Costume Mounting

October 7, 2017 | Author: Mariana Pedro | Category: Textiles, Cotton, Skirt, Fashion & Beauty, Clothing
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A Practical Guide to

Costume Mounting

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A Practical Guide to

Costume Mounting Lara Flecker Published in association with the Victoria & Albert Museum

Amsterdam • Boston • Heidelberg • London • New York • Oxford Paris • San Diego • San Francisco • Singapore • Sydney • Tokyo Butterworth-Heinemann is an imprint of Elsevier

Butterworth-Heinemann is an imprint of Elsevier Linacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 8DP, UK 30 Corporate Drive, Suite 400, Burlington, MA 01803, USA First edition 2007 Copyright © 2007, The Board of Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher Permissions may be sought directly from Elsevier’s Science & Technology Rights Department in Oxford, UK: phone (+44) (0) 1865 843830; fax (+44) (0) 1865 853333; email: [email protected] Alternatively you can submit your request online by visiting the Elsevier web site at http://elsevier.com/locate/permissions, and selecting Obtaining permission to use Elsevier material Notice No responsibility is assumed by the publisher for any injury and/or damage to persons or property as a matter of products liability, negligence or otherwise, or from any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions or ideas contained in the material herein. Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, in particular, independent verification of diagnoses and drug dosages should be made British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress ISBN-13: 978-0-7506-6830-9 ISBN-10: 0-7506-6830-X For information on all Butterworth-Heinemann publications visit our website at www.books.elsevier.com Printed and Bound in Italy 07 08 09 10 10 9

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To my Grandmother Hilda Firth

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CONTENTS

FOREWORD

ix

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

xi

INTRODUCTION

xiii

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

HANDLING, DRESSING AND CONSERVATION ISSUES Handling costumes

3

Dirt and creases

8

Materials commonly used for costume mounting

9

Basic conservation issues for costumes on display

12

A brief overview of packing costume for transport

13

TAKING PATTERNS AND MAKING TOILES

16

Assessing which parts of a costume to copy

17

Preparatory research

18

A brief introduction to historical pattern cutting

18

Taking basic measurements of a costume

21

Accurate toile method (suitable for fragile dress)

26

Quick toile method (suitable for more robust garments)

37

SELECTING AND MODIFYING MANNEQUINS AND DRESS STANDS

CHAPTER 4

40

Mannequins and dress stands

41

Having a customised figure made for a costume

42

Choosing a non-customised figure

45

Adapting torsos before padding

46

Covering figures with fabric

57

PADDING UP THE TORSO

74

The techniques of applying padding to a torso

76

Creating female historical body shapes

80

Creating male historical body shapes CHAPTER 5

2

95

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

102

Sleeve supports

103

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CONTENTS

CHAPTER 6

Leg supports

113

Techniques of making skirt supports

118

Creating period skirt silhouettes

134

TROUBLESHOOTING

162

Additional pads

163

Collar supports

170

Costumes with missing or damaged fastenings

175

Missing articles of costume and frequently CHAPTER 7

APPENDIX

needed reproductions

186

ALTERNATIVE METHODS FOR MOUNTING COSTUMES

200

Flat costume mounts

201

Perspex® mounts

207

Buckram figures

209

Plastazote® or Ethafoam® figures

217

BASIC SEWING TECHNIQUES

225

BIBLIOGRAPHY

249

SUPPLIERS LIST

251

INDEX

257

FOREWORD

Of all artistic media, dress is the most challenging to display. Flat paintings and prints, as well as three-dimensional forms such as sculpture, ceramics and metalwork move easily from store to display case, with the addition of a frame or plinth. Overall, dress lacks such rigid structure. It is usually stored flat in drawers or cupboards, but must be translated into a three-dimensional form when exhibited. Such a conversion operates, in a sense, in reverse to dressmaking and tailoring practice. Clothing is made to fit a particular person or industry defined size. In mounting dress, we are trying to recreate the body for which a garment was originally made, a challenge compounded by the shifting ideals in fashionable silhouette throughout history. This process requires appropriately styled mannequins, carefully shaped underpinnings, a good understanding of fashion history and a degree of skill. The aims in mounting dress are both aesthetic and protective. Not only should the garment be shown accurately and to its best advantage, but it should also be fully supported with no stress on the seams or fabric and protected from any contact with mechanisms of the mannequin. This book offers excellent guidance on preparing mannequins, modifying them to accommodate particular shapes and sizes of garment, and on making a range of supports for sleeves, trousers and a variety of skirt dimensions. The patterns are precise yet simple to use and the advice on readily available materials sensitive to both conservation requirements and budgetary restrictions. All the directions are applicable to both historical dress and contemporary fashion; the adaptability of the instructions to the infinite variety of dress is another of the book’s major strengths. Having followed a number of the enclosed patterns in order to mount dress in the V&A’s collections for the new Fashion Gallery display, I can attest to their ease, practicality and successful results, despite my very limited sewing skills. A Practical Guide to Costume Mounting is essential reading for all those who work with dress in museum collections, as well as dress history and museology students. It provides the essential ‘magic wand’ to transform a limp object in a drawer into a stylish garment, resplendent in the sculptural form intended by its maker and original wearer. SUSAN NORTH Curator of 17th and 18th century fashion V&A Museum ix

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank the following people: first and foremost Frances Hartog, who generously put hours of work into reading and improving the text and Susan North who kindly wrote the foreword and supplied valuable guidance on eighteenth-century dress. I would also like to thank all those in Conservation at the V&A who have given me so much advice and support, in particular Sandra Smith, Lynda Hillyer, Marion Kite, Elizabeth-Anne Haldane, Albertina Cogram, Susana Hunter, Cynthea Dowling and Boris Pretzel. In addition I would like to thank all the curators from Furniture Textiles and Fashion who I have had the benefit of working with over the last few years and in particular Lucy Johnston for her insightful advice on nineteenth-century dress. I am very grateful to those in the photographic department who have helped with the images for this book, especially Richard Davis for taking the cover photo, Sarah Hodges for working with me on some of the corset shots, Peter Kelleher for providing so many of the pictures and for his technical assistance and James Stevenson also for his technical support. I am also indebted to several other colleagues at the V&A, including Christopher Breward, Sue Prichard, Anna Fletcher, Robert Lambeth, Richard Ashbridge and Nicola Breen. In addition I would like to express my gratitude to Janet Wood who shared her mounting experience with me during the few years that we worked together at Historic Royal Palaces. Also to Wimbledon School of Art for giving permission to use Michael Pope’s technique for constructing a court panier. I would also like to thank Joanne Hackett, Beth Szuhay and Patricia Ewer for providing information about materials and suppliers in the U.S. My grateful thanks also go to all those concerned with the production of this book, in particular Stephani Havard, Mary Butler, Charlotte Dawes, Aparna Shankar and those from HL Studio’s and also to Zenzie Tinker, Edwina Ehrman and Catherine McLean for reviewing the proposal for this book. Finally I would like to thank my family for all their support and assistance and particularly Dom Browne for drawing diagrams and correcting spelling etc. and Mary Flecker for her meticulous proof reading. My thanks also go to Pat Cuttforth for all her help and encouragement and also to Lauren Child and Carrie Browne. xi

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INTRODUCTION

The style and fashions of clothes have been a subject of great interest for centuries. Over the last few years the display of both historical and contemporary costume in museums, galleries and exhibitions has become increasingly popular. As a result the need to display costume in a manner that is acceptable to conservators, historians and the general public has become essential. This means that every time a costume is put on display it must be fully supported, historically accurate and visually appealing. Unlike many objects exhibited in museums and galleries, costumes usually require considerable work to prepare them for display. Even contemporary dress often needs additional attention and the amount and complexity of work tends to increase for period garments. Although mounts such as mannequins and dress stands can be purchased easily, they are rarely the right size and shape for historical costume and will often need adapting to fit. Underpinnings are also essential, not only as a substitute for historical frames such as paniers and crinolines, but as a supportive foundation, controlling the shape and arrangement of trousers, skirts and sleeves. The importance of costume mounting is often underestimated by those who are unfamiliar with the subject. However, garments that are badly prepared can ruin a display and will put fragile textiles at risk. This is well illustrated by comparing the two images of an 1830s muslin dress before and after it was mounted for display shown in Figures 0.1 and 0.2. Although the garment is dressed on the same figure in both images, the pictures could not be more unlike. In the first, the dress does not fit the torso, it has no historical definition, while the fine muslin from which it is made is unsupported and vulnerable to damage. In the second image, the dress has been dramatically improved. The transformation has been accomplished by using a series of techniques to create a body shape and underpinnings which support the dress, give it the correct historical silhouette and show it off to its best advantage. Preparing a costume such as this can be a daunting prospect for someone who is unacquainted with mounting techniques, but, like any craft, it is something that can be taught and learned. Unfortunately, the lack of training courses and scarcity of information on this subject has meant that many are expected to display costumes without any advice or assistance. The aim of this xiii

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INTRODUCTION

Figure 0.1 Muslin dress with embroidered hem. C. 1830. British or French. T.51–1934 Dress before any work had been carried out to prepare it for display.

Figure 0.2 The same dress as above after it had been prepared for display.

INTRODUCTION

book is to provide a practical and comprehensive guide to costume mounting that will fill help this gap. Using techniques developed at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), A Practical Guide to Costume Mounting is intended to be useful to all involved in this area, including those with little sewing experience. Housing one of the finest dress collections in the world, the V&A reflects the rising interest in fashion, displaying costume within its galleries and numerous exhibitions, as well as loaning to a large number of national and international institutions. In order to meet these demands the need to mount costume swiftly and economically while maintaining a high standard has become increasingly important and many of the methods recommended here have been developed in response to this need. The topics included in the book cover the areas of costume mounting that are most commonly required, from handling and dressing through to body padding and techniques for making toiles and underpinnings. It is important to state here, however, that costume mounting methods vary widely throughout the world and the techniques detailed in this book are only some of many possible approaches. Each process is broken down into a series of simple steps using a combination of text and diagrams. To help illustrate these points a number of photographs are used, depicting relevant examples of mounted costume from the V&A. A basic sewing appendix is also included for the benefit of those with limited needlework experience, providing all the necessary sewing techniques needed to carry out the instructions. Although English names for materials have been consistently referred to in the book, an English to American conversion chart can be found in the first chapter, to assist with the translation of these terms. The word costume is used throughout as a general expression, intended to encompass all varieties of dress, rather than signifying theatrical garments. A Practical Guide to Costume Mounting caters for a wide range of people with varying experience, including conservators, curators, theatre and film costume makers and designers, exhibition designers and members of the fashion industry. Although focusing on costume from the eighteenth century onwards, these mounting techniques can be adapted for garments from earlier periods. As it is impossible to include every potential display problem likely to be encountered, the same flexible approach should be taken to all the instructions in the book, modifying and altering them as necessary to suit specific mounting projects. For the safety of the costumes themselves and for those working on them, it is essential to follow health and safety precautions when carrying out any of the proposed mounting techniques. This publication has been designed as a practical reference book and can be used in different ways. Those with more experience can dip into it when necessary, to help with individual display problems, while beginners can use it as a handbook, guiding them through all the fundamental mounting processes, from start to finish.

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1 Handling, Dressing and Conservation Issues

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his chapter is a basic introdution to the handling, dressing and conservation issues relevant to the display of historical costume and is for the benefit of those who have little experience of working in this area. Costumes that are handled or mounted inappropriately are vulnerable to damage, particularly if they are already old and degraded. Outfits of a more recent date can also be fragile and for this reason a high level of care must be maintained at all times and should be applied to every garment no matter what its age or value. To reduce any risks, a knowledge of good handling practices and an understanding of basic display principles are essential.

Handling Costumes Basic precautions There are a number of basic precautions that should always be observed when handling costume. Before unpacking an outfit from storage, a table large enough to receive the garment should be prepared. Ensure that the surface is clean, well-lit and free from splinters or covered in a sheet of Melinex®. Hands need to be washed and heavy makeup and jewellery removed. To avoid accidents, pens and scissors should not be used or left in close proximity to the costume.

Figure 1.1 Purple silk bias-cut dress, designed by Jeanne Lanvin. 1930. French. T.340-1965. Mounted on a modern dress stand made by Proportion London. This costume toured for nearly three years in North America and Japan and was exhibited in seven successive venues. During transport, the costume remained on the dress stand, with additional covers and padding for protection. 3

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A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO COSTUME MOUNTING

Gloves Although it is good practice to avoid touching a costume, it is not possible to mount an outfit for display without a certain amount of handling. To minimise any potential damage, gloves should be worn as much as possible to prevent the natural oils found on the skin coming in contact with the textile. This is particularly important when working on garments with metal components as the compounds secreted through the skin cause tarnishing and corrosion. Close-fitting latex gloves are the most suitable, as they do not restrict dexterity and still allow some sense of feel. There is also no danger of them snagging or catching on the textile. When handling costume, however, it is also important to be realistic about the use of gloves. For example, for intricate procedures using uncovered hands may be less of a risk to the garment than performing the same process in gloves. When this is the case, hands should be washed thoroughly before touching the object. Examining the costume for signs of deterioration Before attempting to prepare a costume for display, it is important to examine the garment thoroughly for signs of degradation and weakness. Most historical costumes will have suffered some kind of damage, but modern outfits are also susceptible and should be checked equally carefully. To perform a comprehensive examination, the structural state of a costume must be investigated as well as the overall condition of the textile. This will involve a thorough inspection of the seams, lining, fastenings and fabric of the garment. Costumes should be turned over during the process, so that they can be inspected on both the front and back. The inside of costumes should also be scrutinised, paying particular attention to the condition of the lining. Signs of deterioration can include any of the following: splits in the fabric, shedding fibres, degraded materials such as perished elastic and areas of ware, open seams, weak and missing fastenings and mould and insect damage. Professional advice should always be sought from a textile conservator before mounting any damaged textile and essential conservation should be carried out in advance to ensure the safety of the costume while on display. Moving a flat costume The process of carrying a costume from one place to another should always be thought through carefully before executing. Even for very short distances, the route should be planned and all obstructions cleared out of the way. Ensure that there are enough people on hand to carry out the process safely. Costumes can be carried in a variety of different ways and unless fairly small, should generally be carried by two people. One of the safest methods available

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is to transport the costume wrapped in a clean dust sheet. Held by a person at either end, the dust sheet not only protects the costume during transfer, but can be used to lift and support it. In a similar way, costumes can also be conveyed from one place to another on a rigid board. When using this system, make sure that the selected board is able to pass through relevant doorways without being angled. Less bulky costumes can be folded and placed in boxes or trays and in some cases carried by a single person. No matter how short the journey, any folds should be supported and padded with tissue rolls. Robust garments can be carried on a hanger; wrap the costume in tissue or a clean dust sheet and make certain that the outfit is secure on the hanger. Long skirts should be supported over an arm.

Dressing a costume onto a figure Although costumes are at risk throughout all display preparations, they are probably at their most vulnerable while being dressed onto a figure. It is therefore essential to carry out this process in as safe and controlled a manner as possible. Before commencing operations, make sure the figure, pole and stand are clean and free from dust by wiping over with a dry cloth. Select an area of floor that is large enough to accommodate the costume and with enough extra space around it to allow access on all sides. Cover the floor with tissue paper or a clean dust sheet and place the figure on top. Study the design of the costume and work out a dressing strategy, calculating how many people will be required to carry out the process safely. It is important to gauge this accurately, as using too many people can be as potentially harmful to the costume as using too few. On average, two dressers are usually needed, although three may be required for larger or more complex garments. Make sure that all parties involved are clearly informed of the dressing strategy and know what their responsibilities will be throughout the procedure. Bodices and jackets: As sleeves tend to be the most complicated part of a bodice or jacket to mount, the way these are dressed will depend on the kind of arms that the figure is constructed with. These tend to divide roughly into three different types; figures with detachable solid arms, figures with nondetachable articulated arms and figures with stitched-on soft sleeve supports. No matter what kinds of arms are used, two people should always be employed to dress a bodice or jacket onto the figure. Working closely together, each dresser should take charge of one side of the costume, focusing on the safe dressing of the relevant sleeve. This level of co-ordination is essential, especially as sleeve linings are often fragile. When working with figures with solid and detachable arms, prepare the torso by removing one of the arms and laying it to one side. Gently pass the appropriate sleeve of the costume up the remaining arm, until it is fully covered.

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Thread the disconnected arm through the second sleeve and gently ease the garment around the figure until the arm fixing is aligned with the socket. Slot the arm into position, taking care not to trap any fabric. Figures with articulated arms that cannot be detached should be treated in the following way. To prepare the torso for garments with front openings, both arms should be straightened out and twisted towards the rear, until they are parallel to each other and pointing directly backwards. With the dressers working in synchronisation, both sleeves of the costume are gently drawn up the arms of the figure simultaneously. To move the costume fully into position, push the arms forward again and ease the costume over the shoulders and around the figure. This process should be reversed when dressing garments with back openings. Dressing figures with soft sleeve supports is perhaps the easiest method of all and the kindest to the costume. Stitched to the figure and made of fabric stuffed with padding, arms of this variety can be squashed, compressed and manipulated in all directions without losing their shape or falling off. The sleeves of the costume can either be dressed simultaneously using the same method as described for articulated arms, or they can be threaded through the sleeves one at a time. Do not be afraid of manhandling the arm into any position that makes it easier for the costume to be dressed. Skirts: Skirts are generally straightforward to mount and should be dressed onto a figure using two people. With one person supporting the waist of the garment and the second managing the hem, the skirt is gently drawn over the top of the figure and dropped down into the waist. Occasionally, skirts are cut too narrow to fit over the bust of a mannequin. When this is the case a different dressing technique must be employed and the costume should be eased onto the figure from the bottom up. When ever possible, the upper torso should be removed entirely from legs or pole fixings before beginning. With the top part of the figure missing, the skirt can be dropped easily over the legs or pole and held in position by the first dresser. The second dresser should replace the torso and the skirt can then be gently pulled up the body and secured around the waist. Dresses: As dresses combine a skirt, bodice and usually sleeves in one garment, they tend to be the largest and most awkward costumes to mount. Unless there are any additional complications, dressing should once again be carried out by two people. Using the same methods as have already been described, the process of mounting a dress on a figure can be broken down into two stages, focusing first on the skirt and then the bodice and sleeves. For example, with one dresser supporting the bodice of the costume, the hem of the skirt should be gently eased over the top of the figure by the second dresser. Once the skirt has been dropped into place, the bodice and sleeves of the garment can be positioned, using the same dressing methods already described

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for bodices and jackets. Trousers: Depending on the kind of figure involved, trousers can be dressed by two people in two different ways. The first method can be used for those mounted on a torso and pole. Before starting, the torso should be removed from the pole and put to one side. With one dresser supporting the waist of the trousers, the second dresser guides one leg down the pole. If the pole is positioned off centre, make sure that the correct trouser leg is selected to correspond with the fixing on the torso. With the first dresser still supporting the garment from the waist, the second dresser can reattach the torso to the pole. Once in place, the trousers can then be gently pulled up the body and secured around the waist. The second dressing method can be used for mannequins with legs. Before starting, the legs (and in some cases the entire figure) must be removed from the base fixing or spigot. The top of the legs are then rested on a tabletop and held firmly in position by dresser 1. The trousers are placed on a flat board or trolley by dresser 2 and held horizontally in front of the feet of the figure, at leg height. With the costume fully supported in this way, the trousers can then be gently eased over the feet of the figure and up the legs. The figure can then be returned to a vertical state and fastened back on its base.

Protecting mounted costume Once the mounting of a costume is complete, care should be taken to protect the garment while it awaits display. Costumes can be placed on clean dust sheets and covered in a layer of tissue paper to protect them from dust, abrasion and, to a limited degree, light. To afford better light protection, figures should be covered in an additional layer of tightly woven fabric or Tyvek®. To identify the costume, affix a clearly marked label to the outside of the covering.

