Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adventures in Costume Supply Shopping, Part 1: The Drugstore

This is the first of a series of posts on odd shopping places for costumers. Whether we're seeking replacements for historical items that are difficult or impossible to find nowadays, or trying to create an effect from pure imagination, we use odd materials in unexpected ways, and we're always looking for new ideas. You can't take us to a store, any store, without finding us staring at some mundane item with the light of speculation in our eyes.

Today, we're shopping at the drugstore.

My first stop is the dental aisle. Pick up a pack of dental floss threaders. They're great for threading the serger's loopers, and to use as a "needle" when stringing beads onto a large diameter cord.

While you're there, grab a package of orthodontic wax. A small pellet of this, stuck on the end of a toothpick or skewer, makes a picker-upper for individual rhinestones or small beads.

Dental floss is great for stringing beads, and in a pinch, for sewing on buttons. I like the flat waxed ribbon floss for gathering. Lay it on your gathering line and stitch over it with a wide zigzag stitch, going over, not through, the floss, creating a casing and drawstring. Pull the floss up to the desired size and tie it off. This is much faster and stronger than pulling up machine stitching.

Now, on to the hair accessories department!

Spring clips can be used to "pin" a hem up, and so can bobby pins.

Do you want to add elastic button loops to a garment, but can't find the right color elastic? Covered hair elastics come in a huge variety of colors.

When working on a large piece of fabric, it's often easiest to roll most of it up, for example, to fit it through the harp of the sewing machine. Use a couple of large plastic hair clamps to hold the roll in place.

In the cosmetic department, Take a look at the cosmetic bags and travel kits. They can be great for organizing anything form notions to sewing machine feet. A large travel case with many compartments and loops to hold makeup brushes can make an excellent travel sewing kit.

Mineral makeup eyeshadow can, in a pinch, substitute for charcoal powder when transferring a design for embroidery by the "prick and pounce" method.

Now, on to the pharmacy area. Here you'll find day of the week pill organizers that are perfect for small items like beads, snaps, and the like. Pick up a box of exam gloves to wear when doing messy projects like dyeing.

Finally, get yourself a box of baby wipes. They're perfect for doing quick cleanups n your sewing machine bed, like when you're going to sew white linen right after black velvet, and they also do a great job of removing surface dirt and stains from costumes.

Stay tuned for Part 2: The Office Supply Store.


  1. LOVE IT !!!!! Thanks Margo...

  2. Remember "Caboodles"? The plastic fishing tacklebox-like make-up cases from the 1980's? I still use mine to organize sewing notions! Come to think of it, I don't think it ever had make-up in it! LOL

  3. @Sheree - They still carry Caboodles at Target! I use them myself for sewing.

    This is a great post, Margo!