Below are a few things to consider when planning costumes for a youth theatre show:
1. When fitting group costumes, always start with the biggest actor. You can always take in a costume. It’s harder to make a costume larger.
2. If you need to make a skirt, pants, sleeves, etc. shorter, use a wide stitch so as to make the least impact on the cloth and it will also be easier to remove the seam if necessary next time you use the costume.
3. Most costumes can’t be laundered. If possible, have the actors wear a T-shirt under the costume. Cut the T-shirt neck or sleeves back so that it doesn’t show under the costume. If a costume gets a spot or smells, try hand washing just the affected area. Remind kids to wear deodorant, especially 12- to 15-year-olds who are just hitting puberty.
4. Make a list of which actor is wearing which costume pieces. Label each piece. Silk tape (for bandages) is great for costume labels. Check after every show or dress rehearsal to make certain you got all the costumes back. Kids need to be told not to take home any part of their costume, and to not leave costumes in the bathroom or dressing room.
5. Someone who knows the costumes well (the designer, the director, head costumer) needs to inspect every costume before a show begins and also before each character leaves the greenroom to go on stage. If you don’t, you are guaranteed that at least one kid will not be wearing his/her costume properly.
6. If an actor is supplying an item for their costume, make sure you see that item well before dress rehearsals begin. For instance, if someone says, “I have white knee socks,” you need to see if the socks actually go up to the knees.