We made them happen as a team. “In film and TV, you have to be able to sort of be like water,” says Andrea Wheeler, a cutter/fitter for Westworld. I spent a lot of time on Esty’s wedding dress. It’s a gag; we’re not supposed to see blood, and her head doesn’t really get chopped off, obviously, but it’s supposed to be a representation of that. Maisel Lead This Year’s Emmy Nominations

Tags: Additionally, actors often have more than one of the same costume — especially if they wear the same thing for an entire episode or if there are stunts — but multiples are not always purchased at the same time, so a tailor might need to duplicate changes on a garment without having the original one (because it’s either currently on the actor or on a truck on the other side of the city). Another of my favorites — probably because it was such a haywire moment — was the samurai outfit, the armored costume. My job is so much more than just cutting a pattern and deciding how to construct a garment; it involves communicating with people, interpreting ideas, thinking outside the box, conducting in-depth research, as well as an understanding of fabrics and different construction techniques, and the ability to bring together many different threads to meet an often challenging deadline. There aren’t a lot of vintage offerings for people with nonstandard sizing requirements so we’d often have to make things from scratch very quickly. “People in general think, Oh, yeah, sewing a piece of cloth together, there’s not much work in that. Watchmen

Jared Leese, Head Tailor  

Photo: Mark Hill/HBO

This show was huge. I believe Orlando was happy with the result, too, as he said on his Instagram page that we were better than Savile Row. Westworld

Andrea Wheeler, Cutter/Fitter

Photo: HBO

One of my favorite costumes [from last season] was the gold transforming dress, which I did not engineer. I was lucky we had a tailor experienced in hand-tailoring on the team. Six of us worked through the entire weekend. [In film and TV] there are always instances of panicked last-minute work due to the approval process having to go through people who are producing many more than one show at a time. That was a situation in which we didn’t even know if they were going to have a costume on Monday. After much head-scratching, we called upon Ted Southern, who’s a mechanical genius, to help fabricate a mechanism to incorporate into the outfit that would extend up and shoot the bodice above the actress’s head in a quick second.  Pose

Yvette Helin, Head Tailor

Photo: FX

On Pose we get to build a lot, and the builds are fantastical. What she ended up doing was actually quite simple: two dresses connected at the waist. Because it’s a period show, you can’t just run out to the store and pick something up. We weren’t always building to dress a normal human shape. “People tell me I’m easygoing for a tailor because I have no problem saying, ‘Oh, you need me to literally drop this garment that I’m right in the middle of doing and run over there and do something else. She showed me a picture that inspired the idea of the carousel. Then her stunt double had two each of two of the versions. Each garment is marked with a tag that includes the actor and character names, the scene it will be worn in, what day that scene is supposed to film, and any alteration notes. Initially they wanted eight (for doubles and stunts) and we were like, “You’ll be lucky if you get two.”

The Politician

Ruth Stockl, Alterations Fitter

Photo: Netflix

My days [on The Politician] were split between taking a full set of measurements for new cast members, popping in and out of fittings as needed, and buzzing through a bunch of alterations and builds as they got approved. One had neoprene padding at the elbows, knees, and hips; one was action-oriented with extra gussets of spandex hidden; and the third was the pristine, just standing around talking, version. I made it from the waist down and she from the waist up. That was really fun, seeing something that looked super complicated end up being simple, clever engineering. The Marvelous Mrs. Unorthodox

Matthieu Niemeier, Tailor

Photo: Netflix

My day [on Unorthodox] always began with a meeting with Justine [Seymour] where we’d go over the day. One integral member of these teams is the pattern-maker or tailor, the person responsible for constructing the clothes as well as ensuring that every garment fits properly. Photo-Illustration: Vulture, Netflix, HBO, FX and Amazon Prime

“We’re not just seamstresses and tailors, we’re engineers and architects.” 

Although Emmy awards for costuming are typically bestowed to a show’s designers, supervisors, or a combination of the two, much of the actual day-to-day work of costuming a series falls to a larger team helping to bring those people’s visions to life. We spend a lot of time with our designer [Analucia McGorty] working out the details of her unique designs. The dress bottom consisted of a metal frame with a spinning horse carousel. Lydia Jakubowski came up with the mechanics of it. We were very excited when it worked successfully in rehearsals and all the things that Ana wanted happened. So many things happened [during filming] that no one could have seen coming, like the Sister Night leather hood stretching out under the hot lights. But there is a large amount of patterning that needs to be done. All the costumes for the show were really interesting, especially because of all the rules of how to dress [as a part of the Hasidic Jewish community], and what had to be worn on what day. When there weren’t fittings, I worked on whichever costumes were more important depending on the schedule. That was an interesting project, trying to find all the right parts. Okay.’ Not everyone can do that.”