Moving dressed figures Moving costumes that have already been mounted on a figure is usually unavoidable when preparing costume for display. No matter how long or short the distance to be covered, the same transport procedures should always be applied. As when moving a flat costume, the route must be planned and all obstructions cleared. The number of people required can also vary, but as a general rule two or three will be sufficient. Figures can be moved using an assortment of different wheeled trolleys and skates. If you do not have access to one of these, a very simple skate can be created out of a sturdy piece of flat cardboard or correx, with a loop of tape attached. Placed on this contraption a dressed figure can be pulled for short distances.

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Before starting, remove any unstable accessories and unfixed parts of the figure such as hats and heads. Moving a dressed figure can be separated into two distinct stages. The first consists of lifting the costume on and off the trolley or skate and the second involves the actual process of transporting the costume to its destination. The lifting of a mounted costume requires a minimum of two people, one to balance and support the neck of the figure and one to take the weight of the ensemble by lifting from the base. If the costume has a train, a third person will be required to take care of this. Never attempt to pick up the figure from around the waist. The second stage of transporting the dressed figure may require three people, one to pull the trolley or skate, one to stabilise the figure and if necessary a third to open any doors. Before moving, make sure that the figure is centred on the trolley and protect trains and skirt hems with tissue paper or dust sheets. As when lifting, the figure should be steadied from the neck rather than around the waist and special care should be taken when going over any bumps or ramps. In order to keep a close eye on the stability of the figure it is usually better to transport the costume uncovered, though skirts can remain wrapped in a protective layer of tissue if necessary.

Dirt and Creases As historical costumes are often stained and have frequently been stored for decades in less than ideal conditions, dirt and creasing are a common problem when preparing garments for display. Unfortunately, dealing with these difficulties is never straightforward and advice should always be sought from a textile conservator. Using standard cleaning techniques on historical costume can cause irreversible damage to various materials. Although in some cases it is possible to wash a costume, this is a complex conservation treatment and should not be undertaken without thorough investigation and supervision from a specialist. Using cleaning treatments of a less invasive nature are sometimes possible, such as removing surface dust from a garment with a soft brush and low suction vacuum cleaner. When carrying out this process, the vacuum should not be applied directly to the costume, but held at a short distance, while the brush is used to dislodge the dirt from the costume and direct it into the nozzle. Techniques can also be employed to help mask the appearance of dirt such as the careful positioning of an outfit in a display case. Costumes can be arranged so that soiled areas are less conspicuous and lighting used to minimise the visual impact of stains. Dealing with heavily creased textiles is equally complicated. As with cleaning, standard methods are not suitable for period costume. For example, ironing old, fragile fabrics can be extremely detrimental. Even if there is no immediate visible injury, the base of an iron is very hot even on the lowest setting. This will cause damage to weakened fibres, which will accelerate the degradation of the

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garment. The use of steam also requires great caution as the introduction of heat and humidity to a soiled textile is not desirable. Again, advice should be obtained from a textile conservator before attempting to smooth creases using this method. As a useful non-invasive technique, costumes with heavy creasing should be mounted well in advance of the display, as creases will sometimes drop out naturally over time.

Materials Commonly Used for Costume Mounting Mounting costumes for display involves the use of a variety of different materials, some of which will be in direct contact with the garment. Using products of an inappropriate quality can be harmful to the costume, particularly for those i n s t a l l e d in sealed cases, on long term display. It is therefore important to make sure that the materials used for mounting are chemically inert and safe for use with textiles (see table below). One of the most reliable ways of ascertaining the suitability of different products is to have them tested by a conservation scientist. Unfortunately this process can be both expensive and time consuming. Consequently, any materials testing must be budgeted into a display programme from an early stage for the results to be of any use. To minimise the need for testing, many materials of a suitable quality can be conveniently purchased from specialist conservation suppliers. Fabrics, however, are generally only available from standard manufacturers and stockists and should be selected with a certain amount of care. For example, fusible fabrics treated with adhesives should be avoided.

List of useful materials used for the mounting of costume UK trade name

US trade name

Description

Stocked by

Unbuffered acid-free tissue paper

Unbuffered acid-free tissue paper

Tissue paper suitable for use with textiles. Can be purchased in sheets or on the roll.

Conservation suppliers

Unbuffered spider tissue

Unbuffered abaca fibre

Soft, semi transparent tissue, suitable for use with textiles. Can be purchased in sheets or on the roll.

Conservation suppliers

Museum board

Museum board

Conservation grade acid-free card, made from 100% cotton rag. Available in a range of different weights.

Conservation suppliers

Reemay®

Reemay®

100% spun polyester fibre. Available in a variety of weights and can be used as an alternative to card. Reemay® is easy to stitch through making it a particularly useful material.

Conservation suppliers

Continued

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A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO COSTUME MOUNTING

UK trade name

US trade name

Description

Stocked by

Plastazote®

Less commonly available in the US. Ethafoam® can be used as a substitute

An inert, polyethylene foam used for mounting and packing.

Specialist and conservation suppliers

Not available in the UK. Plastazote® can be used as a substitute

Ethafoam®?

An inert, lightweight polyethylene foam, used for mounting and packing. This product is particularly easy to carve.

Conservation suppliers

Hexlite® (Aluminium Honeycomb board)

Aluminium Honeycomb board

Lightweight board made of an Aluminium honeycomb structure sandwiched between sheets of fibreglass in resin.

Specialist and conservation suppliers

Archival Melinex® (Polyester film)

Archival Mylar®/ Melinex® (Polyester film)

A chemically stable transparent film. Available in a wide variety of weights. Limited weights also sometimes available in an opaque finish.

Specialist and conservation suppliers

Polyester wadding

Polyester batting

Standard craft padding made of 100% polyester, comes in different weights. Use varieties that are thermally bonded rather than resin spray bonded.

Conservation and standard fabric suppliers

Tyvek®

Tyvek®

A spun-bonded, water-resistant, polyethylene fabric, that is safe for use with textiles. When used in direct contact with a textile, the smooth side of the Tyvek® should be placed against the object.

Conservation suppliers

Calico

Muslin

A versatile unbleached plain weave cotton fabric. Usually available in a number of weights ranging from light to heavy.

Standard fabric suppliers

Cotton Duck

Cotton Duck

Heavy weight cotton fabric, particularly useful for making robust underpinnings.

Standard fabric suppliers

Cotton lawn

Cotton lawn

Good quality, fine woven lightweight, cotton fabric.

Standard fabric suppliers

Muslin

Cheese cloth

Loose woven, cotton fabric.

Standard fabric suppliers

Cotton Sheeting

Cotton Sheeting

A medium weight fabric made from 100% cotton. Often available in particularly wide widths.

Standard fabric suppliers

Polycotton

Cotton/Polyester

An inexpensive medium weight fabric made from a mix of cotton and polyester.

Standard fabric suppliers

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UK trade name

US trade name

Description

Stocked by

Cotton jersey

Cotton Stockinette

Knitted cotton fabric, with varying degrees of natural elasticity.

Standard fabric suppliers

Tights

Pantyhose

Standard nylon tights. Generally larger sizes should be selected for mounting purposes.

Standard clothes shops

Silk Habotai

Silk Habutae

Fine woven, smooth, silk fabric generally available in three different weights. The most commonly used for costume mounting is a medium weight.

Standard fabric suppliers

Nylon Net

Nylon Netting

Nylon mesh fabric useful for underpinnings. Available in many weights, from standard dressmaking to heavy varieties used for making tutu’s. It is useful to stock three different weights.

Standard fabric suppliers

Conservation grade net

Conservation grade net

Fine grade net made from 100% nylon and used in the conservation of textiles.

Dukeries

Domette

Similar to cotton flannel

A soft cotton fabric generally used as an interlining.

Standard fabric suppliers

Bump

Similar to thick cotton flannel or poly-felt

A heavyweight cotton fabric generally used as an interlining.

Standard fabric suppliers

Linen Scrim

Linen Scrim

Inexpensive, loose woven, linen fabric. Requires a minimum of three hot machine washes to remove all the dressings.

Standard fabric and upholstery suppliers

Buckram

Buckram

A cotton or linen fabric impregnated with a starch based size.

Millinery suppliers or can be manufactured in-house

Plain weave cotton tape (India tape)

Plain weave cotton tape

Inexpensive cotton tape, available in a variety of widths.

Conservation and standard haberdashery/notion suppliers

Cotton twill tape

Cotton twill tape

A herringbone tape made from 100% cotton.

Upholstery and standard haberdashery/notion suppliers

Rigilene® (Dress makers Polyester boning)

Dress makers Polyester boning

Flexible polyester boning that is usually supplied in a variety of widths. The size most frequently used in costume mounting is 12 mm.

Standard haberdashery/notion suppliers

Steels (Metal boning)

Steels (Metal boning)

A strong metal boning generally covered in a woven casing. Used in the theatre and fashion industry for large underpinnings.

Specialist suppliers and some haberdashery/ notion suppliers Continued

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A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO COSTUME MOUNTING

UK trade name

US trade name

Description

Stocked by

Velcro® (Hook and loop fastener)

Velcro® (Hook and loop fastener)

Extremely strong and thought to be the safest of all hook and loop fasteners. Chiefly made of nylon, but limited stocks now also made from 100% polyester. Available in a variety of widths, with self-adhesive or sew in backing.

Conservation and standard haberdashery/notion suppliers

Fishing line

Fishing line

Sturdy nylon thread useful for securing accessories etc. Available in a variety of weights.

Hardware or fishing shop

Entomological or insect pins

Entomological or insect pins

Very fine, long shanked pins. These pins should be cleaned before use by passing in and out of a piece of Plastazote® or by dipping in an acetone bath.

Taxidermy suppliers

Archival PVA

Archival PVA

A water-soluble adhesive suitable for use with textiles.

Conservation suppliers

Hot melt glue

Archival hot melt glue

Adhesive suitable for use with Plastazote® and Ethafoam®.

Conservation suppliers

Wheat starch

Wheat starch

A powder made of wheat starch that can be used to mix up a starch paste when added to water. Starch is attractive to mould and silverfish and should only be used in a dry and stable environment.

Conservation and chemical suppliers

Generally, un-dyed cotton, polyester and silk are all suitable for use. As a precaution, however, these fabrics should be washed to remove any dressings and impurities. Commercial detergents are not used in this process and the fabrics should be machine-washed exclusively in water, using a long hot cycle.

Basic Conservation Issues for Costumes on Display Placing an historical costume on display can also put it in danger. To reduce the risk, it is important to be aware of the basic conservation issues that relate to this situation. For the benefit of those who are less familiar with this practice, the following section sets out some of the more fundamental concerns relating to the display of costume. Long-term fatigue: Costumes that are displayed for extended periods can suffer from long-term fatigue, resulting in the overall deterioration of the garment. To avoid this, the condition of such costumes should be regularly monitored and, when necessary, rotated or removed from display. The risks of strain and fatigue will obviously increase if garments are already weak and damaged and this must be taken into account when selecting objects. The additional stresses caused by the handling and mounting of

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fragile costumes should also be considered and those that are particularly vulnerable should not be selected for display. Light levels: Light damages textiles whether they are dyed or un-dyed, causing fading and photochemical degradation. Overexposure resulting in deterioration can occur in a matter of days. The effects of light can be reduced but not eliminated and certain precautions should be taken to protect costumes on display. For example, exposure can be limited and lux levels kept low, a maximum of 50 lux is suggested for museum objects. The most harmful end of the light spectrum, ultraviolet, should also be entirely screened out of display areas. The dyes used in some historical textiles are particularly sensitive, such as early aniline dyes. Costumes with these or similarly sensitive colours should be excluded from display or exposed for short periods only, even in a well-regulated environment. Open display: This method of display is currently becoming increasingly fashionable. One of the drawbacks to this practice is the excessive amount of dust that can build up on garments in a short period of time. Frequent vacuuming is damaging and also very time consuming. Displaying costumes in cases is therefore strongly recommended, particularly for fragile garments. Touching: The amount of harm that can be caused to a costume from people touching it is enormous, ranging from heavy soiling to structural damage. A garment exhibited on open display within reach of people’s hands, will be irresistible to the general public. Measures must be taken to ensure that costumes are positioned well out of reach, with suitable barriers in place and, if feasible, surveillance equipment and warding staff. Costume resting on the floor: For costumes with long trains, skirts or cloaks that extend on to the ground, a barrier layer should be used to protect the textile and isolate it from the floor. Melinex® is best suited for this function as it is transparent and offers some protection as well as a resilient, smooth surface for the garment to lie on. Though not ideal, acid free tissue can be substituted if Melinex® is not available. To cut the barrier layer to the right shape and size, position a piece of Melinex® on the floor of the display area before installing the figure. Once in place, arrange the hem of the costume on top of the barrier. The excess Melinex® is then cut away by gently pushing the hem of the textile back a couple of inches and trimming to size. As scissors are used for this process, extreme care is required. Once the cutting is complete, return the hem to its original position, fractionally overlapping the edge of the barrier to hide it from view.

A B r i e f O v e r v i e w o f P a c k i n g C o s t u m e f o r Tr a n s p o r t The packing of objects for transport is an integral part of a travelling exhibition or loan. Costumes are vulnerable during travel and in order to move and transfer

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A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO COSTUME MOUNTING

them as safely as possible, it is essential that they are packed with suitable materials and appropriate support. This section briefly outlines some of the principal packing methods. Flat packing costume: There are a number of different ways of packing costume for transport. In most cases, outfits are removed from their mounts and packed flat in trays, crates and boxes and padded with suitable materials to prevent them from moving or becoming creased. Whenever feasible, costumes should be packed unfolded and trays and boxes chosen that are large enough to accommodate the full length of the garment. If this is not possible, folds must be carefully padded to prevent creasing. Consideration should also be given to how costumes will be lifted in and out of the container. This process can often be simplified by placing the garment on a sheet of packing material such as tissue paper or a dust sheet. Holding this at either end, the costume can be lifted and moved as required, without any additional handling. If more than one item is placed in a tray, the heaviest and most robust should be installed first and each object should be separated by a layer of packing. When preparing a flat costume for transport, a number of different packing materials can be used. Crates and trays can be lined with polyurethane foam1 and Plastazote® for insulation and shock absorption. Loose packing materials can take the form of acid free tissue paper or polyester wadding fashioned into different supportive shapes. Tissue can either be rolled into sausages, which can be used to support folds in the costume, or crumpled into light, air-filled puffs which are useful for cushioning and filling in voids. Polyester wadding can also be rolled to create more robust sausages. As well as this, it can be used in flat layers, either cut into specific shapes and inserted inside garments for support, or left as unshaped padded covers used to protect the outside of a garment. When using polyester wadding for packing, it must always be covered in an isolating layer of fabric or tissue, to protect the textile from loose fibres. Packing mounted costume: An alternative method to flat packing is to transport costumes ready-dressed on figures. This practice is much less common, but is particularly useful for costumes that are difficult to mount and will be put at risk by repeated handling. Costumes packed in this way have the advantage of being already well supported from beneath by custom made underpinnings. For transport however, this will not be sufficient and additional packing will be required to safeguard the outside of the costume and limit any movement. In order to protect the garment, costumes made of vulnerable fabrics should be covered by a smooth silk body bag. These are made with an opening at one end, allowing the bags to be dropped easily over the necks of figures and pulled

1

Polyurethane foam is not suitable as a packing material if costumes are to remain in trays for longer than three months.

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down over the costumes. Heavily beaded or decorated textiles need additional support and protection, in the form of specially made padded outer garments. These are constructed out of silk covered wadding and fastened around the sensitive areas with tapes. The arms of the figure can be immobilised with cotton tapes to prevent movement and straps and zips should also be secured to the figure with additional ties. As a final precaution, both the outfit and mount should be covered in a custom made Tyvek® bag. To protect costumes with trains or trailing skirts, a cardboard or Reemay® base can be stitched to the bottom of the bag, with a large enough circumference to accommodate the hem of the garment. Not all figures are suitable for this form of packing and only the most robust should be used. For example, mannequins with single spigot fixings are less likely to withstand the constant vibration and jolts caused by transport. Attempting to use models of this kind may result in broken or collapsed figures. Torsos mounted on poles with solid bases are much more suitable, but to guarantee their safety all fixings must be checked for stability and strength and tightened to their maximum extent. Figures of this type can be secured in crates, using neck and base fittings made of foam blocks and timber batons. Packing instructions: No matter what method is used, a set of packing instructions should be prepared for every garment that travels. These are used to assist with the unpacking and the repacking of an outfit. As different personnel are frequently required to carry out this task, it is important to make sure that the instructions are simple and easy to understand. Using digital images to help explain the packing process is a particularly effective way of clarifying instructions and cutting down on lengthy written descriptions or hand drawn diagrams. Packing costumes for multi-venue loans: The significance of good packing practices become increasingly important for costumes travelling on multi-venue loans. In this situation garments may be packed and transported to a number of locations, often by different personnel. On these occasions, the design of the packing needs to be particularly carefully planned, to create a robust, logical and straightforward system that can be easily reused at every venue. Fabric covered polyester wadding is especially suitable as a packing material as unlike tissue paper, it cannot be crushed and will last for long periods of time. To ensure none of the packing is lost or mixed up during the tour, each component should be labelled both to identify which object it belongs to and how it is used. Condition checking: To monitor the condition of objects during transport, costumes should be carefully checked for damage both before packing and when they are unpacked. Garments should be carefully inspected inside and out and any alterations to their condition marked on an accompanying

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2 Ta k i n g P a t t e r n s a n d M a k i n g To i l e s

T

he word ‘toile’ is used throughout the fashion and costume industry to describe a rough trial version of a garment. Made out of inexpensive fabric, it is used to experiment and test out patterns before a final outfit is made. In the world of costume mounting, everything works in reverse because the final garment already exists. A toile, in this context, is used to describe a copy of a costume and is valuable in a variety of different ways. For example, it is one of the few objects in a museum that can be handled and examined by the general public. In addition, toile patterns can provide an insightful archival resource for costume historians and can also be useful to textile conservators when working on damaged garments. Toiles are principally used, however, to assist with the preparation of costumes for display. By using a toile as a substitute, the handling of a costume during mounting can be reduced to a minimum. Access to a toile can greatly assist with the selection and adaptation of a figure, the sculpting of a customised mannequin and the creation of bespoke supports, underpinnings and replica garments. For this reason, an understanding of how to take a pattern from an original costume is very important. This chapter explores two different copying techniques that can be used to make toiles. The Accurate Toile Method is slow, meticulous and very precise, while the Quick Toile Method is less accurate but extremely fast. Both systems have their place and can be used to suit different mounting situations.

Assessing which Parts of a Costume to Copy When creating a toile it is often unnecessary to make a complete copy of a costume. One of the best ways to simplify the process is to analyse what the toile will be used for and omit any part or detail of a costume that will not contribute to this. In many cases, it may be possible to reduce the components of a toile to nothing more than a copy of the bodice with no sleeves, skirt or trousers.

Figure 2.1 Satin bodice with slashed decoration. 1630–1635. British. 172-1900. Mounted with a replica stomacher on a fibreglass figure made by H&H Sculptors Ltd and padded to fit. 17

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Determining which parts of a costume should be reproduced will depend on the toile’s use and the condition and design of the original garment. To make decisions, costumes should be broken down into separate parts, such as skirt, bodice, sleeves and trousers. The condition and mounting issues of each area should then be individually assessed to establish whether or not a copy is necessary. The requirements for each costume are likely to be different, but there are a few common criteria that can be usefully applied to most examples: (a) A toile should be made for parts of a costume that are fragile or vulnerable to damage caused by handling. (b) Where part of a garment is made with a structural inner lining, outer layers should be excluded and a toile made only of the inside. (c) Replicating any applied trimming or decoration is usually unnecessary. (d) Making accurate copies of bias-cut garments is virtually impossible and should not be attempted.

Preparatory Research Before attempting to make any kind of pattern for a toile, it is essential that some pattern cutting research be carried out first. This is particularly important for historical costume, where knowledge of the period cutting conventions will give a valuable insight into a costume before it is even examined. Being prepared in this way will considerably reduce the amount of time needed to study a garment and understand its construction. Research should focus on the shape, cut and grain line of individual pattern pieces. Rather than attempting to find authentic material, there are a number of excellent cutting books in which historical patterns have been scaled down into diagrams that are clear and easy to comprehend (see Bibliography). For those who have no experience of pattern cutting, it may be necessary to read the following section in order to learn how to interpret these pattern diagrams.

