Makeover photoshoot with Iberian Black Arts

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This was the last bit of the Geisha collection ( Part 1  and Part 2), and already drifting towards a Chinese or Manchurian influence.  I had enough good-quality Chinese satin brocade, (proper silk stuff, not the poly/viscose thing, for a change!) to make a skirt, corset and a little bolero jacket. And since I knew that  Threnody in Velvet, who modeled a part of the collection, is not only an amazingly gifted model but a talented photographer and make up artist, I decided to book a little makeover session with the other side of her business, Iberian Black Arts … and I wasn’t disappointed!

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Threnody … I know i have posted the image before, but – I cannot get enough of it! :-)

 

So a date was set, and I  put some time aside to actually make my outfit. And as luck would have it, I ended up with an emergency commission instead – so had just a day to make something wearable…..

The corset was first – and from the start I regretted the choice of fabric.. the satin frayed like a mad, fraying thing, it wrinkled, moved, had a life of its own. It was too late to get fusible interfacing, so had to just get on with it and relay on roll-pinning and pure luck – and hoped the cat wouldn’t mind the amount of bad language that issued forth during the production…

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I do mind, you know…. foulmouthed creature!

In the end, success was just partial, I didn’t  manage to get rid of all the wrinkles, but since it was not an item for sale I decided to leave it as it was and maybe trust the power of Photoshop….

On the day  I grabbed the outfit, accessories etc – and since I was asked to bring another outfit just in case we had time to shoot more I packed  my ‘snow queen’ gear too…

On arrival at Patricia’s studio we did not waste much time and got straight down to business.  That is, I was munching on my sandwich whilst we were  just getting the final details of the make up and hair – I had set up a board for inspiration, so we looked through different photos to get a clear idea of the styling.

The calm scene before we started…

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Make up and hair took a bit of time, but not too much – and it was time well spent on a pleasant chatter, as well as deciding on some editing options, etc, and then it was time to  don the gear, lace up and pose!

One important thing to mention beforehand – I am not a big fan of over the top post-production (Photoshopping, etc). I mentioned this, giving examples of what I definitely didn’t want –  I wanted my body to stay the way it was, with no reduction etc,  and  my face basically unchanged as well –  I often see the results of the popular boudoir make overs where  ladies are virtually unrecognizable in the final image. This is fine if you are working on a product shoot ( though even here I tend to have problems with overphotoshopped models setting impossible standards), but not really for a personal image –  everybody who knows me will just chuckle at a weird attempt to look much younger and much slimmer, and so I asked for minimal amount of post production. This is actually also why I chose Iberian Black Arts –  the images  showcased  in the portfolio were a  high quality ones, but not overly ‘over the top’.

And to be honest – the make up and the light worked wonders on their own…. well, see for yourself below……

 

After we finished shooting, I got the proofs the same day and chose the images I liked most, for editing. We discussed background options for both looks and the rest was just Patricia working her magic….

The  Chinese look ( with a spectacular yellow kanzashi made especially  for the shoot by Kikuya Kanzashi )

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and the Snow Queen one…

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By comparison, see the uneditted  behind the scenes shots – three of the proofs, straight off the camera, showing me having some fun…:

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standard pose for all my shoots….

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As you can see  the skin tone was smoothed and lightened to work with the  styling for the image, the corset wrinkles magically disappeared, but it is still recognizably me, my body with slightly glamorized face. Happy with that:-)

 

Altogether, I must say I was delighted with both only the experience and the end product – highly recommended – If any of you folks would like to have a go at a makeover with Patricia ( Ipswich based), do give her a call, you won’t be disappointed – and the prices are good too! I found it a great way  to showcase my work as a designer and maker, and have a bit of a girly fun as well – so work and play combined :-)

 

 

 

 

Geisha Corsetry Collection part 2

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As promised  in Part 1 – we are now happy to present the 2 other corsets from the collection, modeled by  the exquisite Threnody in Velvet, and photographed by Iberian Black Arts.

The first of the corsets was in fact the first to be designed – and was also the most challenging one as for the first time I was making  it completely from the scratch – not using and adapting other patterns, but actually designing piece by piece, hoping it would all work together:-)

 

The initial design with different  silk choices… I wanted to convey the traditional aspect of geisha but with a strong modern twist, including the bondage element as well – think sexy bondage manga and you will more or less see where I was planning to head…. :-)

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I  used my wasp waisted mannequin to get the shape of the pieces right – it is not too far off  Threnody’s measurements, so it was a useful tool. once the pieces worked on the dummy, I made a mock up in plain coutil, boned it and sent it to Threnody to try on and mark any problem areas etc – since she specialises in corsetry modelling, she was able to provide a valuable feedback – a great help!

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mock up on the dummy

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mock up on Threnody, with the improvement suggestions clearly marked

 

 

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Once I received the mock up with the corrections back, I was able to implement them  and change them a bit and start making the thing for real…

I was again due for our bitch and stitch sessions with Julia from Sew Curvy, so took it with me – and Julia’s suggestions and input helped a lot when we were considering minor changes in design.

Then the work started in earnest…

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drawing out the pieces

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cutting out

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sewing the front exterior channel onto the sheer

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getting there….

