Vampires at Gosfield Hall

Vampires-22

 

I have never actually been to a proper Halloween Party, but this year we were seduced into attempting one. Admittedly most of the seduction was done by the location – we have been to Gosfield Hall before, to shoot our Summer Bride collection last year – and loved it! So the tickets were bought, and since it was Lucas’ birthday on the 1st, I treated us, as a surprise, to securing the sumptuous Bridal Suite for our stay.

And with a venue like that and  lodgings dripping with gold, I obviously needed suitably splendid attire….

Fortunately I had a cunning plan – I have designed the Batdress   several months ago, a spur of the moment thing,  and then was lucky enough to get a bargain fabric –  15m of crushed silk velvet – useless for historical outfits, but perfect for a bit of Halloween fancy dress.

The original sketch,

Scan0001

and a work in progress sketch – yep, that’s how I make skirts and gauge how much fabric  to use…

Scan0002

 

the foundations first – a cage crinoline, mid Victorian design, and a muslin petticoat from one of our bridal frocks….

IMG_20141028_142610

then the skirt….

IMG_20141028_175350

The corset was a bit of a challenge – because it was to be worn over a crinoline and not  underneath, it had to be much shorter, allowing for the skirts to billow up. As a result, it turned out to be a surprisingly comfortable  wear:-)

The corset used plain coutil as a strength layer,  tape castings for channels and cotton for lining. Decoration – silver and black lace appliques, silver thread flossing and red beads.

IMG_20141029_125217

IMG_20141029_142912

IMG_20141030_130902

insides before fitting in the lining

IMG_20141030_130415

close up of the lace

IMG_20141031_001142

decoration complete

 

The overskirt/wings were made of the same fabric and lined with faux duponi silk from James Hare – and boned with thin metal flat steel.

other accessories included these..

IMG_20141031_220359

 

Once the dress was done, I have 6 hours to make something more before we hit the road – and in a mad rush I made another corset, satin and calico , with lace and silk tulle decoration:-), styled for a Bridal vampiric  look…

The plan was to arrive early and shoot the bridal stuff first, then change and have fun in the Bat dress. alas, we underestimated the traffic – Friday, end of half term, halloween – we were stuck on the motorway for  much too long. as a result, we arrived in time to get ready, but not to shoot the bridal stuff – that will have to be done the following morning!

We were surprised , very pleasantly, by a nice card and a bottle of white wine awaiting us in the suite – a present from our friend Eleanor, who was also attending the party! 🙂

IMG_20141031_174644

not a good picture, but captures the grin… and the room….

Before the party a girl needs to relax –  a bath and a face mask was in order. Lucas did have a bit of a shock when i joked I could go to the party wearing this….

IMG_20141031_183404

 

but at last the clothes were on, make up and hair was done and we could take a few pictures….

IMG_20141031_195056 IMG_20141031_195029 IMG_20141031_195227

 

IMG_20141031_220839

 

The event was very atmospheric – an amazing singer in one room, roast boar dinner and a cobweb covered pianist playing tunes from the Phantom of the Opera in the other, fireworks outside – amazing!

apart from relaxing, eating and enjoying ourselves, we did take more pictures  at the end of the night….

Vampires-17

Batdress in its full glory

Vampires-16

 

Gosfield Hall Halloween 2014-42

Vampires-20

Vampires-24

Vampires-27

and one from the end of the night…. corset undone, hair loose – and yet it worked too 🙂

 

as to the question i was asked a few times at the party – how do you go to the loo in that?

well, the answer is simple – wear split drawers ( or none….) and go in forward….

IMG_20141031_221022

 

In the morning we got up early and  shot the Dracula’s bride styling – corset with lace, with a scrap of lace as a headdress, my bridal veil and a silk chiffon skirt….

Gosfield Hall Halloween 2014-80

 

Vampires-11 Vampires-7

Vampires-2 Vampires-5 Vampires-6

Vampires-8

nom nom nom

we were having so much fun we almost missed breakfast – as a result i rushed downstairs half dressed – don’t think many people minded though – the corset looked great with jeans too!

