Studying Theatrical Costume and other adventures in London - sewing, fabrics and events.

Category: Museums and galleries

Quilting on the quilted petticoat finished!

Gosh, that took a fair amount of time. Now I only have to sort out the waistband and pocket slits. Anyway here are a couple of pictures of the front and back before I pleat it on to the petersham.

Front of quilted petticoat

Front of quilted petticoat

Back of quilted petticoat

Back of quilted petticoat

I was so proud, I added to the Quilt of Quilts on the V&A website:


Quilt of Quilts

Reproduction 18th century quilted petticoat

Reproduction 18th century quilted petticoat

View this quilt on the V&A website

Class 19: Overview of quilted petticoat

There wasn’t too many of us in today, but everyone who made it is going to make a quilted petticoat, so Claire asked us to work on our petticoat designs and explained a bit more about the process.

Overview of quilted petticoat

  • To find the required diameter of the quilted petticoat, put the bum pads and the under petticoat on the stand and wrap the wadding/batting round. You will need to leave additional allowance as after quilting the length will be reduced.
  • Pin together the three layers: Cotton (top fabric), wadding and muslin (bottom fabric); and baste the centre front and quarters.
  • Put additional basting lines to firmly hold the fabric in place before applying the design.
  • There are quite a few different ways to transfer the design, but I think I will either be using dressmakers copypaper, or a quilters pencil poked through the pattern paper to make the outline (more info about these when I have had a chance to try them out). Some people use quilters chalk or disappearing ink, and some even draw freehand. Transferring the pattern, can be done all at once or in stages depending on what you find easiest and if the marker is likely to rub off or disappear.
  • Next step would be the sewing. This can be done by machine or by hand or a combination of both. Claire would prefer us to hand quilt, so that is what I am going to do.Ideally you start in the middle and work out. This allows you to make any adjustments if the pattern gets skewed or the fabric is not taken up by the quilting evenly.

I haven’t quilted before, so I ended up having a look on youtube and found some very helpful videos about hand quilting by amyalamode, the first one is Hand Quilting 1 — Getting Started, but there are many more:

Quilted petticoat design

Last week I did a lot of trawling online to find pictures of 18th century quilted petticoats. Many are very elabourate and others are just diamond patterns. Lots of examples of silk petticoats, but also a few in cotton. Powder blue seemed a very popular colour of the time.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has three good examples of 18th century quilted petticoats displayed online.

Yellow quilted petticoat

Yellow quilted petticoat (click on image for more info)

Woman's quilted petticoat

Woman's quilted petticoat (click image for more info)

My favourite is this one:

Silk quilted 18th century petticoat - Musum of fine art Boston

Silk quilted 18th century petticoat - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

You can see in the first draft of my design, it is going to be quite similar.

First draft of quilted petticoat design

First draft of quilted petticoat design. The left side where it is higher will be at the front, sloping down to the sides.

This week I need to finish the design, so I can start in class next week. I don’t have any tracing paper, so this is making it quite tricky.

I feel it is quite ambitious as I have started a small quilted sampler, which has already taken a few episodes of being human and is still not complete. After the first hour, I went online and bought some quilting needles, leather and rubber thimbles.

Hand quilting sampler

Hand quilting sampler

Book: “Patterns of Fashion 1″ – Janet Arnold

Patterns of Fashion: v.1: Vol 1 - Janet Arnold

Patterns of Fashion: v.1: Vol 1 - Janet Arnold

My best friend thoughtfully sent me “Patterns of Fashion 1″ by Janet Arnold for Christmas. I was very pleased when it arrived as it covers ‘Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction’ from 1660 to 1860, which of course includes the polonaise circa 1770-1785 – in fact it has two between pages 36-40.

The author, Janet Arnold is a well respected fashion historian who has written and illustrated a number of books on period costume. She has been able to study many items which are normally too rare or fragile to be handled often, including burial gowns such as Medici burial clothes from the 16th century.

My friend lives fairly near Snowshill Manor where some of the dresses studied in the book used to be housed as part of the Wade Collection.  2000 costume pieces, plus 22000 other objects ‘invested with the spirit of the craftsman and the age in which it was created’ were collected by Charles Wade from 1900 to 1951, when Wade donated the collection and the manor to the National Trust.

The Wade Costume collection can now be seen at Berrington Hall, Herefordshire where it is on loan.

Class 11: Visit to Victoria and Albert museum

Today the class met at the V&A and explored the British Galleries, textile study room and the theatre and performance collection.

We started by having a cup of tea in the splendid cafe. The cafe rooms interior decoration is amazing, so I would highly recommend taking a break there. The food looks really good, but is more restaurant prices than cafe, so I didn’t have a chance to try.

On to the British galleries. So many wonderful things to look at from James II wedding suit, a flower pyramid, to the most amazing room installations. It was great to be able to inspect the items of clothing on show so closely; but there are also many other artefacts where we could get inspiration for our costumes including the furniture, paintings and textiles. I particularly liked looking at the Spitalfield silk collection, and there were some lovely examples of printed cotton.

Manuta 1740-1745

Spitalfield silks

Spitalfield silks

We tried on a pannier petticoat, tried to tie a cravat, and I designed my own textile. I am planning to make my pocket at some point and upload a picture to the website.

The theatre and performance collection hadn’t changed much since the last time I visited  it at the  beginning of the course, but there is always a new thing you notice when you have a look around.

Unused panel for a man's waistcoat 1790

Unused panel for a man's waistcoat 1790

First day – Theatrical Costume @ Kensington and Chelsea college

As usual, I turned up just in time. The morning had been going so well, but then there was traffic from Earls court to college and I had chosen to take the bus. Anyway it wasn’t too bad and there was still a space for me in between Lorna and Alex.

Claire, our tutor for the year, gave an introduction about the college, the course, and what was expected.  The theatrical costume course at Kensingtion and Chlesea College (KCC) is based on a BTEC in fashion and clothing level 2 certificate, but you also get a certificate from KCC to say it specialises in theatrical costume. Claire gave us a psychometric test, and quite a few hand-outs which contained a list of London fabric shops and museums we were to visit in the afternoon.

In the hand-outs there was information about our first 2 units: developing production techniques (unit 9), where we will make samples to demonstrate our knowledge and skills; and developing pattern construction skills (unit 7), for which we will make undergarments for a polonaise (1770-1785). The course is made up of 4 units (60 hours each), and we will be doing 2 in the first term and then one each term after.

We were also introduced to Eileen who will be teaching us some of the practical parts of the course – samples etc. Eileen showed us log books and portfolios of previous year students. They were very impressive and a lot of work had gone in to the presentation as well as the content.

In the afternoon I paired up with Kate. We walked to the Victoria and Albert museum to look at the fashion and theatre & performance collections as well as getting distracted through the other rooms. Afterwards we walked to the Wallace collection where I discovered Mary Robinson, an actress, writer and poet who lived from 1758 until 1800.

Robe 'Polonaise' 1775-80 at the V&A

Mary Robinson by John Hoppner c 1780

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