Guest Post: Columbia Shorts by Russ

Super excited to feature a guest post by fellow costumer Russ.  Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge - they have an amazing amount of detail! This method will definitely bring your shorts to the next level whether you are making them from scratch or simply trying to modify something off the rack.

It is my belief that in looking closely at the Mick Rock photos, the method used for edging Columbia’s ribbons reveals itself: overlocking/serging. This conclusion was drawn by several factors: First, the edging cannot be a 100% solid in color, since in practically all reference photos, even the far edges of the ribbon shimmer at times. This lends the idea that the edges are stitched in some way; with windows between the stitches allowing the base of the lamé to shine through. A rolled hem doesn’t create the right shape or thickness. Folded edges using a ribbon folder or overlaying a satin-edged organza ribbon creates too solid of a line for my preference and again this method does not let the lamé shine through on the edges. Upon further examination, the Mick Rock photos indicate an edging that in my view can only be achieved through overlocking. Note how the edging looks sort of rough and slightly uneven (Fig.1).
The material used appears to be a woven/satin lamé/sometimes called ͞lurex͟. The same type of lamé was used on several costumes for the Transylvanians as well (in particular, some of their lapels), which lends to the idea that there was plenty of this material to use during the construction of the costumes for the film. To test this theory, I cut a 5/8͟ wide strip of satin lamé, backed with a black fusible interfacing for durability, and fed it twice through my overlocker (knife setting should be off). It was a perfect match to the Mick Rock pics: creating a two-toned look with little flecks of the lamé peeking through the edging. Here is an image of some sample gold ribbon compared to a photo in the Mick Rock book. The golds are an exact match. My ribbon looks out of proportion, since it is closer to the camera but it is 5/8͟ wide, which I believe to be an accurate width (Fig.2). Furthermore, with the interfacing fused and stitched in, no amount of tugging in any direction was budging the ribbon’s shape or integrity; which means these are going to
last for many years.

Cutting the ribbons is straightforward and this process does not require much fabric. My method: cut a 6͟ x 36͟piece of black fusible interfacing, align the fusible side to the backside of the satin lamé, and press with a towel in between the iron and fabric (black interfacing closest to the iron) so as not to melt the lamé. Once fused, I laid 6 or 7 strips of 5/8͟ wide masking tape (spanning the 36͟ length) on the interfacing side to form a template for cutting the strips. I used a rotary cutter and self-healing mat to ensure even strips. After the strips were cut out, and tape removed, I serged them twice for each edge (shiny side up was fed through the machine). This double thickness of edging created an extra bold edge. Tip: as soon as the strips are cut, serge them; I swear, they start to fray if you even look at them. The thread color for serged edges was initially chosen based upon the Mick Rock photos, but as I soon discovered, the closest matches were the same colors as the ͞bad͟ side of the respective
fabric. While the satin lamé is extremely shiny on its good side, the dull backside serves as a muted, but similar base color and works well with creating the stark difference between the middle and the edge of the ribbon. The starkest contrast in colors seems to be the edging for the gold lamé: more of a cream color. Here are all of the ribbons before I attached them (Fig.3). I needed about 7 yards worth of each color to cover the project. At this time of this post, Joann Fabrics carries red, royal blue and gold satin lamé (they call it ͞shiny lamé͟) for about $9.99/yd in store, so get a good coupon! For the orange, I went with the ͞copper͟ option from, although other websites do have an orange satin lamé available. The copper color is fairly orange, less red than the name implies. They also offer a kelly green satin lamé at
TheatreHouse, although if you can find the darker emerald satin lamé that’s out there, I believe that to be more screen accurate. I have only found the dark emerald satin lamé from a local theatre supply store that has since gone out of business. If anyone can source this material, please let me know! When sewing on the completed ribbons, be sure to using the same colored thread as the edging thread used. Also, pro-tip for stitching the ribbons on: I use 505 spray temporary adhesive (found in Joann’s notions section) on the backs of the ribbons to hold them in place before and during stitching. The greatest thing about that adhesive is that it does NOT gum up your sewing needle when you stitch them on. Truly, a lifesaver. See photo below (Fig. 4) for my construction using the 505 glue (applied to the back of the ribbons ONLY) for placement on the pattern pieces of my shorts. It is only a temporary glue, so they can be adjusted again if needed. For the narrow strips, I’m in accord with Mina (host of this site) that they’re merely the same ribbons just folded in half, with the edging on the left side facing outwards. For the half-ribbons, I sprayed their bad side with
the 505, folded them in half, and then sprayed the side that was resting on top of the shorts piece. Here is a complete view of the colors on each of the pattern pieces (Figs. 5 & 6). Always attach the ribbons first and then sew the shorts together. Side note, I usually close up the front pockets on my shorts and they ultimately end up being false (sewn shut, and pocket interior trimmed). For one, it is less bulk and a better fit. More importantly, while sitting, the front of the shorts tends to poof upwards when the pockets aren’t stitched down. It’s not flattering in the least. I usually keep one of my back pockets open to accommodate my pink mask from Creation scene since it is a custom fit to me only and I don’t want to dig it out of the pile of clothes later. If you have other types of lamé or shiny fabric on hand, this method can be applied to them as well. Another favorite of mine is film strip lamé. I try to avoid tissue lamé since it seems particularly prone to fading (especially red) and is even weaker in strength than the other lamé types mentioned. Always use fusible interfacing backing! If you decide to use this crazy method, please refer to this post or myself directly if someone asks you about how you went about it. I put a lot of time and research into this and some credit is always appreciated.  Special thanks to some wonderful tips and support from my director, Becky/MRHPS as well as Jaimie Froemming for illuminating me ages ago to the use of satin lamé in the film’s costumes.Let me know if there are any questions! -Russ