Vampires-12

 

I must admit I loved wearing the Batdress – but it was a one off and is going to be put on sale ( though not before we shoot it somewhere else – the original idea was a forest or a cemetery), just like the bridal corset – no doubt next year I will come up with a different kit: – )

hope you enjoyed the madness – we did, and are planning more Halloween outings in the future!

 

 

 

The Spirit of Autumn Dress Project

Image

Autumn Spirit dress

Well, that was something different.  One week I have an idea, next week the outfit is ready….   absolutely loving the  result of the friendly/professional cooperation on this project – it looks like the other seasons will be represented by organic, ephemeral dresses as well.

But – the Autumn. A detailed  article on how to make the outfit will soon appear on the Foundations Revealed website, but in the meantime a few pictures and a bare bones here…

The original sketch

Image

 A week on, the leaves and other autumnal bits were gathered…

Image

conkers!!

Image

naughty Merlin kept dive bombing the leaf pile…

the dress base was made up of cotton  and the fun begins…

Image

 The leaves are first stapled on ( only the first layer/ and then glued with copious amount of glue…   a few hours later, having run out of glue and the leaves,  the skirt already looked rather splendidImage

Second leaf gathering mission took place on the next day, and at last the skirt was finished. all together it took roughly 350-400 different kind of leaves ( maple, oak, birch, copper beech, chestnut, hawthorn etc) and 4 packets of glue sticks…

Image

  Leaves preservation – well, since waxing or treating each and single leaf with glycerin was beyond the time scale allocated for this project, I did not preserve the leaves at all – I simply made care I collected freshly  fallen leaves – and keeping the thing outside seemed to do the trick admirably – and almost a week on, the dress is still ok, though a few leaves look a bit tired. the idea is to  do the skirt cheaply and discard it later – however, for a lasting garments artificial leaves can be used.

And since the corset to go with the skirt was to be a lasting creation, that;s what got stitched on it – artificial leaves, vines and beads pretending to be berries:-) then only a few real leaves were added on the day of the shoot. it is now available to purchase in out online shop, btw…. 🙂

Image

The wig and contact lenses turned up on time, and Lucas even managed to make up some autumnal jewelry too….

Image

Image

 On the day of the shoot the usual team  turned up just in time for a cuppa and a breakfast muffin – and got to work. Lucas and Paul drove to the location – we decided to shoot in the sample place that inspired me – Harrold Odell Park. And so the boys went over early to look for a fitting spot  and set up the light etc.

Sarah unpacked her goodies and started working on the make up – a very different look for me, but went well with the wig and the contact lenses –  my first time as far as the lenses are concerned, but really liked the effect and will invest with more funky ones in the future…

Then it was time to get the wig on and drive over to the location.  The boys were ready with their gear and special effect ( the ‘mist generators’ )  so i just needed to change and Sarah styled the wig and the crown on …

Image

all ready!

Image

and the work started – most of it was getting the light – both artificial and the fleeting sunshine, and the smoke right. so lots of waiting for the sun to appear for a few seconds, upon which the special effect team would get the mist sorted and Paul was shooting.   Lucas took a few photos as well – and the result of the work below….

Image

Autumn Spirit dress in its glory…

Image

Image

 and a few ones from Lucas

LJP_8218

LJP_8208

LJP_8233

 and more piccies here

IMG_00001835

  and the job done, team happy, things were packed and we drove back. I liked my look so much i wore it for a bit longer…

IMG_00001836

  and the credits –

Photography – Paul from Mockford Photography – fb page:

Make up and wig styling  Sarah Dunn –  Sarahfrom Sarah’s Do Whoop Up does 

 costume: – Prior Attire  the corset is now available on sale at a bargain price – get it here!

 model – me! Izabela Pitcher:-)

 wig from http://www.wonderlandwigs.co.uk

Eleanor through the ages

Image

 A slightly different post –  mostly to honour one of my most loyal customers – or, to be precise, a customer who, though the years of stitching, fittings, events etc, has became a very close friend. Eleanor now has a rather full wardrobe of Prior Attrie outfits, from medieval to Victorian –  and  I am going to present some of them below.

 The first contact was made through Ebay – Eleanor wanted to purchase one of the frocks i was selling – but needed it shorter..

