How to Costume Rig a Button Down Garment for Quick Change

This particular Quick Rig is used when a performer needs to quickly change in or out of a button down garment. It can be a shirt, dress, jacket or anything you would normally have to button or unbutton to change clothes. This can also be used for burlesque, stripper and fight tear away scenes.

You will need the following materials:

  • Garment to be rigged
  • Sewing Machine and/or hand sewing needle
  • garment matching thread
  • large snaps (dime to quarter wopper popper size) OR SEW ON Velcro cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces, do not attempt to use the stick on Velcro, it won’t hold and if you try to sew over it, you will gunk up your machine!!

Here is how you do it using large snaps:

  1. remove the buttons from their normal position (except for the neck) and sew them to the other side of the garment on top of the button holes so they look like they are buttoned. When hand sewing I double the thread so that you are sewing with 4 strands. You can do this by hand if you’d like but I like to do it with the sewing machine set on a zig zag stitch the width of the button holes and the stitch length set to zero! Step 1Photo Dec 18, 2 48 35 PMPhoto Dec 18, 2 49 51 PM
  2. Next take the male side of the snap and sew it to the back side of the button hole (on the inside of the shirt and opposite of the button you just sewed on. NOTE: If you are using sew on Velcro instead of snaps, cut about 1 1/2 inch long piece and machine sew the FEMALE side onto the same place. If the button gets in your way you can sew the Velcro on first then hand stitch the buttons on second.
  3. Take the female side of the snap and sew it to the place where the original button was located, make sure the “belly button” side is up!!  If you are using Velcro put the MALE Velcro centered over where the original button was facing up so it adheres to the other velcro facing down.
  4. Repeat this process with every button, securing them as you go along to make sure everything matches up and you put things in the correct place.
  5. You can do the same with the shirt cuffs

It should all end up looking like this:

Photo Dec 18, 4 54 09 PM

For more costume rigging tips please stay tuned and follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instructables, Etsy, Tumblr, Pintrest, Instagram, Twitter, Deviant Art and MORE!

Gina Vincenza Van Epps aka Psycho Seamstress

A List Wardrobe Seamstress, Designer, Costume Fabrication Specialist, Couturier

House of Vincenza, Orlando Fashion District, Central Florida Sewing Group, Psycho Stagewear, Forbidden Bridal, Winfield Murdock Creative Works, Universal Studios and More!!

Bacchanal Carnival, a Rock Operetta in the Works

In January of 2013, I met with the friend of a friend, named Blu Fogarty.

Blu is a very talented performer at Universal Studios, who wanted to show me a Rock Operetta he had written entitled “Bacchanal Carnival”. The show is a very diverse Morality Play about a character called “Everyman”, he actually performed it for me, from beginning to end, playing and singing the parts for each of the characters he had written. It was quite impressive. I felt compelled to become involved.

Blu’s goal is to tour his charity benefit rock operetta and use it to raise money for local charities by partnering with them in communities where it will be shown. (See the C.O.R.E. Incorporated Facebook Page or Website for more information.)
Over the last 2 years Blu formed a 501c3 non profit organization called C.O.R.E. Incorporated, whose primary mission is to put this show on tour.

Last year, I agreed to help by putting together a good, better and best budget for wardrobe.

My Fashion Designer friend David Barnes of Piida Diida agreed to fill in some of the costume blanks with concept drawings.

Stiltwalking Performers
Through another series of meetings Blu decided to replace the touring orchestra with a Circus Style Calliope Machine with a Steam Punk edge.

I introduced Blu to a few more friends, who I thought might be able to help him along his journey including Winfield Murdock, a very talented Costume Designer, Fabrication Specialist and Owner of Winfield Murdock Creative Works in Orlando.

Winfield Murdock Creative Works
This winter Blu had an event coming up and has been wanting his “MC” costume fabricated, so he could wear it to meetings with potential investors to help convey his concept, perform parts of the play and for general marketing purposes.
Miguel Moreta, a London Educated Fashion Graduate, Costume Designer & Fabricator I’ve been working with over the last few months, sat down with Blu a few weeks ago and sketched out all of the details needed to move the project into fabrication.

MC Costume Drawings by Miguel Moreta
Winfield Murdock met with Blu to discuss the final details and began working on construction.

MC Jacket Construction  Leather Pants Panels MC Pants

I worked mostly on the leather pants from beginning to end.

The end result was a Custom Military Style Tails Coat, Hand Made Leather Top Hat and Patchwork Leather Pants.
This costume is one of many amazing costumes pending fabrication for this show.

MC Front MC Back MC Pants Patched Back Seam
If you’d like to donate time, talent, money, goods or services to help Blu bring his concept further into creation, please contact and tell him I sent you.

Blu needs help with production, audio, video, lighting, casting, performers, soundtrack, props, costumes, funding, grants and more!

