Sophie Adams- Final Year Costume Blog

Ok.... So I guess this is the beginning of my online blog. So far in my final year I have almost completed my design project as of Monday 2nd of February. I chose to be a construction student so from now to May I have two more projects to complete. The first is my interpretation module which I have chosen to make an evening dress in a painting of Empress Alexandra of Russia and the second is for my historical module which is a 1920s ladies evening outfit.

For this interpretation project I am mainly working towards creating a costume which will feel like it has actually walked out of the painting, a dress which has soft brush stroked textures and an almost distorted floral pattern which could represent the soft textures of the painting. However before I start overthinking the idea of the costume I need to start researching into the construction of an early 1900s gown, and send off for fabric samples in order to start the dress. For this week I  hope to mainly focus on general research of this project, so that I will have a good understanding of the era before I start making.

Historical construction

For this week I have mainly been focusing on my historical construction module, for this project I have decided to make a 1920s dress and coat but before I actually start the main pieces I need to make the foundation of the costume. For the underwear I have started researching the era and I have bought a few books to help me have a better understanding of the time.

For the underwear I have decided to make a pair of shorts and a Bralet, earlier this week I bought 2 metres of double georgette form whaleys which I have already dyed in a powder blue colour. I had already made my patterns a few weeks ago so I was ready to cut out my fabric last Tuesday. At the moment I have only got as far as the image shows, I have pin tucked the sides panels of the shorts and added a dark cream lace insert for decoration. I have french seamed the short together and now I need to hem them, add a waist band and finish the fastenings. I hope to have the shorts finished in a few days. However I haven't got round to starting the Bralet yet as I have only cut it out, so I hope to start it this week

For the underwear I have also started making a girdle which I have nearly completed ready for a fitting. I only need to add bones and put eyelets down the back. I have just added a few images of the girdle toile, I used an image I found of a french 1920s girdle form the brand Lily of France which was on an ebay page which I thought was really pretty and just what I wanted so I decided to draft a pattern fom the image.

Hopefully by next week I will be a bit further on with the Bralet and will have at least the underwear ready for a fitting soon, so that I can start thinking about the dress and coat I will be making. I have already been sending off for the fabrics for the coat mainly as I think I will be able to buy the fabrics for the dress form whaleys and dye the fabrics myself. The coat will be a little trickier to find the fabrics for as it has to be a colour match of fur and velvet and I would rather not dye this.

By next week I hope to have recieved the samples I have sent off for and narrowed down my choices so that I will be able to decide on the fabrics I will be using, I also want to work out a basic pattern for both the coat and the dress so that I will be able to work out the metrege of the fabric I will need.

So I've got a lot to get on with.


On Monday 2nd feb I had my costume formative for my design project, I decided to treat this formative as a summative hand in in order for me to try and complete the costume and all my files, designs and book work.

I got my model in for hair and makeup so that I could see the whole costume as a complete piece. I am happy with the fit of the costume, I was worried that the bodice might not fit right as I had had to take it in by 3 inches before Christmas, but I was very satisfied with the fit. I also took the oppertunity to assemble all elements of the costume together on the model so that I could see how they worked as a conceptual piece.

The feedback I recieved was positive from both tutors, only a few suggestions for the straps of the bodice and how they were visable under the neck/shoulder piece, along with maybe adding hook and bar fastenings to better connect the neck/shoulder piece. This I agree was a slight issue, however I had not tried the complete costume on the model until my formative so I wasn't sure how it would fit, but I think with a little tweeking and rearranging of the bodice on the model I will be able to correct this.

On the whole I agreed with most of the comments made however some points made I didn't agree with. In particular the sleeves and how they attached to the bodice, I had designed them in order for the sleeve to be not visably attached at the back and this is clear throughtout my fittings. Also the way that I chose to fasten the cuffs was questioned such as where the opening was meant to be, I anything I have made before the cuff opening has always been on the outside as I think this is practical and aesthetically pleasing, I just followed my own previous experience. Overall after receiving my written feedback I am really pleased with what has been said and my estimated grade. I loved makings this costume and I am really happy with then result.

Photos from the location shoot in Scarborough of the Persephone dress, shot by Polly Robinson.


This week I have been focusing on my 1920s coat toile, I wanted to work out all my patterns before I start cutting anything as I want it to be as accurate as possible. I have also bought the fabrics for the coat, which is a pale green cotton velvet and the faux fur for the collar. I decided to do a full toile of the coat in calico including all the decoration on the sleeve in order to make sure I have enough fabric, especially the cotton velvet as the was only a limited amounts when i ordered it. I bought 3.70 metres and I am hoping that this will be enough.