A Brief Introduction to Historical Pattern Cutting (for the benefit of those with limited dressmaking or pattern cutting experience) Making a toile of an already existing garment is like drafting a pattern in reverse. To understand how toile patterns are produced, it is important to look at the process of pattern cutting from the right way around before attempting to do it backwards. There are two routine pattern cutting methods. One approach is to draft a pattern with pencil and ruler on a flat piece of paper. The second is to use a dress stand as a foundation and create a three-dimensional pattern by draping and pinning fabric around it. Both these techniques are utilised when making

T A K I N G PA T T E R N S A N D M A K I N G T O I L E S

toiles of existing costume. For example, flat pattern drafting is closely linked to the method for making accurate toiles, while the quick toile system borrows heavily from cutting on the stand. Recognising how these two cutting methods relate to each other is fundamental to understanding how patterns work. This relationship clearly explains how a flat piece of fabric can be shaped to fit around the three-dimensional curves of a body and vice versa. It also illustrates how pattern diagrams in cutting books should be read and interpreted. For those who are new to this subject, there are two basic cutting conventions that is important to be aware of. It is usual when designing and cutting garments to draft only half a pattern, as this can then be reversed and duplicated for the second half. Unless there is some design feature that makes a costume asymmetric, diagrams of patterns in reference books are presented in the same way and are drawn from the centre front line to the centre back as half patterns only. The second convention is concerned with the important practice of marking grain lines on patterns. These lines correspond to the straight of grain on the fabric and indicate how a pattern piece should be positioned. The straight of grain is where a piece of cloth is at its strongest and least stretchable. It runs up and down the fabric, parallel to the selvage. If there is no selvage to indicate the grain, it can usually be identified by looking closely at the surface of the fabric and observing how the fibres are woven. The straight of grain follows the warp threads (the weft line runs across the fabric from selvage to selvage). The grain line is usually marked individually on commercial dressmaking pattern pieces, but in pattern books it is often indicated by the vertical edge of the page. It should be clear from the way a diagram is drawn where the straight of grain is running, for example, if a pattern is rotated at an angle this shows that it is cut on the bias. An understanding of the straight of grain is fundamental to all pattern cutting and toile making and it is essential to be able to identify it both in reference diagrams and on the costume itself. One of the most straightforward ways of observing how a flat pattern and a three-dimensional pattern relate to each other is to look at a female bodice block. The word block is used to describe a basic fitted pattern that can be adapted to create any number of different styles and designs. The female bodice block is made out of two pieces of fabric that are shaped to fit a figure in the simplest way possible. The front and back panel of the block are joined along side and shoulder seams, while four darts are used to help mould the block into a snug fit around the body. The straight of grain runs directly up and down the centre front and centre back line. Comparing the image of the block pattern on the dress stand to the flat diagram of the pattern, it is clear how one relates to the other. All bodices, historical or contemporary, can be seen as an adaptation of this basic pattern and interpreted in a similar way. Seams and darts may be moved and reshaped, front and back panels may be divided into separate pieces, neck and waistlines

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Figure 2.2

The basic bodice block on a dress stand.

(a) Front view.

Figure 2.3

The basic bodice block as a flat pattern.

(a) Front view.

Figure 2.2

Figure 2.3

(b) Back view.

(b) Back view.

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might differ dramatically, but essentially the conventions are the same. This simple example illustrates how most three-dimensional garments relate to a flat pattern. Other costume parts work in a similar way. Patterns of skirts, trousers and sleeves can all be deconstructed into flat shapes and the straight of grain continues to be used to orientate every panel.

Ta k i n g B a s i c M e a s u r e m e n t s o f a C o s t u m e Whether or not you are making a toile, accurate dimensions of a costume are constantly required throughout the mounting process. Measuring a costume is not necessarily as straightforward as it sounds and for this reason it is worth running through some of the technical issues relating to it. In order to measure the costume it should be laid out on a clean surface with access to good light. To get the most accurate reading, measurements should be taken at least twice, if possible, using a narrow tape measure (approximately 1 cm wide). As a rough guide; vertical measurements can be taken from the outside of a costume, while circumference measurements should be taken from the inside, where the garment is at its smallest. Working on the inside of a costume can be awkward and to make it easier circumference dimensions can be broken down into halves or quarters, measured individually and then added together. Whenever possible, circumference measurements should be supplemented with a position reference (i.e. where the measurement was taken from in relation to the waist). Careful attention should also be paid to fastenings, making sure that measurements do not include button overlaps or placket openings. Finally, when working with historical dress, it is always advisable to measure both halves of a costume, as they are often uneven. The chart below shows which measurements are needed. It is unlikely that everything on the list will be required. Measurements most commonly used are marked in red and if possible these should always be taken.

Relating garment measurements to a figure Measurements

Location on a figure

Location on a costume

1. Around waist

The waist is usually the narrowest part of the figure between the hips and bust. The measurement is taken around the entire waist circumference.

Usually easily recognisable by seam and dart shaping or the position of waistbands. When dealing with skirts or trousers that are separate from the bodice, it is important to take waist measurements for both. Skirts/trousers usually have a waistband that makes this measurement easy to take.

Reference position

Continued

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Measurements

Location on a figure

Location on a costume

Reference position

2. Around bust or chest

This measurement is taken over the fullest part of the bust or chest, under the arms and across the back, keeping the tape measure as level as possible.

The level of the bust can be located at the farthest tip of the bust darts. If there are no darts, the measurement should be taken from just below the armhole.

Measure the reference position from bust line to waistline.

3. Around ribcage female costume only

This measurement is taken directly under the bust, around the body and across the back, keeping the tape measure as level as possible.

Locating the level of the ribcage on a costume can be difficult. If it is unclear, the measurement should be taken approximately 7–9 cm below the bust line.

Measure the reference position from ribcage to waistline.

4. Bust point to point female costume only

The bust points on a figure usually correspond to the nipples and are the precise spots where each breast is at its fullest. The point to point dimension is taken by measuring the distance between the nipples.

This measurement is the distance between each bust point. On a costume these points are found at the farthest tip of the bust darts or seam shaping. If the bust points are not obvious, estimating this measurement is not important. As a rough guide, however, the point to point of an average, uncorseted woman is approximately 20 cm.

The reference position from bust line to waist should already have been taken.

5. Shoulder point to side waist

This is the distance from the shoulder point to the side of the waist. The shoulder point is located at the farthest tip of the shoulder and separates it from the upper arm.

The shoulder point usually coincides with the head of the sleeve. If the costume is sleeveless and there is no obvious shoulder point, its position must be estimated. To do this, simulate the extension of the side and shoulder seams with two rulers. The shoulder point can be found where the rulers intersect.

6. Nape to back waist

This is the distance from the nape of the neck to the centre back waist. If uncertain where the nape is, drape a tape measure around the neck of the figure and allow it to fall naturally. The nape can be found where the bottom edge of the tape measure rests on the centre back neck.

Unless the costume is cut with a high neckline, this measurement must be estimated. To do this take the shoulder point to side waist measurement and add 3–4 cm/3.5–4.5 cm.

Key: Female costume/Male costume

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Measurements 7. Across front

Location on a figure This is a flat measurement taken across the front of the figure above the bust. Arms should be left to hang naturally and the measurement taken from the crease of each arm, approximately 14–15 cm down from the shoulder point.

Location on a costume

Reference position

This measurement is taken in a straight line across the front of the costume, from armhole seam to armhole seam. The measurement should be taken approximately 14–15 cm down from the shoulder point.

Measure the reference position from the level of the across front dimension to the shoulder point or waistline.

Measure the reference position from the level of the across back dimension to the shoulder point or waistline.

8. Across back

This is a flat measurement taken across the back of the figure, using the same position and method as the across front.

This measurement is taken in a straight line across the back of the costume, from armhole seam to armhole seam, using the same position and method as the across front.

9. Length of shoulder

This measurement is taken along the top of the figure’s shoulder, from the side of the neck to the shoulder point.

This measurement is taken along the top of the garments shoulder. As the neckline or armhole may be cut away, the shoulder length of a costume is often different to that of a matching figure.

10. Front neckline to waist

This measurement is taken from the lowest point of the front neckline to the level of the waist.

11. Back neckline to waist

This measurement is taken from the lowest point of the back neckline to the level of the waist.

12. Length of arm/ sleeve

This measurement is taken with the arm slightly bent. Measure from the shoulder point, around the tip of the elbow to the wrist.

If the sleeve is straight, simulate an elbow by arranging it into a slight bend on the table. The measurement should be taken from the sleeve head/shoulder point, around the tip of the elbow to the cuff.

13. Around wrist/cuff

This measurement should be taken around the wrist.

This measurement should be taken around the cuff or hem of the sleeve.

14. Around biceps

This measurement is taken around the biceps of a figure at its widest point.

Estimate where the bicep of an arm would be positioned inside the sleeve of the costume and take the measurement from this point.

Measure a reference position from the head of the sleeve to the level of the bicep.

15. Around forearm

This measurement is taken around the forearm of a figure at its widest point.

Estimate where the forearm would be positioned inside the sleeve and take the measurement from this point.

Measure a reference position from the head of the sleeve to the level of the forearm.

Key: Female costume/Male costume

Continued

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Measurements

Location on a figure

Location on a costume

Reference position

16. Around hip

This measurement is taken around the figure at the level of the hipbone. If uncertain where the hipbone is located, it is approximately 8 cm/10 cm below the line of the waist.

Visually locating the level of the hipbone on a costume is not possible. In this case, the measurement should be taken approximately 8 cm/10 cm below the line of the waist.

Measure the reference position from the level of hipbone to waistline.

17. Around bottom

This measurement is taken around the figure at the fattest part of the bottom. It can usually be found approximately 20 cm/23 cm below the line of the waist.

Though the bottom is the fattest point of the lower torso it is still sometimes difficult to locate on a costume. If this is the case, the measurement should be taken approximately 20 cm/23 cm below the line of the waist.

Measure the reference position from the level of the bottom to the waistline.

18. Front length of skirt/leg

This measurement is taken from the centre front waist of the figure to the floor.

This measurement is taken from the centre front waist of the costume to the hem.

19. Side length of skirt/leg

This measurement is taken from the side waist of the figure to the floor.

This measurement is taken from the side waist of the costume to the hem.

20. Back length of skirt/leg

This measurement is taken from the centre back waist to the floor.

This measurement is taken from the centre back waist of the costume to the hem and should include any skirt extension or train.

21. Inside leg (trousers only)

This measurement is taken from the crotch to the floor on the inside of the leg.

This measurement is taken from the crotch to the hem on the inside of the leg.

22. Around hem of skirt/leg

If relevant, this measurement can be taken around the ankle.

This measurement is taken around the hem of the skirt or trouser leg of a costume. If the costume includes a train, the around–hem measurement may be misleading. To gauge it more accurately, lay the tape measure horizontally across the train rather than going around the outside edge.

23. Waist to waist via crotch

This measurement is taken between the legs from the centre front to the centre back waist.

On trouser garments only, this measurement is taken from the centre front waist, down through the crotch and back up to the centre back waist.

Measure a reference position from the level of the crotch to the waistline.

24. Around thigh

This measurement is taken around the thigh of a figure at its widest point.

For trouser garments only, estimate where the thigh would be positioned inside the leg of the costume and take the measurement from this point.

Measure a reference position from the level of the thigh to the waistline.

Key: Female costume/Male costume

9 9

5 14

14

2

4

12

7

5

7

2

4

12

3

3 15

1

1 15

16

13

16 23

13

17 17

19

24 19 18 18

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Figure 2.4

Relating garment measurements to a figure.

(a) Front of figure.

(b) Front of costume.

8 8 14

2

2

6

3 6

3 1 1 15

16 16 23

13

17 17 24 20 20

22

(d) Back of costume.

(c) Back of figure. 25

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Converting costume measurements into figure size One of the principal reasons for taking the measurements of a costume is to establish what size figure it should be mounted on. It is perfectly possible to translate costume measurements onto a figure, without trying the garment on, as long as you have the estimated back nape to waist length. Having this measurement means it is possible to locate where the waist of a garment will fall when it is dressed on the figure. If you cannot establish this, all other statistical comparisons become meaningless and you will not be able to make an accurate assessment. Even if you find a figure that has identical bust and waist measurements to the costume, this does not mean that it will fit. If there are differences between the respective nape to waist measurements, the bust and waist will be out of kilter and the dimensions will no longer match, preventing the costume from fastening. The nape to waist of historical costume tends to vary widely and for this reason caution must always be taken when translating measurements. If you have direct access to the figure, use the nape to waist measurement of the costume to judge where the waist of the garment will sit. Mark the waist with a line of pins or a piece of elastic or tape tied around the figure. All reference positions can then be taken from this line and the level of the bust, ribcage, hipbone and all other circumference measurements established. Another important factor to take into consideration when translating costume measurements into figure size is the allowance for ease. In order for a costume to fit comfortably on a mannequin without being put under strain, the circumference measurements of a costume must be a minimum of 1–2 cms larger than the figure. If you are in any doubt about the size, always select a smaller figure, as it is much easier to increase the dimensions of a torso with padding than it is to cut one down. A c c u r a t e To i l e M e t h o d Due to the handling restraints of historical costume, making an accurate pattern for a toile can be an exacting and time consuming process. For this reason toiles are often seen as a luxury that cannot be afforded. Fortunately, for the majority of costumes there is no need to make a duplicate of this precision. In some cases, however, it is essential and a realistic amount of time must be budgeted to allow for the process. The most common reason for making a toile is to protect fragile costumes from handling during the mounting process. With access to an accurate toile, it is possible to sculpt a figure and make a complete set of underpinnings for a costume without once touching the original. In this way the costume is only dressed on the mannequin when everything is fully prepared and the padding and underpinnings are in place. Two techniques can be used when making an accurate pattern of a historical costume. The first is to take a large number of meticulous measurements and

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Figure 2.5 Toile of 1630s slashed bodice (see p. 16 for original costume). An accurate toile (made by Anne Kwaspen), dressed on the figure before any work had been carried out to prepare it for display.

Figure 2.6 Toile dressed on the figure after it had been prepared for display. Due to the fragility of the costume, an accurate toile was made and used to assist with the padding up of the figure and the making of underpinnings and replica stomacher.

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use them to draft a flat pattern with pencil and paper. The second is to take a tracing of the costume by laying tissue paper over individual panels and drawing around the shapes. Used in isolation, neither of these techniques is ideal; the first, because it takes so long and the second, because it is generally inaccurate. To speed up the process, while retaining as much accuracy as possible, the best way to tackle a toile pattern is to use both methods together. In this way the tissue tracing will provide a rough idea of pattern shape, while the measurements can be used to adjust and fine tune it to the correct size. Before getting to work, the costume should be mentally divided into appropriate sections, such as: bodice, skirt/trousers and sleeves. With the costume lying flat on a clean well lit surface, these sections of the garment should then be subdivided along the seam lines, into individual panels, studied carefully and the relevant pattern research carried out. Once the costume has been prepared in this way, detailed measurements and tissue paper tracings can be taken of each panel and used simultaneously to create an accurate pattern of the costume. As historical costume is frequently uneven, a toile pattern should be made of both halves of the garment. Once the pattern has been fully drafted, the toile can be made up using a suitable cheap and robust fabric. Refer to the sewing appendix for guidance.

Useful tips If unfamiliar with taking patterns from historical costume, the following are some useful tips that can be used to help carry out safely the processes involved. Measuring tips (a) Where possible, all measurements should be taken from the inside of the garment, unless this is detrimental to the costume. (b) To get the most accurate reading, measurements should be taken at least twice. If possible use a narrow tape measure (approximately 1 cm wide). (c) If a measurement is difficult to reach, is very curved or is complicated by gathering tucks or pleats, abandon the tape measure and use a length of thick thread instead. This will be much easier to manipulate. To ensure the thread has no give, steam and press with an iron before using. Put a knot in one end and measure from this point. Mark the end of the measurement with a pin inserted through the yarn. Remove the thread from the costume and measure off against a ruler. Tracing tips (a) Ordinary tissue paper can be used to trace panels, but if possible use a soft spider tissue as it is more transparent and moulds better to the fabric.

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(b) Tissue tracings can be taken either from the inside or outside of the garment. The choice should be made according to which ever is least harmful to the costume. (c) Hold down the tissue paper around the object using glass weights. Alternatively, dressmaking pins can be used to secure the tissue by pining into protruding padding or to a dustsheet positioned beneath the costume. If possible do not pin into the textile itself. If this is unavoidable, use only the finest pins (entomological pins are ideal) and fasten the tissue in place with the point of one of these slipped into a seam. (d) If it is difficult to see the straight of grain through the tissue paper, lay a length of thread onto the costume in the direction of the grain before positioning the tissue. To ensure the thread is straight, steam and press with an iron before using. Making an accurate toile pattern of a bodice As the bodice or body of a costume is generally constructed of more complex, shaped panels, making a toile pattern for this part of a garment tends to be the most time consuming. The techniques described in the following instructions can also be used to draft toile patterns for other parts of a costume. N.B. The measuring and tracing instructions described in the table below should be carried out simultaneously.

Making an accurate bodice toile Measuring

Tracing

1. Select a panel from the bodice and position so that it is as smooth as possible. Bear in mind that not all bodice panels can be made flat. Use polyester wadding covered in tissue paper to pad out and support areas that require it. 2. Draw a rough diagram of the panel. All measurements should subsequently be noted on this plan throughout the drafting process. 3. Study the panel to ascertain the angle and direction of the straight of grain. If the grain line is unclear, use pattern cutting reference books to assist with analysis.

3. Cut out a piece of tissue large enough to overlap the panel. Using a ruler and pencil, draw a line and mark as the straight of grain.

4. Measure the outer perimeter of the panel, taking individual dimensions of each edge and seam line that defines it.

4. Lay the tissue over the panel matching the pencil line to the straight of grain on the fabric. Using a soft pencil, trace the perimeter of the panel, taking care not to rip or puncture the tissue. Remove the tracing from the costume. Continued

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Measuring

Tracing

5. Compare the size of the tissue pattern to the measurements taken from the costume. This will provide a rough idea of its accuracy. You will probably find there are some inconsistencies. 6. Select a point that is easy to identify on the top or bottom edge of the panel. Using a length of buttonhole thread, cast a vertical grid line over the panel, from the selected point. The thread should follow the grain of the fabric and be kept as straight as possible. Straighten the thread before using, by pressing with an iron.

6. Replicate the grid line on the tissue pattern by locating the same easy-to-identify spot and draw a vertical line from this point. The line should run parallel to the marked straight of grain. N.B. These two measuring and tracing techniques can be carried out in reverse order.

7. Take careful measurements from the grid lines on the panel and tissue pattern and compare the findings. Where there are inaccuracies make alterations on the tissue. All measurements taken from the costume should also be noted on the diagram, as distances may need readjusting as the pattern develops.

11 10. 6

Perimeter measurements

3.5

11.3

19.8 Grid line cast to help establish curve of armhole 13.1

17.3 32.4 2nd Grid line

5 15.1 1st Grid line following the straight of grain

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Figure 2.7 Embroidered jacket, 1600–1620. British. T.1062003. Using lengths of thread to mark the costume with grid lines in order to draft a pattern for an accurate toile.

7.5

19.2

Grid line cast to help establish the diagonal seam

Point on the panel that is easy to identify

Figure 2.8 Using the grid lines and measurements to adjust the paper pattern.

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Measuring

Tracing

8. Select a new point that is easy to identify and cast a second grid line, using a separate piece of thread. This should run horizontally across the first line, perpendicular to the straight of grain.

8. Replicate this second grid line on the tissue pattern in the same way as the first. Make sure that the line runs exactly perpendicular to the marked straight of grain. N.B. These two measuring and tracing techniques can be carried out in reverse order.

