Many of the volunteers began sewing as children at primary school or high school in dress making class. While they went into other professions, they’ve all kept up their skills giving them the ability to take on the mammoth task of the Jewels costumes.
“You need to be a confident needlewoman” says Mandy. “This is very particular, you have to knot off each bead, so none of them fall off because someone could trip on it on stage. It’s very precise stitching.”
The copyrighted costumes must be made exactly to the original Karinska specifications. It was Barbara Karinska who pioneered more flexible and breathable costume allowing dancers to not only have greater freedom of movement in their dancing but to be more comfortable as well. However, while the stretch material of the costumes may be more comfortable, the sheer weight of these costumes is less so.
The volunteers estimate that the neckline of the Rubies costumes weighs close to half a kilogram in addition to the skirt which also has three rubies sewn onto to each panel. “It’s important for the dancers to be rehearsing in these costumes to get used to the weight,” says Naomi.