Image

the houppelande on offer…

Shortening the gown was no problem, so we met at one of the markets and I have sorted it on the spot.. and that’s how it started… that is also how I met Ian from Black Knight Historical – but this i think will be another post… 🙂

Image

the gown on Eleanor, as Margaret Paston here

 12th century

 A gown fit for a queen – clothes for Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine

kirtle in silk, dress in silk with ornamental borders, veil and wimple

Image

 13th century 

 middle / lower class kirtle and dress in wool

Image and another early 13th frock, here at the fitting – wool with embroidery

Image

14th century

 a surcoat in cloth of gold – another queenly garment…

Image

 and a bit more modest, a nun’s outfit – 13-14th century

Image

15th century

 most of the work here was either kirtles for the camp or burgundian gowns – i have made 3… some of them below…

Image

at Tewkesbury

Image

Image

Tewkesbury Abbey

16th Century

 here we started with an upper-middle class merchant’s wife..

Image

at kelmarsh

 a bit posher…

Image

at Blickling Hall, with a silk kirtle

and a silk velvet gown, for Peterborough cathedral

Image  An  early Elizabethan outfit – loose gown over a silk kirtle ( the same kirtle as above btw – it is reversible, plain gold on one side, brocade on the other….., coif and a cap

Image

  17th century 

 alas, nothing as yet…. i think…

 18th century

 a pair of brocaded stays, silk petticoat and brocade jacket. event blog here

Imageclose up of the jacket…

Image

 19th century

 Regency – a gown in silk – here as a Mrs. Bennett, with me as her daughter – more details of the event here

Image

 Victorian

 a schoolmistress/egyptologist just a jacket by me. my first ever Victorian item too!

Image

 was a 1883 suit for my wedding – Eleanor was my Matron of Honour:-)

Image

then the mourning gown – work at Holkham ( blog  here)

Image

1885 mourning gown

 and a 1884 evening gown, also worn for our Spectacular Ball

Image

 I even did a Halloween corset and skirt for Eleanor – here worn for our Steampunk dinner at Coombe Abbey last autumn – not a best photo but we were too busy eating and having fun – so it is almost the only one I think…

Image

  and for the time being – that’s it! Many thanks to Eleanor for being a perfect client and a perfect friend – hope you enjoyed the journey too!

My Big Fat Victorian Wedding – St. Audries Park, West Quantoxhead, Somerset. 17th October 2011

Image

 Our wedding day – well, where shall I start? So much was happening in the lead up to this day, and so much happened on the day!  We got engaged on the 1st January, in the midst of Scottish highlands, a few hours after midnight, and a day later most of the details were in place – apart from the venue. We knew precisely what we wanted – a venue with a character, able to accommodate the wedding party on the day, an also one that would allow us to do a post-ceremony hack on its premises – and the last bit proved to be a bit of a problem for many venues.

Image

Hunting on Quantocks – view from the hills towards the venue

One thing was obvious from the beginning – although we both currently reside in Bedford, it was Devon and Somerset, especially the Quantocks Hills that we both love and spend a lot of our time on holidays, running, riding and hunting, and it went without saying that this would be the place where we want to say our vows.

We had a look at a few venues in the area, but the moment we clasped our eyes on St. Audries, we knew this was it – a spectacular location, just off the Quantocks Hills, my favourite hunting grounds; a place full of character and charm with lovely interiors, luxurious rooms, all set within beautiful grounds. But could we ride there? One call and we were elated – no problems with horse riding on the grounds! In a few days’ time the date was set, the deposit paid and we had 9 months to get ready.

The day itself was – well, incredible.  Busy too, but since we like busy, it suited us very well.  I arrived a day earlier, and stayed at St. Audries for the night before the wedding – we actually booked the little cottage for my bridal party, but since the venue had a cancellation on that night, they very gracefully suggested that we stay in the main house, in our bedrooms, to avoid all the hassle of moving the next day.

Image

the venue the day before – simply sumptous in its autumnal array!

I arrived before my bridesmaids (having left my husband to be with friends near Tiverton) and enjoyed a leisurely walk around the house – and a last minute sewing session in the bridal changing room. As a professional costumier, I made my own wedding dress (based on 1883 Victorian fashions) and made my mother’s, and bridesmaid’s  outfits too – altogether 5 Victorian toilettes.

