Class wins awards for costumes

Class wins awards for costumes

Lisa Kim


The Cerritos College costume class took one first place and three second place awards a the Renaissance Pleasure Faire last month.

  • Mary Moore’s middle-class child costume design, modeled by Moore’s niece, won first place in the children’s category.
  • Cristy Guidry and Katie Guidry, who are sisters, tied for second place in the adult peasant category.
  • Denise Davis won second place in the adult middle class category.

Winners received Renaissance Faire items, such as a leather bound diary and a goblet with coupons for free drinks. In past years, cash prizes were given, but no longer.The costume competition has been going on since the spring of 1992.

The costume design class is taught by Susan Watanabe and is offered only in the spring. It will not be offered next year because Watanabe is going on sabbatical.

Of the people who participated, most were beginning students. Watanabe said that most of the students didn’t even know how to sew when they came to the class. By the end of the class however, not only do they know how to sew, each student has completed at least one costume and a costume piece for the costume show.

Student makes their renaissance costume entirely by themselves from scratch. Students are responsible for researching the costumes, for finding the proper fabrics, and for drawing the designs. Once students make their rendering, Watanabe makes patterns based on their drawings.

Some time near the beginning of the semester, the entire class takes a field trip to the cloth store. There it selects the fabrics that it will use for the costumes. Watanabe only gives suggestions on which fabrics to use for different parts of the costume. For instance, she tells students that a certain type of fabric will become a chemise.

“What the judges are looking for are appropriate fabrics and construction for the period,” Watanabe said.

According to Watanabe, in the past other contestants have used fabrics that were too brightly colored, and not corresponding with the dyes that they would have used in the Renaissance. Others have used fabrics that were too finely woven for a peasant.

Cerritos College students, however, are accurate down to the boning on their bodices. Boning is what makes the bodice smooth and tight, and it is the most difficult part of making a female peasant’s costume.


The class is usually offered in the evenings and has four hours of scheduled class time and one hour of arranged class time. The work load is about six to seven hours a week. In the last couple of weeks of the class, the students work up to 30 hours a week. Machine sewing is done in class, while hand sewing is done as homework. The Saturday before the faire, the students and Watanabe worked from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m,, a full 11 hours.

For anyone interested in taking the class, it will be next offered in the spring of 2003.

Watanabe said of her student’s accomplishments “I’m very proud of all the students. They worked very hard, they completed all their costumes, and the looked really good out there.”

Students who participated in the competition included Jonathan Castillo, Denise Davis, Cristy Guidry, Katie Gudry, Invie Gregory, Mary Moore, and Mary Ann Hall.