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An Actor usually can’t wear their own clothes while shooting a television show or movie. Instead, they wear costumes that help transform them into the characters the Writer has created. A Stitcher sews costumes together when they can’t be purchased from stores.
The Costume Designer develops patterns for the costumes, and talks to you — the Stitcher — about how the costumes should look and feel. A Cutter cuts out the fabric, and you then sew the costumes together. When the basic costumes are complete, you add details such as buttons, lace, embroidery, or other embellishments.
Very complicated costumes often appear in period films. It’s difficult to find authentic antique clothing in thrift stores, but modern techniques in sewing can quickly be spotted by clever viewers armed with remote controls and freeze-frame capabilities.
To prepare for these complicated costumes, you create a mockup of the costume in muslin so it can be fitted to the Actor’s form and the Cutter can create an accurate outline for your work. Then, you sew the costume together using tiny stitches on the inside and authentic stitches on the outside to simulate handcraftsmanship. These costumes can take days to complete.
Climbing into and out of costumes can take a significant amount of time, and some Directors want the costume changes to happen quickly so shooting can stay on schedule. You tuck hidden zippers and snaps into your costumes on these projects so the Actors can quickly step out of one costume and into another.
When you’re working as a Stitcher on a project, you may have tight deadlines and little time to rest. Eating at your machine is frowned upon, as you may splatter your costume with coffee and crumbs. You remember to take your breaks to eat, stretch, and sleep.