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

Category: BTEC Theatrical Costume Level 2 (page 1 of 7)

BTEC Certificate in Theatrical Costume level 2. 1 year course on Mondays at Kensington and Chelsea College with Claire Porter.

Class 33: Photos at the Wallace Collection

Had a wonderful day at the Wallace collection. Claire had arranged for 2nd year students from the London School of Fashion’s BA (Hons) Make Up and Prosthetics for Performance course to do our hair and make up.

The ‘official’ photos are not yet out, but as a sneak preview.

Level 2 students in the fernery at the Wallace Collection

Level 2 students in the fernery at the Wallace Collection

Getting ready

The image board which had been given to the hair and make up people

The image board which had been
given to the hair and make up people

Hair being put in to rollers by Emily

Hair being put in to rollers by Emily
(took over 40 minutes) 

 

Hair out of rollers. Adding a cage.

Hair out of rollers. Adding a cage.

My hair being piled on to the cage

My hair being piled on to the cage



About to go out for main photoshoot

My costume

My costume with hat

My costume

My costume

Homework 32: Period bodice – placket

I measured the front of the bodice between the top and bottom piping to get the length of the placket. I wanted it to be about 50mm wide. I would be using the drill covered by top fabric.

I cut double width layer of the top fabric 2omm longer than the placket length to give a 10mm seam allowance. One length was a selvage edge, so I wouldn’t have to neaten the edge to stop it from fraying. I made a pocket with the top fabric to slide in the drill layer, which cut was slightly smaller than the placket measurements. I trimmed the edge that would be caught in the seam with pinking shears.

Placket made from top fabric with drill inside

Placket made from top fabric with drill inside

Underside of placket

Pinked edge


Placket placed ready to be sewn

Placket placed ready to be sewn

I slipped stitched on the fold and along the selvage edge to hold the placket in place. I then stitched the top and bottom edges in place so that there was less chance of the placket getting ruffled up and out of place.

Placket showing on the outside of an open bodice

Placket showing on the outside of an open bodice

Placket on the inside of the open bodice

Placket on the inside of the open bodice


Haha! now no one will be able to see my red and white corset. Hmm.

Homework 32: 18th century pockets

I don’t travel lightly. The idea of having a huge dress with no storage just seamed like madness, so I was determined to have pockets. One on each side to keep me balanced. I already had pocket slits after all.  Anyway, I had dyed my petticoats and bumpad red, so I needed these to stop the red showing through.

I was running out of time so had to knock these up quite quickly. They were going to be basic, but I didn’t want them to look shoddy, even if they weren’t going to be seen. They had to be fairly strong too, but I would leave things like binding the edges to after the photoshoot.

I using a picture from ‘Patterns of fashion’, I drafted a pattern leaving some additional material at the top which I could fold over to make channels for tapes to hold the pockets on.

Calico pockets using a design from 'Patterns of fashion'

Calico pockets using a design from 'Patterns of fashion'

For the slit position, I wanted to be able to get my hand in easily and for the pocket to be deep enough that things would not fall out, but not too deep that I would not be able to reach the bottom.

I wasn’t sure if the cotton was going to be strong enough, so I mounted it on to one of the calico layers and marked where the slit should be. For 2 pockets, I cut out 4 pieces in calico and 2 in the same blue cotton I had used for the quilted petticoat.

Using my seam ripper, I started off the slit and when it was big enough, I continued with scissors.

Using the seam ripper to start the slit

Using the seam ripper to start the slit

Using scissors to finish the slit

Using scissors to finish the slit



I cut v shapes at the top and bottom so I would be able to fold the opening back a little and stitch so there wouldn’t be a raw edge.

V shape at the bottom of slit

V shape at the bottom of slit

V shape cut at top of slit

V shape cut at top of slit


Pressing back the opening

Pressing back the opening (Opps! the iron was a little too hot)

I sewed round the opening, then sewed all  three layers together and cut off the excess with pinking shears.

Sewed down the turned back hem round the opening and used pinking shears to cut off excess

Sewed down the turned back hem round the opening and used pinking shears to cut off excess

Next I turned it out so the blue fabric was on the outside and cut back some of the additional fabric at the top.

Cutting back fabric, ready to fold over.

Cutting back fabric, ready to fold over.

Folding in place ready to sew up and thread tape through

Ready to fold, sew up, and thread tapes through



I put the pockets on tapes was place them on the stand over the under petticoat and bumpad, made sure they were in the right position for the pocket slits, and put in a few tacking stitches so they would not slip.

