2nd Year Project

Construction, Textile work, Uni Work

For our 2nd Year project we researched and designed for an operatic version of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’. We were asked to focus on 6 characters, making sure we studied a range of classes and a mix of fairies and humans. I chose Oberon and Tytania (the Fairy King and Queen), Theseus and Hippolyta (the Count and Countess of the human world), Puck (Oberon’s goblin right-hand man) and Snug (one of the amateur dramatics who perform for the Court). I then went through our design process creating mood boards, rough designing, then polishing them into design developments and finally into the final designs (combining the characters in a cast line up in order see what the production would look like on stage).


Taking the designs into our chosen textile area, which was embroidery in my case, I developed individual textiles and colour palettes for each character; for example, I used red for Tytania (the fiery, passionate Queen), blue for her husband (because he is mysterious and ambiguous), green for his henchman Puck (as he comes from the forest and is a bit of an outcast), orange and brown for Snug (because he plays the lion in the play and is such a gentle character), I also used light pink and blue for Hippolyta and Theseus (because they are muted tones of the colours seen on the Fairy King and Queen – I felt this reflected their characters well. The humans are confused and selfish, not looking where they tread in life and hurting the people they care about; they, like their colours, are washed out and boring!

Finally, we got to actually make one of the costumes we had designed! Th100_4654is is what I had been waiting for since first year! I chose to make Oberon’s because I have never really made anything for a man before and thought it would be fun to have a go at tailoring.

I found a model, Alex Brown, and started making toiles of all the pieces of his costume – loose undershirt, traditional fall front breeches, a cropped waistcoat and a long, heavy jacket. Whilst doing this, in textiles I made larger samples of the character’s patterns and textures in order to see how they would work on the actual costume. So lots to do but slowly the whole thing started to come together.

It was amazing to experience the complete construction process – once 100_4400I had made the toiles for each item of the costume I organised a fitting with Alex to see how it fitted him and where the shape needed editing and altering. It was so exciting to see the calico come to life when put on! Once I had made the alterations and documented the changes on the patterns, I could move on to the main fabric which had to be dyed and embroidered with my designs and chosen colours. The most tricky aspect was dying 3 meters of white cotton drill to the shade of dirt blue which I wanted – I spent a lot of time in the dye lab and had to leave the fabric in the tub for ages to get the deep blue – in the end it did not matter as much as I had first thought because I used heat sublimation to transfer one of my drawings onto the fabric which actually made the fabric darker so I finally got the shade I desired by accident!

Once I had this top fabric I could start making the textures and embroidery which would really bring the costume to life…


Printed and bought fabric folded into squares and stitched onto the shoulder seams in large clumps to add height and colour to Oberon’s silhouette.


I painted this design onto a larger piece of paper and heat transferred it onto my fabric for the front panels of the waistcoat.


Reverse appliqué on the bottom of the breeches, using similar fabric as the shoulder texture to tie the costume elements together and break up the blue cotton drill with an injection of colour and pattern.


Teaselling effect used for the large cuffs of the jacket – layers of fabric stitched together with lines which were then cut and brushed with a teasel brush to create this frayed effect.


Machine embroidery using 4 different thread colours extending down the centre back seam on the jacket.

I tried to keep the fabric consistent throughout my costume and use as many different techniques and shapes as possible so that the end product would look interesting and textural. The progress really made the garments come to live.

Another addition was that of breaking down the items to make them look old and worn, exactly what I needed for a fairy who has been roaming through the woods – I had never done it before so it was a bit of a learning curve to have taken so much time over making the construction neat and then to go at the seams with a teasel brush, a cheese grater and sandpaper was sad at first, but then I got into it and I feel the effect over the costume was one of age and wear – perfect!


I added some rosco paint on the inside of the collar where Oberon’s neck would have rubbed, and frayed the edges of the lining suggesting the age of this garment.


I also added rosco paint around the buttons and button holes where dirty fingers may have rubbed and attacked the buttons with sandpaper to add wear.


I added wear and tear to the edges of the pocket and around it to suggest usage.




We also had the opportunity to make accessories for our characters, even if we didn’t design them our tutors thought it would be nice for the models to have something to use in the photo-shoot – so, since my character was a fairy who did not need shoes or a hat, I found a large stick and added stripes of fabric which had been used on the costume to it and carved a similar design as on his waistcoat around the bottom – I thought the actor could use it, as Alex has done in the photos, to alter his movement in order to make him look stranger and mysterious! Also, when banged on the floor, the stick adds a sense of foreboding hen the character enters and exits the scenes.

Costumes - 16 May0110 Costumes - 16 May0118 Costumes - 16 May0103


The Photo-shoot was in a floor of a local warehouse with a white screen for us to bring to life our costumes with our models – I did the make up for Alex as I knew exactly how I wanted Oberon to look, dark and mysterious, which I think I managed to achieve with eyeshadow and eye liner. It was amazing to see the whole costume together and moving – I was honestly astonished at how good it all look and how well it fitted Alex.