9. Using the new grid line in the same way as the first, take a series of new measurements and compare and transfer to the tissue pattern. When new adjustments are made, cross reference all related points to make sure the measurements still fit. 10. Carry on adding new lines until a sufficient grid has been built up. The number of lines needed will depend on the complexity of the shape. For example, a panel with curved edges will require more than a panel with straight sides. As alterations are made to the pattern, continue to double check and revise all related points until every measurement fits. In this way the toile pattern is evolved. If you are unable to make the measurements work out on the tissue pattern, cast new grid lines at the relevant points to help resolve any mistakes.

Incorporating darts and gussets into a toile pattern Taking a pattern from a costume that is constructed with darts can be difficult, particularly if the size of the dart is hidden behind an inner lining. The technique below explains a simple way in which to use the tissue paper tracing to work out the size and position of a dart and draft it into the pattern. The same system can be used for costumes with inserted gussets. N.B. The measuring and tracing instructions described in the table below should be carried out simultaneously.

Darts and gussets Measuring

Tracing

1. Pad out the fullness created by the dart, from underneath, with wadding covered in tissue. 2. Study the panel to ascertain the angle and direction of the straight of grain on both sides of the dart.

2. Cut out a piece of tissue large enough to overlap the panel. Mark on a series of pencil grain lines at intervals of 3–4 cm. Continued

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Measuring

Tracing

3. Measure the length of the dart line.

3. Mentally divide the panel in half along the line of the dart and select one side. Call this side A. Lay the tissue over the panel, matching the grain lines on side A. Continuing to work on this side, trace half the outer edge of the panel onto the tissue (see Figure 2.9(a)). Draw in the line of the dart, marking the farthest tip with a balance mark.

4. If the dart is visible, measure the width at its widest point. If it is hidden by lining, it may be possible to get a rough idea of its size by gently pressing down on the dart and feeling it through the fabric.

4. Remove the tissue from the costume and cut along the line of the dart to the farthest tip. Once the dart line has been cut, the tissue pattern can be repositioned over the panel, in exactly the same place as before.

Half traced pattern

Grain lines

Side A

Remove pattern from the costume and cut along the line of the dart

Shading indicating a garment beneath

Figure 2.9(a) Step 1.

5. If the dart width is known, overlap the tissue by this amount, sliding side B over side A (see Figure 2.9(b)). If the dart size is unknown, overlap the tissue using the straight of grain as a guide. When the grain lines of the tissue and fabric on side B match, the dart is the correct size. (For costumes with gussets, open the slit up instead of overlapping.)

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Measuring

Tracing 6. Secure the overlapped tissue with a pin and draw the line of the dart onto side B. Trace around the remaining edges of the panel so that the pattern is complete.

Figure 2.9(b) Step 2.

Fully traced pattern

Side A Side B

Overlapping side B over side A to form the dart

7. Check and adjust the pattern using the ordinary grid system. If there is more than one dart in the panel, repeat the process for each dart, evolving the tissue pattern in several stages.

Figure 2.9(c) Finished pattern.

Side B

Side A

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Figure 2.10 A sack-back gown and petticoat made of painted Chinese silk with replica stomacher. 1760s. British. T.115-1953. Mounted on a modern dress stand made by Proportion London and padded up to fit. As the gown was so fragile, an accurate toile was made to assist with conservation, figure padding and the construction of a replica stomacher.

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Making an accurate toile of sleeves and trousers Although patterns can be taken from sleeves and trousers in the same way as the bodice, the narrow, cylindrical shapes of these appendages means that they must be treated slightly differently. For example, all tissue paper tracings should be taken from the outside of the garment and the individual panels that make up one sleeve or trouser leg should be worked on simultaneously. Secure the tissue paper in place by pinning the pieces together along the seam lines until all panels of the sleeve or trouser leg are fully covered. Establishing the inside dimensions of a sleeve or trouser leg can be difficult as access is limited. To assist with this, measurements can be taken by inserting a strip of rolled-up Melinex® into the sleeve or trouser leg and gently releasing it until it fills out the shape. The Melinex® can then be carefully removed and measured outside the costume. Paper or card can be used instead of Melinex®, but is not quite as effective. N.B. The measuring and tracing instructions described in the table below should be carried out simultaneously.

Sleeves and trousers Measuring

Tracing

1. Prepare the sleeve or trouser leg by padding out with tissue. To facilitate all round access, gently raise it an inch or so off the table. Do this by propping it up with tissue rolls or suspending it from above using a sling made of cotton tape. 2. Using the seam lines as a guide, divide the sleeve/trouser leg into panels and draw a rough diagram of each part. Sleeves are often made out of a single panel, so only one diagram will be necessary. 3. Study each panel to ascertain the angle and direction of the straight of grain. If the grain line is unclear, use pattern cutting reference books to assist with analysis

3. Cut out pieces of tissue large enough to overlap each panel. Using a ruler and pencil, draw a line on each one and mark as the straight of grain.

4. Measure the seams of each panel and all other top and bottom edges.

4. Lay the tissue paper over the panels matching up the grain lines. Join the pattern pieces with pins, following the line of the seams. Using a soft pencil, trace the seams and edges onto the tissue paper and remove from the costume. It is often easier to limit the tissue to the level of the underarm or crotch point and draft the sleeve head/trouser top from measurements only. Continued

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Measuring

Tracing

5. Compare the size of the tissue pattern to the measurements taken from the costume. This will provide a rough idea of its accuracy. You will probably find there are some inconsistencies. 6. Employing the same grid technique used with bodices, compare and adjust the pattern until it is the right size and shape. If the tissue pattern does not include sleeve head or trouser top, extend the grid lines beyond the underarm or crutch level and draft the top of the pattern using measurements only.

Tissue paper

A tape sling used to raise the trouser leg

Tissue rolls

Pinning the tissue together along the seams of the trousers

Figure 2.11 Taking a tissue paper pattern of a trouser leg.

Making an accurate toile of a skirt Unlike all other parts of a costume, a toile pattern for a skirt should be drawn without the assistance of tissue paper tracings. Skirt patterns tend to be cut in straight lines with uncomplicated panel shapes and can be drafted more simply as a flat pattern. As the cut of historical skirt patterns often reflect the cutting conventions of each period, reference books should always be consulted before starting work.

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Measuring and drafting a flat pattern for a skirt 1. Select one panel of the skirt and draw a diagram of it. Ascertain the angle and direction of the straight of grain. 2. Establish the dimensions of the outer perimeter of the panel, by measuring the seams and all other edges. 3. From these measurements, draft a flat pattern of the skirt panel on a separate sheet of paper, using a pencil and long ruler. Mark on the straight of grain. 4. Employing the same grid technique used with bodices, cast a few vertical and horizontal threads to double check the size and shape of the panel and the curve of the hem and waistlines. 5. Replicate the grid lines on the flat pattern and compare and adjust the measurements to fit.

Q u i c k To i l e M e t h o d Due to the constraints of time and money, making accurate toiles is often not viable. Nevertheless, to minimise potentially harmful handling, toiles are still frequently needed to assist with the adaptation of figures and the making of underpinnings. For this reason a quick toile method has been developed as an alternative to the slower processes described in the previous section. With this kind of toile, the emphasis is on speed and a copy of a bodice can be made up in less than an hour. Inevitably speed comes at a cost and these toiles are less accurate than copies made in a more painstaking manner. The quick toile method is based on the fashion technique of pattern cutting on the stand, i.e. using a dress stand as a foundation to create a three-dimensional pattern by draping and pinning fabric around it. In this case, however, the costume is dressed onto a figure before work commences and the pattern is taken over the top of the costume. Rather than fabric, the pattern is made of tissue paper which is both easy to tear and semi-transparent. Spider tissue is particularly good for this job as it is softer and more mouldable than other types of tissue. A dress stand or mannequin must be selected as a temporary foundation for the costume. If you have any choice of size, take basic costume measurements (p. 21) and select a figure of appropriate dimensions. If needed, the mounted costume can be supported and filled out with temporary pads made of tissue paper puffs or tissue covered wadding. If no figure is available, lay the costume on a clean, welllit surface and make a temporary body by padding out the bodice with tissue and wadding. Although the costume is far less easy to work on in this way, access can be facilitated by propping the bodice up on rolls of tissue. This technique can also be very useful when making toiles of fragile costumes.

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Figure 2.12 Evening dress designed by Pierre Balmain. 1957. French. T.51-1974. Tissue paper pattern being taken over the top of the costume, using the quick toile method.

Once the costume is prepared, the toile pattern can be moulded over the top. Varying degrees of accuracy are possible. To get a more exact copy, a tissue pattern should be cut and fitted to each individual bodice panel and the seam and grain lines carefully matched. If time is very short, however, a superquick toile can be created, bypassing these details. Large pieces of tissue can be substituted for individual panels and shaped to fit over the costume using arbitrary darts, tucks and seams. The finished mould has no constructional value, but it takes half the time and is enough to give a reasonable indication of the size and shape of the costume. It is important to remember when using this method, that, however accurate, the toile will always be slightly bigger than the original costume.

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Making a quick toile of a bodice 1. Cut a piece of tissue large enough to overlap the centre front bodice panel. Using a ruler and pencil, draw a line and mark as the straight of grain. 2. Lay the tissue over the panel matching the pencil line to the straight of grain. Do not pin the paper to the costume, but hold loosely in place by pinning to the neck of the figure. (A small piece of low tack masking tape can be substituted when working on a solid figure.) 3. Repeat the same process for the panels at the centre back. 4. Cut tissue for the side panels. Mark on the straight of grain and position each piece over the bodice, matching up the grain lines. To hold them in place, join them to the centre front and centre back panels with pins, roughly following the line of the seams. Darts should be incorporated, employing the same technique used in the accurate toile method (see p. 31). 5. Join the front and back pattern pieces together along the shoulder with pins. 6. Roughly trim the seams of the pattern by tearing away some of the excess. Ease around the neck and arms by tearing the tissue into short tabs. Do not use scissors for either of these operations. 7. Improve the shape and accuracy of the pattern by working down each seam line, repositioning the pins and tightening up the tissue until it fits closely over the costume. Take care not to pin into the textile and make sure that the grain lines of both pattern and costume are still consistent with each other. 8. Using a soft pencil, trace the neck opening, armholes, hemline and seams onto the tissue pattern. Remove the pattern from the costume, making sure that each panel is labelled before it is unpinned. 9. Even up the pattern as necessary and add balance marks to the seams. 10. Use the tissue pattern to make up a fabric toile (see Sewing appendix). Alternatively, if time is pressing, the pattern pieces can be stitched or pinned together as they are and used as a paper toile.

Quick toile patterns for sleeves, trousers and skirts If quick toiles are required for sleeves, trousers and skirts, lay the costume on a clean well-lit surface and draft the patterns while the garment is flat. Adopting a far less meticulous approach, make up the patterns, using the same basic techniques described in the accurate toile section (p. 35).

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3 Selecting and Modifying Mannequins and Dress Stands

B

efore mounting a costume, a figure must be chosen for the outfit to be dressed on. Although every costume is different, there are a number of common factors that must be taken into consideration when making this selection. These include such things as the exhibition design and duration, the individual requirements of the garment, the composition of the figures, the inclusion of accessories in the display and the possible need for legs, arms and heads. The huge array of mannequins and dress stands available means that most exhibition requirements can be accommodated. The price of figures can also vary enormously and for this reason money is often the principal influence when selecting figures for costumes. Although it may be possible for exhibitions with large budgets to have expensive, custom-made fibreglass or wax figures produced for individual costumes, this is usually an exception. For displays with smaller budgets, less expensive, standard sized, modern figures can be purchased, while old mannequins and second-hand dress stands can be reused for projects with limited resources. In either case, torsos can be altered and adapted to fit the costume and can be improved with new fabric covers or paint. This chapter deals with some of the general issues surrounding the selection of mannequins, including basic structural alterations and advice about how to cover/recover figures in fabric.

Mannequins and Dress Stands Figures come in an overwhelming range of shapes, styles, sizes, finishes, materials and prices and knowing how to make the best choice can be complicated.

Figure 3.1 Black evening dress designed by Christian Dior, worn by Dame Margot Fonteyn. 1955. French. T.118-1974. Mounted on a papier maˆché dress stand by Proportion London. In order to mount the costume, the figure had to be cut down to reduce its dimensions and re-covered in a non-stretch display fabric. 41

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In particular, conservation concerns about the materials that figures are made from, are not clear-cut. As a result it is difficult to give firm guidance on this subject. There is no doubt that some materials are less suitable than others for use with textiles. For example, those made from high-density urethane and polyurethane foams should be avoided, as these are known to break down quickly and emit reactive chemicals that are damaging to costumes. Figures made from fibreglass, Plastazote®/Ethafoam®, buckram and wax are generally thought to be comparatively safe. Bear in mind, however, that the substances used in the manufacture of figures can vary, making it impossible to guarantee the stability of any material. Ideally all materials should be regularly tested and analysed before use and up-todate research carried out in order to keep abreast of any scientific developments in this area. If there is a particular concern about the poor quality of a figure, barrier foils such as Moistop® and Marvelseal® can be used to cover it. However, this precaution is worthless if the seal is punctured by pins or needles. Similar concerns apply to surface finishes such as paint which are commonly used to coat the outside of mannequins. Water-based emulsions or cellulose paints are thought to be safer than those that are solvent based, but once again, this cannot be depended upon without testing. To improve the safety of any surface finish, a period of time should be allowed for the figure to off-gas. In order to carry out this process, position the figure in a well-ventilated space, at room temperature, for a minimum of three to four weeks. As can be seen, selecting a figure on the merits of the materials that it is made from is not straightforward, nor is it the only factor that needs to be considered. Selections should be made by weighing up all the relative pros and cons of the proposed figure in relation to the individual circumstances of the display and costumes. Inevitably, the design and budget of a display will be influential in such decisions but consideration should also be given to the figure’s structural stability, adaptability, aesthetic appeal, the physical state of the costume and the display conditions, including the amount of time garments are exhibited for and whether they are cased or on open display. Finding the ideal figure that offers perfect solutions to all these demands is unlikely to be possible and a compromise usually has to be found. The use of papier maˆché dress stands in many museums and historic houses in the UK is a good example of this. Although not made out of ideal materials, these figures are often chosen as the advantages of their versatility, adaptability and sturdy physical support, coupled with their affordable price, considerably outweigh their disadvantages. Adopting this kind of flexible and multi-focused attitude towards the selection of figures is recommended as the most practical way of dealing with this issue.

Having a Customised Figure Made for a Costume If you are lucky enough to be able to employ a sculptor to custom make your figures, do not underestimate the amount of time this will take. Having a figure

S E L E C T I N G A N D M O D I F Y I N G M A N N E Q U I N S A N D D R E S S S TA N D S

constructed to exactly fit a costume can be a slow and meticulous process and is likely to involve a lot of input from you as well as the sculptor. As a general rule, two or three fittings are needed before a good fit can be achieved and leaving enough time for the process is important. Depending on how the sculptor likes to work, it will probably be necessary to begin the process by supplying a list of measurements from the costume (see p. 21) and some historical information about its shape and date. Fittings are usually a collaborative effort between the sculptor, curator, conservator and possibly even a designer, all working together to try and create the best shape, fit and support for the costume. Notes and photographs should be taken during a fitting in order to keep track of the alterations that are to be carried out. If the torso is sculpted out of a hard material like fibreglass, it is good practice to have it made slightly smaller than necessary. This will allow space for the figure to be covered in a layer of padding which will provide a softer more flesh like support for the costume. When mounting a particularly fragile garment, an accurate toile or copy may be needed for the fittings (see Chapter 2). This can then be substituted for the costume, significantly reducing the handling of the object. During the intermediate stages, the evolving figure can be fairly rough. Coming direct from a sculptor’s workshop, half made mannequins are often dirty, with unfinished or sometimes even jagged edges. Under these circumstances having a toile is ideal, but as time and money are usually in short supply it is not often possible and the costume itself must be used in the fittings. In order to protect the costume at such times certain precautions should be taken. Firstly, the figure should be given a thorough wipe over with a dry cloth to remove any surface dust. Secondly, the figure should be covered in a layer of fabric before the costume is tried on. For obvious reasons the fabric must be as close fitting as possible. Use something stretchy, such as a tight fitting T-shirt, pairs of tights or a previously made jersey cover (see p. 57). Although the fitting of the torso is the most important part of the process, limbs and heads can also be specially sculpted. One of the advantages of this is that more animated poses can be incorporated into the figures, that are relevant to the design of the exhibition and suitable for the costume. Unfortunately, any additions of this kind are likely to be expensive and costs can escalate rapidly. Limbs are usually broken down into individual parts and can be used in any combination. For example, arms can be sculpted as full length limbs with fixed or detachable hands, they can be cut to half or three-quarter length to suit the sleeves of a garment or they can be reduced to nothing more than a shoulder cap. In the same way legs can be cut to any variation of length, or eliminated completely and substituted with a pole. If limbs are to be included, it is also essential to consider how the costume will be dressed onto the figure when it is completed. For example, dressing a fitted bodice onto a figure with two fixed arms is usually impossible and at least one arm must be detachable (see p. 5). Putting historical costume on mannequins with unsuitable or badly planned

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joins can put the costume at risk. Fortunately, a range of different fixings are available that can be used in creative combinations to overcome these difficulties. Every costume will have its own individual dressing problems and you should work with the sculptor to create the best solution in each case, making sure that unsightly joins in the figure are concealed by the costume. It is important to remember that having a figure sculpted to fit a particular costume will not prevent it from being reusable for other garments. As customised figures are expensive it is always worth considering how the figure might be recycled for future displays. Sculptors can assist with this and often have ingenious inventions and systems that can help make a figure more versatile. It is a good idea to discuss these possibilities at an early stage so that they can be taken into account throughout the sculpting process. If money is limited it is also possible to minimise the expense of the figure by reducing the amount of work carried out by the sculptor. Cut out anything that is unnecessary. For example; sculpted limbs can be substituted for soft sleeve and trouser supports (p. 103). It might also be possible to compromise on price by purchasing off the shelf figures made from old moulds or patterns. These can then be padded to an exact fit using polyester wadding (see Chapter 4).

Figure 3.2 Doublet made of silvergilt tissue. 1650-1665. British. T.91-2003. Costume mounted on a customised, fibreglass figure made by H&H Sculptors Ltd.

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Choosing a Non-customised Figure Due to budget constraints, the luxury of having a custom-made torso sculpted to fit a costume is not often possible and cheaper solutions must be found. Fortunately, the availability of ready-made mannequins and dress stands makes it possible to display costume for a less exorbitant price. Be aware, however, that the costs of some figures can still be surprisingly high. Prices vary dramatically and choice will inevitably be limited by the display budget. Aside from money, off-the-peg figures can be found in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, materials and finishes. Decisions should be made in collaboration with curators, designers and conservators. The figure chosen should accommodate both design and conservation issues, taking into consideration such things as: the individual needs of the costume, the materials from which the figure is fabricated, the length of time the object will be on display and the overall style and tone of the exhibition. When selecting mannequins, it is also important to be aware of the amount of time required for manufacture and delivery. This can sometimes take months rather than weeks and if additional work is needed to adapt figures after purchasing, it is essential that decisions are made early. Working out what size figure to order for a costume is obviously very important and a set of basic garment measurements should be provided and used to establish this (p. 21). Make sure that the nape to waist measurement is included and be prepared to ring the manufacturers to ask for this dimension if it is not supplied in the catalogue. Most off-the-peg figures are made to standard stock sizes and modern shapes. Though these are eminently suitable for exhibitions of contemporary dress, using them to display historical costume is less satisfactory. Not only is a modern figure unlikely to be the right size for a historical costume, but it will also be an inappropriate shape. Off-the-peg mannequins must therefore be carefully adapted and altered before they are suitable as mounts for historical costume. For this reason, a figure should always be chosen that is significantly smaller than the garment. In some cases, finding a body that is small enough can be problematic and it may be necessary to select a childsized figure for an adult costume. If heads, legs and arms are to be included as part of the mannequin, careful consideration must be given to how the outfit will be dressed. As with custommade figures, limbs can be articulated or broken down in a number of different ways to facilitate dressing and an assortment of fixings are usually available. Costumes are at their most vulnerable while being dressed and the use of extra body parts can put additional strain on a garment and complicate this process. It is therefore important to double check the way limbs are assembled and their suitability for each costume. Remember that soft sleeve and trouser supports can be used instead of solid arms and legs and are often easier to manipulate during mounting (see Chapter 5).

