How do I store my partials overnight?

As a costume maker, dealing with partial costumes that need overnight storage is a common issue. Having a proper storage solution is crucial to keeping the pieces intact and protected. In this article, we’ll explore effective methods for overnight storage of costume partials, so you can feel confident your hard work will remain undamaged.

Should I Hang or Fold the Pieces?

When considering overnight storage, an important factor is determining whether to hang or fold the partial pieces. Here are some quick tips:

– Pieces with complex textures or draping are best hung to retain the structure. This includes capes, coats, intricate dresses, etc.

– Smaller accessories and simple garments with minimal draping can be neatly folded. Fold along seam lines to prevent creasing.

– Fragile embellishments like beading or sequins should lay flat, not hung. Choose a box or bin for storage.

– Bulky headpieces, armor, or props are best stored upright in their own containers.

Preparing the Pieces for Storage

Before storing your costume partials, some preparation is required:

– Inspect for stains, damage, or loose embellishments – make any needed repairs.

– Shake out dirt and debris that may have collected during wear.

– Press pieces with an iron on a low setting to remove wrinkles and flatten. Avoid direct heat on delicate fabrics.

– Ensure closures like buttons, snaps, or zippers are fastened so pieces hold their shape.

– For hanging items, use shaped hangers to provide support. Cover with a garment bag.

– Fold garments smoothly along seams and place in acid-free tissue. Store in archival boxes.

– Allow all pieces to fully air dry if sweat or dampness is present before storing.

Choosing Appropriate Storage Locations

Where you store the partial costume pieces is vital for protecting them overnight. Ideal storage locations include:

– Workspace tables or shelving units with proper hanging bars and folding space.

– Costume armoires with sections for hanging and shelves for folding/boxing items.

– Clothing racks with garment bags covering the hung items.

– Acid-free costume boxes stacked tidily on shelves.

– Cabinets or closets away from direct sunlight and dirt.

Avoid overly cramped spaces, locations with moisture or bugs, or areas that get very hot like attics or garages. Controlled studio or workshop environments are best.

Using Protective Storage Materials

Special storage materials help shield delicate costume pieces:

– Unbleached muslin or cotton garment bags provide breathable protection for hung items.

– Acid-free tissue paper or archival tissue wraps folded pieces and buffers surfaces.

– Poly bags work for waterproofing but avoid direct plastic touching beads, sequins or fabrics.

– Costume boxes constructed from acid-free materials have sturdy lids and prevent crushing.

– Foam dress forms or tubular shaped hangers maintain the garment’s structure overnight.

Avoid storage materials like colored tissue, colored cardboard, newspaper or plastic bags that can damage fabrics.

Storing Different Costume Materials

Certain costumes require specialized storage due to their materials:

Leather and Vinyl:

– Avoid direct hanging, fold gently with acid-free tissue separating any coated areas.

– Stuff areas like sleeves with acid-free tissue to hold shape.

– Store in cool, controlled environment away from heat.

Spandex/Stretch Fabrics:

– Fold smoothly along seams, do not bunch material.

– Place folded pieces in acid-free boxes, bags or drawers. Stack evenly.

– Keep away from direct sunlight which can degrade spandex.

Beaded/Sequined Fabrics:

– Do not hang, always store flat and fully supported.

– Pad out embellished areas with tissue or foam if needed to prevent crushing.

– Poly bag outer layer helps protect beads, sequins and fabrics.

Caring for Costume Pieces Before Storage

Prepare delicate pieces using these methods before storage:

– Spot clean stained or soiled areas with a mild, enzyme-based cleaner. Let dry fully.

– For sweat-soaked pieces, detach any padding or lining and laundering if possible. Air dry thoroughly.

– Use fabric spray adhesive on loose embellishments like appliques or rhinestones if needed. Avoid contact with fabrics.

– Check wire frames in hoop skirts or crinolines for kinks, cover in bias tape if exposed.

– Lightly brush dust off fabrics using a soft horsehair upholstery brush.

– Wipe armor, helmet or prop pieces with non-toxic cleaner and polish metal bits.

Storing Costumes Long Term

For costumes stored more than a few months:

– Clean pieces thoroughly before boxing up according to material requirements.

– Wrap each item individually in acid-free, PH balanced tissue paper.

