Thursday, June 28, 2012

Interview: Leslie and Deborah - Part 3

Sorry to say this is our last installment of our interview with Leslie and Deborah. It is sad to have to end this series, but we can say that we are all now more educated on the back stage antics of Cutter on the TV Series and Movies.

Here are their final questions and words of wisdom to us all:

When approaching a design (either existing or brand new), what are some of the factors one should keep in mind?

One of the most common notions that is key in bringing a drawing, illustration or concept into life as a wearable costume is that the human body moves. You can’t make a costume the same way you make a house. A house needs to breathe – but a costume needs to breathe and to MOVE! And for the most part – a costume that will be worn by a human needs to take into consideration two legs, two arms, a torso and a head. We’ve spent a number of concept meetings being the “downer-chicks” who insist that for cloth to take shape in a costume there will need to be seamlines somewhere – even if the artist didn’t draw them in the illustration.

There will also be need of a closure for getting in and out of the costume. It’s true that we have sewn actors into their suits – but it isn’t the norm. We’ve seen the actual dress that Marilyn Monroe was famously ‘sewn-into’ and can tell you that it was retro-fitted with a zipper as a closure.

Toopi the Assistant Cutter
Each costume presents its own unique series of challenges. This work has never failed to be an education for us. When we embark on a project we have learned to ask the hardest questions first. The way that we analyze what is hardest is by doing an overall scan of the costume and asking ourselves this crucial question......Ready for it – it is the culmination of two entire careers – and it is this................

What will I need to LEARN in order to make this? 

For instance: Late in 2011 We were requested to make a dress that appeared to be a dress made of tape. It’s a play on words – ‘wrapped up in tape’. Sorry - can’t reveal the show because it’s too recent and the images are not yet public. So when we were given the sketch we analyzed how we would proceed.
A dress – We know how to make any dress so that’s handled.

We know the dress will need to be a very close fit – are there measurements? – will we need to wing it and allow for last minute changes? When will we be able to fit the dress? Is the actress available? – so we make a workflow plan and a series of procedural choices that takes these factors into account.
The tape – Now that is the part we don’t know how we’re going to do. So our first action is to load up with possible materials and start experimenting. Sorry again – we won’t give it away before the dress is revealed in its ad campaign (if it is ever revealed) but here’s one of the tidbits of learning on that project. Electrical tape is stretchy by design.

You have been featured in many Movies and TV Shows over the years. How do you feel when you see your final designs on the screen (or lack of if they hit the cutting room floor)?

In the early days it was Amazing! – and a part of that is still there. And your friends and family think its really really COOL!. And the first few times a garment one has slaved over doesn’t show up in the movie can be quite disappointing. But the funniest thing is the surreal quality that making “famous” clothes can have.

Waiting in an airport and browsing through magazines I come across Kirsten Stewart on a front cover wearing an olive green corduroy jacket that I made for her.........but.......who would I tell?....and does anybody really care?

I’m shopping in another city far from my workshop and there’s a poster for Cody Banks in the mall – and on that poster Angie Harmon is wearing a red suit that not all that long ago was in my hands and that I fit and then finished on my sewing machine. Hey look! – I did that!......I say to.....No one.

I’m in a bookstore and there’s a book jacket facing out from the shelf. On it are Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson – I made Jack’s shirt. Simple shirt – not a big deal – but I made it. I pointed it out to my companion and she said Huh! – not everybody can say that! Kind of surreal.

How does one “get into the movies” per say if they are interested in doing this?

Good question! – Well here’s one method – find a contact and milk that contact for another- and then when the opportunity to make something is given - do your best to make it great. And on time! Getting into any desired field is part training and desire and then some good luck thrown in.

There is one thing that we can advise as a way to ‘stay-in’the business.


Garment for Wraith Queen on Stargate
It wouldn’t matter how good we were at producing costumes or how amenable as a resource – if a costume is late it is useless. In fact it is worse than useless – it renders your services unusable and can cause panic, problems and grief to the costume department you are working with.

Anyone who learns to cut and sew garments or costumes knows that what may appear to be a simple 3 hour project when started can consume many hours more than planned. Each new costume is an unknown quantity – don’t wait - start now!

For any aspiring cosplayers and costume designers, what words of wisdom do you have for them in their designing?

Final Version for Wraith Queen
Firstly – believe in your vision – honour your idea – then pick one and GO FOR IT! That’s what we encourage students to do and it’s the thing we try to remember in our own creative endeavours. We’re pretty sure that the problem for most creative people is not in having an idea but in picking just one idea to pursue.
And on a more practical note: It isn’t just pretty pictures folks. Learn all that you can about garment construction, materials, techniques, specialities. Some of the costumes we’ve created feel more like engineering feats than clothing

The best designers know a lot about not only what looks good but how a garment goes together. Some of the best designers may not operate a sewing machine, make patterns, or cut cloth – but they certainly know their way around these disciplines and use this facility as an integral part of their creative process.

Wisdom? – sometimes we feel wise – and sometimes we’re firmly in the “Huh? I dunno know” camp. Costume making is never a skill where anyone “knows-it-all”. We never hire the ones who think they’ve learned it all already. We learn lessons with every project. It’s what keeps us coming back for more.

Do you have any links that you want to share with our viewers?

All of them!

The internet and its vast resources are astounding. You can find anything, - see anything – it’s a massive pooling of talent and ideas and techniques and Holy-Smoking-Word-Wide-Web one can hardly fathom the possibilities! Feeling like Prussian Blue?– Peacock Blue?or maybe Robin’s Egg Blue?............find hundreds of images and inspirations in a .............oh there it is!

That wraps up everything for our multi-part interview. It has been fun and exausting, but I am sure you have gained a better understanding of what it means to be a Cutter.  I want to thank Leslie and Deborah for taking the time to write to me.

Want to be my next interviewed COSPLAY STAR? Drop me a line a bluedrakon (at) gmail (dot) com!


  1. Great interview... Tells a lot on the behind the scene to the glamour of cosplay.

    1. It really was a unique experience seeing what goes on with the costumes


Don't just Read and Run, leave me a note about what you thought of the blog!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...