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

Tag: Kensington and Chelsea college

Class1: Introduction to the course

Tutor: Claire Porter (1 tutorial each term)
Teaching assistant: Eileen Hill

Course overview

Costume: 18th century polonaise c.1770-1785 with undergarments

  • Term 1: Undergarments – Corset and Petticoat
  • Term 2: Toile for outerwear
  • Term 3: Bodice and decoration

We will be using Jean Hunnisett’s book  ‘Period costume for stage and screen‘ to make a costume for ourself.

Outerwear design to be ready for Christmas break.  Design should include ‘red, white, blue’. We will need approx. 10 meters of fabric. £150 budget (max).

We have to keep a log book which records our learning, samples, photos, and evaluation (what went well and what went wrong).   This should be about 50 percent photos and illustrations to 50 percent writing.
Assessment will be on our log book.

Course consists of 4 units to obtain a BTEC Level 2 Certificate in Fashion and Clothing, these are:

  • Unit 7: Developing Pattern Construction Skills
  • Unit 8: Developing Sewing Skills for Fashion
  • Unit 9: Developing Production Techniques for Fashion
  • Unit 10: Fashion Realisation

Additionally we will get the Kensington and Chelsea college certificate in ‘Theatrical Costume’

Hand outs (read for homework):

  • Course Handbook
  • Contact sheet
  • Term schedule
  • Directory of suppliers and reading list
  • Project brief: Unit 9: Developing production techniques – Technical and practical application.

What we will need for next week:

  • seam ripper
  • fabric scissors
  • paper scissors
  • pins
  • needles
  • white cotton
  • thimble
  • tracing wheel
  • carbon paper
  • tailors chalk
  • 10 meters of medium weight calico or cambric (can be bought from Shepherds Bush – A1 or Classic textiles).


Tracing wheel

Tracing wheel

Cotton thread

Cotton thread

Carbon paper

Carbon paper

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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