Damn! I forgot to take a picture of the finished product  - must remember to add that later.

Cockade shoes – before and after

After the dying and the cockade making – the shoes are finally finished.

Red, white and blue cockade shoes finished

Red, white and blue cockade shoes finished

This is how they looked before:

Second hand £5 wedding shoes off ebay

Second hand £5 wedding shoes off ebay

You have to agree they are much more in keeping with the overall design now.

Homework 32: Cockades – red, white and blue

Red, white and blue

Red, white and blue

I was pretty confident that I would be able to come up with some good decoration after my cockade experiment. It seemed they are mostly just variations of pleating.

I did a quick bit of research to find out if red, white and blue did mean anything on a cockade in the 18th century.  It turns out that the ‘tricolour cockade of France’ was created in 1789 by the Paris militia in response to Camille Desmoulins asking his followers to wear green cockades. The Paris militia’s cockades had blue in the centre and red on the outside.

It doesn’t look like anyone has used red in the centre and blue on the outside apart from the (British) Royal Air Force which of course is much more recent, but probably why it felt more natural for me to set the colours in that order – I am after all a forces brat!

First I wanted to see roughly how big the cockades should be, so I made a quick shape in petersham to place on the shoe.

Getting an idea for the sizing of the cockade

Getting an idea for the sizing of the cockade - don't worry they looked a lot better than this in the end!

Base material

I knew I wanted at least 2 or 3 tiers, and as all my petershame was 25mm wide at most, I knew I would have to use a base to sew on of some kind. I found some white felt in my scrap box and thought it would be perfect to cut in to circles.

I folded the circles in to quarters so I could find the centre, and then I used a handy large transparent button to make an inner guideline for the 2nd tier.

Tracing round a glass to make felt circles

Tracing round a glass to make felt circles

Using a button to make an inner guideline

Using a large button to make an inner guideline

Blue (box pleat) tier

The blue petersham I had ordered was quite thick, so I didn’t want to ruffle it too much. Instead I decided to make box pleats.

First I used chalk to mark 10mm spacings along the petersham as I wanted to make sure they looked regular.

Marking 10mm spacings

Marking 10mm spacings

Box pleating the petersham

Box pleating the petersham

Next, I worked out I would need 8 pleats to get a circle with a large enough circumference.

Box pleats pinned on to the felt circles. Checking the size on the shoe.

Box pleats pinned on to the felt circles. Checking the size on the shoe.

White (knife pleat) tier

For the next tier I wanted to use a different pleat. One where the folds would overlap, but I wasn’t sure  how wide the pleats should be and how much they should overlap, so I did another test. Again, I started by marking out spacings, but this time 5mm apart using soluble marker.

Test pleats. The pleats at the beginning are tighter than at the end.

Test pleats. The pleats at the beginning are tighter than at the end.

I decided I liked the wider pleats where more ribbon was used because you would have folds at the outer edges as well as in the centre.  If you didn’t use enough, the outer edge would look taught.

I also tried to end the circle so the join would be under a pleat and not show, and then stitched the edges together.

Sewing the edges together to complete the circle

Sewing the edges together to complete the circle

Red (ruffle) tier

The centre tier was going to have to be quite small, so I just did a straight stitch 1/4 in from the edge of the red grossgrain and then gathered it in to a circle tying it taught and sewing the two edges together.

Back of the red ruffled tier

Back of the red ruffled tier

Constructing the cockade

This was pretty easy starting with the blue tier, I just pinned it on to the felt and stab stitched in place. Then placed the white layer using the guide I had drawn on to the felt earlier. On the red tier I tried to catch the red ruffles where they touched the felt, so that it would not disturb the gathers.

Sewing on the blue tier

Sewing on the blue tier

Sewing on the blue tier - back

Sewing on the blue tier - back

The finished cockades

A pair of red, white and blue cockade's - front

A pair of red, white and blue cockades - front

Back of the cockades

Back of the cockades

Would you buy one or would you just make your own? Please let me know :)

Attaching the cockades to the shoes

My shoes were now thoroughly dry after dying and had come out quiet well, now it was time to decorate them with the cockades.

I used very strong button hole thread and tried to use the existing holes which were made by the wires holding on the bows I had prized off previously. The uppers of the shoes were very hard to get the needle through, so I had to use my metal thimble to push and the rubber one to help me pull out.

