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Working in Germany

22 Nov

During September and October I was away working for a theatre company  in Germany as a costume maker. As one of the techies I go out for the 5 week rehearsal period and along with the designer, scenic artists, prop makers and other costume makers, create plays that are then sent out on tours across Europe teaching children of different ages to speak English.

The Möhnesee Lake which we stay on

It’s like no other job i’ve had and is so much fun considering you live and work with these people 24/7 for 5 weeks!

So what did I make I hear you cry! Well considering there are 9 plays in total there is a wide variety of costumes that need making including, historical, fantasy, modern and just plain bizarre!

Below is a 1950s dress for a character called Mrs. Dimple which has a fake button up front and zip in the side and a full circle skirt.

Mrs Dimple dress in the costume room

Mrs Dimple dress on stage

Making costumes for plays that need to last a year on a tour is a lot different to making normal dresses. For starters they need to be easy to get in and out of and preferably washable and there tends to be A LOT of poppers involved!

1920s ladies combination underwear for .er… a man

Next was a silky ladies unison suit, but for a man, oh the hilarity! Complete with a ruched bottom, flower buttons and lace trim.

Combination underwear from the back

This was certainly an interesting make considering the actor was 6′ 7″!

Below is the toile for a 1920s turban for the same play which i’ll show you next time.

Lady Swigwell Turban


Ciao for now!


Sorry for the blogging hiatus!

15 Nov

I read a lot a shit load of blogs so I should know by now that regular posting is key to a successful blogging, so I’d just like to take this opportunity to apologise for my shoddy upkeep in recent months.

Between moving house (and living on a sofa for 2 weeks) working in Germany for 5 weeks and then shooting between Bristol and Edinburgh I’ve been kind busy!

Working on a 1950s number for a theatre company in Germany

However I haven’t forgotten about this little blog and will endevour to update it with all the exciting stuff I have much to share!

The 50s Inspired Red Dress

2 Sep

So last week I hinted at a dress I had made for my friend’s wedding out of a beautiful pinky red silk cotton mix that I bought in London. The fabric had a lovely handle with little dots all over it and I knew it would work perfectly with gathers or pleats.

The initial idea was to have pleats at the neckline which carried onto the back ending in a bow. Unfortunately it conspired that I only had a day to make the dress so all extra details went out of the window! Thankfully I had made and fitted the toile a few days earlier so all I had to do was cut and sew!

Pinned, chalked and ready to cut!

Because the fabric was slightly sheer I decided that I would need to use interlining and to keep the colour as saturated as possible I used the fashion fabric itself as an interlining. This meant I cut two of each pattern piece the same size and then hand basted each piece inside the seam allowance. Once stitched I treated the two layers as one piece of fabric.

At this point in construction  I had assumed I had some colour appropriate lining on hand, surely there must be something in my endless fabric stash?!! Unfortunately for me the best match was a white cotton which I later discovered was the downfall of this dress (more on this later).

Now usually I finish dresses for clients by basting armholes and necklines wrong sides together before attaching bias binding and hand stitching to the lining. However when you have 2 hours left of daylight and sore shoulders bagging out my bodice section and understitching seemed the best (and quickest) option for a dress that only I was going to see the inside of.

Snipping to the stitch line at the centre front ensures a sharp V shape when the bodice is turned.

The next step was to gather the skirt and attach to the bodice at the waist before sewing up the centre back and inserting an invisible zip.

I put the zip in slightly differently than I usually do which resulted in a large gap at the top, if I’d had time I would have liked to put loops and buttons to close the dress but instead I stuck to good old hooks and eyes. At this point I tried on the dress (which was very tight!) and decided to let it out a little and add plastic boning to the back and side seams to give a smoother finish.

I also decided to make a soft petticoat to go underneath the dress to enhance the skirt and make it more vintage looking. The top section is a swiss-dot cotton gauze and I used a soft tulle with a pink ribbon trim (to match my amazing Vivienne Westwood shoes!)

