Costume Construction by Madison Anysz ’23

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Costume Construction by Madison Anysz ’23
Madison Anysz ’23

What started as a fascination with “being crafty” has become a passion for sewing and historical fashion, supported this year through her independent study in theater costume design.

’50s Cherry Dress
Using Vogue Patterns’ V1696, I created the perfect 1950s dress for one of my senior photo outfits. The pattern included darts on the bodice, a whipstitched hem and a red ribbon cinched around the top of the dress that ties at the back with a bow. I had to install a zipper on this dress for the second time, and having this ability is incredibly helpful. The cherry-patterned cotton is the only fabric on this page that was not thrifted. The lining and all of my accessories were purchased second-hand.

Photos courtesy of Four Mile Photography

Regency Ensemble
This is a Regency (1810s) ensemble that I created for a small get-together with a friend. The pattern I used is from S&S Patterns, and the fabric is actually from curtains that I thrifted. I hand-sewed the buttonholes and the ribbon around the waist for an effortless look (though it did take a lot of effort!).

The stays are Red Threaded’s short stays pattern made with yet another pair of thrifted curtains. I used zip ties for boning and a ruler that was cut and sanded down for the center front busk. I flossed the bones with embroidery thread for extra strength and decoration. When wearing dresses that require foundational garments such as corsets/stays, do not skip the step of wearing the right corset. It helps give your dress the right shape and figure that was popular in that era.

The final piece is the reticule (i.e., handbag). At this time in fashion history, the long, slim figure did not accommodate any pockets, so ladies carried bags filled with their belongings. I started with a four-paneled bag but I didn’t like the way it looked, so I ended up with three panels that held my fan, lipstick, phone and cash perfectly. I hand-stitched the ribbon and lace detail on each of the panels and lined the inside of the bag with a cream-colored bedsheet.

Green Stays
I made these stays by modifying the Ralph Pink Half-Boned Stays pattern. These were the second stays I had made at the time, the first being a red pair from the same pattern. I definitely improved and learned so much after my first attempt — using bias tape around the unfinished top edge rather than trying to whipstitch fraying fabric down, and adjusting the pattern to fit me better (especially where the grommet attaching the straps at the front lay).

If you would like to see the first pair, check out my submission to The Living Hand Spring 2021. I used zip ties for boning and a thrifted tablecloth for the fabric.

Plaid Tiered Skirt
When I first saw the roll of upholstery fabric at the thrift store, I knew I wanted a large, swooshy, tiered skirt. The hardest part of this construction was gathering each tier to fit perfectly to the one above it. One advantage I always find with plaid fabrics is I was able to make my cuts more even due to the straight lines in the pattern. Even hems were achieved by utilizing my new, fancy rolled-hem presser foot. To ensure that the skirt’s fastening wouldn’t pucker and come undone, I chose to add two snaps in addition to the hook-and-bar and single snap at the top of the closure. The skirt is surprisingly light and super fun to spin around in!

Lace Apron
This green, blue and yellow plaid fabric was so whimsical I needed it to become an apron immediately. I drafted a simple pattern, adding extra width at the top to accommodate pleats. I whipstitched the free end of the waistband, pinned out the pleat pattern, and rolled any loose hems. The hardest part about the creation of this apron was the pleated lace trim. I decided to box-pleat the lace for the perfect touch. It took a very long time, and my fingertips were scorched several times, but it was well worth it in the end! Wear with a petticoat for extra fluff.

About Madison Anysz ’23

I have always had a fascination with costumes and clothing but especially with being crafty. Experimenting with different materials I could put together to create something new ended up with my grandma gifting me a sewing machine in sixth grade. From there, my passion for sewing instantly flourished, but I didn’t get into historical sewing until around the middle of 2020. Seeing images and portraits of antique dresses and all the crazy styles that were popular intrigued me so much: people — just like me — actually wore that back then? So I said “Why not?” and dove headfirst into the wonder and elegance that is fashion history.

I’ve learned so much since I first started sewing and want to continue to learn more! I am helping out with the costumes backstage during the school play and musical; and I am undertaking an independent study this year, supervised by drama teachers Jason Sharp and Abbey Maxwell, that focuses on costumes for the theater. I hope to major in costume technology, which focuses on the technical elements of making a costume for theater.

Photo courtesy of Four Mile Photography