Graduate Show ’16

Construction, Textile work, Uni Work

As part of my university course, we end our final year with a Graduate Show, hosted by the Laurence Bately Theatre, displaying final costumes from across final and second year students.

Working up to this show, we have collaborated with music students from the university and I was lucky enough to get to work with Sebastien Lavoie (check him out through the Sound Cloud) whose composition added a futuristic and mysterious edge that only a talented musician can create!

We also had the help of Alex Beldea taking fantastic photos for each of us – you can really get a feel of the characters and their history. Matty Holgate and Julia Blair were complete stars at the photoshoot, coping with my flustered attitude, the business of the hair and make up sessions and getting into their characters!


Together they contrast through the colour and textures on their costumes, but, as costumes, they work well when see together, which is exactly the kind of juxtaposition I wanted to achieve between this couple.

I am also impressed with how alike the final costumes are to my original designs:


I can get a real sense of how the other costumes would have turn out too, shame we did not have more time, but I am thrilled with the outcome of Cabal and Rowena!

We also got to collaborate Tom Perrin ,an extremely talented choreographer, to help our mini-perofrmances flow with polish and attitude to develop our characters on stage. He was so enthusiastic and proficient at thinking on the spot our 15 minute slots with him really flew by but managing to achieve so much that my performers felt comfortable with their roles and movements for the show.

We had a few rehearsals with tutors and the choreographer and then it was on to the show day – 16th June!

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It was a jam packed day but everyone, designers and performers alike, gave it their all! What a way to end my time at Huddersfield – with music, lights, colour and applause! I know we have graduation to come but this was celebrating all we had achieved together over the 4 years! There will be a DVD coming soon but for now take a look at Sebastien Lavoie’s video for the full effect – with the music and the different shots the whole piece really comes together!

Here are some pictures which Holly, Julia’s daughter, kindly took that really give an idea of how the lights and the look of the show really worked to add atmosphere to the 2 min slot!

It will be strange leaving, but I have so many happy memories and have met some many amazing people, and had the opportunity to work with some many too – I feel extremely lucky to be able to come back to the real working world with confidence and a passion for what I do.

Thank you Huddersfield! And thank you to the Costume with Textiles tutors and technicians who helped me find my feet, teach, advise, and inspire me!

Final Major Project development

Construction, Uni Work


It is getting to the time when we are all busy bees making the textiles, dyeing the fabric, and constructing elements of our costumes to have more fittings with our performers.

It suddenly becomes real when you have to take scissors to the chosen fabric…the one that costs £10 per m (or more, for some people!) or that you have spent ages dyeing to the the correct tone. Nevertheless, once I got over that hurdle, I feel I have been able to keep to me person schedule and keep the work ticking over without becoming monumentally  stressed.

I have been quite lucky that my designs have not got intricate embroidery – as part of my research was all about the speed of getting texture and colour on to the fabrics without having to work into it – this was a form of futuristic embroidery techniques which I wanted to experiment with and different ways of achieving the same outcomes.

Lots of the textiles included shibori dyeing (a traditional Japanese technique, like tie dyeing) which was really fun to experiment with and easy to achieve so lovely results quickly. This was also key for Cabal’s costume, as I did not want him bogged down by lots of heavy layers, which can occur accidentally when applying embroidery to garments. He needed to be lightweight and free to shoot off to Space at the drop of a hat! Therefore, this technique worked well to achieve texture and tone without the added layers.


For Rowena, his wife, this lightness was less essential as she is part of the opposition towards Cabal and his Space Race, therefore I played around with teaselling for a lot of her costume, and this added a lot of the texture and tone, whilst adding this bulk which would physically weight her down – representing this aversion to change and progress.

I have finished my designs for the rest of the characters and have really enjoyed working out how I would construct each costume for the working drawings – I do not think much thought went into it whilst designing and it was challenging but fun to work out how they might be made!


