Every profession has a set of job specific terms. A musician needs to know the different tempos, a photographer the names of camera settings and exposures. Someone who sews and makes patterns has a slew of terms, but combine them with the words that describe working on a film set and things can get very confusing! In this post I’m going to explain the sewing and film set terms I use the most. I will update this post periodically and link to it often, as a cheat sheet in future posts. If you have any questions or requests, please let me know in the comments below!
Alterationist - A stitcher that primarily does alterations on finished clothing, making the items fit the wearer better.
Costume Designer - The person who designs the costume.
Costumer - A person that works in the costume department for film, television, and other media. There are many classifications of costumers: shoppers, on set costumers, costume supervisors and custom made, to name a few.
Custom Made Costumer - A classification of costumer that creates garments. Under the custom made group there are pattern makers, stitchers, tailors and more.
Fitting - A meeting with the actor to check how their clothing fits. Often a costume designer is present, with a costumer to take notes and a custom made sewist or alterationist to pin the clothing to fit.
Pattern Maker - (Also called a cutter fitter) Makes patterns for costumes, cuts fabric and assigns sewing projects to their team of stitchers. Pattern makers can build a costume from start to finish.
Stitcher - (Also known as seamstress, draper and sewist) A person that sews. Men and women alike are stitchers. A stitcher normally works with a pattern maker, unless they are only altering pre-made clothing.
Tailor - A person that makes custom suits for men and women. Men and women alike are tailors.
Film and Television Set Glossary
On Set - Working on a television or film set. A set can be built on a soundstage at a movie studio, or assembled at a specific location.
On Location - Feature films and occasionally television shows will shoot in real places. The location will be decorated and staged for the scene being shot there.
Prep Days - Time before filming takes place. Prep days are when I fit actors, build costumes, and do alterations.
Shoot Day - The day where filming takes place. All work must be finished and camera ready.