I have just started doing the toile which I definately made too being and far to long but I am happy with this as a idea of the amount of fabric needed.

So these images show my first attempt at the coat toile and this is just way to long and the shoulder seam is completely wrong with the way it doesn't  fit around then shoulders.

I have altered this toile on the maniquin, by changing the shape of the shoulders allowing them to fit better. I also took about 5 iches off of the bottom and took about 2 iches of the shorter back panel. I also altered the shaping in the seam of the front panel by 1 inch tapering it up under the arm hole. I am going to redraft my patterns from this toile and then possibly toile it again and then I can cut out my cotton velvet.


Today I have been working on my edwardian bodice, on Wednesday I started doing a toile of the bodice using and image of an Edwardian gown from a Janet Arnold book which I used as the basis of the toile idea for the bodice. However when I got home I wasn't really happy with the shape of the bodice and I still wasn't sure what I want to create.

I also didn't feel confident enough to start making the costume as I still wasn't sure what I was looking at in the portrait of empress Alexandra. The image is quite hard to figure out and every time I looked at it I seemed to see something else. Initially I thought that I would make a sheer pearl edged bolero and a caped sleeve gown in the same sheer fabric, however when I had previous researched the era there didn't seem to be anything like this idea, especially with the bolero jacket.

I went back into my research in order to make sure I was on the right track, I started looking further into the images and photographs of the empress on Pinterest. I found photographs showing the empress wearing very long pearl necklaces, as well as other paintings of her wearing the long string of pearls. I then saw the costume in the portrait in a completely differnent way. Now I see that there is simply a gown with lots of sheer fabrics, mid length sleeves and a very long train, accessorized with a fox stole and a long sting of pearls. I am happy with this idea of the costume and feel that I have the research to fully back this up with images I'm my research file and on Pinterest.

After I felt like I understood the costume much better I worked out what I basic shape of the dress would be so that I could feel confident in the bodice toile. I re-toile the bodice at home, as I hadn't figure out the sleeves of the dress when I did the first toile. Now with a better understanding of the costume and of edwardian gowns I feel can progress.


This week I have been focusing on the edwardian gown, I have already bought a silk satin fabric which I dyed to create a pale peach fabric, I have cut the bodice and the skirt out and sewn them together ready for a fitting. The next stage that I extremely important is to create the print which will go all over the fabric of the dress. In the painting there is a dot fabric which is used that I have tried to find samples for but I have had no look. My only other option for this fabric is hat I create the dots my self. I have already created a screen print of this dot pattern ready for sampling by the end of this week. My plan is try and sample with pearlescent binder and flock to see whether I can mix these to together to create the almost shiny dot effect that is in the painting. This print I plan to do on a sheer fabric so have bought 1 metre of silk chiffon and 1 metre of georgette which I hope will create the effect I want. Once I have done my samples and if they are successful I will be able to buy my fabrics next week so that I can get on with the costume.


Today I have cut out the cotton velvet for my 1920s coat and began making it up, it has been really difficult trying to figure out the pattern of the coat. I had previously done two toiles of the coat in calico in order to make sure I was on the right track before cutting out my actual fabric. The main aspect that I am struggling with when trying to understand the shape of the coat is that I am working form a photograph of a garment which I believe to be made out of velvet that is nearly 100 years old and over time the fabric has dropped which makes it more difficult for me to cut a pattern, when I am not sure whether to create the pattern based on how it would have looked before the fabric dropped or how it look's now.

I have cut the pattern as close as I can get it to the image in the photograph and I am happy with my progress, I hope to have a fitting in the next few weeks with the coat so that I can progress further.


- for today I am going to be working on my 1920s dress pattern and making up a toile.

- I intend to plan a fitting as soon as possible for this project, as I need to make sure that I am keeping to my plan.

- for Mondays class I am going to be living in the textiles room sampling with the dot screen print I exposed earlier last week, so that I can hopefully finalise what is going on my Edwardian gown in order for me to purchase my top fabric by the end of the week as this is extremely essential in my progression as it is a main aspect of the gown- I basically need to get a move on!!


For my historical 1920s costume I am having a fitting this week because with the underwear my dress toile and the coat. I dicided to make the dress up as a toile because I wasn't sure what grain I was going to cut the dress on, I have toiled both straight and cross but I feel the straight grain gives my the best appearance and looks closest to the dress in the image. I also dicided to have a fitting with just the toile as I would feel a lot more confident cutting my main fabric out when I have a much more informed idea of what I'm actually making.

