How to Make a Pilgrim Costume

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When making pilgrim costumes, using simple, neutral colors is key for authenticity of the time. Create brown coats, white collars, black hats and gray dresses for a pilgrim look with information from a drama production designer in this free video on costumes.

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We're going to talk about doing pilgrims. And we're actually getting ready to a production of "Crucible". We did one a few years ago. We built a few things. We're going to be building a lot more. The thing when you're doing Puritans, and they really are Puritans, you want to remember that there's a few colors you're going to be into- brown, gray, black, and yellow. Believe it or not, yellow is actually a Puritan color. Use less than the brown, the gray, and the black, but you're going to see those. This is a very simple suit that we made for John Proctor out of brown wool. Then you put the big collar on top of this, which we have made separate. It's, as you see, very simple. The buttons are simple. Everything, there's no adornment. That's the difference between a Puritan and, let's say, a Georgian of the period. Where this is very elaborate for "School for Scandal", this is very, very simple from "Crucible". And that's really the difference. You're not going to see this on a Puritan whatsoever. There's too much stuff on it. So he will go away, and this is what you're left with. And from this, you're going to see things, another black suit that we did for the show. This is your "Crucible" colors right here. And then you'll see the big collars and then, of course, the Puritan hats on those. And these are the men. We'll take you over and show you some of the women's stuff, too. We don't, unfortunately, have a huge selection of these, but this one was made by my friend Carolyn for a play. And they wanted a very kind of BBC version. This is a beautiful texture. You can see it's not just a black or a brown. It's a gorgeous texture for this dress. And again, very simple, made in the style of the day. And again, with an apron, the collar, and the cap on this thing, this really sets it to where it is. There's also things, you know, think in terms of skirt and bodice. We had the skirt, and she has made the bodice to go with this. And you can see these work in the very same world. And again, you put a collar on this with a bonnet, and these become the Puritans. And you can see how nicely these are made. I'm going to show you an example. You can see the quality of this versus just this kind of gray cotton, unlined dress that says, hi, I'm a pilgrim. You can see, putting the two together, really what the quality of the fabrics are. And part of this is when you're making something, you know, you want to line things. You want to put interfacing on the bodices, things like that, to give them the body, not just to kind of like go, here's just a thing we're throwing together. So they actually stand up to wear and tear. You can see the cuffs are kind of like falling down on this one, and things like that. And that's really not what we want. And this one, we did not make. So I can't take credit for this. This came in from a donation. But these, we did make. Okay, as we're digging through boxes where, this is actually the Puritan hat, which is this really great flat shape. Now, a little trivia for you: if you put this on top of a mob cap, and put it on a woman, which they did wear these, what's the silhouette that you get? You get the witch hat silhouette. This is how the traditional witch came about. As you can see, this on top of a mob cap with the black dress, here's your witch. So that's a hat. And then here are collars. You can see the shape of the collar. And you put them on like this, and then they tie. Let's see if I can do this, like that. So it'll sit like this. Put your hat on. There you go, there's a Puritan guy. And you use the same collar on the women, too. It's these big, just big, simple collars that you had to clean and starch, so you looked very clean and very neat. That was the idea. And then a lady would wear a little bonnet with this. I'll show you some bonnets. These are a couple types of bonnets that we did. That's your basic white. And that one, we've added a little bit of color to. You can see the difference. But it's still the same basic shape. And they want a little more color for everyone saying, they're all looking too white. So we added a little bit of color in there. So that has some brown. Here's one done with a black version of that, as well. And then we have some muslin ones. And you can see the color differentiation, when this is really, really white, and this is more cream. And that gives us different varieties and textures. And a lady would wear this with a collar, and you could put the hat on this, too.

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