Home Engineering Publications
WPI Technical Theatre Handbook: Fitting
  next up previous contents index
Next: Rehearsal Clothing Up: Costumes Previous: Patterns   Contents   Index


One of the most important aspects of costuming is making sure the costumes fit the actors properly. This requires a fair degree of skill and practice, but there are several useful points that can make the job easier.

In cases where costumes are being sewn for a production, measurements of the actors should be taken. There are two general sets of measurements that are taken -- one set for upper body (for shirts, jackets, etc.), and one for the lower body (pants, skirts, etc.) The measurements that affect the fitting of clothing vary slightly between men and women.

Upper body measurements for men include the following: shoulder-to-shoulder, arm length, neck circumference, chest circumference, and back-to-waist length. A shoulder-to-shoulder measurement should be taken to provide a working width for the piece of clothing being created. Next, a measurement should be taken from the bone in the back of the neck to the wrist, to attain a sleeve length. Also helpful are circumference measurements of the chest and neck. Lastly, a measurement from the bone in the back of the neck to the waist helps to ensure that the garment will be of sufficient length for the actor.

There are fewer lower body than upper body measurements to be taken. A waist circumference measurement aids in making pants that will stay on the actor rather than fall down. Additionally, inseam (from crotch to ankle) and outseam (from waist to ankle) measurements help to fit the garment properly to the actor's leg length.

The upper body measurements that need to be taken for women are similar to those for men. The only major difference is that, with women, a bust measurement needs to be taken. Women's lower body measurements are taken in a similar fashion, with the addition of hip measurements. These additional measurements are necessary to assure proper fit due to the natural differences in shape between male and female bodies.

If the fitting skills of the designer or seamster are not particularly good, it is desirable for fairly loose-fitting costumes to be designed. It is much more preferable to have a costume fit loosely and look halfway decent than be too tight, look terrible and rip during a performance!

next up previous contents index
Next: Rehearsal Clothing Up: Costumes Previous: Patterns   Contents   Index
Steve Richardson 2000-07-06

Use of information in this document implies understanding and agreement with the copyright and terms of use. Specifically, no warranty is expressed or implied regarding the accuracy of the information contained within. YOU USE THIS INFORMATION AT YOUR OWN RISK. All trademarks are property of their respective owners. You must obtain permission from the author before using the contents of The Handbook for anything other than private use.

Table of Contents

[PDF] [Whole book in PDF 5.3MB]

Page last modified:
Copyright © 1993-2000 prefect - All Rights Reserved.