A level Exam Project

Construction

As a final exam project I set about designing and making a costume for Bertha Mason, Mr Rochester’s crazy wife from ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte. I have always loved the story and wanted to try something a bit more creative than just using a pattern.

So I started off with some simple drawings of what I wanted the dress to look like and began sourcing material to make it out of – I wanted it to look simple, and nightdress like, so I chose white cotton and a bit of lace (because she would have the best clothes being Mr Rochester’s wife!) I also wanted to portray her distress and inner turmoil through her clothes, therefore I added numerous sharp pleats at the neckline of the dress which were pulled and stitched out of place so that, when the light shines on them, they produce strange, disjointed lines. To show/ enhance the fact that she is caged like a savage animal, I used buttons all the way down the back of her dress and tight cuffs, also fastened tight with small buttons, to give the look of a straightjacket disguised as a nightgown.

Overall, I was pleased with the way it turned out -as an exam piece, with minimal time to spend researching and planned, it was exactly what I wanted to accomplish with this project.

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A level project

Construction

I wanted to include some of the other things I have made of the years spent in secondary school, especially this one because I really enjoyed making it!

I was attempting to link historic costumes in with stage costumes – thereby splitting the costume down into removable items (jacket, skirt, dress) which could be worn all together or mismatched on stage creating a strange historical costume! Bit of a random idea for a project but it was so much fun!

I took the pattern from Janet Arnold’s book ‘Patterns of Fashion 2’ – which I then had to scale up and adjust to fit me, as I want to wear it! It was a long process but one which I learnt a lot from; and where I think my love of historical costumes blossomed.

In the grounds of Avebury Manor; jacket, skirt and dress.

In the grounds of Avebury Manor; jacket, skirt and dress.

Once I had constructed my final outfit I photographed it at Avebury Manor, a quiet and picturesque setting, and created a short video so that the dress could be seen in motion and to portray the full effects for the costume. It turned out quite well and I had a lot of fun making it (on a mini family holiday in Killerton at the Burrow Farmhouse B&B, and it was the perfect setting!)

Outside Avebury Manor; dress.

Outside Avebury Manor; dress.

Random Makes…

Construction

I created a jacket out of an old dress which fitted me when I was 13 and now looks funky! I cut off the skirt section and created large sleeves our of them and added a trim of lace from an underskirt.

The now interesting jacket…

The now interesting jacket…

Three skirts made from material (bought from a sari stall at WOMAD) which feel beautiful…

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The first is my favourite holiday skirt because it is so light and I love the different shades of blue; the second was the very first one I constructed so even though it does not have a interesting shape like the third I still like it’s simplicity; the third is heavy and one for more of a formal occasion.

This is an evening dress which I made from scrap curtain material for the bodice and sari material for the skirt for a birthday trip to London. I love bodice dresses because they feel so nice to wear and the sari material makes it look like a Greek sculpture (and of course, I just had to get new stripy green and cream shoes to go with it!)

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A day dress made from, again, strips of random blue fabric (because it is my favourite colour!) the construction was really simple, all rectangles but I think it looks pretty…

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I used the bottom of the fabric so that I did not need to do a hem – time saving!

A jacket I embellished with beads, ribbon and scrap curtain material to make it more wearable – it was from Gap Kids and I have had it for donkeys years and now wear it more frequently!

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Another jacket, second hand, which I added to with lace and scrap curtain fabric so that it looks a bit more interesting with an injection of colour and texture…

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I think this must have been the first thing I made in my A level Textiles lessons – a jacket which is reminiscent of the duffle coats me and my twin brother wore when we were little! I was looking at family histories and decided to make one – the grey jacket was the toile which I then added pockets and fastenings to in order to make it match the final product. For a first time make it was quite ambitious as I had to use a child’s pattern and scale it up but the effect was lovely and I still wear it!

Me and my twin brother in our matching coats.

Me and my twin brother on the drive.

Me and my twin brother in our matching coats.

Me and my twin brother in our matching coats.

Prom Dresses!

Construction

I decided, wisely or not, to make both my Yr 11 and Yr 13 prom dresses, and why not?! I knew exactly what I wanted, more or less, and I didn’t want to spend a fortune on something which, let’s face it, I was only going to wear once (although I do still have both and am always on the look out for any occasion!)

The former was created from a ‘burda young fashion’ pattern and made, unwisely, out of a shiny blue, polyester mix, but at the time I loved it! I also had a patterned cotton which was for the detail on the trim and empire band. The pattern, etc, worked and it fitted like a gloves but I think, if the fabric had been nicer and not cheap, it would have looked a lot better!

 

My Yr 11 Prom dress.

My Yr 11 Prom dress.

On the other hand, I am still in love with my latest prom dress – I bought it for £28 from a charity shop in Bath and simply cut off the sleeves, got rid of a huge plait around the neckline, chucked the net underskirt, made a nice neckline and hitched the skirt up to add volume and shape – simple really and yet so effective!

The original bridesmaids dress...

The original bridesmaids dress…

 

My altered Yr 13 Prom dress!

My altered Yr 13 Prom dress!

AS level project

Construction

I started getting into costume design and making in my A level Art and Textile lessons – encouraged by my teachers, I was given free reign to research and create what I like and what really interested me.

Now, like many people, I LOVE ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and often wish that we have similar garments to wear – when hats were compulsory items, gloves had to be certain length depending on the time of day and one had to get changed for dinner! So I decided to use this passion to provide an interesting area of study for my final AS project. Of course, this meant I HAD to watch all the versions and adaptations of Jane Austen’s famous novel!

Completed dress in our front garden.

Completed dress in our front garden.

From my research I then drafted my own pattern for a empire dress, made a toile out of calico then moved on to the main fabric – it was quite a simple design but worked perfectly in terms of the simplicity and grace of that era portrays; no one really want to know how they cleaned their teeth or how dirty their clothes must have gotten because the fashion is so beautifully iconic!

Completed dress at the Lacock Abbey Gardens.

Completed dress at the Lacock Abbey Gardens.

Waistcoat for Lord Bath

Construction

In my GCSE Textile class we learnt how to construct a simple waistcoat and I was ‘commissioned’ by my brother to make him one…

My brother's individual waistcoat (he came with me to picket he colours and buttons)

My brother’s individual waistcoat (he came with me to picket he colours and buttons)

No sooner had I done so, my stepdad suggested that I create one for Lord Bath (he was working on ‘Animal Farm’ at this point for the BBC, so got to know him well) – I thought this was a lovely, if not daunting idea and agreed.

And here is the final outcome…

Lord Bath in his handmade waistcoat!

Lord Bath in his handmade waistcoat!

I think if I did it again I would not use felt-like material as the main fabric as I imagine it might be hot to wear but I really like the embroidery and the contrasting collar fabric!