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How do I make a quick/change costume for

BrielleCostumes | Posted in General Discussion on


  My Name is Brielle I am a costume designer and seamstress.

  I have been asked to make costume for the cast of a Cinderella Musical Production.

  I’m very excited about all that this included, but I have hit a bit of a road block.

    The director wants Cinderella to be changed on stage …from her peasant gown into her ballgown…now my question is, does anyone have any ideas for how to do this? I have had many suggestions for using Velcro, but I’m afraid that will be do loud…and obvious to what we used…

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  So if anyone has ideas for how to change Cinderella from one costume to the next in a matter of seconds I would be very grateful to hear your suggestions. Thank you…

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  1. cookymom | | #1

    Hi Brielle,

    I've done costumes for local groups but none like your project.  Some thoughts...

    Will the stage go dark?  Will there be music to cover the noise of a costume change?

    Or will the set have space for a costume change.

    Could the character step into the wings and change with help in minutes?  I know that works.

    I'd be thinking of a body suit and tights for the actress. 

    Perhaps a two piece dress for both the kitchen girl and the princess.  A gathered skirt with petticoat and a top to go over the head.  Change of shoes?


    1. BrielleCostumes | | #3

      Thank you for your reply...

        here is the info that you asked for. I think that the stage will stay the same as far as the lights go ,but Cinderella does a dancing number twirls behind the carriage (about less then a mintute) thus the best place to change her would be there...

      Thanks for the idea about the body suit... I was thinking about that already...great idea.



  2. PASDENOM | | #2

    You could make the peasant dress of soft, clingy fabric and let it be a slip under the ballgown. It might be fun to use the Disney cartoon method of details of the gown being added. You can't have birds, of course, but she could snap on trims and layers of gathered tulle.

    1. BrielleCostumes | | #8

      Hello, Thanks for the idea... I like that. I would love to do the Disney style Musical ,but the script they are using is very broadway, but I like your idea alot... I mgiht be able to to include it somewhere....hmm....have to think on that.

  3. jjgg | | #4

    If she is wearing the ball gown under the kitchen dress, the fullness of the skirt could be tied or rolled up around her wist or something of that sort making her dumpier (fatter) looking in the kitchen. Then rig the top dress some how to come off all in one along with the ties keeping the fullness bound up.

    The fairy godmother touches her with the wad, the mice/footmen untie the kitchen dress and roll it down off her, loosen the ties holding the fullness of the ball gown and wallah! a princess

    1. BrielleCostumes | | #7

      Thank you for your idea... very fun... I like it, but the ballgown is very puffy...almost Southern Belle like... ,but I really like your idea... it could work in another play I do. Thanks!

  4. Teaf5 | | #5

    In a quick change, it's hard to take off a costume, but easy to add another one on top of what you are already wearing.

    You could have a rack/pole/helper on the back side of the carriage to hold the ball gown open and ready to don like a bathrobe over the softer, smaller peasant gown.  No matter how elaborate, the ball gown could be completely open down the front with a placket covering velcro strips, which won't make any noise being closed.  Ballgowns have a lot of room for generous overlap that wouldn't even need to be completely closed if the peasant gown works as a chemise underneath.

    The actress could then dance behind the carriage, slip into the sleeves, and close the whole thing as she's whirling out the other side.  A lot of waltzing movements have one hand at the waist, so she'd have some extra time to make sure the gap is closed; even if it gapes, she's completely covered by the chemise/undergown, which of course, you'd want to make in a coordinating color.

    Sounds like a fun task; if you can post photos of the finished costume, we'd love to see it!

    1. BrielleCostumes | | #6

      Thank you all for your great ideas! They are wonderful!

      Yes, I will post pictures on my website when I finish the costume so I can post a link here so you can see the pictures. The play opens in May so I'll have them posted after that.

      I like the ideas about wearing the peasant dress under the ballgown, but the sleeves are not the same style....so I'm thinking maybe the top of the peasant dress could be pulled off while she is stepping into the ballgown (leaving the peasant skirt) so let me know what you think...





      1. Ralphetta | | #9

         If the sleeves of the 1st costume detached,  she could rip them off like gloves the moment she was out of sight. 

