Costume Shop Policies

The Costume Shop staff welcomes you to the Costume Shop at Swarthmore College.

The Costume Shop operates to assist students and faculty with costume related issues during the academic year as well as to provide a learning space for costume design classes. The Shop also provides costume production assistance for most campus performances and arts events in addition to maintaining a variety of stock costume items available for check out to extracurricular groups and for class projects. 

In an effort to make your Shop experience more efficient and pleasant for everyone involved, please take note of our posted Guidelines, which are also available from the Shop Manager. If you have any questions regarding Costume Shop policies or general queries about the Shop, please contact Tara Webb, the Costume Shop Manager, by telephone at 610-957-6212 (x6212 from a campus phone) or by email at costumeshop@swarthmore.edu.

Location and Schedule

The Costume Shop is located in Room #16 in the basement hallway on ground floor of LPAC. Generally, the Shop is open Monday through Friday during regular business hours, unless otherwise noted. Hours of operation are posted at the start of each semester, but due to volume of activity in the shop please email costumeshop@swarthmore.edu for an appointment. 

Unsupervised access to the shop is reserved with permission from the Shop Manager for advanced design students, faculty, and shop staff only. Please do not borrow anything without permission.

General Scheduling

We encourage students and faculty responsible for costumes to contact the Costume Shop well ahead of time for assistance with designing and collecting costumes for projects or to resolve individual design issues. In order to support design needs, problem solve costume issues and schedule the labor needed for larger productions, the Costume Shop Manager must be included in production meetings or rehearsals as early as possible in the performance process.

If the idea for design includes constructing costumes from scratch or generating an original design rather than just using stock or bought items, the designer or choreographer must provide detailed images, sketches or research material and fabric swatches or color ideas where applicable. Having an idea in mind before you walk into the shop helps facilitate the process of communication and selection about the costume needs.

Student designers are encouraged to use the Shop and its staff as a resource, but should plan on scheduling meetings with the Shop Manager frequently as there are often multiple projects that need attention. Personal meetings with the Costume Shop Manager must be scheduled in advance!!

Example of an ideal schedule for a costume build: 

  • 12 weeks before tech/shows - Develop general ideas for costumes with production team, gather costume ideas and images
  • 8 weeks before - meet with production team to develop a plan and schedule time with the shop manager to get measurements/sizes from your performers, pull rehearsal costumes and schedule fittings
  • 4 weeks before - finalize costume ideas/sketches/images and begin to build costumes, pull costumes from stock, locate problems and determine what needs to be borrowed/rented
  • 3 - 2 weeks before - schedule fittings and work on alterations
  • 1 week before - make final alterations and finish up details
  • Dress/tech - all costumes complete, minor alterations only

General Rules

During operating hours, students and faculty designers are welcome to peruse our stock, check out available items for projects and productions, and/or discuss their desired design concepts as well as use designated shop equipment. 

All individuals using the shop, supervised or otherwise, must observe the General Rules of the Shop as follows:

  • CHECKOUT must occur if you are taking the costumes out of the costume shop. ONLY shop staff can check out costumes and related accessories.
  • COSTUMES YOU HAVE USED FOR A SHOW OR PROJECT MUST BE CLEANED BEFORE RETURNING TO STOCK. You are responsible for cleaning any costumes you check out. You will be fined drycleaning fees in addition to a flat fee of $25 for costumes that you use and return to the shop unclean. Discuss laundry and drycleaning questions with the Shop Manager
  • NOTIFY THE SHOP OF DAMAGED COSTUMES!  You are responsible for damages or loss once items are checked out.
  • CLEAN UP YOUR MESS!!! This means clearing the worktables, ironing board, and floor of any and all debris, pins and remnants.
  • RETURN UNUSED STOCK ITEMS TO THEIR PROPER PLACES.
  • USE THE stepladder for anything you cannot reach. It is a safety and liability issue and we do not want anyone to get hurt.
  • PLEASE no food or drink in the costume shop (we don't like bugs or mice!).
  • UNPLUG THE IRON or the steamer
  • SPRAY PAINT OUTSIDE ONLY AND COVER DUMMIES IN PLASTIC IF PAINTING ON THE DUMMY.
  • COVER SURFACES with scrap paper IF PAINTING OR CRAFTING WITH GLUE.
  • USE THE LOADING DOCK FOR LARGE PAINTING PROJECTS.
  • ONLY DYE WITH PERMISSION AND USE THE DESIGNATED WASHING MACHINE. Clean up your mess!
  • USE THE SHOP PHONE FOR LOCAL CALLS ONLY.
  • NO PARTIES OR MEETINGS IN THE SHOP WITHOUT SPECIAL PERMISSION.

