Tech Theatre Unit: Costuming When You Don't Sew

Created by Drama Teacher Academy

In this unit, students will take on the role of the costumer, which is different from a costume designer. It introduces costuming concepts in order to execute a costume. No complicated sewing is required, which is great if you don’t have the background, the access, or the resources to have a class of students create costumes.

Instead of making costumes from scratch, as a designer would, students will create costumes from stock, borrowed items, or low-cost finds. They will take finished products and adapt them into what they need to create the right atmosphere.

In order to help with their adaptations, students will try different distressing techniques and learn three SIMPLE stitches that they’ll be able to use over and over again. It’s a valuable tech theatre skill to teach students how to execute on costumes when you (and they) don’t sew!

The overview lays out the objectives and structure for the unit, include lesson pacing, materials required, and assessment strategy.
1-3: Part 1: Introduction to a Theatrical Role: Costumer
A costume designer and a costumer are two different things. A costume designer creates pieces from the drawing board to the stage while a costumer pulls from already existing pieces to create fully realized characters. This means the approach is different. With costuming, there is no such thing as a perfect costume. But there are costumes that create the right atmosphere. In these lessons, students will be introduced to the role of the costumer.
4: Part 2: Lesson 1: Analyzing Your Show
In this lesson, students start the costuming process for a specific play through analysis. Then they will be assigned (or choose) the character they will design for, as well as a specific costume. They will be given time to answer some analysis questions for this specific character and costume. Students complete these analysis questions in advance of the next lesson.
5: Part 2: Lesson 2: Inspiration Collage
Students will take what they’ve learned so far to create a digital Inspiration Collage as a way to help them visualize the costume they will create.
6: Part 2: Lesson 3: Measuring, and the Three Stitches
Students will learn how to set up the costume racks to prepare for costuming a show. Students will then learn how to take proper measurements by measuring each other. They will fill out a standard costume measurement form. Then, after instruction on how to do the three stitches that can help them to complete alterations, they will practice these stitches by creating a pincushion.
7: Part 2: Lesson 4: Costume Workshop
In this lesson, students will learn some distressing techniques and complete a distressing activity. After this activity, students will start pulling items for their costume designs as indicated by their Inspiration Collages. Students will then prep for a design presentation and costume parade after a work period in the next class.
8: Part 2: Lesson 5: Design Presentations and Costume Parade
Students will show their Inspiration Collages, their costumes, and their slide decks. They will explain why they made their choices and how it reflects their understanding of the character and the play. Students will do as much as possible to realize their costumes, given the resources available and the time they’ve had to work on the project, and describe what they would do to complete their costumes.

Standards Addressed

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