Alex Beldea was the photographer our tutors brought in to take these fantastic professional photographs which he kindly edited and sent back to us! It gave us all a polished end product along with the opportunity to experience what our final year will be like.

Don Juan

Film work, Uni Work

One of my favourite projects we were given was that of Don Juan – we were asked to design two different versions of the play, a modern film using Marber’s ‘Don Juan in Soho’ and a historically accurate operatic version based on Moliere’s ‘Don Juan’.

We started with the operatic version which we set in the 17th century; I used the University library more than every for my research, it holds a treasure trove of essential information on costume history and also the history of opera. I think the biggest challenge for me was to create costumes which would fit the period and allow the dancers to move freely whilst portraying the characters.Castlineup copy

I love the colour palettes I used for the characters, taken from the painting (seen in the background) by Remebrandt from the Age of Enlightment, the movement of new thought and theories which I chose to set the opera in – the most exciting, innovative and enlightening period in history which I have researched. The dark, dirty colours reflect the grim realism of Moliere’s script.

We then moved on to Marber’s modernised script and I the internet was invaluable in informing me about current fashion trends and designers. I used the same characters as I did for my first version so that the differences but also similarities can clearly be seen. One of the exciting aspects of this project was that we could chose a directing style to help us design a realistic film production; I chose Quentin Tarantino as the script is gritty and gripping, indeed I thought the dark and honest style of Tarantino would fit in perfectly with my idea for the new film – I moved the Soho setting to New York or Chicago due to the similarities between the characters and ‘gangster’ families (like in the Godfather films) really hit me and sparked my imagination when reading the script.

I decided to create a new background for the characters –  the family had to leave Italy due to friction between a rival ‘mobster’ family and move to America, where they had relatives to help them build a new life. I wanted the Catholic belief of Don Louis to be put to the test by seeing his son fall in love with consumerism and materialism of western society leading the protagonist to neglect his family duties and honour.

I researched italian designers for the family and high street fashion for the americans in the play – I think they fcast line upit very well together, the subtle, dulled colours and different styles show the character’s individual personalities. I am very pleased with the outcome of my work and think I was able to achieve an essence of Tarantino’s style and work to the brief which allowed my imagination to lead my designs.


This project also showed me different ways of researching and designing; I now feel I have developed and improved the way I work through the design process and time management. Indeed, I have discovered an alternative illustration style which adds more character and movement into my designs.

University Projects

Construction, Uni Work

Corset and Pocket Hoops

 100_3964In the first term of my second year we had a project focussing on historical undergarments and we learnt how to make a corset and pocket hoops to fit a model.

We first had to alter the pattern we were given to fit our model’s measurements and construct a toile. We then had our first fitting, which was very exciting, if not a bit nerve racking because it was the first time I had 100_3965seen one of garments on an actress! There were a few tweaks and adjustments to make the corset fit properly and then I started on the top fabric, seen above. The end product looks neat and fits like a glove which I was very proud of; and the piping around the edges gives the corset a beautiful, authentic finish.

The pocket hoops were fiddly and time consuming to construct due to the plastic bones100_3774 and the awkwardly shaped channels they needed to fit into. There was quite a lot of pushing and shoving to get them in place; due to the thinness of the calico the bones often pierced through and needed stitching up again! However, as you can see, the shape is authentic and effective so I am very pleased with them and the way the two items work together.


In the second term of my first year we put all the skills we had learnt before Christmas into practice when asked to construct a historically accurate bodice; the project certainly put what I had learnt to the test but I really enjoyed my first challenge and all the steps, the different stitches, the different techniques to construct a beautiful example of 19th Century clothing…


These photographs show the exciton steps from adding the top fabric on to the calico toile backing and getting the shape around the waist correct (we were using the mannequins as our models for this project), then to neatening up the edges of the bodice – as you can see in the final photo that I had to take the piping around the bottom edge off as we were to add a strip of binding on the under side and take it down so it produces a neat, flat finish. Once we had complete the bodice we were allowed to accessorise it with sleeves and finishing touches; I chose puff ball sleeves in the same fabric as my piping to add an elegant silhouette and colour.

Harem Pants!


I have become quite obsessed with harem pants – I bought my first pair about 4 years ago at WOMAD and have loved them ever since; they are so soft and comfortable to wear!

I have been buying, on average, one pair per festival; so I know have quite a collection which vary in style and colour and they have become my go-to items for any occasion (even putting them with heels for a smart do!)

This year I bought some fabric which I could SEE as a pair of harem trousers but I was unsure how to replicate the style with the low crotch…so I searched the web and found a brilliant blog by Paruuna Thornwood which took me step by step through the construction –  there is even a video to help with the bit which I could not get my head round! Perfect – well worth a look! They look brilliant and feel so comfortable – and look more impressive when you do not know how they are made!


The only bad thing was that the trousers ended up being a little too short – this factor didn’t really matter due to the elastic but if I pull the trousers up any further the elastic round my ankles the fabric is pulled up; therefore the next time I will make sure to add a bit more fabric to be on the safe side.