Costuming Tools

Oct 2, 2021 | Dance Costumes, Theatrical Costumes

Cover Photo by Susan Holt Simpson on Unsplash

When costuming, or doing any kind of sewing for that matter, I use many tools. I thought I’d share my 3 favorite costuming tools here.

Scalpel Seam Ripper

1. Seam Ripper

To alter existing costumes, you will likely need to remove many seams. My favorite costuming tool to for this is a “surgical seam ripper” or a disposable scalpel. You can find the seam ripper on Amazon. It costs between $2.50 and $14.00 each.

However, I have found that a #12 Disposable Scalpel is almost exactly the same tool (if not sharper). You can find this scalpel on Amazon for around $8 for a box of 10. Just be careful when using either of these to rip seams. Both are super-sharp, and if you don’t pay attention, it’s pretty easy to slice a finger.

Rowenta Iron

2. Steam Iron

My second favorite costuming tool is my steam iron. Buy the best steam iron you can afford, preferably one that is made for garment construction, and that has a seperate water tank.

I am on my second Rowenta steam iron. I used the first one every single day for about 7 years before it died, and have been using my current one for about 2 years with no problems. This iron produces a large amount of steam, and holds a large amount of water. This means you don’t have to stop to refill the tank as often.

The design with the water stored in a separate tank means that the actual iron is very light-weight. This saves wear-and-tear on your wrists when using it for large projects. This iron is designed to be also used as a vertical steamer. This comes in handy when refreshing costumes between performances.

Between my two Rowenta irons, I had a Duetto iron that I thought would be similar, but unfortunately I was never able to make it stop spitting water on my fabric, which was a mess.

Silamide Thread

3. Furrier Thread

My third favorite costuming tool is Furrier Thread, also known as Silamide. For any hand-sewing on costumes – especially dance costumes – it is best to use a heavy, coated thread that won’t easy break under stress. I prefer Silamide waxed nylon thread (traditionally used by furriers to securely sew skins for coats).

This thread is not cheap, usually $11 – $17 per skein (depending on where you buy it), but I have found that a skein will last several years, and it is well worth the price for the seam strength that results. A limited range of Silamide colors is available on Amazon, and Manhattan Wardrobe Supply carries the full range of colors.