The main section I am having trouble with is the panelled section around the hips of the dress, it is not meant to hug the body so I feel that if I cut it on the bias (which is in this image) then it will hug the figure, whereas if I cut it on the straight grain then it will hopefully hang better as it is a loose fitting dress which is meant to skim the body.


So yesterday I did some sampling for my edwardian gown in textiles for the dot print that I need to create that would be all over my dress. I used a pearlescent binder in a pink peach colour (which is not the actual colour I need) and I printed on chiffon which I had previously dyed in a pale peach colour. The print seemed to be going really well at first but when I dried the binder it seemed to warped the weave of the fabric so the dots were slightly distorted and they pulled the fabric so that it was slightly bumpy which was a problem. I thought that I might have it too much binder on the fabric and that it was a bit too heavy. I tried to iron the fabric to press out the bubbled sections of chiffon but it didn't really seem to help. I then i hung up the fabric so that I could steam it as I thought that this would allow the fabric to relax and give a much smoother finish. I am happy with the look of the printing now and I will be suing this technique all over my dress.

However when I start properly printing my dress fabric I need to make sure not to stretch the fabric to much when I fix it to the table before I print so that I don't distort the weave, which I think was the main reason I had trouble with the fabric in my sample.


I have began printing my actual fabric for the empress dress, i was happy with the sample printing I did last week, I just had to make sure that I didn't over stretch the weave of the fabric. I hope that by the end of the week I'll have all my fabric printed. I plan that for the weekend I will be cutting out the skirt and he bodice and be able to possibly have a fitting with the costume next week. I also have figured out what I am going to be using for the floral lace section of the bottom of the dress. I have sourced an embriodered tulle which I will use at the bottom of the skirt. I am going to use a plain tulle for the top of the skirt and I will attach the embriodered lace with a running stitch to attach the pieces together as a whole skirt length. This will hopefully save me a lot of time because I was planning on print this floral pattern as well but I felt that printing a much larger and denser pattern on to chiffon would cause the fabric to be rippled and it wouldn't lay well at all.


I have had a fitting for my 1920s project and I happy with my progress, the underwear fit will and don't need to alter the short and bra, I just need to finish binding the girdle and add the suspenders.

For the dress I did a toile first out of this grey fabric which is similar to the fabric I will be using for the actual dress. I wanted to see how it would hang and what was the best grain to cut the dress on. I cut this dress on the straight and I think I hangs really nicely on the body, it is not meant to be fitted to the body it is just meant to skim over the hips. I will be altering the pattern as some sections seem to be abit to long, mainly the panelled sections on the front which need reshaping to create a deeper curve from just under the waist line, the whole front section needs taking up and inch so that is in better proportion. The panelled section is slightly ruppled so I will take much more care when sewing this section. The dress length was also quite long as I just want the longer section on the side of the dress to just touch the floor.

I think the curved panels at the back of the dress seem to lay really nicely and work being cut on the straight grain. Although the line which connects the top with the skirt at the back needs to be moved up an inch again much like the front. I also didn't toile the flowing sections which drape from the back of the shoulders but I'm sure at these are cut on the straight grain as well.

Overall I think the fitting of the dress went well and I am happy with choosing to cut on the straight as I think he dress hangs well, I only have to do a few pattern alterations, so I am confident with cutting out my main fabric, I also know now that I need to make a slip dress to fit underneath the main one, and just fix it around the neckline so that I is just lined as the fabric is completely see through. I am confident about cutting the tiered sections of draped fabric which are on the front of the dress and I have figure out the pattern that I will use. I only had enough fabric to toile one section, but I think it lays really well.

For the coat I also think the fitting of this garment went will, I struggled with trying to figure out the pattern piece for this coat as I am working from a photograph of a 1920s coat. The coat seemed to fit well, I think that it does need to be as big as I can get it, and I did cut the coat with a 2 inch seam allowance just in case it was too small, and I need to make use of this to make it a lot bigger.

I'm happy with the sleeves, the width it right and the pin tucked section works really well, however the sleeve was too long so I will need to take it up by 2-3 inches, so I will need to do the gathered section again which sits at the top of the sleeve.

Now I have all the alterations to do on this costume I think that I will be able to progress much faster and I don't really think I'll be needing another fitting for this costume, possible the dress, but I just hope that all the elements of the costume will come together quickly and I can allow myself enough time to finish it.

Photos from the studio shoot in Westwood of the 1920s underwear shot by Polly Robinson


Today I had my fitting for the empress dress, I am very pleased with the way the dotted fabric has turned out, it just seemed to work a lot better than I was expecting... any mistakes that I had made with the printing just blended in with the silk satin behind. I had the fitting only with the silk satin layer skirt and the chiffon and the silk satin bodice, I still need to buy the fabric for the skirt that will sit between the two layers with the floral embroidery on. I also ran out of the dot chiffon in order to cover the bodice so I will have to make more this Monday when my fabric arrives.

