Murder most foul (or another way to use two pairs of curtains)

Amidst the usual Tudor clothes making we’ve been asked to make costumes for the Murder Mystery Evening at Trerice on 15 July. The whodunnit is set in 1768, the year of the last Lord Arundell’s death, which means jumping forward two centuries and researching a whole new era of clothes. Ever up for a challenge, this meant turning to Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion book 1 and trying to make head or tail of pattern books by Elizabeth Friendship, as well as looking at existing garments, portraits and other resources. 

Recycling some skirts that were lurking in a cupboard, with the addition of a Janet Arnold pattern for a suitable jacket, the chambermaid now awaits some linen accessories to finish off the outfit. 

There’s also a sack dress for a noble lady, with panniers, in progress, made from two pairs of curtains.


The panniers


The petticoat


Detail of petticoat waist, based on a surviving petticoat in the MET Museum??  Seemed like a good idea as it should reduce the bulk of material around the waist a bit. 


The robings over the top, with a bodice that closes in the front to have a foundation to pin the stomacher to – ideally there would be a corset but there might not be enough time to complete one, on top of everything else.


Back of the gown


Gown with stomacher balanced in place.

It’s looking something like they’re supposed to at this point but the front and the sleeves weren’t sitting quite right and I wasn’t happy with the back much either so it all came apart again. 

Out came the sleeves. 

Off came the piece at the back of the neck at the top of the pleats. 

Apart came the shoulder seams. 

Pleats unpicked and reordered slightly diffently. 

In went a back yoke piece that I didn’t understand previously why it was needed – now I did. When inserted it did actually make a difference to the front, because it affected the lie of the shoulder seams. 

Shoulders resewn and the front pleats realigned, everything sitting a lot better so far.

The sleeve flounces also went through a makeover. At first they were just one, lined, but this made them too heavy, so out came the unpicker again. Now with two flounces for each sleeve, out came the pinking shears to attack the edges, and one became smaller than the other to sit on top of its partner. The flounces were finished off with two layers of lace underneath before attaching them to the sleeves and then sewing the sleeves back on to the gown. 


The revamped dress:

The men’s costumes are still in mock-up stages, and seem a bit too long, so possibly back to the drawing board with those. 

For more details about the Murder Mystery Evening visit http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/302b7675-3f0b-4a51-a9c8-957f43858a2d/pages/details

Another busy Bank Holiday

We had glorious weather for today’s costume day but not everyone went to the beach and, after a slowish start, we were quite busy. We had some lovely people in today, and some equally delightful comments about their experience. 

‘Thank you so much for all the work you put into making it an amazing experience … to see what we would have looked like as Tudors’

‘Amazing costumes, we’ve all had so much fun’

‘How beautifully well done. Stepping into time as I’ve never seen it done anywhere else’.

Thanks to everyone! 

What a way to spend a bank holiday! 

We had another Costume Day with some more lovely visitors on Monday. We were very kindly sent this photo by one family.


Some new outfits, mostly men’s jackets, had their first trip out and we even combined costumes with replica armour which went down a treat with boys aspiring to be knights. There were also a few guys up for a challenge and tried on the two paned trunkhose, one of which comes with a proper codpiece. 

The smallest outfits also got an airing and looked very fetching and sweet on real toddlers rather than the model. 

We’re already looking forward to the next Costume Day at the end of May, and hope to see many more willing victims, sorry, visitors! 

First costume day of 2016

We were lucky that Storm Katie had blown through our area by this morning, and we were only hindered by some showers rather than gale force winds. It brought the crowds in though and lived up to being a usual, busy Easter Monday. 

Several new outfits got a run out today for the first time and looked fabulous. 122 visitors were dressed in four hours and I’m not sure how many more we could’ve dressed in that time and still have been smiling at the end! As it was we took the first opportunity to collapse in a heap when we finished.  

Our new Hayloft collection

The DIY costume collection for the Hayloft is coming on a treat. These are the simplified, easy to put on dresses and doublets which can be worn without having help to dress (compared to those for costume days). All the outfits have been started and some even completed. Thoughts have now turned to cloaks and headwear. 

    
     

Happy New Year! 

A new year and new projects. 

(The resolution to post more often has almost been scuppered before getting started!)

Before Christmas we finally finished the set of school boy and school girl outfits for 5-7yrs. (yay!) 

 We’ve now started on some new quick-try-on outfits for the Hayloft for children. We’ve adapted the usual patterns to be open all the way down the back and secured with ties. There’ll be a couple of things for adults too, but it’ll be mostly for kids. (I wonder how long it’ll be before a grown man is wearing a 4yr old’s dress as a coat?! Maybe visitors will be too sensible this year.) 

There’ll also be some new items for costume days, dates of which are being sorted out, but the first this year is on Easter Monday. 

Some of the Costume Group at Christmas

After Christmas dancing

Last 2015 costume day approaches

After a busy summer the last costume day of the season is nearly here. Come along next Monday (August Bank Holiday), if you can, to find out how the Arundell family and their household dressed in the sixteenth century. 

Tomorrow (Wednesday 26 August) is also our last dancing day of the summer if you fancy a bit of a Tudor workout. 

Both run from 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm.

Tripping the light fantastic…

…or tripping up! 

We’ve been learning new steps for Tudor dancing on Wednesdays, the Scottish Branle, which is much quicker than other dances we’ve done so far and involves kicks and jumps. I think we’ve almost got it, although keeping balance and remembering lefts and rights has been tricky – nearly toppled once or twice. 

Hardly less energetic, the costume days have been going down well this summer. Only three left to go.

If anyone fancies a Tudor-themed workout volunteering at Trerice is the place! 

Getting ready for summer 2015

We’ve been a bit quiet on the blog over the last few weeks but we’ve been rather loud and busy in the sewing room!

We’re looking forward to our next costume day for visitors on Monday 27 July.  

We’ve been making new and adapting old clothes for volunteers and staff to wear during our ‘Tudor-tastic’ August (which actually starts in the last week of July!). We have house, garden and shop people eager to join in.

      

The hobby horse jousting is back again this summer, and have been revamped – ably modelled by our Tudor assistant in the photo.

  
Some of us have also been learning Tudor dances because we’re having dancing workshops on Wednesdays during August. It’s quite gentle and basic so far, but we haven’t tried it out in Tudor dress yet. We’re not quite ready for galliards and voltas…

We’ve also made a start on a set of outfits for younger school children, about 6 yrs old. The girls are finished, next step is to complete the boys’ schoolboy outfits.