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Seamstress donates yards and yards of fabric

By Jane VerSteeg

Sue Blom believes in fairy tales. As costume designer/seamstress for Dordt College, she’s lived her fantasy, creating fabulous costumes for fairy tale characters in the fall Dordt theater production “Into the Woods,” presented at the Te Paske Theatre over Parents’ Weekend and the last weekend of October.

“It’s been a ball,” says Blom, who has created a princess production on a pauper’s budget thanks to a donation made recently by a local seamstress.

The Dordt theater production, “Into the Woods,” featured about fifty fairy tale costumes created with fabric donated by Arta Zevenbergen (seated), Sioux Center, who recently retired as a bridal wear seamstress. Standing is Sue Blom, who is manager and seamstress for Dordt College’s theater department.

The Dordt theater production, “Into the Woods,” featured about fifty fairy tale costumes created with fabric donated by Arta Zevenbergen (seated), Sioux Center, who recently retired as a bridal wear seamstress. Standing is Sue Blom, who is manager and seamstress for Dordt College’s theater department.

Arta Zevenbergen made it all happen. After thirty plus years as a bridal wear seamstress in Sioux Center, Zevenbergen decided to retire last year. Her basement was filled with fabric and remnants from the nearly 2500 wedding and prom gowns she had sewn over the years. To solve her problem she donated it all to Dordt College’s costume shop. Packing up the silk, satin, taffeta, and trim, Zevenbergen donated about three carloads of fabric and notions to the costume shop. The gift consisted of nearly 1500 yards of fabric, 195 patterns, lace and trim, shelving and a bonus forty-seven pairs of shoes.

“It’s just fabulous!” raved Sue Blom, who said the whole look of this fall’s production was based on the donated fabric. “The silk and satin in rich colors of purple and blue and green were perfect for costuming the fairy tale characters in this production,” says Blom, who along with nine workstudy students were kept busy sewing about fifty extravagant costumes for the production.

“Thanks to the donated materials, we were able to do more with shoes, wigs, make-up, and props,” remarked Blom, who also had to figure out how to sew a giant beanstalk that grows.

“Wow, it kills me!” said Zevenbergen on seeing the ostentatious royal stage costumes created out of sixty yards of leftover choir robe fabric from Unity Christian High School. “It’s very interesting, totally different work than what I used to do.” Blom commented that as a theater seamstress, she tries to create visual cues for each character with their costumes. She began sketching costumes during the summer, then altered patterns as needed, constructing the costume specifically to fit the Dordt student cast for the part.

After the fall production, the new garments were added to Dordt’s costume shop, where more than three decades of costumes already are available for use in regional theater productions. Blom said that last year nine high schools and eleven churches, as well as many individuals, borrowed costumes from the Dordt theater department.

The musical Into the Woods is based on Grimm’s fairy tales. Its favorite fairy tale characters are granted their wishes, but then discover the consequences are not always “happily ever after.”