I don't have to do many alterations of the dress, as the bodice fit really well I only have to take it in about an inch at the most. The skirt waist band seemed to fit well and I only really worked on the hem in the fitting. I'm confident that I can progress with all the other elements of the costume. I need to do a lot of layering over the bodice so this silk satin layer is a base for all the decoration, I hope to be able to start this process as soon as I have made the alterations to the bodice.

The fitting of the tulle sleeve wasn't perfect it was slightly to large and I have decided to only use one layer of tulle instead of two, as it will sit under a layer of the dotted chiffon and I want it to be completely see through and with two layers of tulle it was too covered and also too pink.

Overall the fitting went well and I'm glad that I can start putting the dress together now as nearly all the printing id cone, I mainly now just need to work of getting all the elements of the dress together as I have a lot of beading decoration to do on the bodice and the skirt and I need to make sure I leave myself enough time.


Photos from the studio shoot and Westwood of the Edwardian underwear shot by Polly Robinson.


Today I have been working on the empress bodice, doing al the alterations, finishing the seams and putting the bone channels in, I decided that I was going to put the bones down the centre of each seam, as when I first started putting the bodice together I had an issue with the bone channels being seen through the fabric, I had put the bones down either side of the seam but it just didn't sit right. I had seen on another dress from the period that bones were sometime put down a seam and I thought that would work much better.

also the silk satin I had bought was quite see through and you could see the grey of the spiral steels through even the drill layer so I decided to interface the silk satin to give it more strength, I feel that this has worked really well and given the fabric structure.

I have finished the seams inside the bodice, herringboned and mitred the waist line. I need to finish all the seams before I start attaching the bone channels as I want lay the bone channels over the seams so that the boning is much more discrete in the construction of the bodice. I slip stitched down the sides of the bone channels so that they are securely attached to the bodice and I feel this has worked well as it give the bodice structure as well as completely flattening the seams out, so the bodice much looks smoother.


Today in have been working on my empress gown, I had my fitting earlier last week so my first job was to finish the hem of the silk satin layer, I did a rolled hem which I think worked really nicely, the skirt is meant to look very delicate so I am happy with the look. Now that I have done the hem of the silk satin the next part of my costume I need to work out is the embroidered lace section that will sit over the silk satin, but under the dot chiffon layer. I have bought 3 metre of a embroidered white tulle which I will dye a nude colour and I also bought 4 metres of nude plain tulle for the top of this embroidered layer. my plan is to make up the skirt pattern in the plain tulle, but much shorter than the original pattern and then cut the bottom of the skirt panels out in the embroidered tulle. I plan to French seam both the pieces as two separate sections and then attach the embroidery with a running stitch in order to make the piece look like one whole skirt.

I have cut both the sections out and I feel that this will hopefully work well if I get all my measurements right, I know that this process will take a long time but this is the best way I can think of for this section of my costume.


For this next week I am planning on working on my 1920s coat, I have all the pattern pieces cut out and I don't need to make too many alteration to the pattern.From the fitting I had a few weeks ago I found that I had to let out both the side seams of the coat by an 1inch and a half , and I also need to take up the sleeve by 2-3 inches so I have to re-position the gathering at the top of the sleeve. The first section of the coat I need to work on is canvasing the collar, then working on the short back piece. Once I have these two sections completed then I can start fully putting the coat together.

I had already done the gathered section and the pin tucked section on the sleeves, and as I said earlier I had to take the gathered section about2-3 inches further down the sleeve as it was too long, however I didn't have to take the pin tucking out which was a relief as I would have marked the fabric and I don't think I would have been able to get rid of the marks. So I have now re-gathered the sleeve and made sure the measurement was right in order for the sleeve to fit in the arm hole of the coat. I then seamed up the sleeve and I have herringboned and finished the seam ready to attach to the coat.

