A-Level Drama and Theatre Costume Design Glossary

Anything carried or worn on top of the basic costume for decorative purposes, e.g. a purse or shawl
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Basic Block
A pattern which is the starting block for a more detailed pattern based on a particular actor’s measurements, and reflecting specifics like historical period
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Sewing fabric pieces together with long or loose temporary stitches
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Breaking Down
Artistic process of aging or distressing a costume. Paint, glue, dye, ripping and tearing can be used in this process.
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What an actor wears to evoke the appearance of a particular character. Costumes maybe realistic or stylised. They may be “period”—appropriate to the historical setting of the play—or deliberately modern in look, even when the play is set in past era
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Costume Build
The process of constructing the costume
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Costume Fitting
First meeting between the actor and his/her costume. Enables wardrobe staff to ensure a correct fit, and to enable the actor to see if all necessary movement is possible.
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Costume Parade (or Dress Parade)
Costume check on stage
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Costume Plot
A list or chart made by the costume designer showing the characters appearing in each scene, and what they are wearing. This helps track each character’s whereabouts throughout the performance.
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Skilled wardrobe craftsperson who creates the patterns and is responsible for the construction of the female costumes. The cutter’s tools include craft paper, T square and fashion ruler.
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Creating a pattern by draping muslin on a dress form, pinning and tucking to get the desired shape, and transferring that shape to craft paper.
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Crew member who aids with dressing
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Dress Form
The adjustable torso (male and female) used by costume cutters, dressmakers and tailors for creating garments; useful for: creating shapes from which patterns are made (draping), fitting and detailed in-place sewing.
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Dress Rehearsal
Dress full costume/lighting/effects/sound/ action rehearsal
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Dressing Rooms
Rooms containing clothes rails and mirrors (often surrounded with lights) in which actors change into their costumes and apply make-up. Dressing Room doors have a list of the actors contained within. See also GREEN ROOM.
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First Hand
An assistant to a cutter or tailor who may sew the costume together, assist at fittings, supervise the sewing team and do the finishing details on a costume.
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The process of adjusting the costume to the actor’s body.
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Flat Drafting
The use of a basic block and cutter’s tools to draft a pattern on craft paper.
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An enclosed easily transportable costume rail with removable side which enables large shows to manage huge quantities of costumes, wigs etc. easily.
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The way a particular fabric feels when it is touched; it may have a soft hand, or a crisp hand, etc.
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Head of Wardrobe
Person in charge of the wardrobe and responsible for budgeting, supplies, staff allocation.
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A model of the set or costume sketch intended for use by the builder as a guide to construction.
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A full-scale model of a costume, used as a test-run.
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A simply woven cotton fabric used to make the costume mock-up, also called factory cotton or unbleached cotton
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Water based stage make up, applied with sponge
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The costume designer’s first rough drawings which are assessed for feasibility and affordability
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Personal Props
Small props that are usually carried in an actor’s costume, such as money or a pen
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abb. for Properties. Any items used onstage which are not costume or scenery; any moveable object that appears on stage during a performance.
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Quick Change
A change of costume that needs to happen very quickly takes place close to the side of the stage. Costume designers need to know about the need for a quick change so that the costume is made incorporating elements such as velcro and zips.
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Quick Change Room
Area adjacent to the stage containing lighting, a mirror and a costume rail in which actors can make costume changes quickly, sometimes with the aid of a dresser.
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Member of the wardrobe department who operates sewing machines and carries out other sewing tasks.
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A figure whose outline indicates the shape of clothing in a particular historical period.
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Costumes stored from previous productions for recycling and reuse
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A sample of fabric to demonstrate the material to use on a costume or set design, or a sample of lighting gel. A catalogue of all the gel colours made be a particular manufacturer is called a SWATCH BOOK.
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Ruler, with perpendicular crosspiece at one end (it looks like the letter “T”), used for establishing and drawing parallel lines.
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An expert in building clothing for men: historic costumes, military costumes and formal wear. A tailor would create the patterns for jackets, trousers and shirts using the actor’s body measurements.
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Small cutter designed for unpicking a sewn seam. Useful for undoing alterations to a costume following a production.
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The general name for the costume department, its staff and the accommodation they occupy
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Wardrobe Maintenance
Washing and repair of costume
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Wardrobe Plot
Actor-by-actor, scene-by-scene inventory of all the costumes in a production, with a detailed breakdown into every separate item in each costume.
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Working Drawings
Drawings made in addition to designers
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


Basic Block


A pattern which is the starting block for a more detailed pattern based on a particular actor’s measurements, and reflecting specifics like historical period

Card 3




Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Breaking Down


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5




Preview of the front of card 5
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