        How many people can get behind the carriage?

        By planning things this early, you might be able to get some assistance from the scenic designer so you could have more coverage behind the carriage so she can have a dresser and not have to do it alone.  It really doesn't  take but a few seconds to pull a zipper down or unsnap the peasant gown, step out and step into the  ballroom dress positioned on the floor, pull it up and over the arms and zip, if she has a dresser.  Velcro is not necessarily faster or easier than  a long, sturdy, industrial zipper.  If the dresser is calm, zippers don't get stuck any more often than Velcro comes undone.    Velcro is fine for some things but whenever possible I prefer zippers for getting INTO something fast.  It usually looks neater and feels more secure.

        There are a lot of costumers at this site and I bet you'll get some more great ideas.

        P.S. Velcro does make noise when ripped open.

        1. User avater
          Thimblefingers | | #10

          I used to work in a theatre making costumes and we used large snaps on our quick change costumes. They don't make noise when they're being undone, are sturdy, and the costume can be quickly "ripped" open. Depending on your stage, we also used a trap door in the floor to pull the costume off and away. When we did Amadeus, Constanza wore an apron that, with a twirl, turned into a shawl-wrapped baby. Perhaps, she could be carrying something that looks like something else and, unwrapped, turns into the dress.

          1. BrielleCostumes | | #11


              Thank you for your ideas.... I like the ideas of using snaps... Cinderella's ballgown is a very large, full skirted style....so the trapdoor idea could also work. Thank you very much!

            Sincerely, Brielle

          2. suesew | | #12

            When we did Into the Woods we used a simple tank style ragged dress - very slip like that simply stayed under the ball gown. I think Disney had mice dressing her, didn't he? You could actually use that to create quite a dress on stage in front of everyone!

          3. BrielleCostumes | | #13

            Hello, Thank you for the idea...that is a good idea to make a slip like dress. Our script is set in a very Medieval era. So the director wanted the dress to look historical with a laced bodice ect... I wish we were doing the Disney version! That would be so fun to have little mice do it. Thanks again for the tips.


          4. MrsCostew | | #14

            You can have an authentic looking bodice with the lacing stitched onto the front of the bodice - no real lacing to do in the costume change.  Sometimes you need to talk to the director if his/her ideas are too difficult to accomplish & perhaps an adjustment can be made (longer music for the change, help, etc.).  Is the ball gown going on over the peasant outfit, or vice versa - or both?  The laced bodice could be on a top with elastic around the neck & sleeve tops & simply pulled down around the waist under the ball gown.  Sounds like  very challenging costume change - good luck!

  5. mainestitcher | | #15

    Well, now, I was at a dance demonstration last weekend, and saw a very interesting costume change.  The first part of the dance, the woman had on what appeared to be a black bustier and very short skirt.  I thought the bustier made her look a little...thick...and suddenly her partner pulled something, I don't know what, and the top fell down and became a skirt.  (Imagine those old dolls with two heads, that you flipped over to reveal a different  head, and the flipped over skirt was different on the reverse.) 

    So, the colorful long skirt with black underlayer was carefully folded up over her torso and fastened in place.  I wonder if a bustier with a separating zipper could be used to hold the fabric in place. 

    Idea # 2:   A girlfriend of mine had this skirt in the sixties: it was an a-line skirt, with a panel extending from each side seam.  the panels were double-sided, and could be tied in the front or the back.    The front of the skirt and the front of the panels was blue, so panels tied in back = blue skirt.  The back and back side of the panels were a coordinating print, so untie the panels and flip them to the front, and you had a print skirt.  The coordinating colors peek out from under the tied panels.  I think the panels were edged with folded braid. 

    The only other thing I can tell you is to make the peasant gown all one garment, even if it is to look like two.  Have a very long zipper at the back, maybe velcro only at the bottom, or those gi-normous snaps, so a dresser can pull the peasant thing straight off her and have the ball gown underneath.  This would mean the peasant clothes would need to be of substantial material, and opaque, or maybe even have some texture, so the gown underneath would not show too much. 

    FWIW, I always worried about the sound of velcro, too, but no director or costume designer ever shared my concern.

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