– Place a moisture absorber like silica gel packs in boxes and check/replace them periodically.

– Use sealable poly bags and plastic bins with gasket lids for added waterproofing.

– Attach a label noting storage date, contents and any handling instructions.

– Store boxed costumes flat on shelves in a temperature and humidity controlled environment.

– Expect to unpack, inspect and refold the contents once yearly even if not used.

Avoiding Damage during Storage

Protect your hard work by preventing these storage issues:

– Costume pieces crammed tightly on a rack or into a small box. This can cause tearing, misshaping and crushed embellishments.

– Direct plastic touching delicate fabrics and sequins which can react with the chemicals. Always use a tissue layer first.

– Bright lighting, sun exposure, heat or moisture that degrades fabrics, fades colors and corrodes metals.

– Failure to clean pieces thoroughly first leading to stains, yellowing or pest damage over time.

– Not checking regularly for pest infestations like carpet beetles or silverfish that can destroy costumes.

– Neglecting to support all areas of a garment with tissue or fillers causing creasing or loss of shape.

Tips for Organizing Costume Storage

Keep your storage space neat and organized:

– Categorize like items together – dresses, shirts, pants, coats, hats, etc. Store women’s and men’s pieces separately.

– Group similar textiles in each section – satins together, wools together, etc.

– Box accessories like belts, jewelry, gloves and bags by type in clearly labeled acid-free boxes.

– Keep a detailed inventory list noting exactly where each costume piece is located.

– Return all items smoothly to their designated spots after use so nothing gets misplaced.

– Hang layered or matched sets like jackets and pants together. Use tagging to indicate pairs.

– Maintain adequate space between racks and shelves for accessing items without maneuvering others.

Protecting Costumes for Traveling Shows

Transporting costumes requires extra stability:

– Use stacked bins and boxes with secure lids and handles for easy loading and carrying.

– Place individual costumes in garment bags with extra tissue padding added.

– Pack an extra supply of acid-free tissue, plastic bags and moisture absorbers.

– Wrap breakable elements like crowns and armor separately with plenty of cushioning.

– Pad the bottom of costumes bins with foam or bubble wrap to prevent crushing.

– Secure wig heads, helmets and props in place with stretch wrap to prevent shifting.

– Label all costume containers clearly so they can be located quickly. Use bold markers.

– Load bins evenly distributed in the truck or van to prevent toppling and sudden impacts.

Storing Costumes at Outdoor Events

Outdoor venues like fairs or summer theater require weatherproof storage:

– Bring portable garment racks and pop up changing tents to get pieces up off the ground.

– Pack plastic stackable bins rather than cardboard boxes. Look for waterproof gasket seals.

– Hang garment bags over all costumes and zip fully closed when not being worn.

– Weigh down racks and tables securely in case of unexpected gusts of wind.

– Position costume storage in shaded areas away from direct sun and heat.

– Keep pieces not being used under plastic tarps or in vehicles if it rains.

– Transport costumes in waterproof tote bags and change footwear if going through grass or dirt.

Prepping Costumes for Re-Storage after Use

Once worn, costumes need proper re-storage:

– Inspect pieces thoroughly and make any needed repairs immediately.

– Dry clean full costumes according to fabric requirements. Spot clean between deep cleanings.

– For hand washable pieces, clean gently in cool water using mild detergent. Reshape while damp and lay flat to dry.

– Use an anti-microbial spray made for fabrics to disinfect if multiple people share costumes.

– Remove all loose bits like petals, leaves or dirt that got caught during use.

– Fill out any areas misshapen by wearing with additional acid-free tissue before boxing up.

– Note any new stains, damage or peculiarities that occurred and may require special attention next use.

– Check all closures to ensure they are hooked, snapped and zipped so garments hold their shape.

– Return costumes to their assigned storage place promptly. Update your inventory list if needed.


Protecting the integrity of costume pieces overnight and during transport requires diligence and care. Follow proper storage methods based on each item’s materials and intricacy. Allow adequate space for the fabrics to rest naturally without bunching or folding. Use appropriate archival tissue, boxes and bags specified for costume preservation. With some forethought and organization, you can keep all your hard work pristine and ready for the next spell in the spotlight. Your costumes represent your creativity – so handle them with care!

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