A client came to me a while ago for a tutu and asked if I’d make her a Maleficent costume as well. They wanted wings that could be easily removed in the early part of the choreography. Now before you get too excited, I don’t know how to make wings and certainly not easily removable ones so I accepted the tutu job but sent them off to a costumier I knew in Bondi that does this sort of thing.
When they cam back for a tutu fitting they said they’d changed their mind about wings and could I make a costume with a removable long floaty cape. Oh yes … now that was right up my alley. Three metres of 6 momme tissue silk and a handful of magnets and here we go!
Anything that is removed on stage in front of an audience needs to be done deftly and silently. Velcro won’t do it and snaps need serious pull to dislodge. For quick change costumes you best friend is a magnet. I use 12mm x 2mm neodimium magnets. They have a pull of about 600g and with 6 pairs of them I figured it would be enough for 3 metres of beautiful floaty tissue silk.
The magnets had to be placed inside the black mesh of a unitard so I covered them with flesh coloured powernet and sewed them into the costume across the back of the shoulders.
My aim was to have as little fabric as possible between the north and south poles of the magnets (It’s important to get that right!) so I didn’t sew them over seams.
Now while the magnets can be seen close up, at 5m they disappear and considering the audience is generally at 15 m they are for all intents and purposes invisible. The matching pair of the magnet was in the edge of the cape with just one layer of silk over it.
The magnets in the cape and across the back of the costume lined up and gave the look of a firmly fixed cape.
The cape is 1.5 m long and 3m wide gathered and steamed onto a band the width of the back. Small magnets were also inserted into the wrist of the costume to give the impression of wings: Mission accomplished .. and NO WINGS!
When the cape is removed a deep low back is revealed on a black velvet unitard with gold embossing.
Maleficent with her evil black silk cape.