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As there are so many different kinds of mannequin on the market, it is impossible to give precise details of all those available. Every costume and display will have different requirements and the suitability of each mannequin style will vary accordingly. One of the most widely used figures is the fabric covered, papier maˆché dress stand. Although using dress stands to display costume may seem rather humdrum, they have several advantages. They are generally cheap and figures are available in a wide range of sizes, from small children to large adults. Some manufacturers even produce figures that are fashioned into historical shapes. Dress stands are fixed to a central pole that can be set at any height to accommodate different costume lengths and provides a stable base. Arms, heads and even legs can also be added if required. At an additional cost, some manufacturers are also prepared to cover figures in a top fabric of your choice. Best of all, these figures are easy to adapt. This makes them particularly suitable for use with historical costume. The fabric cover provides a ready-made foundation on to which padding can be stitched, while the papier maˆché body creates a tough shell that can be cut down using a hand or jigsaw. The versatility of these figures also makes them particularly suitable for reuse in other mounting projects. Dress stands can therefore be repeatedly recycled making them a very cost effective choice.

A d a p t i n g To r s o s b e f o r e P a d d i n g Why a torso might require adaptation before padding When using a figure that requires altering to fit a costume, it may be necessary to carry out some basic structural work before embarking on the more sculptural padding. This can take the form of cutting a figure down to make it smaller or adding solid parts to make it bigger. As every costume and mannequin is different, it is impossible to give examples for more than the most common alterations. The methods described here should be treated as something that can be developed and adapted to suit individual cases.

Cutting a figure down to make it smaller When using contemporary mannequins and dress stands as mounts for historical costumes, you are likely to come up against a number of difficulties. One of the most common is finding figures small enough to be used as mounts for period dress. Although the size of garments will obviously vary, this can be a particular problem for nineteenth and early twentieth century female costume where the shoulders, waists and diaphragms of garments are often very small. Similar difficulties can also be experienced when looking for male figures narrow enough for eighteenth and nineteenth century jackets and waistcoats. To solve

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Figure 3.3 ‘Queen of Sheba’ dress, Vive La Cocotte, designed and lent by Vivienne Westwood. A/W 1995. Worn by Linda Evangelista and Demi Moore. Mounted on a papier maˆché dress stand made by Proportion London. The figure was made invisible by cutting it down below the level of the neckline of the bodice.

Figure 3.4 Cutting off the upper neck area of the figure along the marked line.

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these problems, it is sometimes possible to cut figures down, reducing them in size and making them small enough for use. One of the most common ways of doing this is to slice off the sides of the torso from the top of the shoulder down into the waist. This will decrease the over-all circumference of the upper body and in particular the shoulder width. In the same way the circumference of the lower torso can be reduced by trimming off the side hips. Specific parts of the body such as the neck, bust or limbs can also be sliced off when necessary. Another area that frequently needs attention is the bottom edge of the figure. For example; when mounting corsets, bodices or jackets, independently of skirts and trousers, the lower part the torso may still be visible below the hem of the garment. To rectify this, the bottom of the figure can be trimmed back so that it is no longer seen. When doing this, care should be taken not to expose any internal fixings. Not every mannequin is suitable for these kinds of adaptations and it will inevitably depend on what the figure is made of and how it is constructed. It may be necessary to get assistance from someone with more technical experience and equipment. As sharp cutting tools will be required, health and safety precautions must be taken. One of the simplest figures to adapt, is the fabric covered, papier maˆchét dress stand. These are both robust and relatively easy to cut down and large areas of the torso can be trimmed back without weakening the form. For example, the neck area of a dress stand can be entirely cut away, removing all visible parts of the figure above the line of the costume. Dress stands should be prepared by snipping open seams and peeling back the fabric cover to reveal the cardboard shell beneath. Be prepared to remove staples and tacks. Stretch top-covers are easier to handle and should be undone from the bottom of the figure and pulled up to expose the raw form. Mark all cutting lines with a pencil and use a hand or jigsaw to make the alteration. As dress stands are hollow, once an area has been cut away, it will probably create an open cavity. These spaces can either be blocked in with wedges of carved Plastazote®, covered with a tight layer of fabric and stapled in place, or left as a void. If the inside of the figure is visible, this can be smoothed down with sandpaper and finished with a suitable coloured paint or fabric.

Building up, extending and re-shaping shoulders When mounting historical costume, some of the most regularly needed structural alterations relate to the shoulders of the figure. Reducing shoulder width has already been discussed in the section above, but it may also be necessary to extend the length of the shoulders, build up their height, or alter their angle. As shoulders bear much of the weight of a costume it is vital that all modifications are made as solid as possible. For example, building up a shoulder with layers

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of soft polyester wadding is often not firm enough and more robust techniques must be employed.

Extending shoulders Though it may seem unlikely that the shoulders of modern figures would ever need lengthening for a historical garment, this technique is more frequently used than might be expected. In particular it can be employed to help adapt child-sized figures into mounts suitable for adult costume.

Making extended shoulders 1. Try the costume on the figure and calculate how much each shoulder must be extended by. Measure the full length of the shoulder from neck to shoulder point including the extension. Call this measurement A. 2. Remove the costume and measure the width of the armpit of the figure at its widest point. Taking this measurement as the diameter, draw a circle on a piece of medium weight museum board, using a compass. 3. Cut out the card circle with scissors and calculate its circumference by wrapping a tape measure around the outer edge of the disk. Divide the circumference measurement in half. This is measurement B. 4. Using measurement A and B, draw a rectangle on a second piece of museum board, with a pencil and ruler. Mark the neck and shoulder point ends as N and P and cut out the shape with scissors. 5. Lay the rectangle on a piece of calico and trim round it, leaving turnings of approximately 4 cm on all sides. Fasten the calico to the cardboard by stitching close to the edges through both layers. This can be done either by hand or with a sewing machine. 6. Fold the calico around the sides marked N and P and secure with a second line of stitching. The calico covering the other sides should be left as raw edges, flat and unfolded. 7. With the fabric side up, bend the covered rectangle into a curve and place on top of the shoulder of the figure, matching N to the side of the neck. Side P should extend beyond the original shoulder point of the figure. Smooth the raw edges of the calico flat and sew firmly in place using herringbone stitch. 8. Lay the disc on a piece of calico and trim around it leaving turnings of approximately 2 cm all the way round. Stitch the calico to the disc in the same way as the rectangle. Fold the 2 cm turning around the card and secure with a second line of stitching. 9. Use the disc as a plug to fill in the open end of the new shoulder. Whipstitch it in place where it rests against the rectangle and the side of the figure, leaving a small opening on one side. Continued

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10. To make the shoulder extensions as rigid as possible, insert small pieces of polyester wadding through the openings to fill out the void behind. Continue doing this until the space is tightly stuffed and the cardboard extensions are fully supported. 11. Repeat the process for the second shoulder. 12. Finish the shoulders by covering each in a thin layer of polyester wadding.

Figure 3.5 Constructing an extended shoulder. N ard o e rdb gl Ca ctan red re ove lico c ca m in 4c A

P B

Whipstitch Disc

Stuff void with polyester wadding

Increasing shoulder height Raising the height of the shoulder is perhaps the most common of all the structural alterations. This can be achieved in a number of different ways and as long as the finished result is sturdy and solid it does not matter how it is done. A simple technique is to use strips of Plastazote®/Ethafoam®, cut to the width and length of the shoulders. Select Plastazote® of a relevant thickness and anchor to the top of the shoulders by stretching a length of fabric over the strips and herringbone stitching firmly to the figure. The Plastazote® will need smoothing over with one or two layers of polyester wadding. If you do not have access to Plastazote®/Ethafoam®, the following method, similar to that used for extending the shoulders, can be used instead.

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Building up shoulder height using calico, museum board and polyester wadding 1. Calculate the amount the shoulders must be built up by, divide it in half and call this measurement H. 2. Following the instructions used for extending shoulders, cut out a disc made of museum board and cover in calico. 3. Continuing to use the same instructions, draw a rectangle on a second piece of museum board and mark the neck and shoulder point ends as N and P. Mark the two remaining sides as S. Cut out the shape with scissors, but do not cover in calico. 4. Using a ruler, draw a line down the centre of the card from side N to side P.

Figure 3.6(a)

S

Step 1. P

N

B

S A

5. Cut out a piece of calico considerably larger than the rectangle and fold it in half along its length. Run a line of pins or tacking parallel to the folded edge, at a distance equal to measurement H, creating a tuck. 6. Unfold the calico leaving the tuck pinned together and lay flat on a table face down. Lay the card rectangle on top of the calico matching the pencil line to the line of the tuck and hold in place with a few pins. 7. Fasten the calico to the rectangle by stitching through both layers along the sides marked S, approximately 0.5 cm from the edge of the card. 8. Trim the calico so that it overlaps by a minimum of 4 cm on all sides.

Figure 3.6(b)

Calico tuck

S

Step 2. H N

P

S

Stitch line fastening rectangle to calico

4 cm

Continued

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9. Release the tuck by removing the pins from the calico. The fabric between the stitch lines will now be larger than the card underneath. 10. With the fabric side up, bend the covered rectangle into a curve and place on top of the shoulder of the figure, matching N to the side of the neck. Smooth the raw edges of the calico flat on sides S and herringbone stitch firmly to the figure. 11. Fold under the raw edge of the calico along side N and pin or stitch to the neck of the figure. 12. From side P, insert small pieces of polyester wadding to fill out the loose calico. Continue doing this until the space is tightly stuffed keeping the padding as smooth and even as possible. 13. Fold down the raw calico edge of side P over the padding and pleat into two tucks so that it fits snugly. 14. Use the covered disc as a plug to fit over end P. Pin to the figure and secure with whipstitch.

Figure 3.6(c) Step 3.

Raw edge pleated over padding

N P

S

Disc

15. Repeat the process for the second shoulder. 16. Finish both shoulders by covering each in a thin layer of polyester wadding.

Changing the angle of the shoulder Altering the angle of the shoulder is sometimes necessary when mounting historical costume on figures. In particular, nineteenth century dress often requires modifications of this nature to create the exaggerated sloping shoulder of the Victorian era. Correspondingly, a figure with sloping shoulders may need to be reshaped in the opposite direction to accommodate a garment which is cut more squarely. The easiest way to make these alterations is to cut out rectangles of polyester wadding, to the width of the shoulder, rolling and

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stitching them tightly into sausages. Depending on the size of the alteration, make up around ten of these sausages. They can then be used as building blocks to reshape the shoulder. Stitch them in layers to the figure, building up and tapering away as necessary. Finish the new shoulder line by smoothing over with one or two layers of polyester wadding.

Figure 3.7 White muslin day dress, decorated with puffed muslin and coloured wool stitching. 1818–1820. English. T.55-1934. Mounted on a modern dress stand made by Proportion London, padded up to fit. The figure was cut down to reduce its dimensions and the shoulders reshaped into a sloping line.

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Figure 3.8 Changing the angle of the shoulders with rolls of polyester wadding.

Rolls of polyester wadding

Making necks The neck can be an important part of a figure. As well as improving the aesthetic appearance of a torso, it can also help the costume sit properly and offers support to collars and high necklines. Fortunately, even when headless, most mannequins and dress stands are usually constructed with a neck. However, it does not necessarily follow that the neck will be a suitable size for the costume or angled and set in the right position. A neck that is the wrong size or is placed inappropriately can prevent a costume from fitting the figure and for this reason, it is sometimes necessary to make a new one. Making a new neck for a figure is not difficult. Depending on the circumstances, it can either be made over the top of an existing neck or used to replace one that has been removed. It is important to get the shape and proportions of a new neck correct or it can look unnatural and will detract from the finished appearance of the costume. The necks of most mannequins are shaped so that they are narrower at the top than the bottom and set on the figure at a slight forward angle. It is a good idea to take some neck measurements from other figures to help gauge the required size.

Cutting a pattern for a neck 1. Estimate the dimensions of the new neck. You will need the height of the neck at the centre front and the circumference of the neck at its base. As a rough guide, the height of a neck is usually between 4 and 7 cm. The circumference of a female neck = 30–35 cm/male neck = 35–40 cm.

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2. Using these two measurements, draw a rectangle on a piece of tissue paper, with pencil and ruler. Do not cut the rectangle out but leave an allowance of at least 4 cm all the way around. Mark both the top corners of the rectangle as C and the bottom corners as B. 3. Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise; so that the top corners marked C and the bottom corners marked B exactly overlap. Where the top pencil line meets the fold line, label this point F and the bottom line point N. 4. From F measure 3 cm down the fold line and label this R. Do the same from N and label this T. 5. Draw in a smooth curve from C to R and from B to T (see Figure 3.8(a)). 6. Turn the folded tissue over and trace through the curves to the other side of the pattern. 7. Unfold the tissue paper and cut out the pattern along the new lines. 8. To find the correct angle for the centre back line of the pattern, curl the tissue into a cylinder, matching point B with point B. Using finger and thumb as a pivot, hold these points together while overlapping the top of the pattern until it forms an even line. The overlapped tissue should create a triangle and a new point X should be made exactly half way between point C and point C. You may find it easier to pin the overlap in place while you measure and mark this on. Trace point X through to the other side, so that it is marked at both ends of the pattern (see Figure 3.8(b)). 9. Unroll the pattern and mark the new centre back lines by joining X and B. Trim off the excess tissue with scissors. This is the finished pattern.

Fold line

F

C

Figure 3.9 C

x

x R

N

B Tissue paper

B

T

(a) Neck pattern. Even line formed at top of pattern Overlapping the back of the pattern to find point x

C

x C Pivot tissue between finger and thumb B

(b) Working out the angle for the centre back line.

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Making a new neck using the pattern Once the pattern has been drafted, it can be used to make the neck. Before starting work, check the size and proportions by curling the tissue pattern into a cylinder and trying it on the figure.

Making a new neck 1. Using the tissue pattern as a template cut out the neck shape in a medium weight museum board. 2. Lay the neck shape on a piece of calico and trim around it, leaving turnings of approximately 3 cm on all sides. 3. Fasten the calico to the neck shape by stitching through both layers close to the edge of the card. This can be done either by hand or with a sewing machine. 4. Leaving the bottom edge of the fabric raw and unfolded, wrap the rest of the calico tightly around the neck shape and stitch through all the layers to keep in place. Once again this can be done by hand or by machine. 5. Snip the bottom unfolded edge of the calico into tabs approximately 2cm wide. 6. Bend the neck into a cylinder and tightly whipstitch the ends together. If necessary, you can reinforce this seam with a narrow strip of card or Reemay, placed behind the join and hand stitched firmly in place. To make it easier to sew, punch stitch holes in the strip of card by running it under an unthreaded sewing machine. 7. Position the neck carefully on to the torso and pin in place. Using a curved needle, attach the neck to the figure by stitching firmly through the tabs using a tight herringbone stitch.

Calico

Figure 3.10 Making a neck.

Museum board

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Covering Figures with Fabric The ability to cover a figure in fabric is a vital tool when adapting them for display. Even if it is not required as a visible finish, it can still be used inconspicuously beneath the line of the costume. Fabric has many advantages; it is soft, it comes in a wide variety of qualities and colours and it is relatively easy to manipulate. Constructed into close fitting covers, it has a number of valuable uses. For example; fabric covers can be used to conceal old, dirty or damaged surfaces, to unify assorted figures and to blend with exhibition designs and colour schemes. Most important of all, the ability to cover a figure in fabric enables padding to be used in the mounting process. A layer of material is used to isolate fibrous padding from the costume, conceal its unsightly appearance and consolidate and firm up the shape. For solid figures with a non-stitchable surface, a fabric cover is even more important as it can be used as a foundation to which padding can be applied. In this case the figure would require two layers of fabric, one to cover the hard surface and a second to cover the padding.

Using a stretch fabric to cover a figure Using stretch fabric to cover a figure is quick and far easier to use than a nonstretch fabric. Stretch covers can be divided into two different categories; a topcover, which is used to smarten up or change the aesthetic appearance of the figure and an under-cover that is hidden beneath the costume and is used principally to isolate padding from the garment. A third foundation-cover can also be used for figures with hard surfaces such as fibreglass. These covers are used as a preliminary layer, providing something soft to which padding can be attached. There are many different kinds of stretch fabrics available and choice will depend on the kind of cover being made. One of the most commonly used is simple cotton jersey. This has the advantage of being cheap, durable, easy to manipulate and suitable as a conservation material. The one drawback is its plain, rather workaday appearance and for this reason it is more frequently used for under-covers rather than top-covers. An alternative that can also be used to make quick under-covers, is the tubular stretch fabric that women’s tights are made of. Tights are not as robust as cotton jersey however, and are less suitable for long-term display. For top-covers, an ever-expanding variety of stretch fabrics are available on the market. These tend to be made up of mixes of different materials including Lycra. Ideally all fabrics used on a figure should be tested by a conservation scientist and at the very least washed before use. Whatever kind of cover is required, the secret to success is to make it as tight as possible. Most stretch covers can be constructed out of two pieces of fabric, one for the front and one for the back and joined together with side seams.

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The neck and even the head can be included in the cover by continuing the shoulder seams up the sides of the neck and beyond. Be prepared to treat the fabric forcefully, stretching and pulling it until it fits snugly and there are no wrinkles or creases. All fabrics should be applied with the direction of the stretch going around the figure, rather than up and down the length.

Making top-covers and under-covers using stretch fabric 1. Roughly cut out two rectangles of fabric using the following measurements: (a) The length of the torso from the top to bottom +15 cm for seam allowance. (b) The circumference of the figure at its widest point, divided in half +15 cm for seam allowance. 2. Fold both panels of fabric in half down their length, following the grain line. Mark the fold with pins or tacking. These two lines should be matched to the centre front and centre back axis of the torso and will help to keep the fabric straight. 3. With the right side out, select one piece of fabric and hold it up against the front of the torso so that it overlaps top and bottom. Match the grain line to the centre front axis of the figure by eye and pin in place from the neck down. Use several pins and tension the fabric as you work by pulling downwards from the hem. Repeat for the back. 4. Gently smoothing and stretching the fabric away from the centre, pin the front and back pieces together at the shoulder points. 5. Drop down to the waist of the torso and repeat the same process, pinning the front and back panels together on either side. 6. Repeat for the lower hips and the base of the torso. Keep an eye on the grain of the fabric when doing this and ensure that it is straight. 7. Begin to shape the rest of the cover by pinning the fabric together in between these eight anchor points. Start at the top of the figure; pin down both sides of the neck, along the top of the shoulders and down the sides of the body. Keep both seams as symmetrical as possible. 8. Trim off some of the excess fabric leaving a minimum seam allowance of 5 cm. 9. Once the seam lines have been preliminarily pinned and trimmed, the cover can be stretched to fit more tightly. Begin from the top and work down the lines of pins, pinching out the fabric and re-pinning as you go. The tighter the cover becomes, the harder work this is. You will probably need to go over the seams two or three times before it is firm enough. 10. Machine or hand stitch the cover together following the instructions on p. 69. Bear in mind that a more professional finish will be achieved using a machine and this is particularly important when making top-covers. 11. If the cover has been removed, return it to the figure, right side out and pull into the correct position. Finish the hem by whipstitching, stapling or tacking the fabric around the bottom of the figure. Alternatively, if you

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have access to a sewing machine the hem can be folded over, stitched into a channel and threaded with a drawstring. 12. Finish the neck opening with a covered cardboard lid following the instructions on p. 71. Alternatively, an under-cover can be trimmed back to just below the neckline of the costume, exposing the original surface of the figure. Before doing this, mark the cut line with tacking and herringbone the cover to the figure just beneath. The fabric can then be cut away as close to the stitching as possible. 13. Once the cover has been positioned onto the figure and secured in place, the seams can be given a final press with an iron. This can be done using the iron vertically, or if preferable, the figure can be laid horizontal.

