Behind the Scenes: Cover Costumes

Today, we get a special glimpse into a part of cover design that you might not have known existed…the costumes!

Most of the time at Bethany House, we rent costumes for use on our covers, but it just so happens that we also know a talented seamstress who takes on an occasional project. She is Beth Schoenherr, mother of Julie Klassen’s editor, Raela Schoenherr, and she created both costumes on the cover of the upcoming novel The Ladies of Ivy Cottage.

Aren’t they beautiful? (They’re even more detailed up close.)

She also agreed to answer a few questions on the blog today about the work involved in the process of making an author’s vision come to life.

What were the general steps you had to go through to sew one of those lovely Regency dresses for the cover, just to give us an idea of the process?

I started the sewing process for the Regency outfits by taking the model’s measurements and making a muslin version of the more fitted parts of the dress to ensure it would be a perfect fit before cutting into the actual dress fabrics. Then cut, sew, and—my favorite part—embellish!

How did you choose the colors and patterns for the dresses?

Julie, her editor, and the cover designer discussed and chose the color options for Rachel’s outfit based on what colors were appropriate for a woman in half mourning to wear at that time in history, as well as what a woman of her station would have worn at the time. Mercy’s outfit color and pattern were also chosen by Julie and her editor and cover designer as a good contrast next to the lavender outfit, as well as something that would be typical for Mercy to wear. For embellishment on Mercy’s outfit, I used antique trim for the collar, sleeves, and back.

I brought samples of fabric choices within the chosen color palettes to show the cover designer and editor to decide what would look best in the final cover design. They chose the lavender, pin-tucked taffeta because its texture would add some dimension to the coat that would show up well in photos. I found several sewing pattern options we could work from, and based on some costume inspiration photos from Julie, we decided on the pattern for the long coat.

You can find the pattern used here if you ever want to make your own Regency gown!

Since the approved cover direction meant the women would be seen from the back, we wanted to be sure the backs of both outfits (hats included) would also have some attractive elements.

Is there a particular era of fashion that you find the most fun?

Oh dear! I truly can’t pick a favorite era of fashion. I love seeing all the different shapes and styles throughout history. There’s always some beautiful or interesting or crazy element in every era of fashion.

For more from Beth, check out Tamera Alexander’s interview with her about the beautiful Southern belle dress she created for A Beauty So Rare.

I hope you had fun learning about one of many behind-the-scenes elements of your favorite covers! And now, a question for you, readers: if you were dressing up for a costume party, which literary character would you choose to portray?

11 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes: Cover Costumes

  1. Never thought of this aspect of the covers, how neat to have one sewn, I love the empire waist of these type fashions…even the modern ones are nice. You do so much more to a cover then I ever thought. I will pay more attention now that I know a bit more. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. I honestly don’t know who I’d dress up as. There are so many historical characters from books I love! Probably one from Tamara Alexander. I have a question for you! What do you do with the dresses after they’ve been used for the cover?

    • Great question, Mimi! Since we just rent most of them, those we return. But some of the ones we purchased or had made for us, like these dresses, are kept in a Bethany House costume closet here in the building. (Along with some general white shirts, cowboy hats, petticoats, aprons, etc.)

      Amy Green
      BHP Fiction Publicist

  3. So interesting! I am all about color, so choosing color and texture that would photograph well onto a cover would be so much fun. I actually love that pink dress on Tamera’s cover.

  4. I don’t know. I can’t choose a favorite one. I think they have different charm and style. But I do know that I love your post, it’s interesting and useful.

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