In the eighth period Advanced Textile Fiber Art II class, Belen Duran sits with her glasses fogging up heavily from steam, ironing a piece of brown fabric.
“I’m trying to get some interfacing on the fabric so I can make a buttonhole,” she said.
Duran, Div 850, is a part of the design team assigned to make vests for the male actors in Lane’s drama department school musical production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Producing clothing for the school play is a first for the Advanced Textile class led by Ms. Simanis, the teacher of the fashion programs at Lane. Simanis is collaborating with the director of the play, Mrs. Hanson, to make decisions about designing the costumes.
“My advanced students are really jumping in,” Simanis said. “They are doing something for someone else just because it’s a good thing to do.”
The fashion classes came into fruition only four years ago. Simanis agreed to assist the play’s costume production only after she felt the program was prepared.
“If we would’ve been asked in the last couple of years, I’m not sure we could’ve. There’s a lot of things we didn’t have,” Simanis said. “With any new program it’s kind of normal to start with very little and then build on what you have.”
In previous productions, the drama department has obtained costumes for the casts by receiving donations, buying them online, searching through thrift stores, or even reusing previous attires from old productions, according to Hanson.
“I’ve been purchasing costumes now for 18 years, and we save them all, so we reuse them all over and over and over again in different styles,” Hanson said.
However, for “Fiddler on the Roof,” the actors needed a unique look that isn’t easy to find in a store or similar to any productions they’ve done before, according to Hanson.
“I approached Ms. Simanis, and asked her if one of her classes might be interested in coordinating with us to help make skirts and aprons and vests for the musical,” Hanson said.
For the play, creating the look consisted of making the color schemes, thinking about the appropriate props for certain characters and researching Russian peasants in 1905 to be as historically accurate as possible, Hanson said.
“These people were incredibly poor and isolated in Russia,” Hanson said. “You also have to think about the climate and what materials they will have access to.”
This process of picking the clothing for the production with Hanson was quite extensive, according to Simanis.
“She and I worked together on selecting colors that might work on the stage,” Simanis said.“Then it was about locating the fabrics, buying the fabrics, but then we also need to measure it and figure out how much we need.”
From designing the costumes to actually making them, the work shifted over to the Simanis’s student designers in the Advanced Textile class as they began creating Simanis and Hanson’s ideas.
With limited resources, the class of designers plan on showing off their skill with the materials they had, according to a student designer in the advanced class, David Flores, Div 984.
“Scraps are never garbage,” said Flores. “You can always use a scrap for something else, so you just put it back in the box, and it’ll come to you sometime.”
Simanis recognized how cautious her students were with the creation of these costumes.
“[The students] really thought twice, three times, four times before cutting the fabric because they knew that they had to do it correctly not just for themselves but for someone else,” Simanis said.
The Advanced Fiber class’s work will be showcased in the musical on Valentine’s Day, Feb.14, running through Feb. 17.