September 21, 2009

Kaufman-Davis Studio, Inc. dba Period Corsets®

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Before we were Period Corsets by Kaufman-Davis Studio, we were plain ol’ Kaufman-Davis Studio, an independent costume house located here in Seattle, Washington. Our customers were both local and national, and we made custom costumes of all shapes and sizes. While we constructed both men’s and women’s costumes (and even costumes for monkeys if that’s what was needed), one of our specialties was tailoring, a skill that both Becky and Susan, co-owners of the business, learned while working in other costume shops.

Some of our favorite projects involved tailoring multiples of things, where we could really fine-tune a technique in a set of costumes. Santa Fe Opera’s “Ermione” required an “army” of civil-war era uniforms for the chorus. At designer Isabella Bywater’s request, we tailored them from a rich dark blue English cotton moleskin, finished off with rows of shiny buttons.

Another favorite project was a set of uniforms in non-matching colors for New York City Opera. Designer John Conklin chose the identical silhouette for all the characters in the opera “Macbeth”, a single-breasted tunic with stand collar, but each character was unique, in woolens ranging from pale gray to a deep aubergine. We loved the coats so much that a photo of one became part of our “logo”, incorporated into our letterhead, business cards, and postcards.

We have a long-time interest in sharing what we know—we often hire staff for a good match with our shop, then train for the skills needed to do the work successfully. Becky has taught pattern-making in an apparel design program, and currently teaches pattern alterations, art quilting, and use of Bernina machines classes. Susan has co-taught two tailoring master classes, held at Utah Shakespearean Festival, and presented on draping and costume construction, all through USITT.

We know that while our main mission at Period Corsets® is to establish period silhouettes, we want to help you construct high-quality costumes for all your performers. If everyone looks good, the show benefits—and we want to help you make this happen.

All this to say: don’t be surprised to see the topics of tailoring and costume construction in upcoming blogs!


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