Figure 3.11 Covering a figure with stretch fabric.

Using tights to cover figures Using nylon tights to create an under-cover or foundation-cover for a figure has one major advantage – speed. To use the tights, snip out the crotch gusset, cut off the legs and pull the remaining part of the tights over the figure. The cut away gusset creates a perfect neck hole and the sliced off leg openings become armholes. Unless the tights are very big or the figure small, two pairs of tights will probably be required to cover a torso, one to cover the upper body and one the lower. Using tights in this way has other advantages. The nature of the fabric creates a particularly fine under-cover that can be stretched over almost any shape with no seaming required. However, there are also drawbacks.

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For example, depending on the thickness of the tights, the fabric can ladder. The extreme elasticity of the fabric also means that it cannot be pulled as taut as cotton jersey, making it a much less firm cover. When purchasing tights, choose a shade that is as close to the colour of the figure as possible. Tights of a fine denier are obviously less suitable than heavier weight varieties as they are more likely to ladder. It is also worth checking that the tights have a crotch gusset as not every style is constructed with one. Once in place on the figure, tight-covers can be treated in the same way as an under-cover and trimmed away as necessary. Always herringbone stitch the tights to the figure before cutting back. The legs of tights can also be used. Some costume mounters prefer to stuff them with wadding, reattach them to the figure and use them as sleeve supports. They can also be cut up and used to cover small isolated areas of padding. Perhaps the best way to make use of them is to turn the legs into wider tubes of fabric. These can also be used as figure covers, with the added advantage that they are long. Using three or more legs, cut off the feet and open each leg out by snipping down the length. Using a narrow zigzag stitch, seam the legs together down the sides forming one complete tube. The seam allowance can then be trimmed away close to the zigzag and the tube turned right side out before pulling onto a figure. Once in place, tube covers of this kind will need joining at the top in a shoulder seam.

Covering figures with a hard surface The technique of making stretch covers is particularly important for figures with solid surfaces such as fibreglass. Without a fabric cover, it is difficult to attach padding and underpinnings, as there is nothing to stitch into. For this reason, fibreglass figures must be covered in a foundation layer of stretch fabric before any padding can be applied. It is particularly important that this foundationcover is as tight and immovable as possible, as all padding and underpinnings will be attached to it. To cover a figure in a foundation of fabric follow the same instructions as those for making a top or under-cover on p. 58. The method is almost exactly the same, except that stretching fabric around a slippery fibreglass surface can be more fiddly. The difficulty lies in beginning the process, but once underway, the cover can be fitted as already described. Prepare the fabric for the cover using instruction 1 and 2. As you will not be able to pin the fabric to the figure, attach it instead using the following method. Fasten the front and back panels together at one end with a couple of pins. Suspend the pinned edge from the top of the neck or head so that the material falls down on either side of the figure. To secure the fabric further, take hold of the bottom edge of both panels and stretch down until they can be pinned together between the legs of the figure or under the base. The foundation-cover can then be made up following

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Figure 3.12 Costume for Giselle, Act 1, worn by Alicia Markova. 1946. British. S.657-1983. Mounted on a fibreglass figure made by H&H Sculptors Ltd. Figure prepared with a tight foundation-cover made of cotton jersey and padded up to fit. An under-cover made from tights was used to seal the padding. The foundation and undercover were then stitched together and trimmed back to expose the original surface of the mannequin.

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the remaining instructions, making sure that the grain line is kept straight throughout the process. To ensure that the cover remains as tight as possible, the foundation-cover should be hand stitched in situ on the figure rather than removing and machining. As the foundation-cover is structural and should not be seen, the final process is to conceal it. If the torso is to be covered with a finishing layer of display fabric, the foundation can be left as it is, as the top-cover will hide it f r o m view. Alternatively, the foundation and padding can be sealed with an undercover and the layers snipped away to expose the original surface of the figure beneath (see the instructions below). When doing this, always leave any cutting to the very last. It is also important to fit the foundation-cover close around the neck, even though it will subsequently be trimmed away. This improves the fit of the cover and helps prevent it from slipping and sagging when the fabric is finally cut back. Using tights as a foundation-cover is also possible, but bear in mind it will not be as robust and close fitting as one made from cotton jersey. Depending on the costume, this can be problematic as it is difficult to pull tights sufficiently taut to prevent them from slipping and moving on the figure. Cotton jersey on the other hand can be pulled into a very tight fit, gripping the figure enough to hold its position. Some costume mounters prefer to use two pairs of tights,

Trimming foundation and under-covers to expose the original surface of a figure 1. Make up a foundation-cover, fitted close around the neck of the figure. 2. Try the costume on the figure to establish the neckline and mark with tacking stitches. 3. Remove the costume and apply padding to the figure as necessary. 4. Make up an under-cover and stretch over the top of the padding. 5. Stitch both covers together just below the marked neck line, using a small tight herringbone stitch. 6. Snipping as close to the herringbone stitch as possible, trim away both covers, exposing the neck area of the figure beneath. 7. Fabric covering armhole sockets and fixings should be trimmed away using the same technique.

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Small tight herringbone stitch

Tack line marking the neckline of the costume

Trimming away both layers of fabric

one on top of the other, stuffing polyester wadding between the layers to pad up the figure.

Covering figures in non-stretch fabrics Unfortunately, using stretch fabrics as a covering material is not always an option and a woven cloth may be selected instead. Although covering a figure in something non-stretchy is not as quick and easy, it is still a viable alternative. The secret to working with this kind of fabric is to use it only to cover the parts of the figure that are visible, i.e. the chest and neck. For any area that requires covering and is hidden below the line of the costume a stretch under-cover can be used (see p. 57). Limiting the areas to be covered in this way will make the process of working with non-stretch fabric much simpler. It also cuts down on the amount of potentially expensive display fabric required. Covering a torso in non-stretch fabric is similar to covering a piece of upholstered furniture. The aim is to coax the fabric into as snug a fit as possible, requiring strong, forceful handling. To make the job easier, cut the fabric on the bias. This will give it more stretch, facilitating a tighter fit. If the fabric has

Figure 3.13 Trimming back covers to expose the original surface of the figure.

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a very conspicuous grain, this may not be possible. For example, the heavy slub of raw silk can look odd applied to a torso at an angle. Shot fabrics and those with heavy napes or patterns may have similar problems. If this is the case, cut the fabric with the straight of grain running up and down the figure and be prepared to use a little extra brute-force to pull the cover into shape. If you are working on a fibreglass figure, make up a foundation-cover first (see p. 60). This will provide a firm fabric base to which the top-layer can be stitched. Although the requirements for each individual costume will vary, the following three basic pattern templates can be used to accommodate most examples of male and female costume.

Making a basic yoke cover 1. Try the costume on to the figure. With a curved needle and thread tack a line onto the torso marking the shape of the neckline. Remove the costume. 2. Cut out a square or rectangle from the chosen display fabric, large enough to cover the front yoke area, with a minimum of 15 cm for seam allowance. This piece can be cut on the bias or straight of grain. 3. Fold the fabric in half down its length and mark the fold with pins or tacking. This line should be matched to the centre front axis of the torso and will help to keep the fabric running straight. 4. Measure approximately 10 cm down the tack line from the top edge of the fabric and mark with a pin. With the right side out, hold the fabric up to the figure matching this mark to the base of the neck and secure with a pin. Work down the tack line from this point, pinning the fabric to the figure and keeping it as straight as possible. Tension the fabric slightly as you work by pulling down on the hem. 5. Stretch the fabric across the figure towards each shoulder and pin in place. 6. Smooth the fabric over the rest of the chest area and secure with more pins. 7. Fit the front yoke around the neck by snipping down the centre tack line to just above the first pin. Ease the fabric around the neck, clipping into it as necessary, taking care not to cut too deeply.

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8. Repeat the whole process for the back yoke following instructions 2–7. 9. Join the front and back yoke along the top of the shoulders by pinning tightly together.

Figure 3.14 Basic yoke cover.

10. Trim off any superfluous fabric, making sure that the cover overlaps the tacked neckline on the figure by a minimum of 4 cm. 11. Machine or hand-stitch the yoke together (p. 69). 12. If the cover has been removed, return to the figure, stretching and pinning it into position. Using a curved needle, herringbone around the hem and neck opening of the yoke to secure it to the figure. 13. Complete the yoke with a covered neck and neck disc (p. 54 and 71). 14. Once the cover has been positioned onto the figure and secured in place, the seams can be given a final press with an iron. This can be done using the iron vertically, or if preferable, the figure can be laid horizontal.

A basic yoke cover This cover is easy to make and can be used underneath costumes with sleeves. Depending on the neckline of the outfit, the yoke can be cut into a ‘V’, scoop or square. Even if the costume has a very low centre front or centre back neckline, you can still use this method by cutting the yoke deeper in these areas.

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Making a basic yoke cover with armhole discs 1. Try the costume on the figure. With a curved needle and thread, tack a line onto the torso marking the shape of the neckline and armhole openings. As sleeveless garments often gape slightly, ensure the tack line surrounds what is visible through the sleeve-hole rather than the sleeve hole itself. Remove the costume from the figure. 2. Make up a basic yoke following the previous instructions. 3. Make a paper pattern for the discs by laying a piece of tissue against the figure and tracing through the tacked line of the armhole. Remove the tissue and extend the pattern by adding a minimum of 3 cm all the way around. 4. Using this pattern cut out two discs of fabric. Finish the raw edges by overlocking, zigzagging or pinking. 5. Pin the discs onto the figure making sure that the tack line is overlapped. Keep the discs as smooth and flat as possible, re-pinning and stretching to ease out the wrinkles. 6. Herringbone the fabric in place.

Figure 3.15 Basic yoke cover with armhole discs.

Basic yoke

Armhole disc

Basic yoke cover with armhole discs This method can be used for sleeveless costumes, but is only suitable for garments with straps or shoulder seams that are a minimum of 3–5 cm wide. This template is made up of a basic yoke cover (as described above) with two

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additional discs of fabric stitched to the sides of the figure, filling in the armhole openings. The edges of both the yoke and discs are hidden underneath the straps of the outfit, giving the impression that the figure is fully covered.

Making a fitted cover for upper torso 1. Try the costume on the figure. With a curved needle and thread tack a line onto the torso marking the shape of the neckline. Straps will not need to be included. Remove the costume from the figure. 2. Prepare the cover by cutting out five squares/rectangles of fabric, large enough to overlap the front of the figure, the sides and two half backs. Each piece should include a minimum of 15 cm seam allowance. These pieces can be cut on the bias or straight of grain. 3. Fold each piece of fabric in half down their length and mark the fold with pins or tacking. These lines should be matched to the vertical axis of the figure and will help to keep the fabric running straight. 4. Keeping the tack line running up and down the body, pin the front panel onto the figure following the same instructions used for the basic yoke. Use instruction 4–7 to carry out this process. 5. Pin both back panels onto the figure so that they overlap by a minimum of 3 cm at the centre back. The tack lines should run parallel to the centre back axis of the figure. Smooth both pieces of fabric over the back area and secure with more pins. 6. Join the front and back panels along the top of the shoulder by pinning tightly together. 7. Pin the side panels onto the figure, continuing to match the tack lines to the vertical axis. Make sure the fabric of each panel rises above the level of the shoulder to provide seam allowance. Smooth the fabric around the sides of the figure and secure with more pins. 8. To fit the cover to the figure, start pinning the panels together, creating seams. The front and side panels should be joined from the shoulder point and travel in a smooth curve over the top of the bust and down towards the waist. The back and side panels are joined together in a similar way from the shoulder point down. Complete the process by joining the two centre back panels in a straight vertical seam. Continued

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9. Trim off excess fabric and go over each seam, adjusting and tightening the pins until the cover is fitted as closely as possible.

Front view

Figure 3.16

Back view

Fitted cover.

Tack lines

Joining the front and side panels in a smooth curve over the bust

Joining the back panels in a straight seam

10. Machine or hand stitch the cover together, leaving the centre back seam open and unfinished (p. 69). 11. If the cover has been removed, return it to the figure stretching and pinning it into position. 12. Finish the centre back seam by pinning and stitching one raw edge flat to the figure. The second edge should be folded and slipstitched over the top of the first, keeping the seam tight, straight and central. 13. Using a curved needle, herringbone around the neck and hem of the cover to secure it to the figure. 14. Complete the cover with a covered neck and neck disc (p. 54 and 71). 15. Once the cover has been positioned onto the figure and secured in place, the seams can be given a final press with an iron. This can be done using the iron vertically, or if preferable, the figure can be laid horizontal.

Fitted cover for upper torso This template is appropriate for strapless garments or those with thin shoulder straps. For costumes such as these there is nowhere to hide the raw edges of a yoke or armhole discs, therefore the top half of the torso must be fully covered. As a result, this template is more complicated and time consuming to

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make. Instead of using two pieces of fabric the cover is made out of five: one for the front, two for the back and two covering the sides. An additional panel is sometimes required for figures with large busts. This can be achieved by dividing the front piece in half and adding a centre front seam. When making a fitted cover, it is important to keep the seams as symmetrical as possible. Judge this by eye and do not waste time trying to measure exact distances as figures are notoriously uneven.

Finishing the neck As well as the figure, the neck will also need covering in fabric. If you are confident at cutting and sewing, this can be done by stretching a bias collar around the neck and stitching it to the torso cover with a curved seam. The bias collar should be joined together at the centre back in a straight seam. If you are less confident at sewing, a neck made from museum board can be made instead, following the instructions on p. 54. Necks of this kind can be covered separately in display fabric and then fitted over the existing stump, hiding the raw edges of the cover beneath it. To do this, make up the neck shape and cover in calico as instructed on p. 54. Fold in the bottom edge of the calico as well as the other sides and stitch in place. A second covering of the appropriate display fabric should be stretched over the top of the calico. Leaving the two ends unfinished, fold the fabric around the shape and herringbone the raw edges to the calico on the back of the neck. Bend the cardboard into a cylinder and tightly whipstitch the ends together, reinforcing if necessary. To finish the

Machine stitching stretch and non-stretch covers Stretch fabrics

Non-stretch fabrics

1. With the cover still pinned to the figure, mark the stitch lines onto the wrong side of the fabric. To do this pull the pinned seams apart and mark between the seam allowances, using a soft pencil or chalk. Make sure the pencil impresses both panels and add balance marks as you work. The more balance marks used, the easier it will be to match up the seams (see Figure 3.16). 2. Mark the front of the cover with a tailor’s tack, to distinguish it from the back. This is important because once the cover is removed from the figure it can be hard to tell which is which. 3. Remove the cover from the figure by unpinning all the seams and lay out the pieces flat on a table. 4. With right sides together, re-pin the cover along the stitch lines, matching up the balance marks. Continued

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Stretch fabrics

Non-stretch fabrics

5. Sew the seams together using a small zigzag or overlock stitch.

5. Sew the seams together using a small straight stitch.

6. Press the seams together with an iron, easing out any small wrinkles. 7. Using a small pair of sharp scissors, trim the seam allowance 2–3 mm away from the stitch line. Iron the seams towards the back and hand tack in place. This will prevent the seams from becoming twisted when the cover is pulled onto the figure and can be removed once in position.

7. Using a small pair of sharp scissors, trim the seam allowance 1 cm away from the stitch line. Press the seams open using a ham or ironing mitten.

8. Finish the hem of the cover with pinking shears, zigzag or overlocking. Do not finish the neck edge, but leave the snipped tabs raw and intact.

Tailors tack marking the front of the cover Balance mark Marking between the seam allowance

Figure 3.17 Marking the stitch lines onto a cover for machine sewing.

display fabric at the centre back, neatly fold in one raw edge and slipstitch over the top of the other. Drop the finished neck onto the figure making sure that all unfinished edges are concealed. Secure in place using ladder or slipstitch and a curved needle.

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Stitching stretch and non-stretch covers by hand 1. Leaving the cover pinned to the figure, tack the seams together using small stitches and a heavy weight thread. 2. Trim the seams with staggered edges. The back seam allowance (side of the seam nearest the back of the figure) should be cut as close to the tacking stitches as possible. The front seam allowance (side of the seam nearest the front of the figure) should be trimmed to approximately 1/2 cm. 3. Working on one seam at a time, push the front 1/2 cm seam allowance over the top of the back seam allowance so that it is fully covered. Fold under the raw edge and slipstitch in place. When making stretch foundation/under-covers or stitching areas that will be hidden beneath the line of the costume, do not waste time folding in the edge, but simply herringbone the raw edge flat. 4. Remove tacking stitches and press lightly by running a warm iron over the seams on the figure.

Figure 3.18 Back of figure

Slip stitch

Seams trimmed with staggered edges Small tacking stitches

Stitching covers together As a general rule, using a sewing machine to stitch together the seams of stretch and non-stretch covers is more effective than hand stitching. Seams sewn together by machine are neater, stronger, quicker and achieve a more professional finish. However, if you do not have access to a machine or you would prefer to sew by hand, this is also possible. The following instructions detail the different machine and hand stitching methods that can be used to make up figure covers.

Stitching covers by hand.

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Making covered neck discs 1. Take a pattern of the top of the neck by pinning a piece of tissue over it and tracing off the oval or circular shape. Mark on the centre front and centre back. 2. Remove the tissue pattern and even out the oval/circle. Join the centre front and centre back marks with a ruler. 3. Transfer the markings onto a piece of museum board and cut out the shape. 4. Lay the card on a piece of polyester wadding and trim around it leaving an overlap of approximately 1 cm. Make sure the centre front and centre back pencil line is visible. 5. With a needle and thread, secure the wadding in place by catching stitches through the wadding from side to side across the back of the card. Work all the way around the circle, pulling the thread tight so the wadding fits snugly. 6. Lay the padded shape onto a piece of top fabric matching the grain of the fabric to the centre front and centre back line. Fold the fabric around the shape and whipstitch to the wadding. 7. Position the disk on top of the neck with the grain running from centre front and centre back. Fasten in place using ladder or slipstitch and a curved needle. Use a sturdy thread and pull each stitch as tight as possible.

Figure 3.19 Making covered neck discs.

Holding the wadding in place with long catch stitches

C B

Whipstitch

Polyester wadding

C F

Top fabric

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Figure 3.20 Evening dress designed by Hubert de Givenchy. 1955. French. T.223-1974. Mounted on a modern dress stand made by Proportion London. To keep the strapless gown in position, the figure was carefully padded up, then recovered in a non-stretch, fitted, calico cover, to hide the padding and match the other exhibition figures.

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4 Padding up the To r s o

I

t is a well-recognised fact that the size and shape of human bodies have significantly changed over the last few hundred years. There are several things that may have contributed to these developments such as diet, health and exercise. For men, these kinds of sociological influences are likely to be the primary causes of such alterations, but for women, the use of underwear and in particular corsets, has played a far more significant role in the evolution of the female figure. Although there is some argument as to when corsets were introduced, the first that have any relevance to costume mounting, date back to the sixteenth century. Although corsets at this time were known as ‘a pair of bodies’ and were fairly simple in construction, the fundamental purpose was the same – to mould the female body into the fashionable shape of the day. From this period onwards, variations of this structural undergarment were worn until well into the twentieth century. Nowadays most clothes are manufactured to standard sizes, but even contemporary dress mounted on modern mannequins of equivalent dimensions can require adjustments to improve their fit. For female dress, dating earlier than 1960, modern figures are generally an unsuitable shape and this disparity increases significantly for garments from the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Consequently, when using contemporary mannequins as mounts for historical costumes, figures must be adapted to the correct period silhouette. This can be done by applying layers of padding to a torso and effectively sculpting it into the correct form. The following pages will introduce the basic padding techniques required to convert and adapt modern torsos. The chapter will go on to look in greater detail at the chronological development of human body shapes, explaining how padding can be used to create different silhouettes.