I have also been working out the gathered section the back of the coat, I can't really see any other way of creating this look if I am going to be beading the trim on the back panel than using the velvet as the trim and creating a band which I would attach everything to. so I made a curved pattern for this band rather than using a bias band as I feel this would work much better. I cut out the pattern and tacked it on to the back panel after I had machine gathered the velvet. Once I was happy with the placement I machine sewed the  band down and cut away the seam allowance and mitred around the curves. I then foulded the band down to just over an inch wide and then tacked and slip stitiched it in place. I think this is the best way to achieve the look on the back of the coat and with the beading decoration that I will do I hope that it will all evertually work well ad look like the actual coat in the photograph.


today I've been working on the short back piece for the coat, I have finished the band which sits along the bottom of the piece, I herringboned this section down, and I feel that this is hopefully the right way to go in creating this section in order for it to be decorated to look like the trim in the photograph of the original coat. Once I had finished sewing the velvet I then lined this piece as this is the only way I can start putting the larger pieces of the coat together. I dyed up my own fabric in the colour I can see in the image, which I think turned out really well. I flat tacked the lining to this pattern piece and then slip stitched along the edge. Now I am ready for the next step.

Now that I have finished lining the short back panel I tacked both the back panels together and machine stitched them in place, I then tacked and machine stitch the front to the back of the coat, and finished the seams in side with a herringbone and mitred the seam so that everything sat flat. I then started fixing the sleeves to the arm holes of the coat, I firstly tacked the sleeves in place securely to make sure everything sat in the right place before I started finishing by machine stitching. I had to re-tack and place the sleeves differently a lot as it was really hard to get in the right place, the gathering at the top of the sleeve also didn't help the coat seams set will, it was just so bulky, so I had to set the sleeve a bit further back under the arm so that the gathering disappeared which eventually allowed the seams to be much more relaxed. Once I was happy with the placement I machine stitched and cut down the seams inside and herringboned them flat.


Over the last few days I have been working on getting the coat together as a whole piece, I've finished the seams inside the coast, and I have been trying to attach the sleeves this has been quite difficult as I have never put in such a thick sleeve before, and the gathering only seamed to add to it.

I finished the seams in the coat and I have fitted the sleeves in the coat. Now that I have canvased the front lapels not I can also work on the pattern for the collar. I worked out the pattern by creating the calico toile, which helped my make sure there was enough room around the shoulders.

Once I was happy with the size and shape of the calico collar toile I cut a paper pattern and then cut the collar out in one layer of cotton, one layer of velvet and one layer of canvas, I flat tacked the velvet to the cotton and then I attached the canvas to the back of the collar. I then pad stitched the canvas so that the collar would curve well with the coat. I then seamed to two pieces together and herringboned and cut down the seams.


I have been working on the embroidered skirt for the empress gown, earlier last week I cut out and seamed the plain and embriodered tulle layers separately, I need to attach the top and the bottom of the skirt together so that it is one skirt. I dyed the embroidered tulle so that I two fabrics were the same colour.

To line up both pieces I firstly pinned the French seams together to line up the pattern, I then pinned each panel so that the two fabrics fitted well together, I then tacked the embroidered fabric in place. I checked the whole skirt on the mannequin once I had finished tacking, and everything seemed to line up and hang well. I then started to properly attach the embroidered tulle to the skirt, I did and running and whip stitch around the embroidery so that the fabric looked like one continuous fabric.

Once I had finished hand sewing around the embroidered pattern on the tulle, I then made sure that stitching was secure before I cut away the plain tulle. I'm happy with the result of this layer of the skirt, it to a long time to work out, and had a very limited amount of embroidered tulle, so I had to do a lot of piecing of the fabric to create the pattern pieces, which involved trying to match up the floral pattern of the embroidery. There was a lot of hand sewing involved which took up to most time, but overall I feel that this layer has worked and is very effective when I my interpretation of the original painting.

Once the skirt was together I had to focus next on making sure all the hems where the right length, I had already hemmed the silk satin layer but when I laid the embroidered layer over the silk satin the hems didn't fit together, the silk layer was far to long on one of the panels and I had to re-hem the train of this layer. I then finely hemmed the embroidered layer with a zig-zag stitch to fit with the other skirt. I feel that I am close to finishing the basic construction of the dress so that it's wearable, I just really need to focus on the getting the dress to a completed standard so that I can start decorating which will hopefully make the dress.


I have started to decorate the empress dress bodice, by creating the draped effect that is in the painting, I am using the dot tulle that I printed on the bodice as well as the skirt, I feel that this is what I think I see in the painting. I started by using a large strip of the chiffon, I didn't cut a pattern piece as I think that its best if I just start draping and pinning to get the effect that I want. I used a layer of nude tulle which i used in the skirt so that all the colours and tones link in well together and the dress looks like one contiuos dress. I tried to line the dots up so the bodice looked as symmetrical as possible. I wanted to make sure the draping was mainly at the front of the bodice, but not too much as I don't think I see that in the painting.


Now that the collar of the coat is on, and the canvasing finished I need to bulk up the look of the collar, by adding wadding to make it look more padded, so that when the fur is put on it will look much fuller. I have stitched the wadding onto the collar with a lose whip stitch, I shaped the wadding around the neckline so that the collar shape would appear much more natural.

