The Costume Shop may also be known as Wardrobe Central. It is the room where costumers are instructed as to their work; the room that houses fabrics, trims, finished and unfinished costumes and accessories. Costume Design posters from current or past shows line the walls, alongside favored items such as feathers, hats and masks. In short, the costume shop is a fabulous place to work or visit.
Directors and performers alike, drop by when they have a free momet to check on the progress of costumes and finery; you never know who'll show up looking for something ....
Costume Shop Managers
I have worked with many Costume Shop Managers over the years and, believe me, they can be your best friend; or worst enemy. What is important to remember is this; the costume shop manager has a huge responsibility, they open the shop each morning and lock it up each night. The managers' scope is pretty much everything within the shop walls; from large to small. Lets see ...
How many sewing machines and sergers in this shop need servicing, thread, extra bobbins, snips and accessories? Amongst a host of other duties, the shop manager costs out the show and determines the number of cutters, stitchers and finishers required to accomplish the show. Remember, they keep a current list of costumers and will call you when they need your expertise.
Sewing machines, irons, steamers, tables, chairs and lights must all be in good working order for the work to begin. The Costume Shop manager also keeps a record of regular machine and tool maintenance and purchases to ensure a good start to the work. No one expects costume magic when the machines won't sew and the scissors won't cut.
Show costs include all the trim, elastic, hooks and eyes, snaps, serger threads, feathers, buttons and bows, and pins.
Dress forms aren't really our peeps; except for the Judies and Johnies we all talk to at night ....
The Costume Shop Manager needs to manage people; the costume designer and the crew of costumers hired to work on the show. Costume Designers need to shop for fabric, trims, clothes, shoes, foundation wear, shoes, accessories and all kinds of show related stuff. They just cannot be in the shop all day, so the shop manager assists the cutter to provides construction notes to the stitchers and finishers, when needed.
However, when the designer swoops in with armloads of wonderful buys and shares the glitzy show-and-tell with the other costumers, the shop may decide to have coffee break. The designer is present for fittings with performers but may need to head out to scour the town for that size 15 pair of mens shoes or dark blue monacle. Again, the shop manager steps forward to assist the sewing staff; feeding them a new project as one becomes finished and hung on the Finished rack.
After the show the Costume Shop Manager may supervise the show wrap of costumes and accessories, that they are carefully and properly stored. The shop is cleaned up; pins and notions all put away. Some managers keep an eye on supplies inventory throughout the season and are able to adequately keep stocked with fabrics and notions along the way. Other managers may request an inventory count of supplies and notions at the end of a show in order that they may replenish their stock before the next production begins. Costume Shop Managers are able to help wandering designers and costumers find that "... little green hat, come on, you know the one .... remember?...." on a moments notice. They are truly worth their weight in gold; or whatever you value most.
The job can be incredibly stressful at times; schedules, staffing and bugetary issues can make a shop managers' life miserable. If you are a costumer on staff, try to be kind to your manager; the job can be paralyzng. Have little fear, costume shop managers are usually pulled from amongst the very experienced. It may be you perfect opportunity to learn a new skill, or just simply watch a talented Costume Shop Manager, and observe grace under pressure.