Sunday, 7 August 2011


I haven't yet announced on this blog (I also have a work one) that I recently applied for, and was given a place on, the HNC Millinery course at Leeds College of Art.  (Yay!)

I thought I'd share the portfolio I took to the interview, so I've taken some pictures of it.

I should preface by saying that I was probably pushing the limits in terms of number of things to include, but when you've made as much as I have, it's extraordinarily hard to break that down into a small selection of your best stuff, while still making it a representative sample!

Obviously, the material is copyright, and design right, me, 2011, (or the year in the image!)

I presented the whole lot in an A3 sized display book, of the kind you get at stationery shops.  That was mainly because I already had it on the shelf, and I don't have a 'proper' portfolio at the moment.
The ribbon is added partly for looks, and partly practicality - it would be so completely like me to have picked up the folder upside down, and to have spilled all the work out all over the floor...  Probably on the train...  Or in the middle of the road when walking to the college...  (Not that I'm a clutz or anything.)

The front page is done with a sheet of tracing paper, textured with pastels on the back, and with the sketch and names done using a dip ink pen, then mounted onto card.

Then onto the actual work!  (Prepare for lots and lots of pictures.)

Made for Select Society, and the pictures of the outfit in use are copyright Select Society

Ignore that they're awful pictures of me, since I'm possibly the least photogenic person on the planet!!

The two above hats originally designed on the back of an envelope.

A last minute design, because I had a page to fill.  Pastels on textured paper.


Anyway, starting in September, two years of hat making here I come (one day a week at least)!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011


Onto happier things.

Much to the disappointment of some of my friends on facebook, (where I made a passing reference), this isn't the eighteenth century military type of mitre, but the medieval ecclesiastical type.  A Bishop's to be precise.

Now, strictly speaking, most medieval bishop's mitres were white, with gold, silver and jewelled trimmings.  However, my client for this wanted purple, so purple he shall get!

This is a relatively early mitre - it has the classic double point, but it still has straight sides (later they were angled).

It's made in purple wool by Hainsworth, and trimmed with gold and silver lace from Wyedean Weaving.   The crosses are hand cut (from silver metallic pvc!) and hand appliqued onto the wool.

The whole thing has a buckram and wire frame, and the end result is a handmade hat (of medievally style!).

The buckram sides, with the wire in the process of being hand sewn to the top.  The top of the frame was then attached to this, again, by hand.

The mitre after the frame was built, and the outer was added.   Lightened to show the herringbone stitching used to attach the sides to the crown.

And finally, the front of the mitre, and the back, showing the tails (again, cut from wool, this time unhemmed (this wool does not fray), and edged with gold metallic fringe.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Obviously, as well as making clothing for re-enactors, I also re-enact.

I was extraordinarily sad to hear that Frania Juchnowicz, formerly the Battle Captain of 'The Vikings' died last week.

I can't claim to have known her well, but whenever I met her she struck me as genuinely lovely, warm, and funny (if somebody who was slightly scary and whom you wouldn't want to annoy!).
She also gave Nigel a lot of moral support when he needed it, (during times when certain of his closer friends found it to be too much trouble), for which I will be eternally grateful.

I'll remember her as she was at Hastings 2006, running things, racing round in her armour, getting people to be in the right place, shouting at those who weren't, and generally organising everybody.

My sincere sympathies to anyone and everyone who knew her, especially those closest to her. May she rest in peace.

There is a 'Just Giving' page in her memory, in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the horrible illness that took her.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

30s / 40s trousers.

A pattern draft from my Nana's old sewing book. 

She was given it when she had to give up her tailoring training, by the mother of a friend, 'Mom Hume' (the family took Nana in when her mother died - she was 16).  It's not dated, and I've never been able to find any reference to it on the internet, or old book sites, so I'm guessing that it's from the late 30s (from the clothes and hairstyles).

My Nana gave it to me for my 16th birthday, because I loved it.  This was the book that I used as a guide when I made my first patterns as a young teenager.  In fact, my current winter coat is made from a draft in this book.

Anyway, I've photographed the trouser draft.  (Can't use the scanner - never learned how - should sometime!)


So here they are:












The measurements you need to draft the pattern are as follows:

  • Side length, from waist to ankle (or required length).
  • Waist.
  • Seat depth (aka body rise).
  • Hips.
  • Leg width (meaning the width you want them to be at the lower hem).

Obviously, this is a block - it doesn't include the waistband (a rectangle the size of your waist), and it doesn't include turnings for fastenings - you have to add those yourself.  Assuming they're made side fastening, as per the standard of the time, that's dead easy.  To add a fly, pockets, etc, is relatively simple too.

And it can be adapted to all sorts of different styles - but made just as it is, they make up quite nicely.

I wouldn't make them without a toile if it's your first time after drafting the pattern, though.