Core Incorporated Website and Facebook Page:

Winfield Murdock Creative Works Website & Facebook Page

David Barnes of Piida Diida

Gina Vincenza Van Epps aka Psycho Seamstress
A List Wardrobe Seamstress, Designer & Costume Fabrication Specialist

Psycho Seamstress

Psycho Stagewear

House of Vincenza

Orlando Fashion District

Central Florida Sewing Group

Finally!! Some Decent Links On Costume Rigging… Bible coming soon!!

I AM in the process of writing a BIBLE of sorts on the subject of “Costume Rigging” simply because NONE EXIST that I can find! If you know of any please DO TELL! We are a secret society of costume riggers who work in theater, entertainment and performance quick change and we even know some tricks that can be used in fashion when you need to alter a rented, borrowed or vintage garment in a temporary way so it can be restored to its original unaltered state.

What is a rigged costume and what actually goes on backstage during a “quick change”?

Here is one answer…

A Basic Fake Closure for Quick Change Video

Inserting a “Ballet Elastic” to tighten a neckline, waist or other area of a garment that needs to be more fitted…

Costume Rigging Alteration

Costume Rigging Alteration

Here are some images of clergy collars I costume rigged for a short Ken Barr film entitled “Hallowed Ground”, I actually got IMDB Film Credits on this one!! I simply created a stiff white band and stitched it into a black button down shirt I made into a “dickie” by cutting away the arms and bottom front and back of the shirt. I stitched everything together so all the actor had to do was put it on like a bib!

Clergy Collar Costume Rigging

On Miley Cyrus’s Bangers Tour, I costume rigged some gloves that had decorative trim to match her pants… This was done by stitching the gloves to the cuffs, then cutting away the extra fabric. Now instead of putting on the gloves, then the cuffs over them, it could be done in one smooth move and removed quickly.

Costume Rigging for Miley Cyrus

Costume Rigging for Miley Cyrus

On Taylor Swift’s Red Tour, I removed the fashion zippers from purchased dresses and replaced them with wide tooth zippers. I also replaced the existing tiny hook and eye closure with a wopper popper or giant snap. The upper part of the dresses were also replaced with a different bodice.

Red Dress Costume Rigging

Putting in a croth gusset is also a frequent alteration on dancer costumes that need some room to move and jump around without blowing out the crotch seam… note to performers, never go commando unless you want to risk having your junk make a public appearance!!

crotch gusset

Last but not least, Here is one of my own posts on how to Costume Rig Shirt Cuffs into a Jacket to reduce bulk of layered garments I posted on (if you’ve never checked out Instructables, it is an awesome site for the “how to” on all kinds of cool things!!!)


Here are some of the other how to’s on cool costumes you can find on Instructables!

Here is a list of some basic supplies you will need to make costume rigging alterations:

  1. Velcro – DO NOT use the stick on kind if you are planning on sewing over it, it will gunk up your machine!! Use velcro to close shirts and other garments converting them to quick change, then resew the buttons to the surface for show. You can also use it in many other places for super hero quick changes!!
  2. “Wopper Poppers” ie: Giant Quarter size snaps can be used to make quick change a breeze when velcro isn’t practical, sew these on with Silamide thread or use 4 strands for best results.
  3. Elastic – which can be used to take in necklines, waistbands and other areas of a costume that are too loose or need to be temp fitted to one actor without permanently altering the costume. See the link on how to do a “ballet elastic” alteration above.
  4. Wide Tooth Zippers – Don’t ever try to use a fashion zipper on a quick change costume, you will blow it out most immediately!! replace them with wide tooth zippers that color match your costume, try online at for a good variety.
  5. Wardrobe Tape – A MILLION Problems can be fixed and wardrobe malfunctions avoided by using double stick wardrobe tape, you can buy it from wardrobe supply companies, on ebay or even use toupe or wig tape in a pinch. If an actor gets a blow out on stage, keep a good supply of tape, giant safety pins and a needle and thread for emergencies. I keep a pack of it in my purse, it also works great in fashion, to fix that peek-a-boo boob gap in a tight fitting shirt, keep a neckline in place, I even use it to stick fabric swatch to my notebook, when I meet with clients!!
  6. I write about costume rigging all the time here, on my blog or you can email me at for more help, tips and info!

Please feel free to SHARE your Costume Rigging Tips and Tricks! I will be happy to add any links you can find to this blog post!

If you’d like to assist me in bringing The “Costume Rigging Bible” from Concept to Completion, Please Contact ME!!

Here’s the link to my Indiegogo campaign!

Please Support and Share my Indiegogo Crowdfunded Book link for “Costume Rigging Illustrated” with all your wardrobe, theater, costume, touring and cosplay friends!!!


#indiegogo #crowdfunded #costumerigging #quickchange #psychoseamstress