You are responsible for all costume items that you check out from the costume shop. You will be fined $25 for lost items, $50 for damaged items, and $100 for items that are cut, dyed, or altered without permission. You will also be fined for drycleaning charges in addition to a flat cleaning fee of $25 if you return any costume or group of costumes to the shop dirty or in need of drycleaning.

The Shop space is a shared area that supports many activities throughout the semester, so clean up and maintenance of the space is very important and is strictly enforced!!

Access to Shop during non-business hours is available to experienced students and faculty by permission only. Anyone who wishes to use the shop must demonstrate a familiarity and experience with equipment usage. Knowledge and understanding of our equipment ensures that everything is kept in good working order and helps keep down the cost of our repair bills. Available equipment includes several sewing machines, overlock/serger machines, scissors, dye materials, patternmaking materials, fabric, notions and trim, etc., and we request that you be responsible in your use of these resources.

Supervision is REQUIRED for use of the shop to dye materials and must be scheduled in advance. Dyes are chemicals and safety precautions must be observed. Dye materials are also limited.

Costume Stock

Available costume stock includes outfits from a variety of eras, a wide range of shoes and accessories, and various dancewear including dresses, shoes, leotards and leggings. We have a limited number of historically accurate costumes available for general checkout and a wide variety of contemporary stock. Students and faculty can look through storage and pull costumes by themselves during supervised shop hours by appointment only. It does help, however, to have some ideas of time period or items you would like to use before you start pulling and Shop staff can assist you with location of specifics. Items can either be checked out immediately, or they can be labeled according to production title and performance date, and stored on a HOLD rack in the Costume Shop for future check out. 

Any costume item that has been worn or used for more than a try-on or fitting (ie. longer than 15-30 minutes, for rehearsal or performance) MUST BE WASHED AND DRIED and returned to Stock Closets. PLEASE INCLUDE DRYCLEANING EXPENSES IN YOUR BUDGET. Please take the time to CLEAN used items and RETURN cleaned items back to their proper places. You will be fined for drycleaning charges in addition to a flat cleaning fee of $25 if you return any costume or group of costumes to the shop dirty or in need of drycleaning. 

** Special note: Washing machines are for use by the shop only. If cleaning is needed during a run or rehearsal for a departmental show, special arrangements are made in advance with the Shop Manager. **  

Please note: ALL items must be listed on an approved Checkout sheet before they leave the shop. In accordance with your signing the Checkout sheet: YOU MAY NOT PAINT, PATCH, CUT, DYE, MUTILATE OR OTHERWISE IRREVERSIBLY CHANGE A COSTUME PIECE WITHOUT CONSULTING THE SHOP MANAGER! You will be fined accordingly for lost or damaged items. You will be fined $25 for lost items, $50 for damaged items, and $100 for items that are cut, dyed, or altered without permission.

You are responsible for the welfare, cleaning, and whereabouts of any items checked out in your name until they are returned to the Shop. Damaged items must be either repaired or replaced before return. You should notify the Shop staff immediately regarding lost items to discuss replacement or reimbursement to the Shop. You will be contacted about late returns by email or phone. If you fail to notify the Shop of lost or damaged items or fail to return items to the Shop in a timely manner, you will risk future opportunities to check things out. Please do not borrow anything without permission or without checking out items with the shop staff.

Fittings

Measurements and fittings are by appointment and must be scheduled during costume shop hours. Please email the shop or costume shop manager to go over your measurement and fittings schedule. It is especially important to schedule measurements or fittings for large groups or ensembles IN ADVANCE.  Measurement sheets are available in the shop, but you can also ask your stage manager to help you gather cast sizes if you don't know how to use standard measurements.

Underwear or leotards are required attire for all dealings with Costume Shop fittings. We do not supply underwear and you cannot be fitted if you are not properly dressed. We have very little time to reschedule fittings if you forget proper undergarments and the Shop schedule fills up very quickly during the semester.

