Creating a theater costume can be quite the task for an advanced sewer, let alone a beginner who is just starting to learn the tools and tricks of the trade; however, with a little research and practice, even beginners can create accurate and impressive theatrical costumes. Before beginning to create a theater costume, thorough research should be conducted to understand requirements of the project. Once the clothing of the time period or clothing of the character being portrayed through the costume is studied, it is much easier to understand what it will take to create a similar look. Understanding what needs to be done ahead of time is especially helpful for beginners, so that they are able prepare for the specific techniques that they will need to learn. It is ideal for all beginners to first start with a basic understanding of sewing before moving on to more complicated matters such as patterns and advanced techniques. Gaining a solid basic knowledge enables sewers to have a great foundation to build upon in the future as their skill level improves through practice.
Basics of Sewing
To begin any project that involves sewing, be it designing a theater costume or simple clothing repair, there is basic information that all sewers should learn as a first step towards mastering the craft. Learning the specific terms used by those that sew, professionally or just for fun, is a great place to begin and will simplify the time it takes to understand what a project will require. Beginners will most likely not be able to understand what each and every specific term means; however, understanding the most basic sewing terms will also make it much easier to gather the supplies that are needed for a project ahead of time. Often times those beginning to sew will start out with sewing by hand with a needle and thread versus using machines. This is a great way to begin as it allows beginners to get a feel for the techniques involved. When sewing by hand, it is a necessity to first learn to properly thread a needle. Although it may sound simple, it can be complicated and tricky for beginners. With practice, beginners will learn this skill quickly. After this step is mastered, supplies can be gathered and simple stitches can be practiced on a fabric that is easy to work with, such as cotton. As sewers begin to understand and properly create basic hand stitches, they can then move on to basic projects using patterns and slowly progress to more advanced stitching by hand or through the use of a sewing machine.
Techniques used for sewing are numerous. Some sewers prefer hand-sewing, while others prefer to use sewing machines. The choice is dependent upon the sewer’s personal preference, the amount of time they have to create the project, and how much sewing will be required. For simple projects, often times hand sewing with any variety of hand stitching techniques is usually ideal. Sewers may use sewing machines when they wish to create a large project or a lot of small projects in a short amount of time, as it is generally much quicker to use a machine. Special projects, such as era specific theater costumes may also be sewn by hand to reflect accurate sewing techniques of time that is being portrayed.
When sewing a theater costume, or other clothing items, it is vital to use or create a pattern. A pattern is essentially an outline of shapes required for a project that are used to ensure that fabric is properly cut to appropriate shapes and sizes before sewing. Beginners generally start with premade patterns that are available for purchase in many craft stores or free patterns that can be found online through various sources. As a sewer’s skills advance, they often learn to create their very own designs and patterns. Patterns used for theatrical costumes should reflect the shaping and designs of the time period to be most accurate in appearance.