Original costumes used for a show are constructed or built in the Costume Shop. The starting point is always the same; the costume design. Costume Designers discuss and describe in detail each costume that is to be built. When you overhear such a discussion, you'll hear words and phrases such as off the shoulder, fullness, hidden closures, drop waist, fitted, hidden pockets, empire line and princess line. These terms help the cutter understand how the competed costume should look and are then able to produce an accurate pattern.
The Art of Manliness presents the steps to shining shoes to a mirror finish. Proper shoe care helps shoes last longer and look better. Performers rely on costumers to keep their show footwear in good condition for the look of the show and for the performers' safety. A slip onstage could result in a sprained ankle that could keep the performer sidelined for several performances.
Dyeing is another tool used in costuming; to completely change the colour or use more as an effect; to age clothing. The colours used dictate the effect. This video explains the basics of how to dye in a bucket, in a pot on top of the stove and how to dye a pair of leather boots. It's important organize your work space and to gather all your supplies and tools first; rubber gloves, washing sink with hot and cold water,dryer or drying rack, measuring cups, spoons, hot plate or stove, dyes and timer. Make sure your fabric or garment is wet before you place into the dye bath.
I'll never forget the first time I returned to the costume shop just as a person, whom I did not know, was holding a large piece of poster paper in one hand and was reaching towards my expensive cutting shears with the other. Yikes! I remember having a horrible feeling in my stomach; danger somehow ....
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.
Sometimes, we need to serge a square neckline. This is tricky work; I know I needed to practise more than just a few times. At one point, the video instructor asks the viewer to make a small cut of 2-3 millimetres or 1/8 of an inch. It's a pretty small snip, but effective. Have a look at the video and give it a try.
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.