Thursday, 9 February 2012


I wanted to explore femininity as delicate, iconic and beautiful. Compelling the viewer to reach out and touch, to worship.  I also wanted to use traditional woman’s crafts such as crochet, quilting and beading as a fine art form.

In exploring the power of the feminine and feminine sexuality I wanted not only the form but the fabric to be part of the work. Crochet, quilting and beading are domestic and commonplace and in using them in a fine art form I want the viewer to rethink traditional feminine borders. She was originally based around a corsetry theme however she literally outgrew it throwing off all constraints to become a celebration of life giving bounty and joy to be a woman.

My inspiration has been from the ancient to the modern. In the alternative use of materials I have been inspired by the post modern feminist movement in particular Eva Hesse and Judy Chicago, also Lannie Harts Freedom Suit. Niki de Saint Phalle for her joyful bounteous exuberant female forms. Louise Borgeous and Marc Quinn for their explorations of normality and sexuality. The paintings Boticellis’ birth of Venus and the ample figure of Rubens’ Venus at a Mirror. Finally the pagan goddess images such as the Willendorf Venus and Diana of Ephesus.

My work in its bounty and celebration would I hope make people want to touch, to rethink the wonder that is woman, to be smile and be grateful for the gift of life.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Walk Tall - making and cutting out the patterns.

There was a good response after I posted the brief to see if any interested parties wanted to work with me and we all met to discuss deadlines, designs and costings. 

Drape Jackets

Further research produced an authentic Teddy Boy Drape pattern from 'Classic Fashion Patterns of the 20th Century' by Anne Tyrrell published by Batsford 2010. 

The patterns shown are 1/5 scale so the jacket needed to be traced onto gridded paper and scaled up.  This was not as simple to do as it originally seemed as our pattern paper has a different grid so we worked to the larger square and guesstimated the increments within those.  As we will be producing a calico toile any differences in measurements can be worked out before cutting the main fabric.

The original pattern is traced onto small gridded paper - each 0.5cm square is equivalent to 2.5cm
A large grid is drawn onto pattern paper and the pattern transferred onto this by hand.

The pattern cut out to its original dimensions of 36" chest.

Size the pattern up by slashing through and adding the extra width needed adjusting arm holes and sleeves to match.
Circle Skirts

The circle skirts we are making in black fabric and originally I had thought of using rik rak trimming around the base.  However the poodle skirt reared its head when I was researching patterns and as this is such a memorable nostalgic design we have incorporated it into our costumes.

Poodle skirt in light blue

The circle skirt was easier as we produced our own pattern from scratch by using the maximum waist measurement that the costumes had to fit (size 18) 36" and a bit of maths.

Circle skirt 1/4 pattern
Divide the waist measurement by 3.14 (pye) to give the diameter and divide this in two for the quarter.  On your pattern paper mark from the corner to this distance and using a pencil and a piece of string draw your first semi-circle. 

Then mark the second distance which will be the length you want your skirt including hem allowances.  This length measurement is marked from the first semi circle, (add this to your first measurement when you cut your string) again draw in the line from the corner with a pencil and string to create your second semi-circle. 

Voila a circle skirt pattern.  Fold the fabric you are using and place the pattern as shown onto the fold, cut twice to give two half circles.
Circle skirt 1/4 pattern
Place on fold to create a half circle when cut out

Pin together and sew
Pin the seams together and sew leaving an opening on the side seam of 6" to allow the skirt to be put on over the head or hips.  Once the side seams are done double over a 3" waistband to create a loop for the drawstring, pin and sew into position.  The skirt is now ready for fitting to determine hem length.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Walk Tall

Walk Tall is a community theatre group set up by Anne Duke originally from her kitchen table.  They use local children and adults in their productions to give an experience of achievement and difference to those whom otherwise might not experience it.  They are based in Northfleet, Kent and have premises that include offices and a small theatre.
After my initial contact by telephone I met with both Anne and Robbie Humphries (artistic director) to discuss what help if any I could provide.
A Midsummers Dream in da Club - 2009
(Image from Walk Tall gallery)
 There were several projects in the pipeline that needed costume and one in production.  The deadlines for Murder Mystery were short but not unachievable and a quick prioritizing resulted in:

Deadline of 16th February
2 Teddy boy Drape Jackets (one blue, one red, black trim, 1970's revival style) with bootlace ties
2 Circle skirts in plain black with trims to match the jacket colours with petticoats
3 matching headscarves
1 plain 'mumsy' 1950s dress with petticoat

Jackets to be made to a 44" chest and skirts to be flexible up to size 18

The next production in the pipeline was for the Manor School

Deadline of 10th March
4 childrens oompa loompa outfits (from 1971 production)
4 adults oompa loompa outfits


Teddy Boys 1950's
These original images show that the original Ted's were more concerned with looking smart than a refined 'look' jackets were different lengths and ties varied from a windor knot to a bootlace bow.  The trousers were narrower than standard and the quiff or D.A is starting to make an appearance.
Teddy Girls - 1950's

The girls in these images seem much more rebellious with their capri pant trousers and casual look.  Most women and girls in the 1950's wore dresses or skirts and trousers were seen as home wear.  The neckscarves are an iconic 1950's look.

Wedding 1970's
Pub 1970's
 These images from the 1970's show the standardisation in the Teddy Boy Drape.  The jackets are all longer mid thigh frock coat length, everyone has narrow or bootlace ties and everyone has the hairstyle.

Based on these images I have sourced a few patterns that might be suitable or can be adjusted to suit the style.

simplicity 2895
Burda 2767
Burda 8186