So, it’s full steam ahead!

Final Major Project

Uni Work

So, I am in full swing of my development and making for my final project studying at the University of Huddersfield.

I settled on H. G. Wells’ classic sci-fi script ‘Things to Come'(1935) which was developed from the original ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ and made into a film in 1936 by Cameron Menzies and is still considered a classic today.

The story shows our human race in the far flung future and Wells’ ideas of how it would look and we would live. In 1960, after a 20 year long world war in which deadly gas and air raids take place, a disease called the Wandering Sickness spreads from the gases used and the stagnant pools of water, turning people into zombie-like creatures, harmless enough but infectious. The world is concerned by a Warlord and restrictions effect all walks of life – from doctors, engineers, market stall holders and family life.

John Cabal and his Airmen attempt to clean up the world after the war and create a new civilisation which is fair, equal and scientifically minded. A government based on common sense is created and after years of reconstruction and building, Cabal’s grandson is head of the government. Skipping forward to 2054, they have created a Space Gun which will fire two willing participants into space to loop round the dark side of the moon and come back and report. Cabal’s daughter, Catherine, and her lover, Maurice have been chosen to go – to the dismay of many citizens who think it is a suicide mission and that Cabal is willing to sacrifice everything to progress and science. The reality is these two young people are well qualified and eager to take part.

Theotocopolus represents the anti-progress ideas in this film – he cannot understand why Cabal is making them forever push forward, why can’t they just live in this beautiful new world – they want for nothing so let them enjoy it! He raises up a mob and they are intent on attacking the Space Gun to prevent the mission going ahead. It is a race against time, but the question is, what wold you do given the opportunity? The universe or nothing?

I had to choose six characters to design for and these can be seen below on my initial Cast Line Up – Cabal, Catherine, Maurice, Passworthy, Rowena and Theotocopolus. The designs might change a little bit but this is the base for the Final Designs.castlineup1

And from those six I needed to pick two to make the costumes for – it was a close call but with the help of my tutors I settled on Cabal and his wife, Rowena. She does not feature heavily in the film but in the original script she has a feisty scene with Cabal, showing she is his real antagonist, and not Theotocopolus, because she is against him in every decision he has ever made and feels betrayed at his proposal to send their daughter on the mission. Emotionally unstable she contrasts with Cabal’s unwavering belief in science.

The inspiration behind my Cast Line Up was two fold – in the directors notes which came with the script Wells said that he wanted a Tudor silhouette to run through the costumes, the typical King Henry VIII slender legs and broad shoulders for the men and long skirts for the women. Cloaks for all. I coupled this research with Japanese fashion and innovative cutting techniques as designers such as Yamamoto and Miyake are at the fore front of our fashion so it made sense to me to take inspiration from them to predict the future. A strange future of Tudor meets Japanese but I am really pleased with the overall effect – the Tudor elements might be a little lost but this can be worked back in when I do my final designs.

More details about the costumes to follow…!

Final Year Project Thoughts…

Uni Work

For our Final Major Project next year we get to choose our own texts, themes and era which is so exciting, if not a little daunting to think of how much work it will entail.

I have been living the high life this year; with no one to say I am doing something wrong or chasing me up for more work. I have been able to let me imagination flow and able to do whatever I want, go where I am drawn. So, yes, I am apprehensive about next year but the prospect of doing my own thing is really keeping me going.


So far I have a few interesting ideas bubbling around in my brain – they are all books, not sure why, but since I love reading, my bookshelf was my first port of call. There are some old favourites in this collection but I have also been drawn to particular styles of writing and stories which have captured my imagination – and this is as good a place as any to write down my thoughts on the potential projects, and just smooth out some ideas before I start properly planning my pitch and research to my tutors.