Once the bridesmaids arrived (a bit intimidated by the large, quiet house), we got changed and went out for a dinner in a nearby pub. As a hen night theme we chose ‘brides in different cultures’, so, as a result,  we caused a bit of a stir at the pub – not every day do they have girls dressed as Indian, Pakistani, Russian and Chinese brides coming over for a meal and a laugh!

Image

The Indian bride

After the meal, we retired back to the house, carried out the last preparations (pressing the skirts, last minute stitching, etc) and then slept the night away in our lavish bedrooms.  I must admit that I did sneak in outside, and went for a walk around – and practiced my walking down the aisle in the magical, lantern-lit orangery.

Image

The Orangery

The wedding day dawned fine – and even if it was overcast, the moods were dramatically improved by a St. Audries breakfast – their croissants are amazing!  The first guests started arriving, so breakfast was a jolly affair in the company of friends, and I even managed to work in a quick game of table football against a good friend and ex-boyfriend as it happens – and I won ( I suspect he let me win, the gentleman he is…)

Breakfast out of the way, moods soaring – time to kit up and get to the meet; we had arranged with the Quantocks Stag Hunt to host a wedding hunt-meet at the nearby Staple Farm. All geared up, I met my future husband at the meet, all beaming and looking very smart in his new hunting gear. The turnout was excellent, and for my part of the family, who travelled all the way from Poland, it was an amazing experience – there is no more hunting there, so being at a proper meet was a real treat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

me at the meet, on Punchy

Once the port was drunk and snacks consumed, I left my matron of honour to get things organized and to make sure all the quests are established in their respective bedrooms. As it turned out, she didn’t have much to do and the house manager on the day had all things firmly in hand and dealt with everything admirably well – when it turned out that we had one guest extra, a spare bedroom for him was found in minutes. And so, when Lucas and I, together with our hunting guests were riding on the Quantocks, the other guests were relaxed in the house, enjoying walks, drinks and canapés.

In the meantime, the hunt was going well. I have hunted more or less regularly over the last few years, but for Lucas it was the first time – but as you’ll see from the pictures, he was enjoying it immensely.

Image

Lucas on Ryan, looking, as always, very smug.

Everything was going fine, until about 1.30. This was the time when we planned to leave the hunting to go on without us – we would call for the lorry to pick us up, so that both we and the horses could have a wash and change for the ceremony.

Alas, when we reached for our phones it turned out there was no reception. Not a bar, nothing, zero, nada.  And we were miles and miles away, in the middle of nowhere. There was only one thing left to do: ride in the direction of St. Audries in hope that we could stumble either on a patch of reception where one of us could use the phone, or upon some hunt-followers who would be able to give us a lift.

After about half an hour, we struck lucky – we came across the hunt staff in a 4×4. They got on the horses, we got into the 4×4 – and we were on our way.

As a consequence, we were about an hour behind schedule.  I had about half an hour to make sure the bridesmaids, my mother, etc, were all kitted up, then to have a short bath (made even shorter through the discovery that Jacuzzi and bath foam work surprisingly well together…) and then to get changed myself.

By the time I got to the changing room (leaving Lucas on the floor of our bridal suite, stitching a button back onto his breeches…), the photographer and the videographer were waiting, eager to start shooting the preparation of the bride.

Image

getting ready

 

 

 

 

I dare say they were disappointed, as the whole preparation lasted about 10 minutes. Petticoats and corset on, two hot rollers on. Wipe any mud from hunting, realize that the makeup I did in the morning was still OK, just needed a touch of powder. Rollers out, hair in the bun, clip on the extensions and style them – 2 minutes work.

Image

getting ready

Then on went the bustles, skirts, overskirts, train, corset covers and bodice. The tiara and the veil were the last.

 Ready in about 5 minutes, with all the bridal party waiting. Success! Image

 The house organization was impeccable – all the quests were already in the orangery, seated. My father was waiting, as was the registrar, for a short chat beforehand, and off we went. My most profound memory from these moments was that I simply couldn’t stop grinning. Try as I might, the grin was there, glued onto my face and no attempts of serene grace and charm would remove the thing.  Oh well, could have been tears I suppose, so happy to contend myself with the grin.

