Pretty Disturbia, Manchester

Construction, Textile work

Through one of my University friends I was put onto Leesa O’Neil who owns Pretty Disturbia based in the heart of metropolitan Manchester. All about high quality and unique styles, it looked right up my street with edgy fashions, fun detail and an original take on personal style. So I got in contact with her through her website and set a meeting.

It went very well and even though it was a short interview I felt we got along very well and had a lot in common – she showed me how she works, where she works, the processes she uses and did the same for oo arh! and she offered me as long a placement as I wanted! So I leaped at the chance to do as much as possible without restricting myself with my WOMAD makings – however, this will not be a problem as the work is 10-5 Monday, Wednesday and Friday as she has a small child to look after.

Perfect! I am off 30th March to 1st May and am so excited about seeing more of Manchester and learning from another fellow designer and maker!


My jobs whilst working with Leesa and her team were varied and exciting – for example, one of my first jobs was ‘Street Styling’ which I had never done or heard of before but Leesa sent me and one of the other girls out with a camera and a notepad to find people with an alternative and interesting style, photograph them and take down some information about where they get their clothes and what is their style. It was good fun but a bit nerve racking going up to random strangers in the street and ask them about their fashion choice. We found some really great examples and I then had to write them up on Leesa’s blog –manchesteralternativestreetstyle.blogspot.

Each of us also got the opportunity to create an ‘Outfit of the Day’ which gave me a chance to look through her collection of fab clothes and compile a fun and funky outfit…like this one!


A hot pink net underskirt with a gorgeous white satin skater skirt over the top. Coupled with a cute ant print vest top and a punk velvet tail coat!


As part of Leesa’s business, she uploads pictures and information of clothes she has made and vintage items she wants to sell onto ASOS Marketplace where she has a ‘stall’ and she has taught me how to ‘list’ items, edit the posts and ‘re-list’ items which have expired but not sold. Now I have the hang of it the process is fairly easy and I actually enjoy doing it and getting through the items of clothing one by one, in fact Leesa said I was ‘a natural at it!’ which I was very pleased with! I did not realise how much she has to keep up with online as well as the accounts and business side of ‘Pretty Disturbia’ so I am glad when I can help her with the load.


I got to see the garments from the start of their ‘Disturbia’ life and to the end when we pack them off in tissue paper, with heart stickers and other nice touches to make it a nice experience when the packages are opened. It was great to experience all sides of her company – I even got to do a bit of making and designing!

Leesa threw me a pale blue hoody saying ‘Here, go wild!’ which was a great start to the day! I dove into her boxes of scraps and bits and bobs to see what I could embellish the item with…

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IMG_2287 I went for this superman printed fabric which used to be filled with all the other superheros but now only scraps were left so I layered them up like a photo montage so that it made a disjointed yet funky pattern – I hand stitched it down to give the design more texture. I also added a stripe of blue net with white spots and stitched them down with some beads to add sparkle to the otherwise quiet dull jumper!IMG_2289


I also got to make for Leesa’s new collection based on co-ordinates, 60’s/70’s style, festival feel and pastel colours.

So I dove into the plain clothes box and found this long red sleeved t-shirt and wanted to make a classically hippy top…and possibly a skirt out of the cropped bit but that is in the pipeline…


I cropped the top to the waist and cut vertically up the shirt a couple of inches so that produced a frayed/ tasselled effect which looked fab! I then cut up the sleeves four times so I coIMG_2312uld insert four sections of lace, thus making larger hippy sleeves!IMG_2313

I also added a few buttons around the thick collar because I felt it needed a bit of lift to the block of red cotton.

I am very pleased with the outcome and am looking forward to doing the matching skirt!

I made it out of some red satin, layered over some gorgeous purple chiffon which I gathered, stitched together, then machined onto an elastic waistband…very simple but oh so pretty!


The slit up the front left is sexy and sophisticated. I also hitched up the skirt by sewing on the inside and bringing the layers up in a relaxed yet elegant drape.