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the innards showing the hip gores

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the boning channels are on….

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binding, boning and suspender next….

 

Once the inside was tidies up, the suspenders were added ( with a decorative Japanese buttons) and the corset was flossed with  yarn – the flossing character chosen here was a kanji symbol meaning ‘red’.

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Next were the posture collar, reflecting the design of the corset, and the pasties – it was my first go at the pasties, but was pretty please with them – they are made out of leather, silk and the edges are decorated with a chemille braid.

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work in progress –

 

 

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ready!

 

Then the whole set, including satin ribbons for the wrists and kanzashi flower for the hair was packed and sent on to Threnody.

On the day of the shoot we discussed accessories,  hair and make up styles and I got the first proof the very same day – and once I chose the photos I wanted,  Threnody ( yes, she is also the photographer, editor, make up artist – you name it! a very talented lady!) worked on a suitable background options and credits font etc.

and the results – well, I loved the pictures – and I hope you do too!

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The corset is now back from its adventures and is available on sale in our online shop – and i think a few more of the same design will be appearing there  at some point too :-)

 

The other corset was already half made when due to a sudden change of plans I had to remake it, and make it fit Threnody –  this one was a sheer number with the front panel and exterior boning channels made in  vibrant kimono silk. as accessories, I made a matching set of vambrances:-)

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And the corset  was ready:-)

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Again, it look great on Threnody, and the colours suited her exceptionally well!

 

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  This corset already sold – as I write it is making  its way to Hong Kong:-)

 Btw, the kanzashi flowers used here were by Colorful world of Kanzashi.

 Hope you have enjoyed my little forray into the ethnic inspired corsetry –  and, not surprisingly, I have another collection planned for the summer, with a completely different part of the world being represented:-)

 

Hussar style corset

 

 

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 The inspiration struck  when I was making a Napoleonic set  for a client –  a thing with loads of braiding, military lace etc. Against all odds, I enjoyed making it ( and a post on that one can be found here) and thought that it would be nice to have something like that for myself….  And then I remembered artwork of a Polish artist, Bartek Drejewicz and his Napoleonic pin up girls ( do check his facebook page out,  – not only Napoleonic but different armies through the centuries, beautifully rendered!). And yes, there are Steampunk corsets with military styling etc available – but non actually using the ‘proper’ military lace or specific historical styling… So I wanted to have a go….

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The final design was actually worked out one evening when I was clearing my offcuts and left overs bits – and noticed narrow scraps of the broadcloth i used for the jacket.  Not good for much more, but  just enough for corset panels…  I quickly adapted an overbust pattern to work as a waistcoat – with  a black busk in front and lacing in the back. It did come out a tad short ( not enough fabric) but the first step was done – a waistcoat in broadcloth, cotton twill being used as the strength layer.  I opted for a slight curve and not much of a reduction – so that  I would be able to wear it at work at the markets- but also because it was the trial version:-)

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I ordered more military lace and braid and once it arrived i started putting the lace on – it took me a few months as was working on it  in between commissions….

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So even with help ( ahem…) it took some time….

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Once the frogging was on, I could put some silver soutache on the borders and the collar….

 

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Then it was only getting some buttons ( beads….) and we were ready for shooting!

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I tried the corset first with my Regency chemisette and plain black leggings….

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Then I had an epiphany and fished out Lucas’s  dancing breeches  – in lovely white superfine. The just about fitted too! Then e had some fun with my old cavalry sabre as a prop:-)

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The chemissette, in case anyone asks :

 

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The conclusions – well, loved wearing it ( and wore it to markets since) but a few improvements will be needed for the next  ones –  longer in front, more hip spring, and probably not using busks and frogging together – it is a pain to do it all up! Still, I think it is a success – and  more corsets in the style are planned, in different colours – already have a small stash of silver and gold military lace and braid, and am slowly collecting fabrics and props – I suspect we will have a bigger photoshoot with  more models ( and hopefully horses) just before Waterloo :-) Once the next models are done, will post a link here – including a link to the shop as they will be offered  on sale….

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Hope you liked this  experiment!

 

Credits:

Clothes, as always, Prior Attire

photography Pitcheresque Imagery

 

 

Corsets!

A damsel in this dress:

A nice write on our visit to Cambridge last week :-)

Originally posted on Cambridge LadyBirds WI:

When planning the programme for 2015 we wanted to ensure that at least a couple of months were dedicated to remembering the WI centenary and got us thinking a little bit more about the ladies who would have been attending meetings 100 years ago. In the first of the centenary themed meetings, we welcomed Izabela Pitcher from Prior Attire, an accomplished historical costumer, corsetière and historical interpreter to talk to us about the fashions of 1915 and what ladies undergarments looked like. In addition we welcomed Lucas, Izabelas husband who is a fabulous photographer from Pitcheresque Imagery to take some pictures of all the fun! Both came attired in Edwardian day-wear and very fine hats!

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We learnt about the underpinnings worn by our Edwardian counterparts. Corsets in particular have been worn by women for over 500 years and have changed a lot in that time. By 1915 corsets had started…

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A queen on a budget, please…..