The only real rule when it comes to working in TV and film is that things can and probably will change; every show presents its own set of challenges and problems to solve, and that extends all the way through to the hems, darts, and inseams on the costumes. Ana told me she dreamed of this dress. Even store-bought, contemporary clothing can require alterations; it’s not uncommon for a film and television tailor to shorten the hem of a T-shirt, add darts to the back of a men’s dress shirt, take in the waist of a pair of pants (or five), or completely take apart a garment, recut it, and put it back together, all in the same day. Which dress was visible was determined by how we folded it and how it snapped into the top. using a 3-D body cast of him, then brought to Atlanta where we were filming so Meghan [Kasperlik] could see everything. My biggest challenges [on Maisel] were usually because of oddly shaped background actors. So they’re not necessarily based on anything anyone’s seen or done before, and that’s really fun for us. We shared a big warehouse on a studio lot, which was great, as I got to be with the rest of the team for once (often I am in a janitor’s closet, balancing on the back of a truck, or in a spooky basement). The green caftan I made her sticks with me as a great example of how such a simple garment can be so beautiful when made in the right fabric. Sister Night had three different versions of her costume and two of each version. Tailors and pattern makers, also called cutters or drapers, tend to have very close relationships with their designers, but their contributions often go unseen by their very nature — as Carnival Row principal cutter Karen Francis Smith puts it, “My role is to realize [the designer’s] vision, not to produce my own.”

At the same time, “Tailoring is often underestimated,” says Unorthodox tailor Matthieu Niemeier. I have to credit my friend and tailor Alice Bee for pointing me to a source she found on eBay after I mentioned a part I was hunting for to realize the spin of the carousel. The carousel dress — technically it’s the Marie Antoinette outfit that Ana designed for Dominique [Jackson], who plays Elektra — Jen [Hebner, my second] and I built it together. And it was awesome. I made multiple options, going straight to fabric without first fittings so that she could try on finished pieces with Donna [Zakowska] to see how everything worked with the rest of her wardrobe. In the scene, the actress gets her head chopped off in a guillotine. Related

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Watchmen, The Marvelous Mrs. You can imagine how chuffed I was. That outfit was redesigned on a Friday afternoon, and it was first up three hours away on Monday morning. There were 10 or 12 hoods, and we took them all apart, flatlined them with neoprene, and buried magnets into the wig cap and hood to keep them in place. I’m most happy with how Philo’s (Orlando Bloom’s) suit and coat came out. I try to explain that I have to make fabric that is flat into something that fits on a body, and it’s really architectural.”

Most costume departments have a rack (or racks) where clothing that requires alterations is hung. We had to create a garment that was not only beautiful but also represented Esty’s emotional state. Plus, Shira [Haas] had to be able to move because she had a long day of dance scenes while wearing it. The two-piece suiting was new for last season. [Jeremy] Irons’s costumes were made in L.A. One particular silk chiffon caftan I made for Georgina [Gwyneth Paltrow] took hours to cut because it was like working with smoke. Clockwise from top: Westworld’s transforming gold dress, the Unorthodox wedding dress, Orlando Bloom’s Carnival Row suit, and the Pose “carousel dress” represent some of the biggest tailoring challenges among this year’s Emmy-nominated costumes. That, along with my period cutting background, made the whole process a lot easier. Working on the show was a very collaborative experience; for instance, everyone was involved in the Cuban-dancer costumes: designers, shoppers, painters, everyone. No cutter on a project this size works alone, and a great team makes the job infinitely more satisfying. One that sticks out is creating perfect tailored garments for Agreus, whose fawn legs and posture meant that nothing sat the way it should, but who had to look the perfect Victorian gent. Carnival Row

Karen Frances Smith, Principal Cutter 

Photo: Amazon Prime

Carnival Row was challenging because of the different creatures [in the show]. All of that took a lot of time and thought. We make something that in the show they would have made from scratch or found, usually for the wild ball scenes. The wedding dress was a challenge because we had to capture visually the idea of what the dress symbolized in Esty’s journey. Maisel

Daniel Weger, Key Tailor

Photo: Amazon

I patterned and tailored all of Susie’s [Alex Borstein] looks. So we asked some of the tailors and pattern-makers who contributed to some of this year’s Emmy-nominated series to share some of their biggest, most rewarding costuming challenges. We had three different units and four wardrobe trucks, plus a unit shooting the Jeremy Irons stuff in Wales.