Archives for posts with tag: historical

This half scale 1860’s evening dress was made from a pattern by Janet Arnold taken from a dress from the trousseau of Miss Wyatt. We had to make a half scale garment from any pattern by Janet Arnold as an exercise in using another person’s patterns and making them work.

I chose to make this nineteenth century evening gown because I thought that it’s shape was really interesting. I liked the slightly flattened front bell shape of the skirt and the sleeves and the way that the berthe sat across the bodice. I wanted to have a go at making this dress in half scale because I’d never made anything from the 19th Century before so I thought it’d be different and a good chance to learn about another period of dress.

I began by going to have a look at the original garment in the Manchester Costume Gallery. The Gallery were kind enough to let me have a look at the gown and take photos and measurements from it which was so invaluable when constructing as I had already seen how the dress went together.


From the notes and photos I had taken of the original, and from the instructions given by Janet Arnold, I constructed my half scale garment as true to the original as I could. I did make the decision to machine stitch some of the major seams but I don’t think that it affects the garment as a whole because I hand finished everything I could.

I really liked the colouring of the original gown, however I couldn’t find the right fabric in a pink and black stripe, so instead I chose a green and black striped fabric as I felt that having the stripes was more important than having the pink colour. I really like the colour combination of the green and black on my version and I think it works well with the green net sleeves instead of the ivory colour of the original.





I created this religious alb for the character of Ostensible in Rose Bruford College’s latest production of Scenes from an Execution which showed at the Unicorn theatre, London, from the 3rd-5th March 2012.

It was designed by Fraz Roughton and is a stylized adaptation of a traditional Cardinal’s garments. I created the garment adapting a flat pattern by the embroidery artist Beryl Dean and then changing the garment to the shape that my designer wanted in fittings.

The alb was created with soft tailoring, is fully lined and over a period of just under three working weeks. I also worked backstage on the show as a dresser and wardrobe assistant. It was an incredibly fun and challenging time and I learned a lot about working in a professional environment. I really look forward to working backstage again soon.

For a three day project at college I was tasked with creating a Nineteenth Century hat. I decided I wanted to make a recreation of a ladies’ riding topper. This is a kind of sloping top hat, taken from men’s styles but made more feminine and used primarily for riding. You still see examples of top hats being worn whilst riding in equestrian shows and important events today.



I really liked the blend of the masculine and feminine that was an aspect of this hat. I liked it because although it is not incredibly decorative, the style and beauty is seen in the cut and line of the topper. Because of this it was especially important to get the shape of the hat correct. I made the hat from stiff buckram and thick covered millinery wire which I then covered in a decorative cream patterned fabric and finally decorated with ribbon, feather and a jewel on the rear of the hat.

The original line drawing of the hat that I used as a source had a slightly curved crown, however I couldn’t achieve this effect with the stiff buckram I was using, and so I had to create a straight sided crown. I do still think that this created a good line and am really proud of how my hat ended up looking. I genuinely enjoyed my first experience at millinery work and greatly look
forward to working and creating hats again in the future.

My latest project at Rose Bruford College was to create a nineteenth century period waistcoat. I wanted to create something that was
inspired by the nineteenth century line and cut but with a very modern feel.

I was greatly inspired in my design by the Martin Scorsese film ‘Gangs of New York’. I really liked the shape of the garments in this film because they were clearly a stylized version of nineteenth century design. I was inspired by the character ‘Bill the Butcher’ played by Daniel Day-Lewis. I found the idea of the universal gangster, the hooligan dandy, a really interesting concept. I wanted to portray this image of the threatening hidden by a thin veil of charming, yet I wanted to make this relate to the modern viewer and so I looked to more modern design to help also inspire me.

My plan was to look at gangsters from early Hollywood films to draw on a more modern tradition. I really wanted to use a pinstriped fabric, because although this is a more modern fabric than we would find being used in the 1860’s for waistcoats, it is very typical of the Hollywood movie gangster and it strikes an incredibly strong idea in our minds when we see it.

For the back of my waistcoat I wanted to create a contrasting repeating pattern, in a floral style to look like it was grown onto the waistcoat back. I designed this pattern myself, and created it using fabric paints and embroidery.

I wanted my waistcoat to have a kind of gambling theme and so incorporated in the repeating pattern for the back of the waistcoat are spade and heart images. As well as this I wanted to use the image of the king of hearts on one of my lapels. As the waistcoat was to be double breasted the lapels would be a big feature and I wanted one to be particularly bold. I painted the image of the king of hearts onto the white fabric for this lapel by hand and I think it looks really effective.

For our penultimate project of the first year, we had to create a period shirt based on a pattern consisting entirely of varying sizes of squares and rectangles.

The construction of this shirt required a lot of the skills we had learned throughout the year, be that on the kimono project or during our basic skills. I really enjoyed working on this period shirt project, and found I could construct the garment with fairly little guidance meaning I could work mostly independently. I think that the final garment is well finished and looks good.

For my corsetry project I decided I wanted to create an 18th century corset, or stays as they would have been called. To do this I first stand drafted a basic shape for my pattern. Then I used this after balancing it, to create a first toile to try on my model, see left.

After my first fitting I had to take the corset in a lot and therefore I had to remove some bones to make it smaller. The toile for my second fitting fitted far better, see right. I still had to take the corset in a little but the changes

I made were minor or aesthetic and so I decided there was no need for a third fitting.


Once the second fitting was complete I went about creating my final pattern. I used this pattern to create my final corset. To do this I had to cut two entire corsets in calico and then again in the main and lining fabrics and from these pieces I would create the rigid corset.

I was very proud of the final corset I had created, I think it is a good example of my ability to create complex garments to a high standard. It fitted my model perfectly and I feel that the fitting and construction process has taught me a lot that I can take on to use in the creation of future garments.

The first project I completed as a part of my studies at Rose Bruford College, apart from learning basic skills and pattern cutting which were started at the beginning of the year and continued throughout the year, was the creation of a half scale Kimono. This kimono was a fashion kimono and intended to be created using the basic skills we had just learned.

First we had to flat draft a pattern for the kimono and then cut our chosen fabrics accordingly. The construction of the kimono came next, the biggest challenge I found was that because everything was being created in half scale the accuracy was even more important as the detail could be more easily critiqued. I chose a varied colour scheme which made the cutting process more interesting as I had to know what I was cutting on of and the pieces I would need more of.

I was really pleased with the finish of my kimono. I was proud of the way I handled my first project with relatively few problems.