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‘I need an Anne  Boleyn dress… my budget is £300.  Can you provide the fabrics? ‘

‘I need a complete posh 15th century outfit ( hose, doublet, gown, hat),  historically accurate, silk and linen, hose in wool.  I can spend £250.’

‘Can you do a posh Victorian for £320? can add another £40 if you make a corset too.’

‘ I want a duchess gown, stays and underpinnings for a ball – how much would it be? I have about £280 to spend on the project’

‘ I found this steampunk coat on ebay,  I want one just like that, but in different wool, with silk lining, and made bespoke – can pay £100. ( the picture of the coat was attached – and I found it online too…. it was a Karen Miller , offered for £200  = should still be seen here.’

These quotes  are direct lines from many of the inquires  I get – and many similar ones abound too, and I suspect there are a lot of other costumiers who get them. And it doesn’t really matter that the price guide is on my website and facebook page, plainly visible to anyone,  stating plainly how much labour is for a specific item. and if you look, you will see that the labour for , let us say, doublet, gown and hose will amount to more that £250 and that’s not even including the fabrics. People look, add, decide it is too much and go and find a hire service or make things themselves. And that is fine – if you need a fancy dress for a night, you wouldn’t be spending hundreds on it –  but get something cheap  on ebay, make stuff for yourself and have some fun with it, or ask a sewing friend a favour ( backed by gin and chocolate, usually… :-))

But some people, knowing the labour prices still email me asking if I can make the same things  at a quarter ( or less) of their usual value… why? I had no idea, until 2 ‘prospective clients’ answered that question  for me.

‘ I know it is much less that you usually charge, but at least you will have some work from me’

Well…. at least it was straightforward… Needless to say that sometimes their offer would not even cover the cost of the materials – and so I would be actually spending time working at a loss.    also, needless to say, it assumes i am sitting here twiddling my thumbs, desperate for anything to do, whereas I am usually booked for 6 months in advance….

It would be an equivalent to me saying to a baker: ‘Here are 3 eggs and some icing sugar, you provide the rest and I want you to make me a 3 tier wedding cake, please’. Nobody does that, so why people assume costumiers ( or jewellers,  corsetieres or generally small businesses) are any different?

I had a good think and I  think there are a few reasons for it….

1. People simply apply the ‘fancy dress’ label  to all unusual clothing, and think the prices are the same as the Chinese mass produced medieval/victorian/edwardian/lotr  garb. Very often it is not badly meant –  nowadays very few of us have things made bespoke as we can get good quality clothing  from the local store.  Occasion wear items are exceptions  wedding dresses etc), but otherwise, we are no longer used to  commissioning gear to be made for us.

2. Also, cheap, easily available clothing leads us into the illusion that all clothing is cheap.  The wool coat in M&S is £50 –  but if I am to make it, the £50 will cover maybe the fabrics. The time used to research, communicate with the client,  measuring and fitting sessions, patterning and making the garment would be all on top of that… But we are simply used to mass produced items ready to wear and have no idea ow much individual raw materials cost. May also have no knowledge of how much work, expertise, research and experience actually goes into the item.   Not really surprising since we are no longer taught specific crafts at school. Also, we don’t know how much quality fabrics cost…

3. People forget that  they are also paying for the years of research, training, experience – and the uniqueness of the item. There are thousands of costumiers – but only very few specializing in historical   items. also, the garments will be one of a kind –  so a rarity value should also be considered.

4. For some reason people are convinced that small businesses are forever tittering on the verge of collapse and are desperate for any work at all. And although running a small business successfully means a lot of work and commitment, and it is not all plain sailing,  I don’t think I know of any quality artisans ( and I do know quite a few) who would not be busy. Yes, sometimes the business gets slack, but that’s when many guys work on the basic stock –  things that will sell at some point, whether at markets or on etsy, ebay or self hosted online shop. Those who do take commissions that don’t cover the materials, in hope of a bit of cash usually learn that in most cases, it is much more profitable to decline – and spend the time on a stock items or a showpiece that will be far more beneficial to the business in the long term. And if  cash is desperately needed, well then we do flashsales:-)

I think the above are the most  common reasons why we get so many request  for the ‘royalty on budget’. People see The Tudors or White Queen and want a dress for their Halloween party –  not realizing I am not the person who caters for such items.

It is slightly better in the established re-enactment ( though  even there  it seems there is an alarming number of wannabe queens, duchesses, princes and kings wanting  royal kit for a few quid… ) as people realise that  if you want re-enact nobility, there will be a suitable price tag  attached. In the past a good quality, showy outfit to impress your peers at court would often cost several months of middle class salary, and although  times changed, they haven’t changed that much – silk and cloth of gold may be more accessible and cheaper – but still beyond the means of most people.  And to be honest, you can make a good quality kit middle class  in decent wool and linen or cotton – it will look lovely and though it is not the cheapest thing ever, it will serve its purpose while you save up for the brocaded cloth…..