Sewing on the top of the cockade to the shoe

Sewing on the top of the cockade to the shoe

You can see where the previous decoration is being covered up

Sewing through the shoe to the felt


Trying to use existing holes to get the needle through

Trying to use existing holes to get the needle through

Homework 32: Button hole elastic

This evening I set out to put the button hole elastic on to the bodice and add the buttons to the skirt as Claire instructed during our last class:

  1. cut elastic with one or two holes, depending on the size and stretchyness. Cut half way between the one button hole and the next. You will need one for each bone or seam. I used three on each side. More on the side and back than on the front as most people tend to lean forwards more.
  2. machine zig-zag stitch the edges to stop from fraying
  3. use double thread to sew in place
  4. place them so that they finish 15mm-25mm above the waistband
  5. during a fitting work out where to place the buttons on the underskirt
  6. use a flat button on the inside of the underskirt

I had already zig-zag stitched the edges ofthe elastic to stop them from fraying.

Zig-zag stitching the button hole elastic

Zig-zag stitching the button hole elastic

Measuring how far away from the edge to place the bottom of the elastic

Measuring how far away from the edge to place the bottom of the elastic

Elastic sewn in place

Elastic sewn in place

Checking the stretchiness and that it it firmly in place

Checking it is firm


Sewing on a button to the overskirt

Sewing on a button to the overskirt. Pin marking where it should be placed.

Ben helped me during a fitting to mark on the overskirt where the buttons should go.

Buttons sewn on the wrong side (should be on the inside -  I had sewn 5 out 6 before I noticed)

Buttons sewn on the wrong side (should be on the inside - I had sewn 5 out 6 before I noticed)

Once I had rectified my mistake – Button elastic was in action.

Button elastic in action

Button elastic in action

Feels like I could be nearly finished with the costume. Only a few more bits to do.

Homework 32: Making up the cuffs

Using the piece I cut in class 32, I sewed a 8mm bias channel about 30mm from the selvage edge. This was to put in elastic so the edge would be ruffled. I then gathered along the curved edge so that it would provide the baggy shape with a straight edge at the bottom of the cuff.

Cutting the cuff in lawn

Cutting the cuff in lawn

The cuff had to fit in to the bodice sleeve, so gathering had to fit on a bias strip 36cm long.

Bias binding the top of the cuff

Bias binding the top of the cuff

The elastic channel looked really bulky and not very good.

Using bias for the elastic channel

Using bias for the elastic channel - very ugly

Because it looked so hideous, on the other cuff, I just put a pleat in the fabric and threaded the elastic through that. The elastic I was using was flat and only 4mm wide.

Using a pleat in the cuff to hold the elastic

Using a pleat in the cuff to hold the elastic

This looked a lot better, so I unpicked the other cuff and did it the same way. All of this had to be hand sewn as it is very visible and machine stitching would not be correct for this period.

Once I was happy with the cuffs, I just slip stitched them to the facing inside the sleeve.

Homework 32: Dying the shoes

The wedding shoes I bought off ebay arrived today. I had looked for something with a shaped heel, pointed toe and a tongue. The heal wasn’t as chunky as I would have liked, but it was hard to find something in my £5 (including postage) budget.

Second hand £5 wedding shoes off ebay

Second hand £5 wedding shoes off ebay

I knew they would not be a good colour, so I had also ordered a 12 colour sample pack of transfer dye from ColourCraft (don’t bother trying to order online, the site crashes and you have to call them to give your payment details anyway – good customer service over the phone though). I haven’t used transfer paint before, but Anne had used them on her shoes and it came out really well.

First I would need to get those lovely bows off which turn out to be held on with tough bits of wire.

Using pliers to get the bows off the shoe

Using pliers to get the bows off the shoe

Whatever decoration I used would have to cover up the glue and wire hole marks.

One bow removed, another to go

One bow removed, another to go

Transfer dye

Anne said that she ended up painting diluted dye straight on to her shoes and it seemed to work quite well. When I tried it, the fabric did seem to suck up the colour and distribute it fairly evenly. There were areas where it did not take so well, I think this was where they were slightly dirty or had glue, but it wasn’t too noticeable.  I used a swatch from the petticoat fabric to try and get the same hue.

Painting transfer dye on to the shoes

Painting transfer dye on to the shoes

The heels seemed to be a slightly different colour, so I had to put more dye on to make them look blue rather than greenish. This meant that they were quite a bit darker than the rest of the shoe. I was careful that the darker blue didn’t seep on to the main part of the shoe. I tried to make the the same colour as the dark blue petersham I will be using for the rosette decoration (you can see a sample in the picture below).

