Designer Guidelines

Student designers for extracurricular or departmental shows are encouraged to use the Shop and its staff as a resource, but should plan on scheduling meetings with the Shop Manager or Shop staff frequently as there are often multiple projects that need the shop's attention. Personal meetings with the Costume Shop Manager must be scheduled in advance via email at costumeshop@swarthmore.edu!!

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

Use of the shop and help with productions is dependent on departmental demands, so please schedule your search for costumes, fittings and checkouts in advance. Last minute costume hunting, fittings, and building is never a good experience for anyone involved!

Costume Stock

Available costume stock includes outfits from a variety of eras, a wide range of shoes and accessories, and various dancewear including leotards and leggings. We have a limited number of historically accurate costumes available for general checkout. 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.


General Rules

During operating hours, student 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.

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. Last minute e-mails are unacceptable.