It’s time to cut the red velvet into suit coats and pants, re-fur jackets and hats, and sew gold buttons onto vests. The Christmas season has already begun in a seemingly quiet building west of Denver as professional costumer Linda Wilson sits at her sewing machine, painstakingly crafting 90 new Santa Claus suits to add to the 350 already sewn and hanging ready for this holiday.
An employee of The Noerr Programs Corporation, Wilson will also sew 136 new designer vests and 200 new long-sleeved shirts this year to add to the collection. Each of the Santa Claus suits — complete with fur boot cuffs, gloves, hats and glasses — will be used to outfit 228 Santas employed by Noerr Programs this season to appear in malls across the United States and listen to children’s whispered wishes.
“We personally fit suits for every one of our Santas,” said Wilson “We also make sure each Santa has two full suits for the season — which usually begins the day after Halloween and continues until Dec. 24,” said Wilson.
This is the 20th year Noerr Programs has hired naturally bearded Santas for holiday appearances at 165 malls in 37 states and the 10th year Linda Wilson has crafted Santa costumes for Noerr.
According to Judy Noerr, president of the Colorado-based company, Noerr Programs works year-round to provide digital event imaging services to clients.
“At Christmas time, that means that we create magical experiences with Santa Claus and take high-quality photos of children talking to their favorite friend. It is important to us that all the details with Santa are perfect, including their magnificent suits,” said Judy Noerr.
Wilson, who has spent her life with a needle and thread, found Noerr Programs through a recommendation by a Santa in California. After arriving at the company, she employed her pattern-making and theatrical “cutting and draping skills,” creating signature designer suits for all the Santas. She says she uses the most comfortable and breathable cotton fabrics, aware that Santas spend long days in character.
Wilson’s job includes keeping the inventory of Santa suits — hung on clothing conveyors 40 feet long and two stories high — in good condition. She replaces approximately 20 percent of the inventory every year.
Prior to coming to Noerr, Wilson worked for two decades as a costumer for Opera Colorado during the January through May season and for the Colorado Springs Opera Festival in the summers. Her grandmother first taught her to sew on a treadle sewing machine when she was six, and her first large project was sewing a pair of pink flowered pajamas a year later. As a young adult she was trained in French Couture flat pattern making and studied draping with Charles Kleibacker, a well-known designer of classical bias cut fashion in New York.
Although she took home economics when she was in high school in a small farming community in Wisconsin, she said she wanted to take shop instead, but the class was offered only to boys. Today, in addition to spinning, weaving and creating textile crafts from the homespun yarn, Wilson is her own handyman, having just remodeled her kitchen and hanging new cabinets.
The Noerr Programs, founded in 1981, is headquartered in Arvada, Colo., and has 18 employees at corporate headquarters. Noerr Programs provides Digital Event Imaging services, productions and promotions for clients nationwide and can be found at www.NoerrPrograms.com.