What Do I Do When I’m Not Writing?

What Do I Do When I’m Not Writing?

I have had people ask if I have a “Real Job,” because writing isn’t a “Real Job,” right? Well, yes it is, but unfortunately, I’m not J.K. Rowling, and at this point in time, it doesn’t pay the bills. So, what do I do? I am what is called a Historical Costumer; I make historically accurate, and historically inspired clothing. There’s a difference, you ask? There is!

Historically inspired clothing is just that; it takes its inspiration from clothing of yesteryear. I might make a dress (which I did) inspired by Elizabeth’s dress in Pirates of the Caribbean, which means it is similar in looks but not exactly true to the time.

Historically accurate clothing, on the other hand, is accurate to the time period. This means that the fabrics used are as close as one can get in this day and age to what was used back then. The sewing techniques used are those used back then; for example, no serged seam bindings, they are all hand whipped or overcast. For medieval clothing, or anything before the 1800s, the sewing must be done by hand only, as there were no sewing machines in Lady Jane Gray’s time!

I currently make costumes for theatre, and have been making historical costumes for about five years. Before that, I started at 12 with my own dance costumes, and when my daughter took ballet, I made her recital costumes, and those for music festivals. I then kind of segued into making costumes for the entire dance school for year end recitals and festivals. When my daughter was in her teens, we both started taking flamenco, and I learned to make flamenco dresses.

Why do I do it? For the same reason I write; I love it. Does it make me rich? No, but it’s rewarding, and does bring some money into the household, but thank goodness my husband has a “Real Job!”

Below are two examples; one of a historically inspired costume, and one true to the time, in this case, Edwardian.

Dress inspired by
Pirates of the Caribbean
Edwardian Dress, circa late 1800s


About Susan McCaskill

Susan (or Sue, as she prefers to be called), was born in post war England, and lived there until the age of nine, when she and her mother emigrated to Canada. Her father died when she was nine, and left a huge impression on her. Both her parents encouraged her to read, and learn. She has always believed in fairies and elves, and probably always will, and as a child, she saw things many others didn't, and as a result she was thought to be a little strange.

Sue currently lives on beautiful Vancouver Island with her husband and three demanding cats.

Although she has been in Canada for so many years, she still misses the English and Welsh countryside, and because of this, her novel is based in the ancient, picturesque town of Betws-Y-Coed.

About herself, she says:

"I think I was born a writer, and got more confidence thanks to my grade five teacher, who was wonderful, and fostered my love for writing. I didn't write for almost 40 years, because of raising kids, life happenings, the usual drama. I started again sporadically ten years ago, and finished my first Mid Grade fantasy in 2013. Currently working on book 2.

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