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Little Women

Adaptation by Kate Hamill; Directed by Christina Ritter

Little Women was my first mainstage UK production that I was given the opportunity to costume design all on my own, produced in November 2023. Tracy Barber had given me guidance throughout the process, but all the

research, brainstorming, and designs were all from me! I had also recieved a

lot of additional support from Natalie Maynard, Zak Stribling, and Stephen Wrentmore throughout the entire process.

This adaptation of Little Women stays true to the original book, but ends after Beth's death. While that may be upsetting to some as it leaves out many character arcs, I found it to be a very powerful place to stop.

Little Women: Text

I wanted the sisters to all be connected someway through the design. The intention was for it to be by pattern and colors between the girls. Meg and Amy are tied with pinks, Jo and Beth with blues. However, Beth also has greens to tie to Marmee, Meg has creams and browns similar to Jo, Jo and Amy have black and white details, Beth has purples to tie into the pinks and blues of the other sisters as one. All of the sisters are connected with plaid. The only other characters with plaid are Laurie and Hannah, connecting them to the family as well. The connection slips a bit unfortuantely because the original fabric we decided for Amy did not come in, and so her main fabric has no plaid, but we were able to incorporate plaid with her belt.

Little Women: Text

My Designs from Beginning to End

I had fully designed 3 outfits (5 separate projects) for this show. A ballroom bodice for Meg, Jo's dress (bodice and skirt), and Amy's dress (bodice and skirt).

Little Women: List
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Jo's Dress

Little Women: Services

Final Dress

The dress was made of flannel with broadcloth facings. The inside of the bodice was faced with canvas and had some boning to create a better form for the actor.

Jo's Dress was stitched by Sadie Lawrence (bodice) and Carol Steinle (skirt).

Dress Mock Up

The mock up for this dress was extremely helpful in defining final changes.

For me, it was so amazing to see the dress I had drawn on a body, even if it was incomplete. This point in the process always excites me because this is the first glance at seeing the final thought.


Final Rendering

I wanted her dress to tie into the colors of Laurie, while remaining distinct from the rest of her family. Her being in blues and navies was deeply important in dividing her from her sisters and mother, while the plaid still showed she was part of the family no matter what.

We had also come up with an idea to "tie up" the skirt to mimic pants. To ensure it was fast and easy for the actress, we decided to simply place hook and bars on the outside of the skirt and bodice so she could simply hook the skirt onto the bodice and then hide it with a sash tied around the waist.

Dress Sketch

I had found a dress in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I absolutely fell in love with it. I wanted a designed based off it no matter what, but the more I thought about it, the more I absolutely wanted the design of it for this show.

Dramatic Flowers

Amy's Dress

Little Women: Services

Final Dress

The dress was made of raw silk with broadcloth facings. The inside of the bodice was faced with canvas and had some boning to create a better form for the actor.

Amy's Dress was patterned by John Henry Reynolds and stitched by John Henry Reynolds (bodice) and Alayna Johnson (skirt).

Dress Mock Up

The mock up for this dress was extremely helpful in defining final changes and was the main reason we decided against adding the original idea of bows along her sleeves.

Seeing this dress as a mock up was an extremely important part of the process. Seeing something I had come up with from almost complete scratch on a body was an incredible experience.


Final Rendering

While Amy's final rendering is more simple than her original idea, I find that to be better for her character. While I wanted her to be perceived as prissy and an annoying younger sister, she holds herself to a higher standard, and despises being looked upon as a young girl. So, losing the bows was arguably the right decision.

Unfortunately, during the process of the show, the original fabric I had picked out did not come in time. This fabric was all pink silk that was embossed with plaid like stripes to create a more subtle tie into the family's plaid. Due to this issue, we ended up incorporating her plaid of the family into the belt with spare fabric.

Dress Sketch

I wanted Amy's dress to also be more disconnected from the family; however, not in the way Jo's dress was. I wanted Amy in pink's from the beginning, which tied in nicely to Meg and even some of Beth's colors, tying those three together nicely. However, I wanted her fabric to be more plain as compared to the rest of the girls. I wanted the texture of her fabric to highlight how Amy wishes to be older and be looked upon differently by her sisters.

Research for this dress was more difficult. While I knew all these ideas related to the period, the draper had requested I send photos of the pieces that had inspired me, and so finding photos to show what I wanted was the hard part.

Flower Petals

Meg's Ballroom Bodice

Little Women: Services

Final Bodice

The dress was made of shungtung.The inside of the bodice was faced with canvas and had some boning to create a better form for the actor.

Bodice "Work" Up

This was our step between a mock up and the final design, specifically used to figure out how we wanted the collar/lace trim to sit along the neckline.

(we may have accidentally forgotten to take a mock up photo)


Final Rendering

Meg's final rendering truly brought together all the elements I wanted. It tied in the original dress and skirt, while creating a more elegant figure.

Thankfully, we had found scraps of the original fabric used for the skirt, and so we were able to match the pattern perfectly! While we lost the buttoning up the front, and the lace along the collar ended up looking different than the original idea I had, it overall did everything I wanted it to.

Ballroom Bodice Final Sketch

Meg's ballroom bodice was heavily based upon her original dress's bodice. I wanted to mimic the lace collar all the way around as well as the scallops on her sleeves.

I did put my own thoughts into the bodice. The front of this dress was meant to mimic a faux button up idea that I had found on an evening dress from the time in my research that I had a liking to.


Ballroom Bodice Initial Ideas

I had struggled the most with coming up with a final design for Meg's ballroom bodice. I originally wanted the bodice to look very different from her original dress to tie into how the ballroom scene is her first time interacting with Brooks.

The ideas I had related to different research photos I had found: one french, one american, and one wedding inspired. Although, I ended up disliking these three regardless because they were all slightly ahead of the time of the play which was unlike the family.

Production Photos

Little Women: Portfolio

This opportunity was truly like nothing else I've been able to do. I learned so much in being able to design and entire show on my own, from the process, my teachers, and the rest of the team. This show truly set me on the path I am on. Through this show, I not only learned more about what it means to be a costume designer as a profession, but what costume design means to me. This show taught me that I love the path I am on and I only want to learn more and more through more and more shows. I never want to stop learning about this process and coming up with creative answers to problems in the theatrical world. Thank you, Little Women, for letting me love this work.

Little Women: Text
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