I have also started cutting out the fur for the collar and seaming it together ready to layer on to the wadding and finish this section of the coat.


I have been working on finishing the bodice  now that I'm happy with the amount of gathering in the bodice I need to finish the biding, I have used the silk satin viscose that I use on the skirt and the bodice of this dress. I tacked the bias satin down and then machine stitched it in place, I cut down the seam and then turned in the binding and slip stitched, the next part I need to work on is the fastenings of the bodice and then the decoration.


For the sleeves of the empress dress I used one layer of the dotted chiffon and one layer of the nude tulle I used in the bodice, I cut a slightly different pattern out in the tulle and French seamed it together. I then made up a different pattern piece for the chiffon that would have no seams but was the same shape as the tulle sleeve. the tulle sleeve will sit under the chiffon so that it is sheer but not completely, as this I what I have seen on an Edwardian dress from the Janet Arnold books. I feel that this will work as long as I get all the measurements right in order for one to fit over the other.

I have finished French seaming both the chiffon and the tulle, I need to fix both the sections together so that I can see in my next fitting how they will fit.


I have started  decorating the bodice as this is one of the main parts of the dress I need to make sure I leave enough time for it, as in my fitting it is clear that the decoration will hopefully bring this costume to life and make it look much more like the dress in the painting. I need to create a pattern with the beads that would replicate the bodice seen in the painting, such as the beaded section under the bust and the three tiered shape in the centre of the bodice. Once I had started building a pattern with the beads the rest of the decorate came together quite naturally. There is still so much to do on this dress, such as beading the skirt, attaching the skirt to the bodice, attaching the sleeves and working out all the fastening, but I feel I am on track and if I just keep going I will hopefully finish it on time.

I have also started prepping for the sash decoration and the cuff decoration as well as the neckline decoration of the bodice, I want to make sure that all the decoration ties in together and that nothing looks out of place and make sure that I haven't left anything too plain so that the whole dress works as a garment.


I haven't really been showing the progress I have been making on the dress throughout this Tackk, as It has been one of the most challenging garments I have ever made. and to be honest I have had the dress in pieces for about a month now. It has been particularly hard as I have been trying to work out all the pattern pieces and doing a lot of maths and working out the measurements of the handkerchief section which has really taken me a lot of time to get my head round it. I am so glad that I decided to cut this dress on the  straight in stead of the bias, as it has made this whole process slightly easier. Earlier in my diary there is images only of the toile of the dress in a similar fabric to the fabric I have actually made the dress out of, this was really helpful to the construction of this dress and I don't think I wold have had a good understanding of the cut of this dress if I had not made it.

These images show the panelled section around the hips, this took a lot of working out and further shaping from the fitting in order to get them right , I straight stitched on the seam allowance around each pattern piece in order to keep all the pieces in shape. throughout making I kept checking with the paper pattern to make sure that I hadn't distorted any of the pieces as this would have changed the shape of the dress. I was very careful when making this section of the dress is it I one of the most decorative parts of the dress and you would definitely notice if it was misshaped. Once I had stitched around each piece a stitched the pieces together (constantly checking with the paper patterns) Once I was happy with the placement I mitred the seam and then began French seaming to finish this section. I tried to make the seam as fine as possibly which took a lot of time but I think I am happy with the result.

Creating the larger pieces of the dress was much simpler than the smaller panels, there is still a section of panelling around the arm holes of the back panel but overall this as much easier to make. Again I straight stitched around the pattern pieces on the seam allowance line, which helped me make sure that I can keep the pieces the same as the paper patterns. I also hemmed this piece separately as the hems for the front handkerchief sections area all different. Hemming everything separately would just make the construction process much easier. I French seamed the panelled sections around the arms as fine as I could as the georgette fabric is so sheer a wanted to make this seams a design detail., so I had to make sure that the seams were perfect and decorative looking.

I also have just cut out all the handkerchief pieces I worked out all the measurements, the pattern pieces do look quite simple as they are just rectangle shapes. I seamed all the pieces together, and finished the seams (French seams) as I moved through the pieces. Once I had seamed all the patterns together I then had the handkerchief sections as a full pieces, I then began pinning the pattern into the smaller panelled hip section so that the dress was completely together. I then finished the seams.

I recently had a final fitting of my costume, so I was able to see how the dress fit, I am happy with they way the dress looks, it seems like the right length and everything was in the right place. The next step in finishing this dress is to work on the lining. I haven't yet created the pattern for the lining or bought my fabric, but I think I will probably buy a silk satin viscose and dye it my self the same colour I dyed the georgette. But overall I'm happy with the progress and hope that he dress will be finished soon.