There are a lot of arguments floating about, how a polyester silk will look quite as good – and they cannot afford silk/handmade etc, so it will have to suffice.   Well, it may be harsh – but if you cannot afford the king’s outfit ( with all the trappings it needs, jewelry etc), than maybe  start with a simple soldier’s kit instead and climb the social ladder – many people do exactly that and  it takes years of saving to get higher class kit – but many stay at the middle class too, for a variety of reason – and to be honest portraying a medieval farrier or an Elizabethan gardener is just as interesting and complex as a queen…

Obviously, lots depends on the purpose of the garment – if you need to for living history, educational displays and events, it simply needs to be correct fabrics, cut, finish etc, no matter what class you re-enact.  If you participate in battles and nobody is likely poking at the seams of your doublet and fingering your collar, you may be able to get some money saving short cuts. And if you  need a gown for a fancy ball, a social gathering, a photoshoot  – simply an item you’ll love to wear  – well, you can use whatever is suitable and you can afford – and produce stunning results with minimal costs:-)

There are a few shortcuts if you need/want a flashy outfit though, even if you want it made correctly and in correct fabrics:

*Save up! obvious, really, but there it is…. designate one  source of savings a month or a week and it will happen –  go our to dinner once less,   buy less modern stuff you don’t actually need all that badly – or even simpler – set up a separate saving account and put an deposit there every month, deducted from your salary straight away 0 you won’t notice this much, and whether it is a £20 a month, £10 a week or £100 a fortnight, it will soon amount to a neat little sum.

*take small steps…   you can often add on things to enrich your stature ( and clothing) in time.   opt for a woolen doublet and gown, add handmade braid on it or embroidered cuffs a few months later…. Also – buy bodice, but apply lace, braid decoration yourself

* Sell the items you don’t use any more….

* sell your products – and have one sale a month that goes straight into he new kit fund…

*barter – either skills or products. You make wooden pattens but a doublet is beyond you – talk to the costumiers who re-enact, many are happy to barter  things like that.  Your shoemaker needs driving tuition? a plumber? you’d be surprised how many  things can be arranged this way….

*pay in installments – most businesses welcome the solution.

*learn to sew….. yes, may take time and investment in machinery or courses – but will pay off in the long run.  Even if your sills wont go beyond a simple chemise or a cap – you are already saving some money

* buy ready made items – often stock items are cheaper,  often quite a lot cheaper than bespoke items. If you find an items at a market or online that you know is of good quality and it fits you – grab it, will  be much cheaper  than ordering the same items bespoke ( then you pay for the time, fittings, individual patterning etc too )

* Hunt bargains! go to markets to look out for bargain  quality fabrics – you can often save up to 50%  on the fabric – and usually this is the factor that drives the price of the costume up.

And as  I was often asked at how much different outfits cost – let us have a little display of different pieces and their prices…. more info on how much to charge can be read in the blog on running a costuming business

12/13 century gown, middle class:

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Gown in  wool, lined with linen, all handstitched and hand embroidered – value £500

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gown for a queen – in silk, with silk bands and girdle, lined in silk –  with a kirtle in silk too. Labour (machine and hand finish) and materials  £600 – £700. Together with   the accessories – shoes, jewellery, crown etc, = well over £2000

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Middle class kirtle and gown in wool – £300

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Wealthy merchnat’s wife kit – kirtle and gown in wool, gown lined in linen with fur trim – £400

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Lady/high status gown in brocade, lined with silk, all handstitched – the brocade itself  ( needed 8 metres is now retailing at £140 per metre… the dress value is  around  £2000, plus the kirtle, shoes,  pattens jewellery – another £400

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middle class gown in wool, linen lining – stock item – £220

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early 15th gown in wool, with linen – commission – value – £300

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robe and chaperon in silk brocade, commission – £ 400. the same items in wool would cost £260

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Royal Tudor gown – over £3400 ( detailed pricing here );  high born lady gown in silk velvet, lined with silk – £550. same gown in wool would cost £350

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Upper class Tudor set in wool, silk and fur – around £1000.  same outfit in quality, royal silks would probably double the price

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High status lady outfit, in silk satin, with silver lace – with  2 petticoats – £850

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middle class outfit in wool – £450

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Courtier  outfit in silk, lined with silk, silver lace, wrapped buttons – £800

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Middle class kit in wool  – £400

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18th century set in wool and linen, with lots of handfinish –  £ 600

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similar set but in silk, though machine finish  and blend fibre waistcoat lowers the price – £700

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Day dress in cotton, stock item – £300 ( not counting the undergarments)

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day dress in wool, stock item – £ 400

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Visiting dress in silk, heavily decorated – £ 1000

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WWI dress in silk with lace, £ 350

Edwardian Outfits July 2014-17

WWI dress in cotton, with a silk sash – £ 270

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Victorian corset, stock item, part of our Bare basic range  – £115

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Victorian corset, bespoke work, with exterior channels and extensive flossing – from £280

As you can see, it is often the price of fabric that makes the outfit expensive – or the fact that it is  a commission and not a stock item.

Having said all that – I must stress that  despite a few of the messages like that, the majority of people do appreciate the fact that their items are unique, made lovingly, and  individually fitted. And it is those lovely people that  make businesses like mine thrive – I used to teach in a college before, and the job, though rewarding, was nowhere near as rewarding ( both in card cash and job satisfaction). I  may be working longer hours, but I love my job, and would not be doing it if i didn’t – or if it didn’t pay my keep:-) :-)

More on running a costuming business can be read about here: https://adamselindisdress.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/running-a-costuming-business/

Hope the post has been useful to you, if you are new to costuming.  For those of you who are running businesses – have you come across similar experiences? if yes, do you have any other theories  that would explain them? Feedback welcome!

