A day in the life of a costume shop worker


Chris Ferman

Lainey Terfruchte at the costume shop on Thursday, April 20, 2023.

Allie Lewis

Augustana’s theater program never fails to amaze its audiences on stage, but behind-the-scenes workers are the backbone of these productions. Those working in the costume shop keep the actors looking great and help tell the story of the show. Costuming plays a large role in theater, and those in the costume shop help make that possible. Student workers sophomore Katie Sanders, First-Year Abby Gentry and sophomore Lainey Terfruchte tell a day in the life of a costume shop worker. 

The costume shop workers are responsible for styling, creating and mending costumes for the actors in Augustana’s theater productions. According to Sanders, the work can vary from day to day.

“It can be anything. We’re pulling pieces, putting two things together and we’re like, actually constructing and sewing garments,” Sanders said. 

The costume shop workers not only mend pieces, but they also create and style existing pieces for the actors to wear on stage. However, their job is not all just sewing and picking outfits. 

“If we are truly just between shows, it’s a lot of organization, maintaining the shop, making sure that things are put away and organized properly and then sometimes it’s even just laundry,” Sanders said. 

Although the costume shop is able to build and create pieces for the actors, there are challenges that sometimes arise. According to Gentry, who has worked at the costume shop since September of 2022, organization and keeping track of costume pieces can sometimes cause frustrations while planning and working on costumes for shows.

“Our last couple shows, we’ve had to buy a lot of things because we just didn’t have them here,” Gentry said. “We’ve got to make sure that [these pieces] get here on time and then we get them to the right person and make sure it goes in the right place. So, sometimes that can get a little frustrating or difficult to deal with.” 

The costume shop has created costumes for shows with different genres, styles and time periods. Working with a wide variety of shows has given the costume shop many opportunities to experiment with wardrobe options. For Terfruchte, who has worked in the costume shop since her freshman year, work in the costume shop looks different for each show that they are doing, due to the drastic differences in each production. 

“It definitely depends on the historical period and that kind of thing,” Terfruchte said. “For ‘The Memo’ we’re working on right now, all of the characters wear the same uniform. So, that’s a lot different than picking out a bunch of different pieces for each character. It depends on what kind of [shows] we’re working on.”

In any workplace, there will be some problems that occur. However, according to Gentry, these challenges do not seem to alter the environment or overall productivity of the costume shop. Sanders, Gentry and Terfruchte all said that the work environment is mostly positive. 

“It’s very tight-knit and I feel comfortable with all of the people who work there,” Terfruchte said. 

Those in the costume shop are a crucial part of Augustana’s theater productions. While on the clock, employees mend, create, style and purchase costumes and costume pieces to make actors look their best in front of audiences. Students see the payoff of each costumer’s hard work when it hits the stage.