The Costuming Process
© National Arts Centre
Fittings are dynamic and interactive events with animated discussions occurring between the designer, cutter/tailor, actor and other wardrobe departments such as accessories and boots and shoes.
Stock fittings take less time than “build fittings” and require an actor to try on a range of predetermined options. These fittings are done at the beginning of the production period so that if a problem arises and stock items do not fit, a decision to build can be made before an unexpected disruption occurs to the carefully synchronized production process. To avoid long, complex fittings involving many wardrobe persons, wig and millinery fittings occur separately.
When a costume is built, three fittings are normally required before a costume reaches the stage. Based on an extensive list of the actor’s measurements, a mock-up or working model is produced. Usually of muslin, a mock-up ensures that a good fit can be made before cutting into costly fabrics. Actor input is very important. If an actor’s fingers start to turn blue, something is definitely too tight! In the mock-up fitting, design specifications, tuck placement for example, are drawn directly onto the muslin. These markings are then transferred to the paper pattern.
The second fitting is the technical fitting. The costume has now been cut in the show fabric and the fit of the costume is determined. Specifics, such as the fullness of a sleeve, are addressed. Shoes are tried on to ensure the correct fit, and specific undergarments, such as a corset, are worn to give the right silhouette. This is one of the most exciting times as the design has become a reality. Finally, in the third fitting all the elements come together. Show shoes are worn to get the proper hem lengths, accessories are approved, final changes to fit are made and the costume returns to the stitchers to be finished for the technical dress rehearsal.