Costume Symposium

The "Tricky Bits" of Tailoring
with Mr. Graham Cottenden
Penn State School of Theatre
July 27 - 30, 2016


This event is sold out for 2016. If you wish to be added to a wait list please send your request to

Laura Robinson, Senior Lecturer and Tailor, Penn State University School of Theatre, is set to host:
Costumier, Tailor and Historian, Graham Cottenden MA, Cert Ed, SEDA for this summers USITT Costume Symposium 2016.

Do you understand the basics of tailoring but get mired down in certain parts of the process?  Do your jetted pockets rock but your welt pockets make you want to roll over and die?  Are you a sleeve master or is the sleeve the master of you? Do your collars look neat and crisp or sloppy and floppy?  And just what is a plastron anyway?  These questions and more will be answered in this year’s summer symposium. 

Join master tailor Graham Cottenden for a workshop on mastering the tricky bits of tailoring.  Participants will receive detailed instruction in the steps that give the novice tailor so much trouble and tips that will improve the journeyman tailor’s craft.  Participants will complete the workshop with a workbook on the skills covered, a partially constructed jacket that utilizes those skills, and the confidence to finish it at home. 

The event will include lunches and a closing cocktail reception.

Daily details to include:

DAY 1 Wednesday 27th July
Welcome and introduction to the course.
Lecture: The developments in male tailoring during the 19th century.
Welt and Jetted pockets.

DAY 2 Thursday 28th July
Canvases and Pad stitching the lapel.

DAY 3 Friday 29th July
Put Back to Front (Tacking).
Making up a sleeve, line and inserting a sleeve.

DAY 4 Saturday 30th July
Preparing the collar.
Adding half of the collar.
Final discussion and Q&A session.

Tentative schedule of events


graham-cottenden-edit GC_with_students



  • Basic sewing kit, including tailor’s points
    Basic Sewing Equipment: Cutting shears, small trimming scissors, paper scissors, pins, needles, tape measure, white tailors chalk, a thimble, white basting thread.
  • Small notebook 


Early registration through May 6
USITT Members - $450
Non-Members - $500

Late registration after May 6 (registration closes June 15 but act quickly, space is limited and this event tends to sell out early!)
USITT Members - $475
Non-Members - $525


Housing Information:
Make your reservations now for the Days Inn Penn State Hotel where USITT has negotiated a special rate. (Housing deadline is June 27 2016)
Days Inn Penn State
240 South Pugh Street
State College, PA 16801, US

Rate is $96.00 per night/per room.
Complimentary parking available for one vehicle, per room.
Complimentary Wi-Fi in all guestrooms.

If you have a roommate, continue to reserve your room together via the hotel reservations link. If you would like to put your name on a roommate request list please forward your information to



Your Presenter & Host.

Graham Cottenden MA, Cert Ed, SEDA
Costumier, Tailor, Historian.

Graduated in Theatre Design from Wimbledon School of Art in 1975, Graham has been a Senior Lecturer in Costume and worked in full time higher education for over 20 years after nearly 20 years as a freelance costume designer and maker in London working on a wide variety of performance projects. His specialist area is period costume for Theatre, Film and Television and a particular interest in male period tailoring and the history of costume.

Having recently returned from a 1 year contract as Head of Wardrobe/Artist in Residence at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, Graham is currently working freelance as well as finalizing a future publication on male tailoring. He continues to deliver lectures and costume workshops worldwide. 

Laura Robinson, Senior Lecturer and Tailor, Penn State University School of Theatre

Laura Robinson is an instructor for graduate and undergraduate students at Penn State in Costume Technology and continues a twenty-year free-lance career as a theatrical tailor for numerous professional theatres and opera festivals in New York and across the country.   Theatres that Laura has worked for include Playwright’s Horizons, The Roundabout Theatre, Hartford Stage, Goodspeed Opera, The Long Wharf, The Philadelphia Theatre Company, The Arden Theatre, The Alliance Theatre, Pittsburgh Public, Opera Theatre St. Louis, Kansas City Rep, The Goodman Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival and many other theatres and academic institutions.  A native of Texas, Laura received her B.F.A in Directing and Design from Baylor University and her M.F.A. in Design and Technology from University of Missouri-Kansas City.  Her primary focus in the academy is tailoring, menswear, and fashion history as it relates to the societal themes and industrial innovations of western sociological traditions.  


Penn State University is scenically located in State College, Centre County which is the exact center of Pennsylvania.  We are four hours from anywhere, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Manhattan, and Cleveland and five hours from Toronto, Ontario. State College is also serviced by University Park Airport with direct daily flights available from Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Washington-Dulles. State College is a lovely small college town that sports many interesting restaurants, shops, and entertainments in a thriving and walkable downtown.   For more information on Centre County, State College and Penn State, visit: or

Information on hotel and lodging will be added soon. 
(Box lunches and snacks will be provided daily along with a catered cocktail reception on the closing night of the Symposium.)