If fittings take place outside the Shop, all alterations should be marked with safety pins, alteration notes should be attached to garment, and the item should be labeled with the due date for pick up. Items to be altered can remain on the appropriate HOLD rack until needed for performance.  ALL costume you will not be using should be returned to stock or placed on the RETURN TO STOCK rack.

Please remind your PERFORMERS to keep record of any appointment times for fittings and report to the Shop in a timely manner as many people are planning their lives around fittings schedules. 

If for some reason you or a performer cannot make a scheduled appointment, please call the Shop ahead of time x6212 or email costumeshop@swarthmore.edu. Please respect our time!

Dressing Rooms and Costume Etiquette

Performers will be assigned an area of the dressing room for the show's run. It is the responsibility of the costumer and/or wardrobe staff to keep the dressing areas clean and neat during tech. After opening, the performers are responsible for their costumes. Please make certain that all members of the production staff are aware of dressing room and costume etiquette. These rules are also posted in the dressing areas.

DRESSING ROOM RULES:

  • NO EATING IN THE DRESSING ROOM OR WHILE YOU ARE IN COSTUME!!! This includes opening night treats. Food found in the dressing room will be confiscated or thrown out. Food stains are difficult to remove in a timely manner if an accident happens before you go onstage.
  • NO DRINKING ANYTHING OTHER THAN WATER WHILE IN COSTUME! Water, still or sparkling, must be in a covered container. Please no soda, coffee or juice while in costume.
  • NO UNAUTHORIZED USE OF MAKEUP OR NAIL POLISH! Please do not attempt to put on complicated makeup or nail polish while in costume without assistance or approval. Makeup and nail polish can ruin a costume permanently.
  • SMOKING IS NOT ALLOWED ANYWHERE IN THE BULIDING AND ABSOLUTELY NOT IN COSTUME! Please bring a washable bathrobe or wrapper and wear this while smoking outside. Smoking is not allowed with spray-colored hair or wig products EVER!
  • PLEASE BE AWARE THAT YOU SHOULD NOT WANDER PUBLIC AREAS IN COSTUME OR TAKE YOUR COSTUME OUT OF THE BUILDING.
  • PLEASE ALWAYS RETURN YOUR COSTUME TO CLOTHES HANGERS AND PUT YOUR SHOES AND ACCESSORIES IN ASSIGNED DITTY BAGS.
  • COSTUMES LEFT ON THE DRESSING ROOM FLOOR WILL NOT BE PICKED UP BETWEEN PERFORMANCES. Performers are responsible for their own items during the run of the show.
  • PLEASE LOCATE THE TRASH AND RECYCLING CANS.  Clean up after yourself!
  • PLEASE USE STEREO HEADPHONES WHEN LISTENING TO MUSIC. 
  • AVOID FOUL LANGUAGE AND BE POLITE.
  • WHEN IN DOUBT, USE COMMON SENSE AND COURTESY.

Hair and Make-up

Hair and makeup assistance is frequently possible for performances and projects, but please check with the Costume Shop Manager well in advance regarding personnel availability.

If performers do not own makeup or a makeup kit or don't have experience with stage makeup, we suggest you contact the Costume Shop (IN ADVANCE OF PERFORMANCES) for recommendations and consultation regarding putting together an inexpensive personal kit.

The Shop keeps some makeup items in stock for use by the Dance and Theatre departments as well as Drama Board, but in the interest of hygiene, we try to replace items such as mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick on a regular basis. Ideally, each production will be responsible for buying the necessary items for their performers. Each show usually purchases its own makeup for this reason. 

Allergies and Pet Policy

All students and faculty should notify the Costume Shop about any personal allergies so that we can contribute to the welfare of the individual's health. Key allergies include fibers, dust, feathers, metals, perfumes, etc. The costume shop staff takes great pride in limiting the exposure to chemicals by using perfume free detergents and a very little amount of starch and chlorine bleach.

Although we are devoted pet-lovers, we have to recognize the Swarthmore College Campus policy regarding pets:

As a general policy, the College does not permit pets to be in the public areas of College buildings (research animals and guide dogs excepted). The College will permit employees to have their pets inside their private office, as long as this does not present any health and safety concern to others in the building. These pets may not be allowed to wander outside the office into public areas. Employees who do bring their pets to work are wholly responsible for making sure that their offices remain clean. Administrative offices open to the public, during working hours, are considered public spaces and thus animals may not be brought into these areas. Students are not permitted to have animals in their rooms in residence halls.