Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Have you noticed how fashionable 'traditional crafts' are at the moment? At the beginning of the last recession, one of the only businesses with an increase in turnover was sewing machine manufacturers! So whether people are making for themselves or looking for an outlet, this seems to be the upcoming thing. 'How-to's' abound. That is a lovely thing, people can find out methods & techniques that before would have taken years of research.
Lately, I think even the B.B.C were amazed at the success of a couple of their programs.
'Mastercrafts'.  Monty Don with his erudite and understanding view of craftspeople and their problems - he was in the business for a while - his light touch and instinctive empathy made this a stunning production.
Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands  & Peter Gill, on 'Tales from the Green Valley', 'Victorian Farm' (and the upcoming 'Edwardian Farm'), have gone from strength to strength. Having known Ruth for a while, we were not exactly surprised at the plaudits the programs have received, but the number of them.

So is it their passion for the subject that makes them so inspirational to others? When Gini & I went to school we had teachers that had, after their names, more letters than the Royal Mail can deliver in week. - (but that's another blog)! The point is that most could not teach. We just wonder what we'd be, if all our teachers had been 'inspiring'?
Even a picture can inspire. Gini has been wanting to make the dress on the left since the publication of the book "Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail"- Lucy Johnston  in 2005 - Five years later and that's been done - but there's plenty more pictures out there!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Firm Foundations

A long time ago I was told that when designing,  "Form follows function". This was coined by Louis Sullivan  in 1896. What he actually said was "form ever follows function" and he was talking about architecture.  It really doesn't apply in costuming where the clients' choice, the purpose and the status of the garment means that 'function follows form'!
Still, any garment has to be built on firm foundations and the 'architecture' will not be right unless you work from inside out, building the undergarments layer upon layer to give the correct shape.
The stays in the picture are from the last quarter of the 18th Century, made in silk and hand made from start to finish taking over 40 hours.You may well ask why we've made something by hand when it will hardly ever be seen. I suppose there are a few answers to that.

It is difficult to know the feel of a garment until you have worn it, the restrictions and posture it gives you, helps inform us for other work.
It could be that they end up on display for educational purposes somewhere, where the stitching and construction can be seen in great detail.

You know, I was once in a design studio, when one of the creative people shouted "It will do!" about one of the jobs they were working on. I walked out. If you're not giving of your best, you're not doing your job.
Gini once said that "good design costs no more than bad design".
What I'm really saying is the stays are for when "That will do!" - just won't cut it.