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How Do I Become a Costumer?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2016
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To become a costumer, seamstresses should purchase a good quality sewing machine, practice sewing clothes at home, and accept volunteer costume design work to build their experience and portfolio. An individual with a love of sewing can begin clothing and costume design at any time in her life by purchasing patterns and making new outfits for herself and members of the family. Her work will improve with the purchase of a machine designed for the specific purpose of sewing clothes with a built in serger. Unpaid, volunteer costume design jobs can be found frequently in community theater where students new to the design field can create a resume and photograph their work to show to future hiring agencies.

A costumer creates unique costume designs for artistic and theatrical productions. This type of position is needed for on-stage plays, musicals, television shows, and movie productions. These designers may work solo for small projects, or as part of a team for large casts.

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Individuals with a passion and aptitude for sewing may wish to become a costumer. The most essential qualification for a costume designer is the ability to sew clothing. Clothing and costume design are similar in that they require an understanding of the human body and how best to drape fabric in a way that accentuates a person's natural curves and body shape. Patterns may be purchased online and at local fabric stores, and are an excellent way for novice seamstresses to learn the fundamentals of creating clothing. They may find it beneficial to practice sewing clothes for both men and women of a variety of ages to broaden their experience and talents.

The next requirement for seamstresses hoping to become a costumer is to purchase a good sewing machine. While many production studios may provide machines to their employees, some do not and ask that candidates use their own and work from home. A good machine for costume design will be built specifically for the purpose of sewing clothes and may range in price from several hundred US Dollars to several thousand. This type of machine should switch between needles quickly and easily, as costumes are often made from a wide variety of fabrics and material weights, and will provide a wide and open space around the throat to allow for the easy passage of bulkier pieces beneath the needle. It should also feature a serger setting so that raw material edges may be finished quickly without requiring the designer to move between two separate machines.

Once a seamstress is comfortable sewing clothes and has her own machine, she may begin looking for costume designer positions. Entry level jobs to become a costumer may be unpaid, and can often be fitted around a work schedule for a full time job in an unrelated experience. This type of work is often available for community theater projects and student films and will provide new designers with essential experience. Costumers may benefit from photographing every piece they create for any type of production, whether it was sewn from a pattern or designed by themselves, and developing a portfolio they can present to potential employers. Assistant costumer positions for television and low budget films often require one to two years of experience in the design field, and can be pursued after completing some entry level work and creating a small portfolio.

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