Victorian Ball, Bath 24 May 2015 details

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Join us for a night of passionate waltzes,  swift polkas, stately polonaises and quadrilles, a night of elegance, in lovely surroundings , with great company, lovely music and superb food – yes, the ball is happening!

Many of you were asking us about organizing another ball following the Spectacular! ball – but since last year we had to deal with the post fire issues, there was no time for organizing another event.This year however is looking much better and so  I gave in – and the ball is now on…. Since the Regency balls are held there  regularly, and a Georgian one is also held in Bath thins march ( and yes, we are going:-) ), we thought Victorian theme would work nicely!

Fashions for men and women, Jan 1846 France, Les Modes Parisiennes

Fashions for men and women, Jan 1846 France, Les Modes Parisiennes

 

The details:

The Venue – beautiful Assembly Rooms, Bath… those who have been know what an amazing location it is, when we visited last autumn, participating in the Regency ball, we were enchanted by the venue… spacious, elegant and timeless – perfect for the theme! WE will be using either the Ballroom or the Tea room – depending on the numbers, set up etc. you can see more detail on the website – Here

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Catering – by Searcy’s

A light buffet will be served half way through – and the menu is mouthwatering!

Menu

Hot

 Beef burgers with caramelised onion relish

Cod and chips with mushy peas

Potato rosti with sour cream & chives

Cold

West Country chicken liver parfait with Somerset apple jam.

Skewer of buffalo mozzarella, sun dried tomato and roasted aubergine

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Mini lemon & raspberry tarts

Chocolate shots with clotted cream

 There  will be a cash bar serving drinks, just in case all that dancing makes you thirsty :-)

Timings: 

door open at 7 -drinks, photography and socialising

8pm. dancing commences

9.15pm  Break for buffet and drinks

10pm dancing continues till 11.30

11.45pm  Carriages

12.00 Good night…. :-)

The Ball by Victor Gabriel Gilbert. Gorgeous

The Ball by Victor Gabriel Gilbert.

 

Dancing

There will be a dance workshop during the day, where we will have a go at a few dances, practicing our moves before the ball later on.  Our Dance Master on the day will be  Stuart Marsden- those of you who  watched the re-creation of the Pride and Predjudice Ball will no doubt recogine him! Stuart  is an accomplished teacher and specializes in period dances, working with various companies including BBC  –

He was also partnering Lucy Worsley in their lovely demo of Victorian dance – a part of the BBC Dancing Cheek to cheek programme – episode 2:-)

Stuart  will  not only  share his knowledge with us during the practice – he will be the one calling the dances in the evening too.  You can see the details on his website

http://www.thedancingmaster.co.uk/victorian.html

 

Faster and slower dances will feature ( waltzes, polkas, polonaise) and no partner is required – ladies can dance with other  ladies if needs be, as most dances are danced in sets, and partners are swapped on regular basis :-). no previous experience necessary!

The workshop will take place in the Assemply Rooms, – starting from 3pm on  the 24th May and will last for approximately 90 minutes…

Workshop dress code – you can come dressed in Victorian daywear, or modern attire –  comfy shoes a must:-)

 

For the workshop we will be using recorded music, for the event we have private musicians hired as well:-)

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Ball  Dress Code

Well, Victorian! fully fledged Victorian evening toilettes are welcome, but modern renditions and steampunk’d versions are acceptable, as long as there is no nudity and the skirts don’t show too much ankle….

For those of you who are making their own attire,  there is an inspiration board on Pinterest with a few ideas, and if you search this blog you will see a few post on making Victorian girly garb, step by step:-)

If you are commissioning your outfit, there are a few  recommended suppliers:

1. Prior Attire – well, us, of course…. Bespoke and off the peg, including corsetry and underpinnings. We now have only a couple of slots left before the ball, otherwise fully booked till June.http://www.priorattire.co.uk/

2. Wyte Phantom – lovely corsetry and gowns, again, fairly booked but Jen still has a few slots left! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wyte-Phantom/119904928081954?fref=ts

3. Dressing History – Serena provides lovely accessories and bespoke dressmaking as well – http://www.dressinghistory.co.uk/#!shop/cfvg

4. Prometheus Gearing – http://www.prometheusgearing.co.uk/ great menswear!

5. Gentlemen’s Emporium – Ready made, american, ( so expect to pay the custom duty charge) but great coats, waistcoats etc, at a very accessible price. Men’s items good, ladies – not so much, more of a fantasy – but still well made.http://www.gentlemansemporium.com/mens_victorian_clothing.p…

6. Cloak’d and Dagger’d – both men’s and ladies wear –http://www.cloakedanddaggered.com/menu/19th-century/

7. Meredith Towne – http://www.meridithtowne.co.uk/

 

Do not despair if you don’t have anything suitable – modern evening ( black tie) attire will serve you well!

