Susie never planned to be working with embroidered lace, pheasant feathers, sequins, and rhinestones. In the late-1970’s, she was a bit burned out, working in the management of retail stores and training store managers. She got a temporary job sewing for the Dallas Theatre Center in their costume shop in 1978. The temporary job turned into a permanent job. The permanent job turned into specialized, technical training in costume drafting, draping, and engineering. At that time, the Dallas Theatre Center was associated with Trinity University of San Antonio and housed the postgraduate training for Trinity’s MFA program. Susie was working in the costume shop while master’s classes were being taught. She took the costume drafting/draping classes and did the assignments. Her attention to detail and understanding of construction techniques were a natural fit with the skills necessary to pattern, cut, and fabricate costumes. The staff designers and guest designers were encouraging and inspiring to work with.
After four years at the Dallas Theatre Center, Susie went on to manage the costume shop and design costumes for Theatre Three. From there, Susie freelanced at various costume shops in Dallas, including the Dallas Ballet, Shakespeare Festival of Dallas, Customworks, and Irene Corey Design Associates, until she opened her own studio in 1994. Some of Susie’s projects include: creating costumes, headpieces and hand props for the Texas Rose Festival; 44-inch circumference hats of foam, felt and wire for Barney, the big purple dinosaur; coats and other specialty costumes for Barney, Baby Bop and BJ on the children’s videos and live shows; spandex tights and sequin jackets for about a dozen NWA, NWO, WWF and WCW wrestlers such as Sting, Dustin Rhodes, Scott Steiner and Jeff Farmer; dance competition costumes for US Open Swing Dance Teams (which won first place nationally two times); presentation ball gowns for the Waco Cotton Palace Pageant; specialty props for television commercials; and hand puppets for live children’s theater.
From 1986 – 2019, Susie was honored to work with Mr. Winn Morton, an art director and costume designer who designed the sets and costumes for the Texas Rose Festival in Tyler, Texas. Mr. Morton retired in 2019, at the age of 91. Mr. Jacob Climer, of New York City, stepped up to the design position, bringing his expertise and creativity to Tyler. Starting in mid-March every year since 1986, Susie begins the process of fabricating about 10 – 15 costumes and dozens of headpieces for this annual event held in the middle of October. Susie receives the hand-painted renderings of the elaborate, fantastical costumes, and works with the designer to draft, cut, fit, engineer, and embellish the creations, which might represent something as exotic as a “Lotus Flower,” “Tsunami,” or “Mt. Fuji.”
Since 2016, Susie has been taking classes in tambour embroidery, a method of embellishing fabric with thread, beads, sequins, and rhinestones which goes back to the 19th century in Paris.
When Susie isn’t making headpieces or costumes, you may find her designing jewelry, crocheting chemo caps for Crochet for Cancer, doing international folk dancing, or trying to learn to play the accordion.