Here's a brief look at the construction of Dame Tegwen Trott's ship-shaped walk-down costume from our Christmas 2018 panto, Dick Whittington.
Bridie works as Wardrobe Assistant in the Wardrobe Department. Her job mostly involves preparing costumes for Theatr Clwyd productions in conjunction with the cutters, supervisors and designers using a wide range of techniques, from making costumes out of materials ranging from heavy leather to lightest chiffon, glueing, burning, dyeing, breaking down, riveting, repairing and altering. Other duties include occasional dressing and costume maintenance. She has a HND in Theatre Wardrobe Design from the renowned Mabel Fletcher Technical College in Liverpool.
Designed by Adrian Gee (www.adriangee.co.uk), supervised by Debbie Knight, cut by Emma Aldridge, made by Bridie Przibram. Words by Bridie Przibram
The ideas for our amazing panto costumes begin in the brain of our clever designer, Adrian. He then draws out a design, and in collaboration with him and the Wardrobe Supervisor, the Cutter will work out how to turn the picture, in this case a ship, into a costume that someone can actually wear, and move, sing, dance and play a saxophone!
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Here we have our basic frock ready for its first fitting. The dress is based on a closely fitting bodice, and a hooped skirt made of cotton drill and strengthened with steel hoops. To make the boat shape, Emma found some very heavy felt that was strong enough to keep its shape, but light enough to be worn. We reinforced the 'hull' of the ship with steel hoops as well.
Adrian wanted the ship to have portholes with tiny lights inside. We fitted over 100 LED lights inside the skirt, each one sitting on a little cushion of plastazote (high density foam sheeting) so it was held in the right place, flush with the surface of the hull. Chris, our head of LX, was drafted in to help with this process, wiring the lights up to a small battery pack and switch which was hidden just under the skirt.
Every ship needs a deck, and our fore and aft decks were made from plastazote, because of its lightweight and sturdy properties.
One of the prominent features of any panto dame costume has to be the bosoms! Ours here are made from foam footballs slightly flattened on one side so they fit comfortably against the chest, and covered in silver sequin fabric.
Hoops made from foam tubing and covered in lycra make lifesavers for our silver bosoms. More LED lighting is stitched round the inside edge of the lifesavers.
Here the costume is very nearly finished, with sleeves, bosoms, overskirt to hide the inner workings, sequin fabric and braid marking out lines on the hull. If you look very closely at the silver hull you can just make out the LEDs sticking through. We then added three layers of frill round the bottom to represent the boat ploughing through waves. The whole thing is fastened up the back with a chunky zip and many press-studs. There is normally a very short amount of time to get the dame into her walkdown outfit, so ease of getting into it has to be built in right from the start of construction.
The costume was completed with a back-pack bearing 6 'masts', from which hung 'sails' that dropped down on the pull of a cord.
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