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IMG_2144‘Love In The Time Of Cholera’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is an old family favourite, the beautiful way the stories are written and intertwine, the feelings portrayed through sumptuous words and the gorgeous descriptions have made me want to research more about the history behind Marquez’s novel. There has been a film version made already but I feel it could easily be made into another one as there is so much to draw from. Additionally, since this is set in a fictional town in the Caribbean it would allow me to research into different cultures and fashions but also to be creative and imaginative because there is no reason to say exactly what they would have worn. Set around the turn of the century, I can really imagine this strange mix of cultures and clashing fashions, especially after the main lady returns from a honeymoon in Europe. After rereading this fabulous novel I would love to turn it into an opera – there is certainly a strong atmosphere of tragedy, of melancholia and fear throughout which contrast with the elated passions and different loves portrayed. This perfect juxtaposition often approached through operatic means and I feel this story could only benefit from that sort of injection. I want to do something nice, some thing beautiful, some thing poetical.

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IMG_2153‘Blood and Beauty’ by Sarah Dunant is a historical novel, inspired by tales of the Borgia family and their rise to power in Italy in the 14th Century. Similar to Mantel’s work, she draws on fact to inspire fictitious scenes showing another side of the Borgias and the way history has been told. I love the era and the fact that it is set in a different country will give me more to research. Italy is such a gorgeous country; there will be lots of inspiration to be taken from the architecture as well. I know there has been a TV series about the Borgias but I think I would want to make a historically accurate film, possibly just focusing on their rise to power because it could go on and on, there is so much to use and draw upon. The gorgeously rich fabrics would give me a chance to develop my embroidery skills and use different materials together to create the look of expensive garments. The director would have to be someone who could command this gripping and exciting atmosphere but who also understands the benefit of understatedness, simplicity and misdirection…?

 } Having read other books and stories I know feel that this story has been pushed into the background a tad, and when reflecting on this gripping historical novel, I feel some of the other ones I have given as examples are much more gritty, deep and exciting for me in terms of research – perhaps it is because they are too well-known a historical figures for me to allow my imagination to be let loose…as much as I enjoyed the read, I feel I would be restricted with the designing due to the history.

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IMG_2152‘Steppenwolfe’ written by Herman Hesse takes the reader on a psychological journey, following the protagonist as he wrestles with the wolf inside him – a fantastically dazzling novel, typical of the time and Hesse’s philosophical work. I love it and think the story could be excellent performed as a ballet because this for would show the physical and mental conflict in the minds of the characters. It would have to be dark and mysterious, not unlike the Don Juan ballet I researched last year – physical theatre, simple costumes and expressive. It would be exciting and interesting to set this piece out of comfort zones – the contrast with Harry Haller and his alter ego would be vicious, dark and shocking. There could be some bold textures going on throughout the cast, contrasting colours to make it visually interesting and conflicting…almost trying to create Haller’s mind for the audience to see and be immersed in. I suppose it would be great if I could get a placement at the Northern Ballet to help me understand more about how dance productions work…

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IMG_2151I would love to produce a Shakespeare play – I have always been incredibly fond of his plays and poetry but I have not found one which I feel I could put my heart and soul into and make it original – I feel more reading and research behind some of the stories is necessary before I can make a proper judgement or proposal. I have always loved ‘Twelfth Night’ because it was the first Shakespeare play I read, however, I really do not like the idea of bringing the story, or any of his tales for that matter, up to date. I feel it would take away from the original meanings written in to the heart of his yarns. Nothing could beat Baz Lurhman’s modern ‘Romeo and Juliet’, so why try!? Perhaps a historically accurate Shakespearian play would be good to produce – meticulously detailed and rich. Especially since I am to be honoured with a placement at RSC, I might be able to get some inside detail and inspiration…

 } At the moment, I am leaning slightly away from the idea of studying a Shakespeare play for my final project, simply because I love them so much I would not able to choose one which I could give my all to without the fear of ruining it in my mind – also, I feel they have been a little over done in the past…perhaps leaving them in the glory they were written in is best for me at the moment – but I refuse to rule it out completely!