Please note – although I would love to have  just people in the highest quality authentic Victorian gear, I am also realistic – so the focus of the ball is having a great time, and not a ‘who’s got the prettiest/most authentic/ silkiest etc frock  competition’. Enjoy the dances, the food and the experience, but refrain from costume snarks, please! ;-)

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Just as  before, the lads from Mockford Photography will be joining  us again –  so if you want a high quality picture of you in your best rags, the prints will be available on the night:-) The service proved to be very popular last time, and I believe the boys will be no less busy than last time:-)

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Fringe events 

Since it is the Bank Holiday weekend and the ball is on Sunday,  it look like many folk will be coming down to Bath for the whole weekend.

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There are numerous tourist attractions to keep people occupied for a week at least, and a variety of things to see – from the amazing Fashion Museum, Roman Baths ( more info  here), Jane Austen centre, carriage rides, lush gardens, parks, etc… The shops are full of  unusual and high quality items, and the antique shops can entrance treasure hunters for hours.

On top of that we plan to have a little informal  Victorian picnic on Saturday – the location will be most likely in the Royal Victoria park.  Everybody is welcome to join us, Victorian day dress encouraged but not required…

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 Now there is also talk of  doing Monday breakfast Victorian style – probably  in the elegant Pump Rooms…. details on our fb page!

The details of the ball and the picnic are posted on our page and the event,  and the sites are updated with the recent information, including accommodation, picnic  etc. Each month there is a draw amongst the ticket holders for a free workshop session – we already have 3 winners, and by the time we close the box office there will be  3 more! :-)

Victorian ball on Facebook

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 Tickets

The tickets are available from the website – currently we have sold  just over a half, so there is still a fair amount to go – but going swiftly! :-)

Tickets can be purchased here :-)

 

Needless to say, am really excited and cannot wait! :-)  hope to see you there too!

 

Ball at the Galerie des Glaces, Versailles 25 Aug 1855 Leaves from a Journal by Queen Victoria

Ball at the Galerie des Glaces, Versailles 25 Aug 1855 Leaves from a Journal by Queen Victoria

 

Corsetted Victorians and others – myths and reality

Originally posted on A Damsel in This Dress:

1851-60 blue ribbed silk corset, Museum of London Prints.  Image Number 002188 1851-60 blue ribbed silk corset, Museum of London Prints. Image Number 002188

“Oh my, this must hurt – how do you breathe in this?!” –  Many re-enactors, (and modern corset wearers), will recognize that remark, whether as a comment under a picture or spoken at an event.  I have heard my fill over the last few years, when dressed in Victorian kit, and the discussions that followed were equally interesting and illuminating for both parties.

Recently I have been browsing through Pinterest boards looking for images  of 1895 corsets, and noticed several nice pictures – yet it was not the pictures that captured my attention, rather the comments and descriptions below that were even more arresting…..

Just a few examples:

* ‘They are lovely, but so uncomfortable’ ( on this pin )

* ‘This is a victorian corset which was used to create the perfect hourglasss figure. This is gorgeous but I can’t imagine…

View original 1,798 more words

Geisha Corsetry Collection 1

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I have been planning this one for some time – I think it was a glimpse at a kimono silk somewhere on ebay that provided the spark –  30 minutes later and I have purchased several bits of left over kimono silks and started planning.   The silks arrived, and loved them even more – and they were just big enough to incorporate into some corsetry. The theme was not an unfamiliar one to me, as we have used oriental inspiration int the Petal dress, and in our Steampunk Amazones, but this one was to be  a more cohesive collection.

As always the first stage was sketching, drawing, gathering inspiration ( Pinterest board is here), and gathering props.  I already had an early 20th century set of a katana and tanto, and a matching kimono I wanted to use, plus a collection of kanzashi ( japanese hair flowers), parasols etc…

Ironically the first design that emerged wont be shown here – I will present it in another post giving more details – it was the first ever pattern I created myself, and the corset, together with other bits and pieces was sent on adventures, to be photographed by the Iberian Black Arts, modeled on the gorgeous Threnody in Velvet.

Do not despair though – I do have some lovely pieces for you today!

Once I had some idea of the feel for the collection, i purchased more props ( hakama trousers,  jackets etc) and discussed styling and options with our main model, lovely Lizzie ( Miss Lilian Love), who also had a nice collection of oriental props:-)

Then it was just down to finding time in between commissions to make the corsets, but finally in January I managed to free a few days and frantic corsetrymaking ensued…

The feel of the collection was to be a blend of modern and traditional. The form of the corset is not a traditional shape for oriental women, however, it may be argued that obi represents a constriction and shape forming element too. In our corsets the silks or the motives were the traditional part – as well as flossing. I had a brief moment of inspiration where flossing was concerned and decided to floss the bones using  kanji – chinese/japanese characters.  to make it even more difficult, each kanji needed to be matched to the collection too – you cannot have a corset in silks saying  for example ‘rice’ or ‘cow’, can you?

