Advice on DIY costumes from Cut & Sew Studio’s Catherine Batcho | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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Advice on DIY costumes from Cut & Sew Studio’s Catherine Batcho 

“It’s a fun place to experiment and learn something new because it’s a little less pressure than getting into actual clothing, so it’s a nice step before”

click to enlarge Sewing with Cut & Sew Studio in Morningside - CUT & SEW
  • Cut & Sew
  • Sewing with Cut & Sew Studio in Morningside
Halloween is right around the corner, which means that for procrastinators, it’s time to start thinking about costumes ideas and, for those who are creatively inclined, how to make a costume at the last minute.

Catherine Batcho, owner of Cut & Sew Studio in Morningside, offered advice for beginners creating costumes on a time crunch. Along with pay-by-the-hour open studio hours that provide access to sewing tools (cutting boards, sewing machine, etc.), Batcho books private lessons for the less sewing adept.

Mix premade items with items to modify
This is one of the best tips for someone with little to no sewing experience or low on time. Sewing an entire costume from scratch is extremely involved, especially as a beginner. The best way to approach a DIY costume is to go to a thrift shop, or even better, go through your own closet. With a vision in mind, piece together a costume out of existing clothing and items that are modified. “If you have to have a shirt that has something on it or looks a certain way, maybe you already have a shirt, and you can modify it,” says Batcho. This is the quickest and easiest way to get a costume done. Build the outfit with items that you already have and make changes where needed.

Fabric choice is key
A problem many sewing novices run into is hard-to-use fabric. People gravitate towards fabric that matches their vision, but costume fabric can be difficult to work with. “So, if you haven’t decided on your costume, picking something that will allow you to work with easier fabrics can be helpful.”
Batcho suggested sturdy and non-slippery woven fabrics for beginners. When looking for woven fabrics, it’s best to pull and feel the material. Take notice: Does it stay still or does it feel stretchy or slippery? That can be the guide on whether it’s an easy or hard fabric to work with. “If you can choose between two different fabrics, definitely choose the one that is woven and won’t stretch. It’s what you think a pillowcase would be made from.”
For some, this may still not be enough to go off of when choosing fabric. Conveniently, Cut & Sew Studio is located next to Firecracker Fabrics. Batcho says that if you go to a store like Firecracker, they can advise what fabrics to use.

Function over finished
What’s nice about costumes is that they don’t necessarily have to be finished the way a piece of wearable clothing often would. Things on the inside, such as edges and seams, can be left unfinished. For beginners, sewing instructions can be hard to decipher, but since it’s a costume, try your best and see what happens. “Rely on what you think it should look like and whip it together.” As long as the costume is functional, it can be worn and adored.

Think ahead
In future years, plan ahead and attend sewing classes to create the ideal costume. Batcho has students who are still working on costumes but most have already finished. Time is important, and with enough planning, local tools like Cut & Sew can help achieve costumes of all types, no matter your sewing skill set.

“It’s a fun place to experiment and learn something new because it’s a little less pressure than getting into actual clothing, so it’s a nice step before.”
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