Thursday 28 August 2008

Trades and Guildworkers

A couple of posts ago, I showed you a picture of 'Tudor paned hose" in the process of being made. Originally, a lot of different craftspeople/ guildworkers would have been involved in the making process of certain items. At various periods, Silk workers, Dyers, Weavers, Voiderers, Clothworkers, Fullers, Broiderers, Tailors, Gold smiths, Leatherworkers, Girdlers, Buttonmakers, Hosiers, Hatters, Cappers, Milliners, Lacemakers, Narroware makers, Cordwainers and Ruff makers could all be part of the workforce to put together a single outfit - and what each did changed over the centuries. There are still small numbers of people carrying out these very specialised skills. Nowadays, it is more likely that you'd buy your shoes and belt from elsewhere and your tailors' role has magnified to absorb all those skills that are less available. Traditionally the tailor worked solely for men and the ladies were garbed by competent seamstresses - again, this has changed and most tailors, historical or contemporary, will undertake commissions for either gender. Indeed your tailor may not be a man!
The picture shows the final finished hose - and thanks to the invisible man for modelling them for us!

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Rifleman Harris

We just got back from the Military Odyssey at Detling in Kent. Lots of visitors came to the stand and we had quite a few people collecting finished items including that wonderful actor Jason Salkey and his wife.
Jason was in the cast of 'The Memphis Belle' & 'The Turn of the Screw', but you'll probably remember him better as 'Rifleman Harris' in the Sharpe series. Jason sells a series of marvellous DVDs covering the making of the shows. If you're interested in 'Sharpe', or an hilarious look 'behind the scenes', I highly recommend them.
Anyway, we'd made a new shirt for Jason and he was kind enough to give us an autographed photo saying "as good as the original!".
Gini spent a while repairing his rifle jacket, so the sleeves are now reattached to the body -and it fits over his new shirt nicely.
Sometimes it's not the glamorous items that put the smile on someone's face but it's the simple things - like a new shirt.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Dressmaking & Tailoring.......

I was having on of those moments, as you do, thinking about the words 'dressmaker', 'tailor','corset maker','costumier'etc., I do feel that these don't adequately describe what is sometimes involved in the production of a garment. A Victorian corsetier, in modern parlance, would probably be a 'textile stress engineer and constructor'- and I don't use the word 'engineer' lightly. Making various textiles and other materials work together, in the right way, in the right size, giving the right look, the right feel, giving the right impression and the right wear is engineering. - And precision engineering at that. The Tudor paned hose in the photo are a good example. Getting all the panes to hang in the correct place and manner isn't for the fainthearted. So, would 'Structural Textile Engineer' cover all the bases.. Well no, because that leaves out the design aspect..........
I was brought back to earth when Gini said "I'm just going upstairs to wrestle with a ten pound embroidered octopus......"

Thursday 7 August 2008

A Groom with a View......

I was told yesterday that my previous post was leaving out that poor disregarded person at weddings 'The Groom'. O.K, let's put that right...
You and your bride have agreed on a wedding with a difference - Great, the photographs will never look 'out of date', for a start! Now you're either experienced at this 'dressing up' or you aren't. If you are, you probably know what you want, - if you aren't, you are probably very close to someone who does know what you want! The main thing is relax, this journey can be fun. Once you have your 'theme' sorted, the main question is - are all your guests going to be costumed, or just the main wedding party? Hint- the more are costumed, the more your guests feel 'involved' and the more memorable your wedding becomes.
The picture shows Christian in his 'posh tudor' actually, not at his wedding , but at ours! We had a multi-period wedding where most of the guests were Re-enactors, Interpreters, Historians, Authors, Archaeologists, Musicians etc., so we settled on a wedding that let them all pick their favourite period. No-one let us down and didn't come in costume, but the fact that we were being filmed for T.V could have helped! (The one chap we were worried about, got really into it and spent all day doing '1st person')! So don't worry. Try and get everything in place for your guests to enjoy themselves, then leave them to it. Any glitches are the long suffering Best man's problem. The day is for you and your bride.
Still think you can't come up with an outfit?
You mean that there are grooms out there who don't want to be Mr Darcy???.......

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Brides & Weddings

We are regularly asked to create bridal wear, historical and contemporary. In our experience, some Brides know exactly what they want down to the last spangle*, because it is the dress they've dreamed of since childhood. Others, though, can need some help with the creative process and this can only begin with information - and plenty of it! If you need information, then the most obvious way to get it is to ask and thus the process begins with an informal 'getting to know you' conversation, where Gini may often be heard to ask some pretty strange questions, that may seem have nothing whatsoever to do with wedding dresses……..
Before a bride comes to the first consultation, we ask her to put together a storyboard. This can take the form of a book, a large folder - in fact, it can be as creative as you like and should be visual. Collect images and items that appeal to you - a piece of cloth, an autumn leaf, pictures of landscapes, cars, colours that express mood. And of course pictures of dresses you like from magazines, weblinks…….you get the picture, but more to the point, this helps Gini to get a visual feeling about who you are and what you like. We keep the storyboard from our own wedding on permanent display in sewing room - covering Bride, Groom, Best Man, Bridesmaid & Pageboy.
At a first meeting, a good designer will assess your size and take a really good look at you from all angles [don't forget, your guests will spend a fair bit of time looking at the back of you too!]. They will be able to advise on colours and styles that will suit you and play up to your best features whilst drawing the eye away from any areas that you don't like - and we all have at least one of those! That's really what it's all about, you see…..Finding THE dress for YOUR day. Whether you are choosing an authentic period style, an historically influenced style or a contemporary style, the day is ultimately about Romance and adding those little extra touches which will make you feel so special and your day a dream come true.
* (Spangle -A sequin of our forebears )