In the end we got the following kanji:

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‘Spring’

 

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‘Bird’

 

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‘Flower

 

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‘Woman’

 

 

 

The first corset to me made was a playful geisha print – I made it as a challenge  – one last corset for 2014 – and completed before midnight:-).  It was meant as a sideline, to be honest, and as an exercise in pattern matching –  but worked so well I decided to include it in the collection. Indeed the pattern matching worked so well that the corset is now featured on Lucy’s Corsetry blog, among other beautifully pattern matched corsets – have a look!

work in progress…

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and  on the Lizzie:-)

 

 

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The next one was the Crane corset – a mix of kimono silks and cotton sateen.. ( this one is offered in our shop)

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then another print followed, and a bit more pattern matching…

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I think this is my favourite corset of the collection – I experimented with the pattern, creating a more pronounced hip spring  – and  as a result I love the silhouette, and it is surprisingly comfortable – I normally lace down to 27inches max – here, 26 with no problems….

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More kimono silks and pattern matching was next – IMG_20150120_150910

 

and on Lizzie – again, this corset is now offered in the shop :-)

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Then  it was experimenting with more silks, broche and sheer mesh :-)  both corsets are available in the shop:-)

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The last one was a plain piece in broche to match my honey kimono

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A week before the shoot Paul accepted our invitation to play with us on the day – and arranged for the snow machine too…. so the day was a full on fun, getting ready, changing, shooting both outside and inside with a backdrop. Whereas Lucas shot product shots and some arty stuff, Paul went for artistic  and more cinematograpic mood – sexy ninjas, Kill Bill etc…

Below a few more pictures  from the boys:-)

from Lucas:

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and  some great shots from Paul. More of his work can be seen on his blog – link soon!

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and a few behind the scenes shots:-)

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 and after some 6 hours, it was rest time – homemade pizza and wine! :-)

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Hope you enjoyed the collection – there are 2 more corsets, to be covered n a separate post, and since I still have a few bits of silks, I may add some more stock pieces to the shop at some point. In the meantime,  4 of the corsets are available for sale, plus some other corsets from past projects:-) have a look!

 

Credits:

Corsetry – Prior Attire

Models, Izabela Pitcher and Miss Lilian Love

Photography – Mockford Photography and Pitcheresque Imagery

Corsetry supplies – Sew Curvy

Kanzashi – Kikuya Kanzashi

 

 

 

 

 

 

1895 Winter Project

Iz and Lucas in the Snow-1a

I have  done a lot of earlier Victorian (1876-86), but i have not really ventured into the 90ties ( though I did make a 1895 Ripple jacket for my Christmas outfit last year), so the Belle Epoche ideas had been brewing awhile here…

and then, a few moths ago, I saw this on Pinterest

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I mean –  huge skirt ridiculous lapels, mega-sleeves, a very ugly hat – how can you not love it!? I immediately pinned it onto my 1890ties board and started planning…

It was a longer project i planned to do more or less over the Christmas break here – I don’t celebrate it, but many of my clients do, so there is a bit of a free time to carve for my own projects there:-)  I wanted to make  as many bits as I could in the gaps before the commissions and hopefully shoot it with a wintry landscape, should we be so lucky as to get any snow here.

starting ith the foundations..

Corset.

I already had a corset cut to a Symingotn pattern ( patterned by Cathy Hay) – I made it for my wedding 3 years ago, when I was just starting my corsetry adventure, and so it doesn’t fit particularly well (  the back laces form () at the back, never a good sign.. ) Still, it survived 3 years of extensive use, and it looks nice and is very , very comfy…

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my old ‘wedding’ corset in coutil and silk

Since I now had an excuse to make a new one, i set down to work. I redrafted the same patter to fit me better, and this time made it a one layer affair in a lovely  mink coutil from Sew Curvy. I also decided on external bone channels – and you can see the details on construction in the little video I put together – Here.

The blue flossing and external tape worked well with the mink colour and I put some antique lace at the top too.

It fits nicely and is comfy, and once it is properly seasoned ( worn for a bit, so that it adjusts to my body) i bet it will close in the back. Both corsets are 27″ waist.

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The petticoat was easy – I used my old antique one:-)

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To get the proper width of the hem, an underskirt was often worn too –  there are a few existing ones , and whereas some are made in cotton, there are a few made in silks, with rather nice lace – a very elegant affairs!

I  hunted out some nice lace on etsy and used leftover silk from my Regency gown

I used up 12 metres of that lace… all gathered and sewed in two tiers – to the hem and to the flounce

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The skirt was next. I used a Truly Victorian Pattern for the Ripple skirt and it worked a treat! I made mine in boucle wool, with stiff cotton lining.

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 The blouse – well, in this instance i ran out of time a bit and used a blouse I found on ebay, from Cotton Lane. Thy make pretty neat shirtwaists, that are not too different in construction from the proper stuff – and as I dislike sewing shirts etc, I simply plan to alter this one – I will remove the sleeves, cut out the pin tucked panel and the cuffs and sew them onto a proper, leg of mutton style sleeves in the same cotton. I will need to re-insert the collar too, to fit my neck better, but altogether I think it should pass muster – will update this post once it is done ( february, as want to wear it for the next market! )

 And then it was time to think about the coat….

 I wanted to make it in green wool and line with cotton. When I went wool shopping i was irrevocably drawn to the wool I used for mu 1876 February dress – lovely , napped fabric, soft and warm. I couldn’t say no…

 The lining was a rather pricey cotton flanelett – light, but soft, with a slight nap, to keep me war,

 Other ingredients included  rabbit fur,  linen interlining for the lapels and collar, tape for channels and lovely buttons made by Gina B.