So here it is! Apologies for the creases, when I looked back at the wedding photos I realised there was no full length pictures of me in the dress so this picture is of the dress post-wedding-in-a-field!

I loved wearing the dress and I’m still head over heels for the fabric but the neckline was a nightmare! At every opportunity the bright white lining kept riding up at the front ruining my lovely neckline!

See?! I was constantly readjusting myself which is not a good look! Now I think this is a combination of things: The fabric and lining are different weights, the lining might have been slightly bigger for some reason, the neckline might have stretched or maybe because the dress was only lined to the waist? What do you think readers? Have you had this problem before? I’d love to hear you’re feedback on this!

Mega Cool Stuff

29 Aug

So this was the week which saw my brides dress in action! I can’t believe it’s gone from a simple cotton toile to beautiful full blown wedding dress!

I have a million photos to edit and organise so in the meantime enjoy some lovely links!
>>>Tilly and the Buttons shared this great tutorial on Making a Tailors Ham.

>>>I discovered an amazing computer wizard and blogger in the form of pugly pixel! Her blog has so many great tips and ideas including this great tutorial on adding images and links to your sidebars. You may have noticed my nifty new links on the left!

>>> Whilst on A Beautiful Mess I saw this Free Lensing tutorial which looks pretty cool!

>>>My new favorite collection comes from Alice McCall. I love the colours she uses and I definitely have a soft spot for silk organza especially if it’s layered with other fabric.

>>>Some inspirational images of Modes at Travaux from 1953 on Buttons and Bobbins.
Have a great week!

Ciao x

On my cutting table…

23 Aug

Having been working non stop on wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses and costumes for the last couple of months it feel lovely to finally get a chance to blog about everything I have been making! The image above is a sneak preview of an amazing wedding dress that has been a long time coming. I’ll post more pictures after the weekend when the wedding has taken place.

Having a bit of free time on my hands I decided that I needed something for myself to wear to the wedding and I had some gorgeous red silk/cotton I bought in London that I’ve been dying to use up for ages.

Dresses with defined waists and free hips suit me so I decided to design something 50s inspired.

I love these off the shoulder numbers and one day I will defiantly get around to doing tulip pleats!

Apologies for the poor quality of the photo I will re post a better one soon, but this was the idea!

Check back soon for a further post on the construction and the dress in action!

[Listening to: A New Town by Field day]

Mega Cool Stuff

1 Aug

Work in progress

I’ve had a mental few weeks making costumes and dresses, including one very special wedding dress which I will share with you very soon! There is so much stuff I want to post about but I’m now working on another wedding dress which is eating up my time but here are some links that you may find of interest…

>>>Karen Barbe’s blog was a new find for me but now it seems I see her mentioned everywhere in the internet! Her cute embroidery makes me want to take up the craft again. Here is a tutorial for cute embroidered patches.

>>>I’ve always liked the fact that jersey fabric is so versatile and you can cut it and stretch it without fraying, very rock chic. This tutorial shows you how to macramé a t shirt.

>>>How to set up your own business I found this article in the online version of the Stylist magazine.

Have a lovely week!

Mega Cool Stuff…

10 Jun

It’s been a eventful week for me here, including my birthday and a festivals where I wore my gingham dress and got VERY wet!

Like any other blog out there I thought i’d participate in a regular roundup of internet treats for you all (Mega Cool Stuff). It could be anything so watch out…

This week:

>>>> Great tutorial on making your own moccasins Here

>>>> Friendship bracelets with added bling! on HonestlyWTF

>>>> I have to make a covered belt with no clue how so i’m hoping this tutorial from Casey will help!

>>>> Since my housemates are on the verge of disowning me due to pin related injuries, I’m totally doing THIS

>>>> This video is pretty neat for an insight into the making of boots…

I have a very full week of sewing ahead for a few special ladies wedding dresses which hopefully I’ll be able to share with you very soon,

Ciao x

[Listening to Phenomenal Handclap Band – The Unknown Faces at Father James Park]

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