Tag Archives: sewing

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!


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!

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]

New things

29 May

I’ve been home in devon for the last couple of days which apart from no work and home cooked dinners provides excellent charity shops!
Here are my finds:


Vintage patterns from 1967 and 1969 50p each.


Number 4 is my favorite from this line up and I like those slanted darts!

I also got a metre of baby blue wide lace for £2.


I can see this on a waistline of a smart dress, maybe in a cream or pale yellow crepe?


I also bought some candy coloured nail varnish…not from a charity shop but still yummy.

Yellow Gingham Window Dress

19 May

I have had a bit of time off recently when i saw this picture on the stylist website:

I love the cut out section at the top of the bodice and the different sized gingham is cute! It’s an ASOS dress (only avaliable in America dammit) so I thought hey, I can totally make that. Possibly.

Fitting the front of the bodice was suprisingly easy using an old pattern of mine but the back is sooooo difficult to fit!

I had to do the fitting for the back on my mannaquin which is never very accurate!

I decided on yellow gingham which I knew could either look super summer chic or just crazy lady wearing a tablecloth… So here it is for you to decided!










I shall post more pictures of me in the dress if the sun ever decides to come out!

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