Figure 4.1 Cream corset. 1820s–1830s. British. T.57-1948. Mounted on a modern polystyrene figure, considerably cut down and re-padded to fit the garment. 75

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As the use of corsetry imposed such dramatic changes on the female figure, particular attention will be given to this subject. This chapter will explore how corsets affected the body during different periods of history and the best way to pad contemporary torsos to create these shapes. Although concentrating on the adaptation of modern figures, the same principles can be applied to most display mounts, no matter what kind of support is being used. For example e v e n when purchasing an off-the-peg figure, carving a Plastazote®/Ethofoam® form, working with a Perspex® mount maker or having a customised mannequin made, it is equally important to have an understanding of the kind of corset that would have been worn beneath a costume and how this would have affected the body.

T h e Te c h n i q u e s o f A p p l y i n g P a d d i n g t o a To r s o

1. Trying the costume on the figure Having selected a figure of an appropriate size and style, the first step is to try the costume on. Remember that it is essential to choose a torso that is considerably smaller than the costume, so that there is room to develop a new silhouette. Instructions for dressing techniques can be found on p. 5. In some cases, the garment may be too fragile to attempt a preliminary trial on an unpadded torso. If this is the case, an accurate toile or copy must be made and substituted for the original (see Chapter 2). 2. Taking measurements Once the costume is dressed on the figure, stand back and examine it carefully from all sides. With no underpinnings to support the skirt, trousers or sleeves and a torso that does not fit, the costume will not look its best. As it is harmful for any garment to be repeatedly taken on and off a mannequin, it is important to gather as much information about its mounting requirements while it is on the figure. To avoid unnecessary fittings in the future, detailed measurements and notes need to be taken and although this chapter specifically deals with the torso, these should also include specifications for underpinnings. One of the most straightforward ways of recording data is to draw a simple front and back diagram of the figure and costume on to which the dimensions can be marked (see Figure 4.2). Use a fixed point of reference to take measurements from, such as the top of the neck. At this stage, it is also useful to make a quick bodice toile of the costume, which will help reduce the handling of the object during the padding process (see p. 37). Constructing a quick toile, however roughly made, can be particularly useful when dealing with weak textiles or garments that are difficult to dress. It can also be a valuable tool for

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36 cm

Figure 4.2

Shoulder length

12 cm 18 cm

Across front and back

32 cm

Simple diagram of a costume on the figure with useful dimensions.

30 cm

61 cm 64 cm 50 cm Bust point 52 cm to point 43 cm 45 cm

18 cm

17 cm Level of waist Level of hip

7 cm 18 cm

7 cm 18 cm

Level of bottom

Lower waist by 5cm

7 22

18

+7

Lower bust by 4.5cm

beginners, who will find padding a torso less daunting if they can gauge their progress with repeated toile fittings. 3. Estimating the padding Once the basic measurements have been taken, consideration can be given to the amount and positioning of padding that the figure requires. The way in which a torso is padded to fit a costume will be determined not only by the size of the garment, but by the fashionable shape of the period it belongs to. Techniques for creating different historical body shapes can be found later in

Figure 4.3 12

Diagram shaded to indicate the required figure padding.

15 30 27

26

26

18 17 14

+8 17

16 19

14 1 layer of padding 2 layers of padding 3 layers of padding

+6

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the chapter. To keep costume fittings to a minimum, it is essential to gather and record detailed information about the amount, positioning and shape of the required padding. Using the same figure diagrams as before, shade the areas where padding is needed. To make sure that padding will be correctly orientated, take additional measurements. For example, if the back of the costume needs filling out, mark how far down from the top of the neck the padding should be applied. It is also important to gauge the size and shape of individual areas of padding. To do this, study the construction of the costume. The line of the seams and the form of the bodice panels will usually indicate the shape and size of the pieces of padding. Once this phase has been completed, the costume can be removed from the figure. 4. Applying polyester wadding to a figure The material most commonly recommended for use as padding when preparing figures for display is thermally bonded polyester wadding. This product is cheap, easy to source and can be purchased in a variety of different thicknesses or weights. The best results tend to be achieved with a finer grade (approximately

Figure 4.4 How to apply polyester wadding to a figure.

(a) Cut wadding to shape.

(c) Pin and stitch wadding in place.

(b) Feather out edges by pulling wadding between finger and thumb.

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1.5 cm thick), as this is easier to control and manipulate. As polyester wadding is very fibrous, a dust mask should be worn when working with this material and any costume within close proximity should be protected by layers of tissue paper or a dustsheet. Using wadding to adapt a figure is similar to the process of sculpting with clay. Keeping the padding as smooth and firm as possible, the aim is to build up the torso by applying layers of wadding until it is exactly the right shape and size to fit the costume. The amount of wadding required will depend on the individual costume. In some cases very little will be used, while in others, the entire figure may need covering in several layers of padding. Rather than attempting to wrap large quantities of wadding around a figure, the padding should be cut and applied in smaller pieces. To assist with this process, it is useful mentally to divide the figure into separate sections, slicing the torso in half at the waist and dealing individually with front, back and sides above the waistline, and tummy, hips and bottom below. In addition, the bust, shoulders and neck can be treated as separate areas. With reference to the diagrams and measurements previously noted, each piece of wadding is cut individually to size. When working on the bust or sides of the body where duplicate padding is required, cut one piece to size and use it as a template for the second. In this way, the shape of the body will be kept as even as possible. Before fastening padding in position, the edges of each piece should be teased and feathered out so that it can be applied smoothly to the figure, avoiding visible joins. Once this has been done, pin the padding to the figure, stretching slightly to keep it taut and firm and stitch securely in place using a curved needle and a large herringbone stitch. Repeating this technique, further pieces of padding can be applied until the figure is the right size and shape for the costume. 5. Costume fittings Once the padding has been completed, it is usually necessary to try the costume on the figure to check that it is the correct shape before continuing. To prevent the fibrous wadding from getting onto the garment, padding must be isolated by a temporary covering of tissue paper, spider tissue or fabric. Making use of stretch fabric for this job is quick and easy. Tights are generally the best choice, as the material they are made from will mould to the figure, without requiring additional shaping. Rather than using the trunk of the tights, it is often easier to construct a longer tube made out of three or more pairs of legs, slit open and stitched together (p. 59). If necessary one end of the tube can be seamed together to create shoulders, leaving a gap for the neck. Making one of these tubes and keeping it on hand for this purpose will save time in the future, as it can be repeatedly reused for other costume fittings. 6. Finishing the figure

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Once the padding has been checked and any final alterations or additions carried out, the figure can be finished with a permanent fabric cover (see Chapter 3).

Creating Female Historical Body Shapes Introduction to the corseted figure When preparing historical dress for display, it is sometimes thought necessary to use replica corsets as a means of creating an appropriate body shape. Without pattern-cutting experience, however, making a well-fitting period corset for a living person is not straightforward. Reversing the process and attempting to construct one to fit beneath an already existing costume is even more complicated. As well as this, the heavily boned structure of a corset can make a hard and unsympathetic foundation for a costume, particularly those on long-term display. In view of such issues, using these undergarments for mounting projects is not recommended. Instead the shape of a corseted figure should be created and evolved using padding, which provides a soft but firm support for the costume to rest on. The range of body shapes created by corsetry from the eighteenth to the twentieth century is diverse and it is essential to match the correct period silhouette to the costume. Padding a figure with polyester wadding so that it fits a garment will not be enough, as it is possible to do this and still fail to create the correct silhouette. In order to pad a female torso successfully, it is important to understand what happens physically to a human figure when a corset of a particular date is worn. For this reason, it is always advisable to prepare beforehand by studying relevant reference images such as portraits, fashion plates, historical pattern-cutting diagrams and underwear books, to ensure that you are familiar with the body shape of the period. The following section looks at the chronological development of corsets and demonstrates the general techniques of adapting modern figures using padding, to create different historical silhouettes. As every costume will vary in shape and size, the amount of padding required will obviously differ. The diagrams and instructions should therefore be used as an indication rather than as an exact description of where padding is required. The same principles can be usefully applied to any mounting project involving a female corseted figure, whether it entails working with padding or other materials.

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A brief history of eighteenth century stays During the 1700s, corsets were known as ‘stays’. Though there were some variations and developments to the shape and style of this undergarment, the stays did not radically change during this period. For the purposes of costume mounting, the basic body silhouette remains fairly constant until the last ten years of the century. Stays were rigid in construction, stiffened with whalebone and made out of fabrics such as cotton and linen. Below the level of the waist, stays were slit into tabs, liberating the flesh and preventing the garment from digging into the body. The function of the stays was to mould the figure into the shape of an inverted cone, incorporating a long, straight centre front line that finished in a point well below the level of the waist. The stays effectively elevated the position of the bust, curbing the natural form, by flattening and displacing it upwards. By the 1750s, several curved bones had been added at the front of the stays to help control the chest and compress it into a smooth bowed line. The back of the garment was cut high, keeping the figure rigid and straight. This helped to draw the shoulders back, which in turn pushed the bust forward. The waist was pulled in at the sides, reducing the width and making it appear smaller. The neatness of the waist was further emphasised by the wearing of exaggerated paniers, side hoops and hip pads. This basic silhouette and firm structure was maintained for the first two thirds of the century. With the abandonment of the fashionable side hoops in the 1770s, changes to the bodice also began to occur. Stays became less rigid and a slightly more fluid shape developed. During the 1780s, the centre front point of the bodice rose back up to the natural level of the waist and greater emphasis was placed on the bust. By the mid-1790s, the waistline had risen into the neo-classically inspired Empire line and lighter stays were worn. These were usually less densely boned, with particularly narrow backs and enough structure to lift and control the bust.

The techniques of applying padding to create an eighteenth century body shape Without the use of structured underwear, the natural shape of the female figure is oval. Stays from the eighteenth century alter the body by pushing the sides of the upper torso inwards. Like a balloon, once the sides are squeezed closer together, the front and back will begin to expand, changing the body from an oval to a cylindrical shape. To alter a modern figure into this corseted silhouette, padding must be principally applied to the front of the figure, leaving the sides above the waist relatively bare. Some padding should also be

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Figure 4.5

(a)

Creating an eighteenth century figure with padding.

Using pins or tacking mark key dimensions onto the figure, such as the level of the bust and waist and the point to point measurement.

(b) Start work on the bust by establishing the bust points using two small circles of wadding approximately 6 cm in diameter. Feather out the wadding and pin in place. Before stitching down completely, inflate the points by stuffing with scraps of wadding.

(c) Begin to build up the bust with graded circles of wadding, positioned over the top of the bust points. To reduce the prominence of the original chest, do not apply any padding to this area until it has been levelled off. Flatten out the bust definition by applying a larger piece of wadding across the chest, leaving the top half of the breasts uncovered.

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(d) Build up the side hips of the figure below the level of the waist.

(e) Work on the front of the figure, building it up to match the bust. Mould the torso into a cylindrical shape by applying the padding in graded pieces. To reproduce the straight line of eighteenth century stays, padding can be applied in long pieces that cover the figure above and below the waist. Padding may also be required to smooth out the line of the figure from shoulders to bust.

(f) Straighten up the line of the back with padding beginning by filling out the small of the back. Apply further wadding in larger, graded pieces to create a cylindrical shape.

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Figure 4.6 Eighteenth century stays made in pale pink linen. 1780–1790. British. T.172-1914. Mounted on a modern dress stand before padding.

Figure 4.7 Stays mounted on the same figure after padding.

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added to the back to straighten the vertical line of the figure and to help create the characteristic cylindrical shape. The original location and shape of the bust must be radically altered. The bust points are raised and positioned closer together and the front chest considerably filled out, making the shoulders appear to be pushed back. Padding should also be applied below the level of the waist to bulk out the hips, where the tabs of the stays allowed the surplus flesh to bulge.

A brief history of nineteenth century corsets The evolution of corsetry during the 1800s was far more diverse than in the previous century and consequently changes to the female silhouette occur more frequently. The early years were marked by the distinctive high-waisted dresses that had come into fashion at the end of the eighteenth century and during this time lightweight stays were commonly worn to control the figure. The waistline continued to rise, reaching its peak in 1815, gradually descending after this date. By the 1820s, additional triangular gussets were inserted into the top of corsets, either side of the central busk, allowing a rounder more separated bust shape to develop. To accommodate the fullness of the hips, gussets were also added to the bottom of the corset, replacing the eighteenth century tabs. During the second half of the 1820s, the waistline sank back to its natural level and corsets became more structured, with emphasis on a small waist and a more curvaceous silhouette. This body shape, so typical of the nineteenth century, was assisted by the hip and bust gussets, which allowed the figure to swell out above and below the increasingly pinched-in waist. This fashionable profile continued to develop throughout the 1830s and 1840s. Corsetry was improved by the invention of metal eyelet holes in 1823, which enabled garments to be laced more tightly and efficiently, forcing women’s figures into more exaggerated shapes. A slight drop in the level of the waistline during the 1840s lent some variety to this period. By the 1850s, skirt dimensions had become so enormous that the waist of the figure could not fail to look small by comparison. As a result, shorter and less substantial corsets were adopted and tight lacing was allowed to relax to some extent. The waistline, which had returned to its natural level during the 1850s, shifted once again early in the next decade, rising slightly above the waist. During the 1870s this dropped back once more, to accommodate the longer close-fitting bodices that were coming into fashion at this time. By 1875, the Cuirasse bodice had become fashionable and dresses were cut to fit tightly over the figure as far down as the hips. To create an appropriate foundation for these garments, corsets were elaborately cut and once again became

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longer and heavier. In about 1873 the spoon busk was introduced, curving into the waist and out over the lower abdomen, forming a rounded plumpness at the front of the torso. This body shape continued throughout most of the 1880s. With the bustle discarded, the final decade of the century was marked by an alteration in the general silhouette. The female torso now lost some of its curvaceousness, and corsets were cut with a straight front. Particular emphasis was placed on a small waist and to achieve this effect, underwear was more tightly laced than ever.

The techniques of applying padding to create nineteenth century body shapes The general construction of corsets from the nineteenth century tends to focus on reducing the size of the waist. This in turn increases the swell of the hips and bust, creating a far more voluptuous silhouette compared to that of the previous century. In order to keep the waist looking as narrow as possible, when adapting a figure, padding should be principally applied to the front and back of the torso, leaving the side waist relatively free. As with the previous century the level of the bust is raised, but its shape is very different. Rather than confining it with heavy bones, the introduction of gussets or shaping either side of the central busk, gives the chest room for expansion. The bust points are therefore positioned further apart and padding used to create a more independently defined shape. The construction of corsets over the hips acts in a similar way and padding should be used in this area to build a smooth, rounded shape. With the introduction of strapless corsets early in the century, the fashionable line of the shoulders became more sloping. When necessary, padding can be used to adapt this part of the figure (see p. 52). 1800s–1820s: The high waists of the Empire line tend to add confusion to this transition period. Borrowing from the previous century, costumes are often cut astonishingly narrow across the back, with a full and rounded bust. The circumference of the diaphragm can also be tiny, making it difficult to find modern figures small enough for use with these costumes. Using a child’s torso instead is often a practical solution, as this will combine a narrow back as well as a small diaphragm. Padding should be concentrated on the front of the figure, rather than the back or sides, creating a high well-defined bust. 1820s–1850s: The curvaceous body shape of this period becomes increasingly exaggerated as the waist is more tightly laced and the hip and bust shaping in corsets is developed (see Figure 4.1). Depending on the date of the costume, padding should reflect this development. The small waists created by these corsets often mean that modern figures are too large to be used as mounts. Unfortunately children’s torsos are also unsuitable, as the waist sizes are like-

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Figure 4.8 Cream satin corset made by Edwin Izod with spoon busk and slot-and-stud fastening. 1887. British. T.265-1960. Mounted on a cut down polystyrene figure, before padding.

Figure 4.9 Corset mounted on the same figure after padding.

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Figure 4.10

(a)

Creating an 1820s–1850s figure with padding.

Using pins or tacking mark key dimensions onto the figure, such as the level of the bust and waist and the point to point measurement.

(b) Start work on the bust by establishing the bust points using two small circles of wadding approximately 6 cm in diameter. Feather out the wadding and pin in place. Before stitching down completely, inflate the points by stuffing with scraps of wadding.

(c) Begin to build up the bust with graded circles of wadding, positioned over the top of the bust points. To reduce the prominence of the original chest, do not apply any padding to this area until it has been levelled off. Develop the bust into a well-defined shape, remembering that the central busk and gussets of nineteenth century corsets separated the breasts and allowed them greater fullness. Cut the wadding into oval pieces to help give the upper figure a more triangular silhouette from bust line to waist. 88

(d) Build up the side hips of the figure below the level of the waist. Padding should also be added to the upper sides of the torso, avoiding the waist if possible.

(e) Work on the front of the figure, building it up as necessary. Apply the wadding in graded pieces to create a more cylindrical shape. Padding may also be required to smooth out the line of the figure from shoulders to bust.

(f) Use padding to build up the back as necessary, focusing in particular on creating a rounder plumper bottom.

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wise generally too big. For this reason, figures may need to be cut down before they can be shaped with padding or it may be necessary to purchase a torso from a specialist supplier. See Figure 4.10 for padding instructions. 1850s and 1860s: The same general body shape persists, but as the corsets become less tightly laced during the 1850s, costumes from this period tend to be slightly larger. For this reason, using modern figures as mounts can be less problematic, though there are always exceptions. When preparing torsos with

Figure 4.11 Applying padding to the area below the front waist in order to develop the distinctive rounded shape created by the spoon busk.

padding, it is important to remember that the level of the waist needs to be raised slightly for garments from the early 1860s to early 1870s. 1870s and 1880s: With the Cuirasse bodice in vogue early in the 1870s, the close fit of dresses from shoulder to hip, puts greater emphasis on the shape of the body below the level of the waist. The invention of the spoon busk played a large part in moulding the front of the lower torso, dipping into the waist and out over the lower abdomen creating a distinctive, rounded stomach. As the shape of the hips, bottom and stomach will all be visible beneath the costume, as much care must be taken to pad the lower part of the torso as the upper (see Figures 4.8, 4.9 and 4.11). 1890s: By the 1890s, the front of the corset had become straighter and the rounded tummy created by the curved spoon busk had disappeared. Padding should be used to emphasise the bust and hips, keeping the waist as small as possible to reflect the tightly laced corsets worn at this time.

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A brief history of twentieth century corsets The beginning of the twentieth century saw the arrival of one of the most notorious foundation garments yet invented. The tightly laced, S-bend corset achieved its shape by maintaining a rigidly straight centre front, which in turn thrust the hips and bottom backwards and the bust forwards. Corsets began to be cut below the bust, leaving the bosom relatively unsupported and allowing the level of the chest to drop. Reaching its peak at around 1905, the corset then began to lose some of its severity and a less extreme shape began to develop. Towards the end of the first decade a straight, slim figure became the accepted silhouette. To help achieve this tubular shape, corsets were considerably lengthened, extending far down the figure to smooth out the line of the hips. The slightly raised waistline that became fashionable around 1909 put greater emphasis on the bust, requiring more support for this part of the body. This was achieved using a bust bodice or brassi`ere. This garment subsequently continued to develop throughout the twentieth century. During the First World War, corsets became shorter, less heavily boned and more comfortable to wear. The brassi`ere continued to be used as a support until the early 1920s, when it took on the new function of flattening the bust. Initially still worn in combination with a straight corset that ran from the waist to the hips, these two garments were soon combined into one called the corselette, helping to create the flat boyish figure fashionable at the time. By 1928, the female figure had re-emerged and more natural curves had come into fashion. The brassi`ere now separated the breasts and was used once more as a support rather than a garment that flattened. New advances in elasticated materials allowed the figure to be held smoothly in position by underwear rather than defined by heavy boning and lacing. The frugality of the war years did nothing to advance the development of underwear. By 1942, materials were difficult to obtain and the utility scheme had been introduced, effectively putting a halt to any new innovations. As rationing continued for several years after the war ended, underwear continued to be made as before. In 1947, Christian Dior’s new look was the herald of change and once restrictions began to be lifted, developments in foundation garments could be used to help form the new silhouette. Small waists, large hips and a well-defined and pointed bust became fashionable. Waists were controlled by tightly fitting undergarments such as girdles and the bust lifted and accentuated by specially made bras. Both the bust and the hips were sometimes padded to help create the correct shape. By the 1960s, the hourglass figure had run its course. The bust became less conspicuous and a more a natural shape evolved. Body stockings, made from the newly invented manmade Lycra were often worn, giving the body smooth, comfortable and natural looking support. The arrival of the miniskirt by the mid-sixties encouraged a more

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Figure 4.12

(a)

Creating a 1900s S-bend figure with padding.

