How Newbies Become Really Good Costumers
Costume Con 30 is a celebration of costuming where amateur, hobbyist, and professional costumers come together for a weekend to share our knowledge, appreciation, and love of all types of costuming.
Everyone who currently sews good costumes started out not sewing at all. Skill helps, but practice helps much more. Faith moves mountains, but so does a bulldozer (paraphrased from Eric Hoffer).
Really good costumers never wear anything that looks bad. We know they do good costumes, because that's what we viewers see. But we don't see their mistakes and failures. If a Newbie doesn't see any mistakes and failures then they can get the impression that these people never make any, which any costumer knows isn't true.
Really good costumers try to make all their mistakes in the sketches and muslins they do before the costume itself is cut and sewn. They make as many muslins as they need to, knowing they can always get more muslin. This is especially important if the costume has some tricky construction details, or if replacement fabric is unavailable or very expensive. But we viewers don't see the ten muslins littering their sewing room floor, or the months of sweat it took to make the costume work thru nine failed muslins to the tenth one that worked, we only see the finished costume.
Really good costumers know they can always recycle at least some of the parts from a costume failure into something else, even if they don't know what right away. This makes it easier for them to let go of failed partially finished costumes, sad as it is. But we viewers don't see these parts till they're part of a good costume, so we never know they used to be parts from a failed one.
Really good costumers have the skill to redesign around mistakes that happen as the costume is being cut, sewn, assembled, or decorated. Murphy says these mistakes will happen. But if the redesign is good it then ceases to look like a mistake, and we viewers might think everything was done on purpose. Really good costumers don't wear a costume till the mistakes are all taken care of, one way or another, even if it means they can't wear the new costume they were working on for some event. So all we see are the good costumes.
Really good costumers never throw away a compliment or explain it away by pointing out mistakes. Everyone compares what they see or hear with what's going on inside their own heads, which makes a compliment the viewer's opinion of what they're seeing. It's their gift to the costumer. Really good costumers are gracious when they hear a compliment, say thank you, and shut up, even if the viewer's opinion doesn't match their internal opinion. Only if they are asked about some specific detail do they talk about
mistakes, redesigns, etc
Conversely, Newbies often get hung up comparing what they see done by other people with their internal opinions of their own work. Without knowing the entire mistake history of what they're seeing, and with too clear an idea of their own mistake history, this view is unfairly skewed to the negative.
Really good costumers put their costuming credentials on their backs, not in their mouths. They're only as good as their work. So they don't need to spend any time telling people how great they are, because if they're that good, we can see it.
From Message #5039 on the Madam Malkins Yahoo Groups list, written by
Carolyn Kayta Barrows on Mon Apr 11, 2005