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IMG_2154‘I Capture The Castle’ by Dodie Smith is an innocent, sweet yet gripping novel set in the 1930s. The way it is written draws the reader in and I could hardly bare to put it down because I knew something else was going to happen. It tells the story of an interesting family living in an old castle and what happens to them – it’s a kitchen sink drama and very lovely! I think there could a be a lot of scope with contrasting the fashion of that period with the fantastical twist Cassandra puts on her world – I would not necessarily be tied down by conventional costumes as this is not a conventional family; they are poor but proud and therefore their outfits would affected and odd but fun! There is also a medieval feel to the story (possibly since they live a castle!) but this could be brought through to emphasise their eccentric-ness and individual-ness.

 } This has become one of my all time favourite novels…ever…I mean, I hated the idea of it ending and the characters leaving my life, especially because it was so true to life, so perfect for those people in the pages, almost too perfect! Possibly because I like it so much, I am less inclined to study it for my final year project in case I end up ruining it for myself. Or perhaps I could really enjoy it but I feel in my gut that there is not enough grit and originality in the book to sponge a whole year out of it…I think this one needs a bit more thought put into it…

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IMG_2147‘Things To Come’ by H.G. Wells was written in the style of a film script, based on ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ (an earlier novel) which is a look into the future for mankind and the things which may come to test us. It is futuristic but, as Wells states in the Introduction and his letter to his creative team, believable, splendid, and beautiful. He is quite specific about things he does and does not want to see his characters wearing – which could help me a lot when it comes to designing as it will be like having a director there; Wells says ‘people will not be plastered over with gadgets…carry the equivalent of a purse, pocket book, fountain pen, watch, etc…unobtrusive…they will not wear costumes of cellophane illuminated by neon lights’ by this we can see he wants to take a realistic approach to the future. He also says ‘I anticipate the costume, broad on the shoulders and fine about the legs and feet, with a fairly simple coiffure, more reminiscent of “Tudor” style…fine materials we want but not extraordinary materials’ this simple idea could make this into a really fab film as it would be a different take on the future of our race and since it is slightly based on historical costumes I think I would be alright with these silhouettes to base my designs on. Wells has a clear idea for his main character, Cabal, ‘I want a white or silver costume of very pure material…a fine gentleman, not a padded lunatic or an armoured gladiator’, he also suggested that cloaks would not be ineffective, additionally, long skirts for the women would be aesthetically pleasing for the dramatic new world.

“For God’s sake let yourselves go” but remember, fine clothes, please; not nightmare stuff, not jazz…being inventive and original is not being extravagant and silly. Fine clothes and dignified clothes, please, for this new world’ – this feels to me as if Wells has an almost too clear a view of what the world should be like and this film is his way of bringing it to life – does he despise this world so much that he has to create another one? Or can he simply see a brighter future for us?

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IMG_2145‘Three Weeks’ by Elinor Glyn is a fairly unknown novel by a forgotten writer but famous of her time – the mistress of a lord who had time on her hands but the outcome is this beautiful love story in which we follow a pair of star-crossed lovers across Europe to escape who is tracking them. We are drawn into the beauty of the landscapes and the intrigues of the people involved with this love affair – they all seem very real when one reads Glyn’s work. It would make a truly lovely film, a tragic costume drama with thrills and romance – set in the early 1900s against stunning modern and exciting scenery, the costumes would be sumptuous, elegant and full of characteristic detail – a bit like the modern Anna Karenina film. And completely capture that era’s grace and luxury for the upper classes.

 } On reflection, I think this is the one I most likely not to present because although I adore the story, the characters and cloud-like feeling of love and happiness but also reality I get what I read it, I do not feel there are enough interesting aspects which are original and unique enough for me to spend a whole year researching and designing for it – therefore, I will keep this novel to myself, to my bookshelf and to my heart.

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.

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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.