Behind the sewing machine


Jamie Tang

Freshman Twig Brecken (top) hems a pair of slacks while Ella Yip (bottom) removes the wide sleeves from one of the dresses for the Gossips.

Jamie Tang, Staff Writer

The backstage bustled with high school talents for The Huron Player’s performance of Sense and Sensibility.  The crew head worked on fitting measurements and selecting costumes. Meanwhile, Twig Brecken and Ella Yip, two dedicated freshmen, altered dozens of costumes to suit the Georgian Period (1714-1830). Brecken and Yip share a love for Georgian Period fashion, admiring the high waist, small puffed sleeves, flowing silk and light-weighted cotton that replaced the elaborate hoop skirts and ruffles before the French Revolution (1789-1799). 

“The modern art community can learn from how simplicity is all about elegance,” Brecken said. “Fashion is not about sharp edges, weird shapes and fabrics to make it look like someone put a lot of thought into their work.”

Brecken and Yip also see connections between the costumes and the mood of Sense and Sensibility. Both of their favorite costumes — the velvet-green dress worn by one of the Gossips — sheds light on the character. 

“[The dress] is kind of elaborate,” Yip said. “The green shows her untrustworthy nature, and the velvet radiates her elegance.”

Brecken and Yip have a long history of honing their craft. 

Currently, people commission Brecken to sew projects. At the time of the interview, they were working on three Halloween clown costumes: a diamond, a heart and a spade. Brecken welcomes interested customers to contact them. Their talents do not stop there. They built two walled platforms, drilled panels, and painted sets. Brecken also sewed a ball gown with Yip for the production. 

“I kinda messed around with things since I was a kid,” said Brecken, who plans on pursuing fashion in college. “At times, it feels stressful. When I finally work through the hard part, I literally empty my room and jump up and down.”

Similarly, Yip has been sewing since she was about six and her passion has only grown. She enjoys the sense of satisfaction from finishing a garment and seeing the actors shine in their costumes. 

“[Sewing] made sense to me,” Yip said. “It’s like I can focus on it for a long time, unlike other things.”

All in all, the work is exhausting but rewarding. During the first two weeks of the pre-production, Brecken and Yip could not find the sewing machine or the keys to the supply closet. Nonetheless, they look forward to participating in future productions of The Huron Players.

“Don’t be afraid to stand up, join clubs and help others out,” Brecken said. “You don’t have to feel like you’re invaluable just because you’re a freshman. Roll with it and be kind to everyone.”