Image

walking down the aisle

Off we walked, myself screened from the inquisitive glances of the guests by a huge bridal umbrella. At the orangery, the bridesmaids went in first, to the funky tune of: ‘Here Come the Girls’ getting lots of laughs from everybody. My turn.

Still trying for serene, (and failing miserably), in I walked on my stepfather’s arm, to the tune of ‘Annie’s Song’ – a surprise for Lucas, as I knew it has a special sentimental value for him – I knew he would be touched, and as I later learnt he was – his words, blinking the tears away, were simple, short and to the point. (‘Cow’, he said to his father…)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbZfK1dJIjM

The ceremony was simple, straightforward and joyous, with two humorous readings by me and my matron of honour, with Lucas’ reading providing a deeper and more serious note to sustain some gravity of the occasion.

Image

the grin firmly in place

 Again, please note – the grin was still there. But by that time Lucas was grinning nonstop too, so it was fine.

  The ceremony over, we walked out to the shower of real rose petal confetti , hunter’s horn blazing and a rather unorthodox choice of music (‘Everybody was Kung Fu fighting’ – since we met at our Kung Fu club in Bedford, and still train there, it was only appropriate to incorporate the theme into the day somewhere). We were greeted and congratulated by a friend of ours who is also a professional chimney sweep – in her full regalia, it is considered to be very lucky to pass good wishes to the newlyweds.

Image

walking out – into the sunshine!

Outside, the weather improved – we actually had some warm rays of sunshine peeping thorough the orangery windows during the ceremony, and when we were outside we had both sun and clouds,; good conditions for some excellent photos – so Phil from Lensmonkey Photography was hard at work trying to get a few nice poses out of us.

video from the ceremony – here

Image

MInutes into the wedlock, both looking smug…

Image

circulating in style, Ryan and Punchy on their best behaviour too!

We walked over to the main entrance, where our horses were waiting for us. Punchy, a lovely thoroughbred I rode earlier on was all cleaned up and ready for Lucas, and Ryan, was all kitted up with a side saddle and a decorative cloth (to protect the skirts) for me.

I removed my train, got on, helped by my side-saddle instructor and a friend Becca who also got me a lovely antique side-saddle hunting whip as my first bridal present! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K08FLBD8eAU

We walked the horses around, chatting with the guests and family, and trying to calm down the owner of the horses – (since the horse I was supposed to ride aside had suffered an injury two weeks earlier, we opted for one of the local horses and that was only his second time aside).

After a few minutes of circulating, we cantered away for a few minutes alone. After the first mad gallop we slowed down to trot, then walked and rode side by side  amidst the beautiful grounds of St. Audries, with the deer from the fenced off park looking at us curiously – our first hack out as a husband and wife,  very romantic! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42_BYRSGNi4

Image

and off we go, leaving quietly, before breaking into a nice canter outside!

 

Once we got back, it was time for chucking my lovely bouquet at some hopeful lasses. The main hall and the staircase of the venue provided a perfect location for that, and it was my cousin from Warsaw who was fortunate enough to secure the bouquet – though only ‘by the skin of her teeth’ as the saying goes, since the thing almost landed on my Matron of honour’s hat…

Image

bouquet on its way, just slipping through Eleanor’s fingers…

Image

Happy Kasia with her catch

 

A quick change before dinner – I swapped the afternoon bodice of my outfit for the evening one, and bustled-up the train so that it was easier to walk and to dance in, and Lucas changed his buckskin breeches and riding boots into proper Victorian trousers and more sensible shoes.  A few more photos in the lovely library, chatting to family and friends and shortly it was time to get to the dining room.

A quick note – this is usually a traditional time of accepting presents etc – but we opted for the convenience of a ‘Buy Our Honeymoon’ service, so our guests gad already given us the best gift of all – the chance to spend our honeymoon in a lovely location, doing the things we enjoy.

Image

more wedded bliss!

By that time, I must admit that I was rather hungry – my last meal had been a snack at the meet so I, and no doubt many others, were very much looking forward to the anticipated feast.

