Rogers, Barb. Instant Period Costumes: How to Make Classic Costumes from Cast-Off Clothing. Meriwether, 2001. ISBN 1-56608-070-3. $19.95. 87 pp. A- 10-12 NFReviewed by Wendy Simmerman This book is for anyone whose idea of costuming involves a glue gun and a trip to the local thrift store. The author cannot be faulted for a lack of creativity-she includes at least sixty-four basic costumes ranging from Ancient Greek and Roman to 1990s punk. The upside is, no sewing skills are required. The downside is, no sewing skills are required. Constructing an entire garment with a hot glue gun (Rogers recommends buying glue sticks in ten-pound boxes) may be a quick and easy way to prepare costumes for a weekend high school production, but it does have some serious disadvantages. It complicates cleaning and durability, and does not allow the range of options available with professional or semiprofessional costume construction, such as precise sizing and design. The concept behind these costumes is that various articles of clothing can be taken apart and recombined to create period costumes. The ideas are sound and could be accomplished using a needle and thread for greater durability. For someone with basic sewing skills but no experience in costuming, this could be a wonderful idea book. In its defense, the book is clearly not meant for professional costumers, but rather for those with little experience and even smaller budgets who simply need a good costume that could turn a sixteen-year-old into Queen Elizabeth. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, with many photographs and diagrams explaining how to create each outfit. Most of the costumes look simple enough to create in an hour or two. The range of ideas is wide enough that nearly any production could be staged using the simple costumes presented. Because the costumes shown were created for adults, this book targets high school theatre, but it could be adapted to be used for younger children and community theater as well.
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