Today I have been focusing on the cross beaded trim on the cuff and the back of the coat, at first I was really daunted by the idea of this decoration being fully beaded however once I started beading I realised that I got the effect much quicker than I thought I would. I firstly tacked the guide lines for the pattern and marked out the size of the pattern I wanted. I then beaded the out side lines of pattern in order to get the shape. I then started beading the criss-cross pattern making sure that the diamond shapes were as equal as possible. I wanted to work as a process and order that I would get this diamond beaded band finished on both cuffs before I start with the circular beading pattern that sits above it, as well as the diamond band acros the back as I didn't want to rush into anything in order for everything to be semetricla and equal.

Overall I think the progress I have made on the beading has definitely helped ease my mind about it, I was quite scared to start doing it as I thought it would just take such along time, but once I mapped out everything and tacked a grid of the pattern I would be creating it helped me see clearly how I would get this section done. I still have to start the circle beading section but I'm confident that it will come together quickly.


1920s coat fitting

I have just had a fitting of my 1920s coat, which went well, everything seems to fit well, the next section I need to work on is the fur section that sits across the bottom of the coat, I'm not sure what to make this like, my first thought was to do a double sided fur piece  and is stuffed with a layer of wadding but I feel that this which is what the fur piece is in the photograph above is just to larger and distorts the shape of the coat, so have decided that the fur section is going to be one sided and just the one layer of fur, I will slip stitch the bottom side on the coat, and then I will create the wadding, I also need to make sure the wadding has enough movement in it so I will probably make is longer than it needs to be so it will ease around the coat much better. I then will fold in the fur over the top of the wadding and slip stitch down the seam line.


I have just had a fitting for the Edwardian bodice, which went okay, there were a few issues in the construction of the bodice, it seemed a little to small but I think the main issue was that the bodice is so delicate and the fastening I had put on just weren't strong enough or I just hadn't caught all the layers of fabric to make is sure enough to pull the bodice around the model. so once I replace the fastenings for something a little more heavy duty and possibly remove the chiffon from the placket I will be able to fix the bodice much easier. I realise mainly that this bodice due to the chiffon overlay is just so delicate it makes it difficult to pull and adjust to fit better. I am glad that I had this fitting as I think I would have had much more problems with the fit if I hadn't known that this was already and issue.

I mainly had this fitting so that I could see how to attach the sleeves and where to attach the sleeves to the bodice, the sleeves do fit well, I just need to work out how far down to place it. I want to make sure that my model can move well in the costume and doesn't feel too restricted by the sleeves so I have to leave them slight baggy around the back of the arm hole as due to the nature of tha fabric I am worried that this might rip and I wont be able to fix it.

Other than that I think the fitting of the bodice is working and with these adjustment I will be able to make the bodice and this costume much more wearable, now that I know were the problems are I will hopefully get round them. I definitely need to create a tulle trim to go around the top of the neckline because the dress looks a little too busty that the painting and I want to make sure that it looks modest and feels secure on the model. I think I also need to fix a piece of elastic over the shoulder section of the sleeves so that the sit better over the shoulder and hopefully won't slip of causing the model to feel uncomfortable. I also know now that I need to sit the corset much lower down so that it sits better under the bodice. this fitting has definitely helped me prepare better for my costume parade.


I have been working on finishing the beading detail on the coat, I have been working on the circular pattern which I think has been really successful, it did take quite a lot of working out, but I think the overall effect is as close to the photograph of the coat as I can get it. I firstly beaded the circles with cream pearl coloured beads then once I had finished I painted into the beading, I used mainly brown paint which I just painted around the bead lines of all the decoration in order to create depth. Then once I had finished painting I  used a hot fix gem in black diamond and placed one in the centre of the circle and then in the centre of each diamond.

I did a similar design on the back of the coat along the diamond criss-cross embroidery, however when I painted this section I made it much darker and painted the velvet brown as it looks darker on this section in the photograph. I again place the hot fix gem in the centre of each diamond. I am very pleased with this decoration and I think I works well for the coat and I really enjoyed beading it, it is an unusual design that I would have never done if I had not seen this coat.

Comment Stream

2 years ago

welcome to tackk sophie.

2 years ago

How does the costume communicate the character? You have written about the technical aspects of the dress , but the textures you have created are very unique , consider how much the character has dictated to you your design choices?

2 years ago

When tutors disagree or make suggestions about your work how do you reflect on their advice and guidance? Can you think of an instance where advice has improved or not improved your work ?

