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What A Drag

What I love about my career is the constant reinvention and the simple unknown of what can happen. I recently got the chance to build a drag queen dress for one of my students. I’ve known this student for almost two years and he has had an amazing career as a Drag Queen and the costume shop, but has settled on directing on playwriting as his passion. For his final show he wanted to pull out all the stops and wanted to build a dress that he had been dreaming of for some time. I opened the costume shop to him, but we hit a snag when I saw the fabric. Stretch poly/nylon valor with sequence can be difficult on the best of days for a young stitcher and I knew he had a deadline he had to make. I offered to build the dress and fit it to him. He said yes.

It has been a while since I built something out of stretch and it was fun to revisit some old skills. I began by looking at the stretch, was the fabric 2 way stretch or four way? After testing it I found that Nathan had been giving a 4 way stretch and the majority of the stretch was along the width of the fabric not the length. This is important because I want the stretcher part of the fabric to go across the body so it would be more forgiving should something happen.

With all this in mind, I began cutting the garment out for our nearly seven foot drag queen (with 6 inch heals). I will say that the cutting was the most difficult part as the fabric was resistant to cutting and left its mark on my pointer finger. After the pieces where cut out it was a simple matter of sewing the garment together. Knowing that Nathan can be athletic in his shows I stitched this garment like I would a dance costume. I sewed the major seams with a moderate zig stitch to allow for the stretch of the fabric and then placed a safety stitch of the same kind a quarter of inch into the seam allowance. Finally, I overlocked the outer edge to control the roll of the fabric.

In total, there are three rows of stitching to help protect him from popping the garment open. I know this may seem like over kill, but I’ve always believed in making sure that the performer never should worry about the costume he or she is wearing. At nearly seven foot I also knew I wanted an exposed zipper detail to add a lovely design feature to the dress. Nathan has a love about of back, and why not add to the length and thinness of the performer.

From this point, it was a simple matter of fitting the garment down to him with his padding and to set the hem and sleeve length.

Over all, the final look is one that fits like a glove and looks amazing on him. From here I set his blue and black with in moderate pompadour with side curls and back detail. I was not able to go see the show myself, but from the pictures MaDonna was stunning.

I know Nathan was thrilled with the final look and I was thrilled to be able to help this talented artist.

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