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Every outfit used in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s theater productions comes through Caitlin Entwistle’s costume shop.

Literally hundreds of outfits flow through the room in the basement of the Communications Building on campus. Some are bought and altered, while others are original creations. No matter where the outfit comes from, Entwistle and her staff put their own personal touches on it.

Equipped with an array of sewing equipment and a master’s degree in costume design from Illinois State University, Entwistle works year-round to prepare and execute a variety of stage shows, including the McLeod Summer Playhouse series in the summer. Each performance requires months of planning and often several changes to perfect the costumes.

But Entwistle has learned to work within tight deadlines when it comes to actually creating the final fashion.

“However long we have for the build is how long it ends up taking,” she said. “If we have two weeks, it takes two weeks; if we have six, it takes six. But they’re always done before opening night.”

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But her job doesn’t end once the show ends. After a performance wraps, Entwistle adds any new outfits to the theater department’s already massive collection. Costumes are sorted and stashed away on rows of hanging racks and in dozens of totes, sorted by period, color, size and style.

“We spend a lot of time organizing things,” Entwistle said.

— Adam Testa

photography by Paul Newton

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