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Karen Kangas-Preston

THR 362: Topics in Costume Technology: Advanced Costume Construction
Honorable Mention - Enhanced
“Cooking-show style tutorials”
- Karen Kangas-Preston -

THR362 instructor Kangas-Preston developed video sewing tutorials to supplement a major project component of the creation of a Costume Technology (sewing sampler) portfolio, with guidance from Scott Schopieray’s Blended Learning Community in spring 2009 and, in fall 2010, film assistance from Sarah DeBoer, undergraduate student specializing in film studies and theatre.

The semester-long portfolio project incorporates both simple and complicated sewing techniques that all costume technicians need to know. Many employers look for these skills and the portfolio gives visual proof of mastery of the techniques. In the past, the instructor was limited in that she could only demonstrate these techniques effectively to a few students at a time, due to the intimate nature of sewing and patterning. Furthermore, instructional videos on YouTube often use the same stitch name for a different technique resulting in incorrect samples being included in the portfolio.

Creating 15 multi-camera custom videos not only allowed students to learn and work at their own pace; students were able to revisit the material at any time to see what was missed and to have their own birds-eye view of the stitching methods. The goal of creating these videos was for the stitch sampler portfolio to improve in quality and to allow students access to the instructor’s teaching methods without her presence. The videos also allowed the students to formulate specific questions about the process that they didn’t understand and gave both instructor and student a precise frame of reference for discussion.

The creation of custom video tutorials for THR362, allowed students to watch and learn outside of classroom time (allowing more in-class time to work on other, larger projects), and gave the ability to see the techniques close up, while learning the instructor’s preferred methods.

Each video started with an introduction where the instructor discussed the technique and showed examples from existing garments pulled from costume storage. This allowed the students to see the finished use of the technique before beginning their own samples. Close-up shots of these garments were used during discussion of the use and placement.

The introduction included discussion of pros and cons of each technique and reasons why they should be used as well as why, at times, another method may be the better choice. One of the complaints from students in the past had been that they didn’t understand why certain methods were included in the sampler book. Taking time in the videos for a brief introduction answered student questions like these before they arose.

Each video then moved on to a wide shot of the instructor at the sewing machine, further discussing the example and showing a finished product in sample form. One camera was devoted to the wide front shot, one to the sewing machine in action and one to the table space where sample pieces were marked, pinned, and prepared.


Sarah DeBoer, undergraduate student, videographer