Does anyone else remember finger weaving? I remember trying to work the yarn; some girls really worked it well and made such designs. Anyways, a blast from the past to look at again.
Traditionally, textile fibres come from four major sources; animal (wool, silk), plant (cotton,flax,jute), mineral (glass fibre) and synthetic (nylon, polyester, acrylic). In the 20th century, new artificial fibres were made from petroleum. These new fibres can be mixed with the other fibres to create new fabrics.
The WOW factor for costumes is usually shared between the fabrics, trims and costume design. Shiny fabrics, trimmed with beads or lights dazzle the audience and costumers alike. It is so exciting to be introduced to new fabrics and technology; indeed, costumers are very attentive while the Head of Wardrobe discusses new fabrics, trims and costume effects.
I have put together a list of basic textiles - you are likely familiar with most of them but new fabrics and textures are being invented every day - eventually, they wind up being used in costumes.
Ironing a shirt properly can be very important to the show you work on. For example, can you imagine how different Les Miserables or the elegant scenes in James Bond films would look if all those white dress shirts were hopelessly wrinkled? Yikes. Film and television cameras are able to zoom in for a close up and costumers are loathe to see anything less than a beautiful, crisply ironed collar,yoke, sleeves and body of a costume shirt.
The book The Costumer's Notebook is a 295 page comprehensive handbook for Costumers for stage and film including a full Glossary of stage and film industry terms. Sections include methods and tricks for laundry, dyeing, breakdown, Dresser guidelines and protocols for Stage or Film and various size charts for men and women from shoes to gloves. Other Sections include diagrams showing How to Iron A Shirt, How to Tie a Tie and How to Tie a Bow Tie. Costume fittings, costume lay out and costume storage are also discussed.