Image

Faye and Julie

And a feast it was! We chose autumnal dishes from St Audries menu – choices of venison terrine, goat’s cheese, roast turkey, venison roast and then an apple crumble and cheesecake for dessert – and everything was absolutely phenomenal – to such an extent that a few meals destined for the couple who didn’t arrive disappeared even before the staff had a chance to enquire about those missing guests…

Image

 Speeches – with lots of humour and a bit of embarrassment (especially for my stepfather, bless him, when he started talking about my first boyfriend and I promptly  corrected him, that he was by no means the first, probably utterly destroying the poor man’s faith in my innocent youthful conduct…) Lucas’s best man was his father –  and that arrangement resulted in an unusual and a touching speech, very different from the standard ones. Lucas said a word, and I said a few too, (no way I was being excluded from the fun on my own wedding day!

Image

cutting the cake

Appetites sated, we cut the cake (a mouth-watering Autumn berry Pavlova, provided by the venue) and proceeded to the hall for the dancing part of the evening.

Our first dance was a Viennese waltz, danced to the ‘Voices of Spring’. Half way through the guests joined us (it was a very, very long tune…) and we all swayed away, as many of them had attended the dancing practice we organized for our guests a month earlier.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=ZGPOpa-e_MQ&feature=endscreen

Image

waltzing away

The Waltz was followed by the traditional Polish dance, the Polonaise – it is traditionally danced to open balls and proms and is a perfect way to get everybody onto the dance floor – it is a walking dance and no experience is needed as all you need to do is to follow the couple ahead.

Image

my parents joining in the waltz

The Polonaise had its desired effect and once on the dance floor people joined in the next few traditional tunes – we had a few slow waltzes, quickstep, another Viennese, and even a spirited polka.

The in-house DJ was great – I had prepared lists of songs and tunes that were to be played, and he didn’t mind it at all and was happy to get the list started in all the right moments.

The Victorian part of the evening ended at about 9, when a hot buffet and the wedding cake was served – the interlude was utilised by the costumed guests for removing corsets, bloomers and bustles and getting into more modern attire.

Image

the evening attire in s steamy cha cha!

  We started the second part of the evening with a steamy cha cha (danced to ‘Sway’) and after that some very eclectic music followed – Latin rhythms mixed with pop and rock tunes kept us on the dance floor till midnight – though not a lot of guests kept our pace – mostly due to the fact that the allure of the buffet and bar in the neighbouring rooms was too strong. Not surprisingly I must admit – the buffet was great and the Pavlova was a truly inspired choice – light and fruity but not too sweet, it worked perfectly!

Image

guests relaxing with some booze…

Just after midnight even we were getting tired. The whole party was wrapped up smoothly and we got to our lovely bridal suite amidst cheers and leery smiles.

Next morning breakfast was a lavish affair, with a growing demand for those already famous croissants J.  We said our goodbyes, packed up (many people were leaving with a generous dollop of the Pavlova cake – we took some too, and with the addition of more berries it made a lovely Eaton mess in the afternoon.

It was a sad moment, leaving the venue  after such a spectacular and unforgettable day – but we knew we would be back at some point, in the worst case I would be waving at it from the Quantocks during one of our hunting days there.

Image

my new husband with his new in-laws, the day after!

We did manage a nice walk on the hills that day, together with my parents, and then a quick visit to Dave and Ellen who were providing the horses and who also helped by arranging the wedding meet in the morning. We thanked them and the horses and were on our way, getting my parents to the airport.

 

We were due to leave on our honeymoon a few days later – but that’s a different post…. here  

And now, for the list of all those who made our day so special:

The venue – http://www.countryhouseweddings.co.uk/st-audries-park/

St Audries Park is a
wedding venue in Somerset run by
Country House Weddings

 

The photography http://www.lensmonkey.co.uk/

the outfits: www.priorengagement.co.uk.

flowers: http://www.eden-florist-taunton.co.uk/

wedding dance choreography and lessons: http://www.danceandfitness.co.uk/

More photos can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2812960732574.147527.1515469250&type=3

And if you want to know how the wedding dress was made, the link are here – Part1  and Part 2