Anna Winter works in the costume shop of Dartmouth’s Department of Theater, translating designers’ visions into what actors wear on stage: drafting patterns, shaping fabric, and building costumes. She speaks with Dartmouth Now about sewing, serendipity, and being part of a great team.
Job title: Cutter/Draper
How long have you been at Dartmouth? It will be one year at the end of August.
What path brought you to your field?
I joke that I learned to sew in the womb. I sewed competitively through 4-H. I helped my mom with her bridal alteration business out of our home. I hemmed my first wedding dress solo in sixth grade. I’ve always been sewing. It didn’t click that I could do what I do for a living until I was touring colleges and was accidentally shown a costume shop.
What’s at the heart of your role at Dartmouth?
My job is to take a designer’s rendering and turn that image into a real garment.
What’s your favorite part of working here?
I love the costume shop ladies: Laurie Churba Kohn (associate professor of theater and costume designer), Jennifer Bilbo (costume shop manager), Joan Morris (master dyer). We have such a blast working together. We are constantly joking and laughing. We all feel fortunate to have found each other.
What’s the most unusual project you’ve taken on here?
Every show has had something unusual. The great thing about my job is that each show is completely different. One day I’m building wedding dresses for fighting brides; the next day I’m testing fake blood packs for a stage wound; the day after that I’m building a corset.
What keeps you busy away from work?
Over-hiring—temporary work at another theater during an extra push—and freelancing keep me busy. This year I worked on Northern Stage’s White Christmas and St. Michael’s Playhouse’s Young Frankenstein and built a dress for Opera North’s My Fair Lady. In addition to all that, my husband, Tony Vandenberg, recently opened his own business, Black Moon Games. It was a massive project but it’s been so worthwhile; that’s another thing keeping me busy.