Monday, 5 March 2012

Breaking Down

Right, so I'm going to talk about breaking down fabric today. I know quite a lot of readers are into making costumes, so I thought I'd share my learnings!

For those of you that don't know, breaking down is when you make a garment look worn. That could be by making it look muddy, dusty, wet, etc. Some people actually break down costumes for a living.

1. Sample
Speaks for itself. An un-edited sample of fabric for you to use as a reference point.
2. Fuller's Earth
This one's probably my favourite. Fuller's earth is a power (which only costs a few pounds, and I believe is used for facial stuff?) and you mix it with vaseline and rub is into the fabric where you feel it's appropriate. However I hear it's banned in some studios. Can anyone fill me in on this?
3. Acrylic Paint
A very permanent way of staining a piece of fabric, and with a wide range of colours! To get a good texture, I found using a sponge was the best way. You can also use water to make the colour bleed a bit.
4. Glycerine
A sticky, medicinal substance that you can use to make a garment look wet. If you're making a piece that's going to go on stage whilst looking wet, this is very useful. If you've been on stage, you will know, stage lights are HOT. And they will dry up a wet costume in seconds. So you just splash this goop all over the fabric and it will look wet. It can get a bit sticky though, so beware!
5.Tea Stain
We all love a bit of tea staining. It's a non-permanent way of dying a costume (use dye if you want it permanent) but it's quick and cheep. You can get different effects from dip-dying and leaving it in for different amounts of time.
6. Coffee Stain
Same as tea staining, except coffee comes out slightly greyer than tea!

For wearing the garment down, you can use sandpaper, of a cheesegrater. You'll probably have to try a bit of both, as different fabrics respond differently.

When you're wearing down the garment, think about where the garment will have been worn the most. For example, the top edge of the collar, cuffs, armholes. Also consider the character! If they did something like, carrying a lot of bags, you'd have to wear down the shoulders. If they've been wading through mud, tear up the bottom of the trousers. Or if they're clumsy like me and spill their coffee down their front, do that!

I know I've missed out stuff like blood stains, but you can use fake blood, acrylic paint or wine.
Your blood is not thick and firetruck red.

You can mix methods, but bear in mind, if you're going to tea/coffee stain it, do that first, because it will wash out all your fuller's earth!

So yeah, breaking down is a lot of fun, especially if you're the kind of person that likes to get messy!

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