Kathy Graziano Pilson was born in a small town in New York state and started sewing in junior high. She joined the Merchant Marines and traveled for three years before settling in Charleston, SC where she met her husband. She began having children and started sewing again, for her own business, My Seamstress, sewing everything from diapers and clothes to curtains for well known hotels. A few years later she became a Girl Scout Leader as her youngest needed things for her troop.
Kathy recalls how she became a movie costume designer. “I will always remember the day I met a very special lady, Chris Weatherhead. I was in the fabric store looking at material. I noticed a woman walking around looking at a pattern and scanning the store looking rather lost. I had been around the store and had just done the same thing so I approached her with a smile and said, ‘May I help?’ She glanced at me in her friendly manner and said, “Why yes, I am looking for material for this,” as she pointed to a costume pattern. It looked like a Daniel Boone shirt. “Are you making a Daniel Boone Shirt?” I asked. “Why no," she said. "But I'm shooting a movie and I was hoping I could find someone who would make this. It’s a Backcountry American Revolutionary War shirt pattern sent from across the state by a historian, and I can’t sew. I don't know what to do,” said Chris. “My insides giggled. I love making costumes. That was one of my dreams. I wanted to ask her all kinds of questions, but I didn’t want to scare her off with my excitement. I thought maybe she could hear my heart pounding with glee. I found out later Chris was also scared to ask me for what she really needed.
I settled down a bit, got composed and said, “It looks like an easy pattern and I do a good bit of sewing. I could make that.” No sooner had I said it we were choosing what kind of material would “fool” the camera, then who, what, where and how soon. Talk about a whirlwind! I had been making period costumes for a lady who sold them on the internet, and this looked like something I could handle. Little did I know then that Chris needed many, many costumes! After I had made the first shirt she cautiously asked if I could make a ‘frock coat’. I had never heard of one! But felt brave enough to say, “If you have a pattern I’m sure I could make one and if you let me see one looks like I can make it even better.” SEVEN frock coats and SIX waistcoat’s later, I officially became the costume designer and seamstress for most of the backcountry patriots and tories in ALL FOR LIBERTY. Recently attending the premiere in Charleston I was thrilled because I got to see what all my hard work looked like on the actors and on big screen. I was in awe and tickled inside to think that all the time I spent sewing, measuring and putting on buttons helped create these great characters in this great movie! Chris and I are friends now and stay connected. Whether I work on a play or movie costume or playing a ‘background' lady in the Felder family picnic scene in the movie I've had great fun. I will always remember that first day in the fabric shop as well as all the excitement in between.”
Chris Weatherhead shares her Gold Remi Award for Art Direction from WorldFest Houston Film Fest with Kathy along with a number of other staff folks. Ms. Pilson is now ready to create more costumes for other projects. Anyone interested please reach her at 843.696.3911. Many authentic American Revolutionary War patterns were bought from 96 District Storehouse (864) 366-9600 http://www.96storehouse.com/. Other clothes were provided by Boars Head Traders, living history sutlers.