Second skin: Investigating the production of contoured patterns for the theatrical costume industry

Elizabeth Garland, Kevin Almond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper discusses research into pattern cutting via mould-making techniques for bodyconscious, contoured clothing used in the theatrical costume industry (film, television and theatre). With their considerable experience as costume makers, the authors recognized a gap in knowledge and documentation for this approach to pattern cutting. The intentions were to expand the range of techniques available for theatrical costume professionals, allowing practitioners to draw complex style lines directly onto the body shape and onto inanimate objects. The research explored different approaches through a series of three-dimensional experiments, which included contouring the body with moulds to achieve sculptural or abstract forms and discovering the capabilities, advantages and restrictions of the technique. The enquiry includes a variety of methodologies, which investigated the practical, technical and historical background to contoured pattern cutting. Object-based research considered the design and manufacture of body conscious garments. Action-based research and semi-structured interviews with practitioners considered the skills costume makers use to produce contoured clothing and the ethics connected with drawing styles directly onto the human body. In order to contextualize the practical investigations, a review of the literature revealed the limited extent of contemporary and historical research dedicated to contoured pattern cutting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-113
Number of pages24
Issue number1
Early online date11 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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