Thursday 19 May 2016

13 Burlesque Beginners Costuming Basics with Odelia Opium

Odelia Opium at her stall at LBF 2015
Photo: Eyesolar/Andrew Rausch
I am on a mission to bring you top burlesque costume information and interviews with some of the best in the business. I have recently posted an interview with costumier and performer Odelia Opium. Time and time again basic costuming tips are asked for from seasoned performers and costumiers with more and more new performers coming on to the scene. Odelia has helped to answer 13 burlesque beginners costuming basic tips to help get you started. Hopefully you will find these useful and be able to try some of these out for yourself and see what works for you!

Odelia's first burlesque shoot/costume!
Scott Chalmers Photography
1. Best glue to stick rhinestones to pasties/costumes/shoes etc

I personally choose GemTac for most things, sometimes E6000 if I think I need something stronger. Make sure it dries overnight though; GemTac is not a quick fix!

2. Best adhesive to stick pasties to boobs for good hold and gentle to skin

I'd always recommend wig tape! You can find it on eBay in a big roll. Holds perfectly (I never lost a pastie before!!) and is not too painful to remove.

3. The best fabric to make pasties from 

I personally use a buckram base. Buckram is a very stiff (because glued) millinery material that you can find online. I add a layer of calico and then top with my chosen covering material. I always use Guetermann HT2 as adhesive, it's the best!

4. Best way to clean and look after pasties

I always make sure I remove the old tape from the backs before putting them away. I also keep each pair in a designated container/pouch.

5. Favourite methods of costume removal - adding Velcro, poppers, zips etc 

I choose my closures depending on what I want them to do, they don't all work equally well on all garments.  I like velcro for small closures, as in a short strip of velcro on the side of a skirt or similar. I wouldn't use it on a long dress opening, as it's very noisy and takes a bit of time to open. Also you cannot use velcro if you are wearing gloves, they will get stuck on the velcro and snag. Poppers or little magnets are great for things that have to come flying off (like a skirt panel)!

6. Best tights/stockings for dancing burlesque artists?

I use Capezio professional fishnets on stage, but also cheap Primark hold ups - easy to replace!

7. Must having sewing equipment you can't live without 

My snippers, seam ripper and super fine steel pins for delicate materials! 

8. What's in your repairs kit you take to shows?

I have a handy little kit with sewing needles, various threads, safety pins and Guetermann HT2 glue!

9. How do you store all your costumes? 

Super organised in their own wardrobe! Inside there's a hanging rail for long dresses and cardboard boxes labelled with act names. I also have a separate shoe cabinet for stage shoes. I love organising my costumes and making sure they are clean and tidy. Good storage solutions always pay off!!

10. Best methods for cleaning costumes?

Depending on the item and embellishment, I mostly hand wash mine. Some pieces can only be spot cleaned and aired though (corsets for example). I don't trust drycleaners at all!

11. Tips for transporting costumes when travelling so they don't get damaged/creased etc

I tend to put everything in separate plastic bags inside my suitcase. Big dresses go into a professional garment carrier bag. Headdresses should be in a cardboard box and protected with padding/bubble wrap.

12. Best rhinestone/crystal brands and suppliers 

I use Swarovski whenever I can afford them! The next best thing for me is Preciosa (only slightly cheaper!) and if I have to cover a big area in crystals I buy Eimass crystals. There is a visible difference though! It's always worth investing in Swarovski when you need large sew-on stones - the sparkle is incredible!! You can buy all three brands of stones on eBay. I also use shops like and

13. Top costume tips or tricks

Always invest in good quality materials - always make a mock-up of your costume pieces to try on - always test wear things at home, even pasties and lingerie!

A huge thank you to Odelia for her time and her knowledge she has shared with you all. Hopefully this helps some of you! More interview, tips, tutorials are on their way so stay tuned for more.


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