Costume Trainee

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What does a costume trainee do?

Costume trainees are at the ready with a needle, a cup of tea, an iron and a notepad. Their tasks vary depending on the scale of the production. They might carry out research for the costume designer or work with a costume assistant to detail requirements, photograph garments and note changes in the continuity book.

They are likely to help with setting up workrooms, ordering supplies and may help with pattern cutting or the ageing and distressing of costumes. They may be given specific responsibility for crowd fittings or packing costumes for overseas shipment to other locations or units.

During the shoot, they make sure the outfits are ready for the actors and help the standbys by making simple alternations. Or they might be asked to collect garments and supplies, clean and iron them or do returns for the designer.

What’s a costume trainee good at?

  • Sewing: measure, cut fabrics, sew by hand and with a sewing machine
  • Costume history: know period costume and contemporary fashion, be able to research using books, museums, the internet
  • Watching film and TV drama: have a passion for the genre and a love of the industry
  • Learning by watching and asking: be able to observe what’s happening and ask questions at the appropriate moments
  • Reliability: get to set on time and do what’s asked
  • Communication: put actors at their ease while in fittings or on set, listen to and explain to crew members

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