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This As-Seen-On-TV Tool Will Transform You Into a Costume-Making Pro

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As one of the world’s most difficult film directors (let’s call him Gary) started screaming “ALISON!!!!” repeatedly across a darkened soundstage, it occurred to me that I might have a medium-to-large sized problem on my hands. Whenever your name is being shouted at top volume in Hollywood, you can assume that good news is not about to be delivered.

Not-so-silently ruing the day I thought it sounded like great fun to pursue a career as a costume designer, I grabbed my wardrobe tool kit and ran towards the set to find our star actor (let’s call him George, and I don’t mean Clooney) standing on a mountain of fake prop trash with the hem completely torn out of his Gucci pants.

Our bored-looking director of photography sat on the ground, pointing his camera at the actor’s feet as Gary ranted at the sight of me: “FREER!!! I’M DOING A CLOSEUP ON GEORGE’S FEET AND HIS PANTS HEM IS RUINED, I NEED IT FIXED IN 60 SECONDS OR LESS!!” (He actually said something far more colorful, but let’s try to keep this little story moving along.)

I briefly considered asking Gary how exactly he expected anyone besides a magician to repair a pants hem in under a minute, but no good could possibly come of that. Instead, I pulled out my Micro Stitch and got to work. In under a minute (and with just a few clicks of the handle), I repaired my actor’s pants hem, the director stopped screaming at me, and the shot (along with my career, likely) was saved.

The Micro Stitch, along with the black and white tags that come with it (and what they look like once punched!
The Micro Stitch, along with the black and white tags that come with it (and what they look like once punched! Photo by James Ransom

The Micro Stitch is a clever little "As-Seen-on-TV" device that has become my go-to secret weapon to solve wardrobe disasters on set instantly. It’s basically a tagging gun that shoots miniature versions of the plastic bits that hold price tags on clothes at the store.

The Micro Stitch is a great stand-in when there’s zero time to break out a needle and thread—or if you just don’t have actual sewing skills in the first place! I’ve got sewing skills for days, but time is money in Hollywood—and most fixes need to happen on the fly while the stage lights are blazing and a crew of 100+ people stands around with nothing to do until you’ve solved the problem. Whipping out a sewing machine in this scenario isn’t an option.

But I use my Micro Stitch for way more than fallen hems: keeping bra straps tacked into place, closing the gap between buttons on a blouse you may be a bit too busty for, whipping up Barbie dresses out of random scraps of fabric to impress my five-year-old niece, securing scarves that want to come untied as I wear them around my neck, and quickly attaching patches to jean jackets. It’s the most brilliant way to anchor your comforters inside the duvet cover at each corner so it doesn’t fall down to one side. You can also use it to tack down your tablecloth edges so they don’t blow off the tables at outdoor event!

Punch between two fingers holding the fabric taut—taking great are not to poke yourself!
Punch between two fingers holding the fabric taut—taking great are not to poke yourself! Photo by James Ransom

Where the Micro Stitch really shines is at Halloween. You can instantly take in a too-big packaged costume (I don’t think those things ever fit anyone properly), turn a thrift-store rag into something else, or embellish an existing garment in your closet to turn it into a costume.

The plastic tags come in either black or white, last through multiple machine washings, and hold steady until you decide to pop or cut the tags off. Unless you are using the Micro Stitch on pure silk, it doesn’t leave telltale holes or marks, so your garment isn’t ruined when you remove the tags. And with a little practice, it’s possible to do an inside stitch that can’t be seen from the outside of your item.

A few things the Micro-Stitch can do for your Halloween costume:

Improve on a classic:

The classic last-minute toga or ghost costume made from a sheet is great in theory—but the truth is that you really need to tack it closed in certain places to keep it from falling off your body.

Before: Big ballooning sheet. After: A tailor-made ghost costume thanks to a dozen quick microstitches. Photos by James Ransom

Instantly alter a too-big costume in a bag:

Not knowing how to sew is no reason to be stuck with a poorly fitting pre-packaged costume. You can easily tack up a hem to keep from tripping or shorten a sleeve without ever busting out a needle and thread.

Turn what you've got in your closet into a costume:

Got a red dress? A bit of felt and some multi-colored pom poms from your child’s craft stash? Congrats—you’ve got yourself a gumball machine Halloween costume. And the best part? You can pop those faux gumballs off the next morning and wear the same dress straight to work if need be.

Hot tip: To get the plastic tag all the way through the two pieces of fabric you’re trying to attach together, be sure to insert the needle of the tool between two of your fingers and hold the fabric taut underneath before pulling the trigger. But beware—the Micro Stitch is crazy sharp, and not for use by children under any circumstances. Happy Halloween, y’all!

Alison Freer is the author of How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer's Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing.

What other As-Seen-On-TV tools do you secretly find brilliant? Tell us in the comments!

Tags: Halloween