Dyed shoes with darker heels

Dyed shoes with darker heels

Now I have to wait for them to dry. I was thinking that I might use a really hot hairdryer to try and stabilize the colour. Normally you would paint the transfer dye on to paper and then use an iron to press the design on to fabric.

I painted a test piece of fabric to see if water would affect the dye on the shoes after it had dried. The colour didn’t shift when I sprayed it with water, so I didn’t bother heating the shoes with the hair dryer. I figured it would be wet at the Wallace Collection anyway.

Homework 32: Hemming the fichu

I used the selvage edge for the straight length of the fichu and just did a small rolled hem on the angled sides.

rolling the hem on the fichu

rolling the hem on the fichu

Class 32: Final fitting and finishing touches

Painting showing chemise poking out

Painting showing chemise poking out

Today was just for finishing touches as is the last class before we have our costumes ready for the photo shoot in the beautiful surroundings of  the Wallace Collection.

In the class today, I made a toile of the cuffs and fichu as I only had a limited amount of lawn to use.  I also had a fitting and Claire went over some of the final details like ruching the overskirt, attaching the bodice to the overskirt and putting in a placket on the bodice.

Softening – cuffs and neckline

These cuffs would be made of cotton lawn and would be set just inside the bodice sleeve to give the impression of a chemise poking out.

I started by draping some of the lawn to see how much I would need for the gathers.

Working out roughly how much lawn to use

Working out roughly how much lawn to use

Taking some measurements and working from shapes Claire had explained to me, I drew a pattern and cut it out in scrap fabric which was a similar weight to my lawn. The cuff should be baggier at the bottom than at the top and the seam on the inside of the arm (same as bodice sleeve).

Cutting a toile using pattern piece for the cuff

Cutting a toile using pattern piece for the cuff

Checking the cuff toile in the bodice

Checking the cuff toile in the bodice

I also made a toile for the fichu which I tried during the fitting. It was a lot smaller than some of the others, but I didn’t want anything bulky looking. Claire gave me a little cotton lace to add to the bodice to soften up the neckline.

Cutting the cuff in lawn

Cutting the cuff in lawn

Using the fichu toile to cut the lawn

Using the fichu toile to cut the lawn

Fitting

To remember for the final fitting:

  • make sure you have the costume shoes on (or at least heels with the same height)
  • no t-shirts/tops under corset
Final fitting. The overskirt has been tucked in to the pocket slits.

Final fitting. The overskirt has been tucked in to the pocket slits.

Ruching the overskirt

Several methods can be used depending on the style or fabric you are using:

  • rouleaux loops from inside to out
  • tapes on the underside
  • tacking stitches

I am going to use rouleaux loops made from the same fabric as the overskirt and bodice.

Attaching the bodice to the skirt

  • swing stitches
  • stab through
  • button elastic

Button elastic method:

  1. cut elastic with one or two holes, depending on the size and stretchyness. Cut half way between the one button hole and the next. you will need one for each bone or seam. I used 3 on each side. More on the side and back than on the front.
  2. Machine zig-zag stitch the edges to stop from fraying
  3. use double thread to sew in place
  4. place them so that they finish 15mm-25mm above the waistband
  5. during a fitting work out where to place the buttons on the underskirt
  6. use a flat button on the inside of the underskirt
Zig-zag stitching the button hole elastic

Zig-zag stitching the button hole elastic

Placket/modesty panel/ eyelet guard

Use top fabric and drill layer.

When used behind hook and eye fastenings, the placket can be about 5cm wide and is placed on the same side as the eyes.

If used behind eyelets the placket should be wider to take in to account how tight the lacings will be done up and how close the panels will go together.

Homework

Finish the costume ready for next week:

  • Under petticoat – finish waistband and hook.
  • bodice – lace on neckline, button hole elastic, placket, cuffs
  • overskirt – finish waistband and make rouleaux, buttons to attach to bodice
  • fichu – cut and hem
  • pockets
  • cockades
  • shoes
  • hat
  • mop
  • dye under petticoat

Things to bring to the Wallace collection

  • costume
  • small sewing kit with coloured thread, extra fabric, safety pins.
  • packed lunch, snacks and drink
  • no  jewellery
  • make sure you are not wearing nail varnish
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