Costume maker


Costume makers construct, sew, stitch, dye, adapt and maintain costumes to be used in live performances and in movies or television programs. Their work is based on artistic vision, sketches or finished patterns combined with knowledge of the human body to ensure the wearer maximum range of movement. They work in close cooperation with the designers.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to costume maker:

costume & prop maker
costume builder
prop costume maker
prop & costume maker
set costumer
costume prop maker
prop and costume maker
costume and prop maker

Minimum qualifications

No formal educational credential is generally required to work as a costume maker.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Costume maker is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Costume maker career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to costume maker.

wig and hairpiece maker
performance hairdresser
tent installer
event electrician
instrument technician

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of costume maker. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of costume maker with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

scenic painter
set builder
prop maker
followspot operator

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of costume maker.

  • Dressmaking: The craft of sewing clothes and dresses by following a pattern. This includes the assembly of cutout clothing parts.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of costume maker.

  • Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
  • Understand artistic concepts: Interpret an artist’s explanation or demonstration of their artistic concepts, inceptions and processes and strive to share their vision.
  • Follow work schedule: Manage the sequence of activities in order to deliver completed work on agreed deadlines by following a work schedule.
  • Dye fabrics: Dye costume fabrics for live onstage purposes.
  • Finish costumes: Finish costumes by adding zippers, elastics, buttonholes, decorative stitching, jewellery, rosettes, and other decorations.
  • Use manual sewing techniques: Use manual sewing and stitching techniques to manufacture or repair fabrics or textile-based articles.
  • Work safely with machines: Check and safely operate machines and equipment required for your work according to manuals and instructions.
  • Assemble costume parts: Assemble cutout costume parts manually or by operating a sewing machine.
  • Use personal protection equipment: Make use of protection equipment according to training, instruction and manuals. Inspect the equipment and use it consistently.
  • Adapt to artists’ creative demands: Work with artists, striving to understand the creative vision and adapting to it. Make full use of your talents and skills to reach the best possible result.
  • Prepare personal work environment: Correct settings or positions for your working instruments and adjust them before starting operations.
  • Maintain theatre equipment: Check up on, maintain and repair tools and machinery used for onstage purposes, such as lighting equipment, stage sets or scene-change machinery.
  • Finish project within budget: Make sure to stay within budget. Adapt work and materials to budget.
  • Perform costume settings: Organise and manage costume settings.
  • Draw up artists’ measurements: Draw up the measurements and sizes of performing artists for clothing purposes.
  • Translate artistic concepts to technical designs: Cooperate with the artistic team in order to facilitate the transition from the creative vision and its artistic concepts to a technical design.
  • Work safely with chemicals: Take the necessary precautions for storing, using and disposing chemical products.
  • Adapt costumes: Adapt, stitch or sew stage outfits for performing actors.
  • Meet deadlines: Ensure operative processes are finished at a previously agreed-upon time.
  • Maintain rigging equipment: Check rigging equipment before fitting up, and make small repairs if necessary.
  • Maintain workshop space: Keep the workshop space in working order and clean.
  • Draw up costume patterns: Draw and cut out costume patterns using scissors and measuring instruments.
  • Cut fabrics: Cut fabrics and other wearing apparel materials considering measures, placement of the fabrics in the cutting table in multiple layers, and making the most efficient usage of the fabric avoiding waste. Cut fabrics by hand, or using electric knives, or other cutting tools depending on the fabric. Use computerised systems or automatic cutting machines.
  • Sew pieces of fabric: Operate basic or specialised sewing machines whether domestic or industrial ones, sewing pieces of fabric, vinyl or leather in order to manufacture or repair wearing apparels, making sure the threads are selected according to specifications.
  • Manage personal professional development: Take responsibility for lifelong learning and continuous professional development. Engage in learning to support and update professional competence. Identify priority areas for professional development based on reflection about own practice and through contact with peers and stakeholders.
  • Work with respect for own safety: Apply the safety rules according to training and instruction and based on a solid understanding of the prevention measures and risks to your own personal health and safety.
  • Keep up with trends: Monitor and follow new trends and developments in specific sectors.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of costume maker. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

ISCO group and title

7531 – Tailors, dressmakers, furriers and hatters

  1. Costume maker – ESCO
Last updated on October 15, 2022

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