Costumes for Plays and Play­ing

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cover of Costumes for Plays and Playing by Gail E Haley

When I was a kid I used to borrow this book again and again from the local library. The first thing I ever sewed myself was from it. A friend of mine at juni­or school’s older sister was in a school play of Toad of Toad Hall, and we went to watch. When you’re 7, 13 year olds seem incred­ibly impress­ive. What impressed me even more were the weasel costumes. I wanted one for myself. Armed with an offcut of brown fabric and a toy sewing machine I’d got at a boot­fair, I made a hood with ears like the ones in the book. It was wonky, and I was a bit ashamed of it though, and wished I knew how to sew straight (look­ing back, I’m not sure the toy sewing machine was actu­ally capable of a straight seam). My opin­ion of my sewing projects has improved slightly since.

The book pretty much tells you how to make a costume for most things, mostly made of card­board, papi­er maché or fabric things which button on, to save ruin­ing an item of cloth­ing. If you want an entire Tudor costume that buttons onto a t-shirt, and then a game to get you into the mind­set of the char­ac­ter it’s the book to read. It also has lovely illus­tra­tions. It turns out the author is also a children’s illus­trat­or.  I couldn’t remem­ber the title, and look­ing on Amazon never gave me much joy, but once I discovered that you could search on the Brit­ish Library’s cata­logue with very vague terms (in this case “costume” and published in the 70s or 80s and vari­ous other terms like “plays” “children’s” etc) and get useful results, it didn’t take me long to find, and to purchase a cheap 2nd hand copy online.


dragon six legs buttons sleeves box costumes

(This is part of a section on costumes made from card­board boxes)

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