- The writer of this post has received no degrees or national acclaim for her costumes. The intent of this article is to offer suggestions and is not to be taken as the final word. We thank you.

Ahem. Don’t you just love disclaimers? Anyway. Designing a costume is easy for me, but designing the RIGHT costume can be a whole different animal. As an example, I’m going to show you the trouble I had with Alyah’s costume in iSundae II.

I knew up front that I had designed all the Cone wielder props with a sort of Celtic theme in mind. I created a Cone Celtic knot and a few other motifs to use in the “Cone Look.” Therefore, going with a French Revolution or Arabian Nights style of costume wouldn’t work. Although, come to think of it, the Arabian style would have been interesting. . . That being said, I tried to go for what I thought was a Celtic-ish look. Which basically means I took a few elements I liked and then made them look different from the iSundae wielders. I didn’t research what an official “Celt” costume would look like.

I started with Alyah. Simple enough, I thought. I made three different designs and got stuck.
Alyah's costume designs
Which one was best? All right, what do we do when we get stuck? Ask someone for an opinion. You can ask as many people as you want, but keep in mind that the more people you ask, the higher the chance is to get different opinions. The person I asked selected the one with the gold around the collar and down the front. The idea of having the gold like that came from a picture in a really good coloring book. I modified the design, of course, but the concept came from the book. Once the drawing was done, I thought, “Okay, good. That’s taken care of. Next costume, please.” And off I went.

Then it happened. Glitch number two. After a while I designed Waffle and Kiddy Cones’ costumes. I really liked the way they turned out, so I lined up all three Cone Wielders’ costumes to admire them.
Cone costume designs
Something was wrong. All those ovals on Alyah’s dress . . . the soft look to it . . . it just didn’t work with the others. But why? What was the matter? It took me awhile to figure it out, but then it came to me. All the Cone props, as well as the other Cones’ outfits were very square. Lots of hard angles all over them, and there sat Alyah in ovals. Back to the drawing board! After several variations, I came up with this basic design.
Alyah's last costume design
Much better. And as you can see, we ended up with something very similar in the actual movie.

(Puts on a high, squeaky, voice.) So, kids, what have we learned today?

(Ahem.) 1. When stuck, ask advice within reason.
2. Keep your props and any “themes” in mind while designing.
3. Always keep on the watch for any neat ideas you might want to use in one of your costumes. (Without stealing anyone’s project, of course.)
4.Re-draw as often as you need to. Trust me, it’s better to re-draw than re-sew.

(I’ll add in a few more tips we didn’t discuss.)

5. Take a break from a certain costume and go work on other ones. When you come back to it, you might see something you hadn’t noticed before.
6. Keep your budget, as well as your available time and sewing expertise in mind. In short- don’t kill yourself.
7. Don’t forget to show the actor/actress their costume design. If they look at it and go, “I’m never wearing that!” you have a problem.

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