Tag Archives: costume school

Costume School Final Year Project // 1. Inspiration

3 Apr

Hello dear readers,

Again, sorry it’s been a while! With all the best intentions in the world, life – or rather, school – got in the way of both my updating this blog and working on my Lady Mechanika project. Now that I’m in my final year of my costuming course, most of my sewing energy has to go into my final assignment, where we have to create a pair of historical garments for a man and a woman, from the underwear out. Part of our assessment includes keeping an art/progress/inspiration journal, and I thought I might transfer what I write in there to this blog, along with other pictures and information I find.


Our loose theme this year is ‘Historical Costume Inspired by Art’. That’s a huge topic! We can look at any era, anywhere in the world, from about 1400-1950. Believe me, too much choice is worse than too little in this case! It’s taken me a lot of thinking and over-thinking to narrow down my ideas. I had to create some constraints for myself.

•  I want to look at an era I have not previously explored. That rules out my favourite (Georgian), some Victorian, some Medieval.

•  I want to try some new techniques, ie. embroidery, a new historical method of construction, etc.

•  As we have to make corsets, I want to try a style of corset I have not made previously. Again, no Victorian, or 18th Century Stays.

•  I don’t really want to make another men’s suit jacket, as I have made a few over the past few years!

• Being on a very tight student budget, I am going to use mostly fabric I already have in my stash. If I have to buy, it’s gotta be cheap!


In the end, it was the high-budget production values of a trashy Hollywood film that pointed me in an interesting direction.


Extravagant ladies' costumes in 'The Three Musketeers' 2011

Manly Musketeers

I’m such a sucker for terrible swashbuckling movies. The 2011 version of ‘The Three Musketeers’ is pretty outrageous – I mean, airships?! – but as much as the American accents and cheesy action are good for a laugh, the costumes are gorgeous. So lovely, in fact, that I was rather inspired to go and have a closer look at fashions of the mid-17th Century.

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Costume School // Making Millinery Flowers, Part 2

31 Oct

Hi everyone! Hope your week has been just wonderful! Between two jobs and coursework, I hardly know where I’m at anymore… so I’m sorry if this entry is a little bit later than promised.

So here’s a lesson we learned while letting your gelatine/stiffener dipped flowers dry: don’t spread them out on paper, hang them up! If you put them on paper, they WILL stick. If you’re not around to turn them over every so often, you will end up with lots of paper residue stuck on your petals. Not cool. Luckily I did turn mine over before leaving for the weekend, so I had whole bunch of crispy, paper-y, stiffened petals to work with.

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Costume School // Making Millinery Flowers: Part One

19 Oct

Tiny scraps of silk left over after cutting the petals. I can't throw them out!!


Today was my first day back at TAFE after two weeks off. It was also the first day of what I consider ‘proper’ Spring weather, in which the temperature strays above the 30 degree (Celcius!) mark. I suppose making silk flowers fits the season, but I was feeling a bit wilted myself, and certainly never miss the opportunity for a good pun.

In this first session we cut out and stiffened our petals in preparation for next week’s actual making of the flowers. Using fabric scraps consisting of all natural fibres, we cut out a bunch of petals in different shapes. Some students used a template, but I just went at it freehand for a more naturalistic feel.

Paper templates you could use to cut out scraps.

Most of my scraps were bits of silk I fished out of the stash, but I painted some calico with fabric paints as well just to see how a heavier fabric will perform. Other students used cottons, tulle, hessian and even leather – basically any natural fibre we could find. After cutting out, we painted/dipped the petals in stiffener and left them to dry on sheets of paper.


My silk petals, stiffened with gelatine solution.

The two stiffeners we are using are a chemical lacquer used in millinery, and a gelatine-based water soluble alternative. The former has a very strong smell and should really only be used under a fume hood. I ruined a brand new pair of leather shoes last term by spilling this stuff on them, so needless to say I don’t have fond feelings towards it! The gelatine is completely safe, but takes longer to dry and may not respond to being heated as well. I have also heard that a mix of PVA glue and water can be used. We will find out next week!


A whole garden of petals laid out to dry.

It was quite lovely to see everyone’s petals laid out to dry. They ran the gamut from quite psychadelic to beautifully handpainted, and I’m quite interested to see how the hessian ones will turn out.


PS. I do apologise for the bad quality of the images in this post – I only had my phone camera with me at school, so I had to make do!