IMG_2330The next item I had to alter was a Pretty Disturbia printed dress, which needed to fit in with the co-ordinate theme…so I opened up the side seams and inserted three panels to give the dress a floaty feel, very 70’s.


I also hand stitched some lace around the neckline, just to lift the pink and make it a tad more feminine! Quick but really fun to do!


Overall, I feel I have learnt a lot of new skills, and feel privileged to have been able to see how Leesa built up this unique business, how she deals with her orders, creates new stock, lists items, sends them, designs new ranges – it was very exciting and I now feel more confident in my making and design skills but also my business skills!I was sent away with a pair of Leesa’s unique leggings and the promise that I would always be welcome back, and she even offered to write a reference for me, check my CV, or portfolio in the future – I have found a real friend, and will not forget the kindness she has shown me – I wish her ever luck and happiness for the future!

Royal Shakespeare Company Placement

Construction, Textile work

I followed the process online, sent off my application and sort of forgot about it until this morning when I opened up me emails, expecting the usual spam and instead found a invitation to an interview at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon in February!

I was so excited I emailed back straight away saying how much I was looking forward to meeting them!

I think I was particularly ecstatic because just the day before my mum and I had a day visit to Stratford to see firstly ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ and the ‘Love’s Labour’s Won’ in the evening! It was so fantastic, beautifully and seamlessly produced and so magnificent to watch! Especially with the addition of music, dancing and singing!

So, I went for an interview which lasted a whole day and was extremely enlightening and fascinating! If anything it made me long to work there and learn from all the talented people behind the scenes making the magic that we see on stage happen.

We were divided into 2 groups to go around and have little talks form all the heads of departments into how they work and the processes they use. Then lunch and then split again into 5 smaller groups to go around and complete a few exercises to give us a taste of what each department does and to give them an idea of how we work and where our strengths and weaknesses lie.

It was good fun – if not a little nerve racking – most of the exercises were simple enough but we were all so nervous it was tricky to even thread the needle let alone hand sewing a label!

Nevertheless, I loved every minute of it and cannot wait to hear back to see if I have been honoured to get a 2 week placement! Is it bad to be really hoping I do?!


I had a really lovely couple of weeks working in the Ladies Costume Department – unfortunately due to confidentiality I cannot tell you exactly what I worked on, however, I have some pictures of what I was helping with!


A farthingale for rehearsal practise…

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It was heavily constructed and something I had never done before, so that was an exciting task to start my week off with! I learnt how to insert plackets for fastenings which will not be seen, making a bum pad and creating a strong drawstring fastening so anyone can wear it in the future!


A little chemise to go under a corset, adding decoration to the costume.










I was lucky enouIMG_3468IMG_3467gh to be let loose on a corset! I have made one before but it was nice to be able to try my hand at it again – I was not able to finish it as I forgot how much tacking and prep went into it! But feel I have left it in a good place for someone else to pick it up and finish it if needed.

I had such an amazing time there – and even got to see some shows! Everyone was very friendly and it was fun to be in and around Stratford as it is so pretty there! I cannot wait to go back and see another show – great to think ‘yeah, I did that!’





Rita Ora’s skirt commission


So, am happily spending an evening with my Granny, mid January and I suddenly receive at text saying ‘I want a skirt like Rita’s on The Voice!’

Now I have never watched The Voice but since my mother decided that was what she wanted for her birthday, I quickly started my research into the show and it’s panel…and yes, the skirt looked gorgeous…so, I started on my second commission!

I could not find a fabric exactly like the panels of transparent and opaque black which is featured on Rita Ora’s skirt but I found a gorgeous black organza with a black taffeta as an underskirt (for modesty’s sake as my client wished to wear it at work) and got to work.

It was a very simple design – rolled hem around the bottom of each skirt and a channel hem at the top through which I passed a thick black length of elastic to draw the skirt into my mother’s measurements and sealed it together. I also added some dark blue lace which worked as a thick border to the otherwise fairly plain skirt, and just gave it that little lift which was needed!

A quick make but one which I am very pleased with…could I wear it myself….? No, it is for her birthday so I must be good!

Photos will follow!!