Tuesday, 18 August 2009

A Coat of many stitches....

This one is a 'fair copy' of the boys red wool suit in the V.&.A (Ref:- No. T.327&A-1982)
The coat is made from the finest superfine melton wool and is raw edged at fronts, hems & cuffs. It is embroidered down the front, the centre back vents, the cuff tops and edges and the pockets in gold. It is fully lined and the fronts and cuffs are interfaced and then faced the same wool as the
outer. The neckedge is bound with 1/4" binding of the wool. All the linings, interfacings and facings are stitched in by hand in the same way as the originals were.
The Breeches are made from the same wool and lined in linen. They are also embroidered down the front outside leg to match the coat.

Before work could proceed, a sample of the embroidery was produced so that decisions about the buttons could be made. After a great deal of research on passementerie buttons 1690 -1720 and a fruitless worldwide search for an acceptable button of the right size [1"], we decided that reproduction passementerie buttons were the only solution. Starting with finding or producing a workable button mould, which was a feat in itself, we ended up producing our own wooden moulds in house and with several samples to show our client, one of which took two hours to make!

The entire suit took 105 hours to produce, 20 of which were spent on the 39 buttons, 23 on designing and embroidery programming, 21 on actual embroidery and the rest on cut and makeup.

This outfit has its' own web album here

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Handing out Bouquets.......

I was in Birmingham this week as a 'costumed character' for the 'Britain in Bloom' competition.
The reactions of the everyday public to someone in costume proceeding from one venue to another seemed to amaze my 'handler', a lovely lady, who probably had never accompanied an 18th Century gentleman through the streets of central Birmingham before!
Having done this sort of thing for a few years, I find the responses are far less than they used to be. People are more used to seeing interpreters, fancy dress parties, costumed weddings and they find the appearance of someone in costume far less remarkable.
Probably the best reaction I ever got, was walking into a petrol station on the A40 a few years ago, at about 6 a.m, in full Cavalier outfit. The attendant was fast asleep with his head on the desk. He took a bit of waking and upon seeing me, he took off from his stool both horizontally and vertically for about 9 feet! The look on his face was picture! I wonder if he still has nightmares?............ Anyway, good luck to Birmingham in the competition. If they are looking for ideas for next year, I can't help but think of the Regency pleasure gardens.

For beauty of situation and variety of elegant scenes, these gardens [presumably Vauxhall] cannot be surpassed by any pleasure-ground in the Kingdom. It contains about sixteen acres with a great number of small, delightful groves, and charming lawns, intersected by serpentine walks, which at every turn meet with sweet, shady bowers, furnished with handsome seats, some canopied by nature, others by art.

It is also decorated with waterfalls, stone and thatched pavilions, a canal running through with two elegant cast-iron bridges thrown over it, after the manner of the Chinese. A sham castle planted with several pieces of cannon, bowling greens, swings, thatched umbrellas as a shelter from sudden rains and storms.

From the pavilions and bridges, an enlightened observer may fascinate his senses with the enchanting view of hills, vales, dales and magnificent structures that surround this Elysian Field.