Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) in Theatre Costume
This course is aimed at both costume-making and costume supervising.
We teach costume-making from first principles, from basic sewing skills, pattern-cutting and grading, through to the finished product. The basic sewing skills are organised in five levels:
- Hand sewing, seams, hems, fastening
- Pattern matching, tucks, cording, pleats and gathering, buttonholes, eyelets, false lacing
- Openings, bias rouleaux and piping, facings and using bias
- Fastenings (zips and fly opening)
Although some time is given to completing all levels, you will be expected to work on them outside teaching hours.
All these skills, as well as other maintenance and alterations, are practised throughout the course by working on all the RADA public productions as assistants. This improves work speed and gives experience in working with different fabrics and vintage costumes from our store, as well as working with professional designers and directors.
The forms of pattern-cutting we teach are flat (block), cutting on the stand, and draping – although investigation into further forms is also encouraged, such as going straight to fabric, sizing up from a grid, and taking a pattern from an existing garment. You will also learn pattern manipulation and grading throughout the course.
Some garments are taken through to completion as class projects, including corsetry, ruffs, period shirt tailoring and millinery. Others form personal projects in the second year, which are supervised, although you will be expected to work semi-independently in preparation for professional work.
Costume supervising is taught in the classroom with script analysis, budget skills and communication and management skills. It is also practised, firstly with the second year BA (Hons) Acting students as part of a short Shakespeare project, which is toured around schools in the London area. You will then have the opportunity to supervise two or three RADA professional performances, or a film project.
We also provide experience of other elements of a wardrobe department. There are introductory classes in hair and make-up, wig knotting, history of costume and costume props, fabric treatments and props skills.