   Looking at many original coats and patterns from the era, it is easy to notice that the coats dould me made either with bodice and skirts cut separately or together. I decided on the former – and adapted a pattern for the skirts from one of the coats shown in this book – 59 Authentic turn of the century patterns 

The bodice getting ready… I adapted a pattern of my old Victorian bodice and played with a mock up untill I had the correct shape of the lapels… took a few goes…

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The ‘sleeves of doom’ were quite a challenge. I found  a pattern for the sleeves in the same book and played with them – they consisted of a normal sleeve, lined, and a puff . the sleeves are cut on the bias, to achieve the fitted forearm, and the puff is interlined and stiffened with layers of net…

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the undersleeve

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the puff with net being attached

 But the net and pleating wasn’t enough to achieve the desired look. shoulder supports were needed.

 I found a few pictures of them, and in the end settled on the wire  and tape ones. they go inside the puff, and are tapes are sewn onto the undersleeve.

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I must admit that try as I might, the pleated effect seen on the original escaped me ( I almost got there with cartridge pleating but realised in the end  that i would have to have more fabric – and a different shoulder support, possibly with the wired running in the other direction, so that the pleats fill in between… just a theory.

 Still the sleeves did work out quite well…

   time to attach the skirt to the bodice… the bodice was boned on every seam and has a waiststay as well.

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planning the waistsay

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Thebuttons were next – they are decorative items, as the coat closed with hooks and eyes under the fur trim:-)

The hat was simply an adapted hat  from my 1876 frock – i simply drew the line at  making an ugly hat and decided to temporarily re-arrange an existing one – and since the brim was wired, it was easy to shape it differently, add feathers and a bow:-)

On the day we used a new backdrop for some of the pictures ( no snow here, alas) for a  cheesy Victorian postcard look, with the props being a few things we picked up on ebay – antique sledge and skates :-)

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 it was time to get dressed – and  I realised a bit of a mistake as soon as i put the coat on – the skirts were voluminous and heavy, squashing the shape of the  Ripple skirt, and dragging on the floor :-( so that’s another thing I will need to sort out before a proper outing – cutting the hem short and probably adding a bit more stiffening to it too, to help it flare out.

 Apart from that I am very happy how it all turned out – and hope we will see some proper snow at some point to take better pictures!

  as it is – the results below:-)


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  The cost.. ouch…

 corset – materials and labour – approximately £300,

 underskirt  – lace – £90, silk £30, labour £90 – £210

 ripple skirt – fabrics  – £50, labour – £150 – £200

 coat – fabrics and notions – £100, labour £300

 cheap blouse – £35  ;-)

 total – approx £1000….. plus the hat…

 Altogether  it was not the most expensive but not the cheapest set either – but it is comfortable, stylish  and more or less practical ( once you get used to the enormous sleeves) so I will be wearing it quite a lot for the markets etc, I think:-)

  And yes, I do love the sleeves… Power dressing!!!! :-) hope you like it too :-)

 usual credits – Dressmaking – Prior Attire

 photography – Pitcheresque Imagery

 corsetry supplies – Sew Curvy

 Buttons – Gina B Silkworks, 

 Wool – Bernie the Bolt

 cotton lining, notions – Tudor Rose Patchwork

 Fur – GH Leathers 

Hampton Court filming for the BBC

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Back  in the autumn we were doing a few filming jobs – a couple of days for Horrible Histories ( not released yet, I think) and  a bit for the BBC – filming the procession in Hampton Court.

 

There were close to 100 people in the procession and the task of sorting out the costumes was managed, very aptly, by Ninya Perry  ( Tudor Tailor – rings a bell? :-) ) and her team.   She talks about sourcing the costumes in her feature for the BBC here. It was a mammoth job, but the results were stunning!

 

Apart from the volunteers there was also a cluster of re-enactors, usually wearing their own kit ) I was wearing my old Tudor frockage in cream silk brocade and silk kirtle,all handstitched ( more on than and how to make your own here) – and I must say it is with the relief that I realized that I actually still fitted into it! I had a role of the train bearer – so following Lady Mary like a shadow…..

 

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Lucas was one of the canopy bearers, and Darren from the Tudor Roses, whose outfits  i made as well,  had  a prominent role too, looking resplendent in his new clothes of red wool – and he  was kind enough to hire out  the previous outfit I made him, in black wool.

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The filming was – well , regular thing, comparing with other experience it was actually very well organized – yes, there was sitting around and waiting,  and yes, we were repeating the same scene a few times, but mostly the work progressed smoothly – and it was a pleasure to actually meet  David Starkey, whom I have always greatly admired.

In short – it was a good 8 hours work, but in good company, doing useful things – and we were fed well too :-)

And the finished  programme can be seen d=for the next few weeks on Iplayer –

A Night at Hampton Court

and a few behind the scene photos below:-) enjoy the feature, lots of interesting things there!

 

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feeding time

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lots of gable hoods!

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Lady Mary and her lady in waiting gossiping…

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caught sneaking out…