2 years ago

Throughout the process of making the Persephone costume I tried to keep as close to my design and the character as possible in order to help communicate the character better. In the beginning of the story of Demeter and Persephone the character of Persephone is a young and innocent goddess of nature, who throughout the process of the story is transformed. She is taken by Hades and trapped in the underworld and through this she begins to change and becomes a much darker character. With this in mind I really wanted to focus on creating a costume that would represent two opposing worlds blending together, with elements of the natural world above ground and the underworld.
This idea of nature and the underworld represented in one dress was very challenging for me to create, I wanted to focus on having very soft natural looking elements within the costume to represent her as the goddess of nature, so the techniques and textures I used were very soft such as the overall fabrics used for the construction of the dress which were all very transparent, as well as the wilted and disintegrated flower petals which decorate the bottom of the dress. I chose to use earthy colours such as the soft dusky pinks, nudes, pale gold and brown tones in the gown which were used to resemble her innocence and beauty. The transparency of the costume was taken further by using tulle as an important feature in a lot of the fabric manipulation throughout the design, such as the neckline, bodice decoration and sleeves. I also used a lot of fabric manipulation techniques such as irregular pin tucking to create an organic look which to me resembles the natural environment in particular bark and roots. To blend the divide of these two elements I chose to use dark and light colours that I applied through the use of beading to areas such as the sleeves, firstly to integrate the neckpiece to the sleeves and makes this line in the design a little softer and secondly to represent darker elements seeping into the softer and innocent aspect of her character in the beginning of the myth.
In contrast to the softness of the costume I wanted to use much more structured fabrics to create the underworld inspired textures. I used leather for the cross over corset as I thought that this would be best to represent the character of Persephone being trapped and restrained within the underworld, yet I still wanted to keep elements of nature within this piece so I decorated the corset with leather leaves. In creating the structured element of the costume I also used a lot of beading embellishment and hot fix gems which I linked to the idea of the minerals found beneath the earth surface such as metals, coal and crystal. This was a strong influence for the neckpiece which I heavily beaded and hot fixed to create an encrusted surface. For the horn crown I wanted to use real horns as I felt that they would be much more effective in representing the theme of death in the underworld.
The pomegranate was also a main aspect within the story that I wanted to represent in the costume as it holds strong significance with Persephone being eternally trapped in the underworld. The fruit is known as the fruit of the dead, once she ate the seeds she was bound to the underworld. I wanted to try and take on this concept and incorporate it into my final design, but instead of being too literal with this as I originally was thinking I chose to use it in a much more subtle way. Dyeing fabrics has been a technique that I used throughout the design, so I considered using a strong red dye to represent the pomegranate seeds. With this idea I applied it with a paintbrush to the bottom of the skirts to create the idea of a stained look, as if the dye from the fruit has caught the dress in a mottled effect. In order for the dress to look as though it has been tainted by her experiences in the underworld.

2 years ago

I find advice and constructive criticism in all forms very important to my projects, whether these are positive or negative as I feel that I still have so much to learn and need guidance when tackling something new to me, for example historical construction as I feel that my knowledge only covers aspects of specific time periods and there are so many different styles of dress and particular ways to create them that my knowledge doesn’t cover. Also the guidance on how to tackle different fabrics is highly important to me as when I do approach something new I have a lack of confidence in knowing how to handle them and where to start.
There were many times throughout my design and construction process where advice was given that I found to be very useful and helped further improve my design. Times such as fittings were moments where I was given really useful advice, for instance on one occasion I had almost finished the bodice of the dress but I already had some worries about the fit and the way it didn’t seem to fully support my models bust which I originally planned for it to do. In the fitting advice was given to take in a substantial amount of fabric at the sides which in my stress of construction I hadn’t accounted properly for and when taking on this task I was very daunted as it meant undoing a lot of work and going backwards in order to progress but in the end the fit was perfect.
There have been a few instances where feedback was given that I thought seemed to lack an understanding of my design, quality and the finish that I was trying to achieve, which is when I felt the advice and criticism given didn’t help to improve my costume. For instance I was criticised throughout making and finishing my costume that the costume was not fit for purpose because the great detail I attempted within the dress seemed unnecessary with comments such as why... when an audience can’t see certain aspects of detailing in the theatre?, when I had specified in my statement of intent that my costume would be designed for a film production, an audience and genre that I felt would give me the freedom to use so many decorative techniques to express my character and would be seen clearly in this type of production. But with this comment I felt as though my designing seemed incredibly unnecessary and finicky and it was deemed from the start as an un-wearable outfit but because I had no plans for quick changes etc. this I felt was not helpful advice.