Start work on the bust, developing a pronounced mono-bosom by applying long rounded rectangles of wadding across the chest. Remember that the level of the bust is often positioned fairly low.

(b) Develop the straight front line of the figure by cutting out triangular shapes of wadding and positioning them from the projecting bust to below the waist. Padding should also be used to smooth out the large expanse of chest above the bust. Build up the side hips of the figure below the level of the waist, making sure that the majority of padding is concentrated on the back half of the hips rather than the front.

(c) Work on the back of the figure developing a prominent bottom. Padding should also be applied to the upper part of the torso, developing a more curvaceous line from shoulders to waist and out over the bottom.

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minimalist approach to undergarments. Girdles and corsets were generally discarded and increasingly separate bras and briefs were worn. This attitude to underwear was carried forward into the 1970s and has continued through to the present day.

The techniques of applying padding to create twentieth century body shapes It is not possible to generalise about the body shape during this century as changes in the style and use of underwear were so extreme. Instead, the silhou-

ette of the figure must be broken down into relevant decades and treated individually. 1900s: The infamous S-bend corset created a figure unlike anything that had preceded it. To adapt a torso successfully, padding should be applied principally to the bust, hips and bottom. Begin with the upper body, using padding to develop a pronounced mono-bosom. As this part of the figure was relatively unsup-

Figure 4.13

ported by the corset, the level of the bust is generally positioned fairly low. Once the chest has been built up, padding can be applied to the front of the figure forming a straight line that slants from the protruding chest to the waist and beyond. Keep the waist as small as possible with any padding applied to the front and back of the figure rather than the sides. Finally, the hips and bottom of the figure can be built up. Padding should be concentrated on the back half of the hips, creating a smooth, plump shape from one hip to the other, around the backside.

Figure 4.14

Adapting a modern bust with padding to create a flattened 1920s chest.

Using padding to drop the level of the bust.

Original bust level

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Figure 4.15

1920s: As costumes from this period are relatively unfitted, attention is generally concentrated on giving the bust a flattened appearance. This can be done by simply filling in the void area between the two breasts with padding. A final layer is applied across the chest to soften any remaining definition. If the figure is particularly well endowed, it may be necessary to cut away some of the bust before adapting it with padding. 1930s and 1940s: Underwear worn beneath garments from these two decades contributed to a more natural shaped figure. Bras were commonly worn to support the bust

Black nylon and rayon corset, made by Edith Corsetière. 1950s. British. T.137-2000. Corset mounted on a modern dress stand made by Proportion London and padded up to fit the garment.

Figure 4.16 Creating a 1950s figure with padding. (a) To create a pointed bust, cut two oval shaped pieces of wadding. Snip a triangular dart either side of the central point and whipstitch the cut lines together.

Stitch together

Cut out triangles

Whipstitch openings together to create bust shape

(b)

(c)

Position the shaped bust pads onto the figure, feathering out the edges and pinning in place. Before stitching down completely, stuff with scraps of wadding. Build up the front of the figure as necessary, applying the wadding in graded pieces to create a more cylindrical shape.

Build up the side hips of the figure below the level of the waist.

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(d)

(e)

Apply padding to the area below the front waist to develop a slightly rounded tummy.

Work on the back of the figure focusing on developing a prominent rounded bottom.

and although these worked in much the same way that they do nowadays, the bust line of clothes from this period is often positioned lower than it is today. For this reason, figures prepared for costumes from the 1930s and 1940s frequently need simple bust adaptations to drop the level of the breasts. Padding can be used to reshape this part of the body, blending in naturally with the original figure. 1950s: To create the distinctive hourglass body shape of the 1950s, a modern torso will generally require a considerable amount of reshaping. With the waist kept as small as possible, padding is concentrated on the bust, hips and bottom. In addition, padding will often be required to create a small tummy, which was typically created by the pinched-in waist. Although the level of the bust is not generally dissimilar to that of the modern figure, the shape of the breasts will need developing into more pronounced and conical points. This can be simply achieved by shaping the padding before application (see Figure 4.16(a)).

Creating Male Historical Body Shapes Introduction to the male figure There is little doubt that mounting male outfits for display is generally less complicated than preparing female costumes. Not only are the underpinnings required to support male dress less diverse, but the shapes of men’s bodies are also subject to far less variation. This major difference between the figures of men and women is inevitably caused by the custom of wearing corsets or stays, which artificially controlled and shaped women’s figures for several hundred

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years. Although there is evidence that men also periodically wore corsets, this practice was not universal and their bodies were largely left unrestricted by foundation underwear. In spite of this, some changes to the male physique have occurred, but these probably have more to do with natural evolution, diet, employment and exercise. In general, male costume from the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries tends to be on a smaller scale than modern dress. In particular chests and shoulders are not as broad and the ‘across back’ measurement is frequently smaller. For this reason, using modern figures as mounts for male historical costume is not necessarily straightforward. However, figures can usually be adapted to accommodate these differences and this section will offer some suggestions that can assist with such alterations. A brief history of male dress Throughout the last three hundred years, male costume has developed fairly slowly. Changes are generally subtle and tracing the chronological evolution tends to be far less clear-cut than following the development of fashionable female dress. During the early eighteenth century, men’s clothes maintained the same cut and style as those worn at the end of the previous century. Male attire was principally made up of a coat, waistcoat and breeches. These garments had come into fashion around 1660 and though initially cut very loosely, soon became closer fitting. Coats at this time were generally worn open to display the waistcoat and shirt. By 1690, a more conspicuous change in male dress was developing. The body of the coat became tighter while the skirts of both coats and waistcoats increased in fullness, creating an ‘A’ line effect. During the next few decades, the skirts continued to grow, to some extent mirroring the fashion in women’s gowns for wide hoops and paniers. To create the fuller shape, coat skirts were pleated at the sides and stiffened or padded. Britches were cut to fit over the knee, but were almost invisible beneath the upper garments. The fashion for wide skirted coats continued to develop, peaking around the middle of the 1740s. This marked the beginning of a new phase of male dress. Henceforward, the width of coat skirts gradually diminished and continued to narrow throughout the second half of the century. The pleating at the sides, moved towards the back and the front edges of coats began to be cut away in a bold arching line. The waistcoat evolved slowly, rising to mid thigh by the 1750s, the top of the thigh by the 1770s and to just below the level of the waist by the 1780s. Changes to the breeches did not occur until later. During the greater part of the century, this garment continued to be fashioned in the same way, with fairly close fitting legs, a low front waist, high back and baggy bottom. By the last decade of the century, however, breeches were being cut in longer, closer fitting styles and pantaloons were being worn.

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Figure 4.17 Coat made of brown wool. 1830s. British. T.18-1918. Mounted on a modern papier mâché dress stand made by Proportion London. Figure cut back in a ‘V’ shape below the level of the front hem of the jacket. Padding was applied to the front and back of the figure to create a good fit and used to reshape the shoulders into a sloping line.

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Throughout the second half of the century, the fashionable male shape continued to develop into a slimmer, more natural silhouette. Men’s clothes became simpler and plainer, exposing the figure to a greater extent. By the end of the century, the original skirt of the coat had shrunk away to little more than a tail. During the nineteenth century, developments in male costume were particularly subtle, making costume from this period difficult to date. Emphasis was placed on good tailoring and the bright colours and decoration of the previous century were replaced by more sober shades. During the first years of the new century, the prevailing male fashion was for tight knee breeches or pantaloons, worn with close fitting tail-coats. By the mid-1820s, trousers, which had been introduced early in the century, were regularly worn. These garments were held in a smooth, straight line by a strap fitted beneath the foot. At the same time, a pronounced rounded chest became fashionable and the fronts of coats and waistcoats were often padded to create a fuller form. The slope of the male shoulder also became more exaggerated. In the second half of the century, the fashion in formal wear was for fitted garments such as the frock and morning coats. The lounge jacket was introduced as a less tailored garment that could be used for informal daywear. By the 1860s, this had developed into the three-piece suit, consisting of waistcoat, trousers and jacket in matching fabric. At the same time a number of new styles came into use, designed specifically for sportswear. Some of these infiltrated fashionable dress, helping to develop a more relaxed style. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the reputation of the frockcoat was waning and the morning coat was more frequently worn. The lounge suit was also well established and fast gaining in popularity, and by the mid-1920s, this suit had become the most commonly worn male outfit. Inspired by Prince Edward, men’s clothes were more comfortable during this decade. Soft shirt collars and wider trousers were worn and knitted sweaters became fashionable. By the 1930s, suits had developed a square-cut style, with wider padded shoulders and narrow fitted hips. With the onset of the Second World War, men’s clothes were forced to accommodate the limitations imposed by rationing and the utility scheme. Clothes were simplified and the amount of fabric reduced where possible, cutting down on pleats and banning unnecessary turn-ups. Once released from these restrictions, advances in male fashion could once more develop. Ironically in the 1950s, this included the new but retrospective style of the Teddy Boy which borrowed both its name and long narrow look from the Edwardian period. By the 1960s, fashion designers had begun to modernise the cut and style of men’s suits and men’s garments had developed the same fast changing characteristics as women’s wear.

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Figure 4.18 Brown pinstripe suit, designed by Radford Jones. 1937. British. T.29-1993. Due to the small dimensions of the jacket and trousers, this outfit was mounted on a child-sized dress stand and padded up to fit.

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‘The techniques of mounting male dress’ Research Before starting work, research should be carried out to ascertain the manner in which the costume would have been worn and its general fit. For example, it is necessary to identify how tightly or loosely waistcoats and jackets from the relevant period were fitted to the figure and how they would have been fastened, if at all. The location of buttons will not necessarily clarify this point as they were sometimes applied for decorative rather than functional purposes, particularly in the latter half of the eighteenth century. If leg-wear is included in an outfit, research should also establish the correct position of breeches, pantaloons or trousers in relation to the rest of the suit. Adapting figures for historical dress Contemporary shaped mannequins are often too broad across shoulders, chest and back for historical male dress. For example, the fashionable shape of a man during the eighteenth century was the reverse of what it is today, favouring narrow shoulders and wider hips. To solve this problem, figures can be cut down, reducing the width of the upper torso (see p. 46). Alternatively a child’s figure can be selected and built up with padding to fit the costume. Surprisingly, the neck position on modern figures can also cause difficulties, preventing period jackets and waistcoats from sitting correctly on the shoulders. Minor adjustments using padding can often resolve this problem, but in extreme cases it may be necessary to cut the neck off and apply a new one in a more suitable position (see p. 54). Once the figure has been selected and any necessary structural adaptations carried out, padding can be applied to the torso to develop a suitable body shape. As the weight of jackets and waistcoats are often focused on the shoulders, a layer of polyester wadding needs to be applied to this area to create a soft cushion for the garment to rest on. For many historical costumes, the shoulders of the figure will also need reshaping, to modify the square frame of the modern torso into a more sloping line (see p. 52). To keep the figure looking slender, the majority of padding should generally be applied to the front and back of the torso rather than the sides. Use relevant historical images to ensure that the chest area is developed into the appropriate shape for the period. Consideration should also be given to the back of the torso, especially the upper half, which frequently requires some additional padding to create a smoother fit. For eighteenth century coats mounted as single garments, a certain amount of padding must also be applied to the bottom of the figure to simulate the baggy breeches that would have been worn beneath. If leg-wear is included as a part of an outfit, the size of the waist will be crucial. Padding can be used to alter the dimensions of the body to fit exactly and

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support the waistband of a pair of breeches or trousers, giving them something to fasten around and anchoring them in the correct position. Additional pads As male costume frequently consists of several layers of garments, such as waistcoats and jackets, worn one over another, the use of additional loose pads can be valuable when mounting these costumes. Loose pads are made as independent cushions that can be slipped between two separate parts of a suit, to smooth problem areas and improve the finished look of the top garment (see p. 165). Sleeve covers and costume liners When mounting male costumes, it is sometimes necessary to dress the sleeves of one garment over another. This can often occur with early eighteenth century outfits, as at this time, waistcoats worn beneath jackets, were made with full-length sleeves. The friction caused by dragging one sleeve over another may result in damage to both and always makes mounting difficult, putting costumes under additional strain. To ease dressing and minimise any risk, a pair of sleeve covers can be used to separate the two garments (see p. 112). For particularly fragile costume or those with heavy beading, embroidery or metal thread, it may also be necessary to make a costume liner to isolate the body of one garment from another. The simplest way to achieve this is to dress the lower garment onto the figure and take a pattern from it, using the quick toile method on p. 37. Once the pattern has been made, the costume liner can be constructed in a slippery fabric such a silk habotai. To ensure that the liner will not be seen, trim or fold back any parts of the fabric that may be visible when the upper garment is in place.

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I

f padding a torso to the correct shape is a vital part of costume mounting, underpinnings are equally crucial. Just as the shape of the torso supports and defines the bodice of a costume, the underpinnings support and define everything else, principally skirts, trousers and sleeves. This chapter addresses the production of underpinnings, providing simple methods to create all shapes and sizes of supports, from those for contemporary costume, to the more extreme historical shapes.

Sleeve Supports The importance of supporting the sleeves of a garment should not be underestimated when preparing costume for display. Sleeves that are inappropriately, inaccurately or inadequately mounted will not only put strain on the costume but will also spoil its appearance. As a general rule, if a garment is made with sleeves, then some kind of underpinning, shaped like an arm, should be made to support them. Even the sleeves of robust and modern tailored jackets often look better with something inside. For some costumes, it is the arm supports that will define and control the shape, style and length of the sleeves. An example of this is the rouched bias cut sleeves popular in the early nineteenth century. Mounted without the right sized support, these sleeves will hang down like two shapeless, elongated lengths of fabric, making the costume look absurd (see Figure 0.1 in the Introduction). Costume mounted on mannequins with solid arms may not need underpinnings, as the arms will provide sufficient support for the sleeves. Bear in mind however, that solid arms will not necessarily be the right size or shape for

Figure 5.1 Bodice and skirt made of green silk. C.1865. British. T.433-1976. Mounted on an offthe-peg, Victorian, fibreglass torso made by H&H Sculptors Ltd and padded to fit the costume. Underpinnings include soft sleeve supports and a crinoline frame with additional net frills and a top petticoat. 103

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Figure 5.2

Figure 5.3

Sleeve supports attached to a figure with additional net frills covered in silk habotai. Torso made by H & H Sculptors Ltd, customised to fit the costume with additional padding.

Floral print dress. 1835–1840. British. T.32-1940. Mounted on the torso shown in Figure 5.2 with the sleeves fully supported by the underpinnings. Additional skirt supports include a tube petticoat, net frills and top petticoat.

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

a historical costume and the fittings may not be suitable. In such cases, the limbs should be removed and substituted with custom-made sleeve supports. There are a variety of different ways of making sleeve supports. These include such methods as rolling polyester into arm shapes, stuffing the legs of tights with padding, carving Plastazote® and wrapping wadding around armature wire. No matter what technique is used, there are a number of issues common to all sleeve supports that are worth mentioning. For instance, supports should always be constructed with a slight bend at the elbow. Those that are made straight, with no elbow definition, tend to look unnatural and will do nothing to improve the appearance of the sleeves. It is also important to avoid over stuffing or making supports too large, as this looks equally unattractive and can be damaging to the costume. It is better to be cautious and produce sleeve supports that are slightly slimmer than may seem necessary. Consideration must also be given to the way the supports will be attached to the figure and how they will be fed into the sleeves of the costume. The sleeve support described in this chapter is constructed in the same way that a soft toy is made. The shape of the support is cut from fabric using a paper pattern, the shape is seamed together and finally stuffed with polyester wadding. Making a support in this way has many advantages. First and foremost, it creates a soft but robust arm with a natural shape that can be stitched firmly to the figure and manipulated in any direction. This makes dressing easier, reducing strain on the costume. Supports of this kind can also be customised to fit any sleeve size and as a pattern is used, it is easy to make an identical right and left arm. Finally, this method creates sleeve supports that are hard wearing and can be reused for numerous mounting projects. Adapting a pattern for a sleeve support Once the pattern has been scaled up to size, it can either be used as it is, or customised to suit an individual costume. To adapt the pattern, you will need to take the following measurements: From the costume

From the pattern

(a) The length of sleeve from the shoulder point to cuff, minus 1.5 cm. (b) The inside circumference of the cuff. This measurement is particularly important if you are mounting a costume with fitted cuffs. If the sleeves have a wide unfitted cuff, use the wrist measurement from the pattern. (c) The length of the pattern from the head to wrist line. (d) The width of the wrist line.

In order to construct a sleeve support that is the correct size for the costume, the measurements of the sleeve and the pattern must be compared to each other and the pattern adapted accordingly. To do this, start by comparing measurement (a) to measurement (c) in the above list. The pattern can be altered to the correct

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Figure 5.4 Patterns for male and female sleeve supports.

Shoulder dart

Shoulder dart

Back point

Back point

Front point

Front point

Straight of grain

Straight of grain

Elbow dart Elbow dart Wrist disc Wrist disc Scale = 5cm

Wrist line

Stitch line Wrist line

(a) Male sleeve support pattern.

(b) Female sleeve support pattern.

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length by raising or extending the wrist line. For example, if the sleeve of the costume is 4 cm shorter than the pattern, raise the line of the wrist on the pattern by 4 cm. Draw on the new wrist line with a pencil and ruler. In the same way, the pattern can be extended to accommodate longer sleeves, when this is the case you will also need to extend the sides of the pattern to match. Once the length of the pattern has been established, compare measurement (b) to measurement (d) and alter the pattern by increasing or decreasing the width of the wrist line. To keep the pattern symmetrical, adjustments should be carried out evenly on both sides and marked clearly with a pencil. New stitch lines are drawn connecting the altered wrist line to the underarm front and back points. To complete the pattern, raise or lower the level of the elbow dart in proportion to the alterations and add seam allowance. When mounting a costume that requires a fully fitted sleeve support (i.e. a bias cut rouched sleeve), it may be necessary to make additional width comparisons and alterations to the pattern. In doing this, the stitch lines may become curved and it is important to make sure that they remain equal in length. This pattern can also be adapted to produce supports for costumes with short sleeves, by considerably reducing the length.

Re-sizing the wrist disc If the width of the sleeve support has been altered, the pattern for the wrist disc will also need to be redrawn. It is often wise to postpone making adjustments to the disc until after the sleeve supports have been made and a fitting has taken place to finalise their length. The easiest way to draw a wrist disc is to use a compass. Measure the outside circumference of the sleeve support at the level of the wrist and divide this figure by 3.14 (π). To set the compass to the correct radius, divide this number in half and draw a circle. As human wrists are not actually circular, it may be preferable in some cases to adapt the disc into an oval; for example, the narrow cuffs of eighteenth century men’s coats are often better suited to this shape.

Making sleeve supports Feeding supports down the sleeves of a costume can be awkward, putting strain on the garment during dressing. To ease this process, supports should be made out of a slippery fabric to encourage the arms to slide down the sleeves. Silk habotai is particularly suitable and can be mounted onto firmer cotton fabrics such as calico or polycotton to make it more robust. To hide supports, it is advisable to select a fabric colour that roughly matches the inside of the sleeve.

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Making sleeve supports 1. Using the pattern as a template, cut out a right and left sleeve support. If necessary, back fine silks onto a layer of cotton to make them more robust (see Sewing Appendix). 2. Mark the pattern perimeter and darts onto the fabric using a tracing wheel. Thread trace the wrist line, so that it is visible on the front of the fabric. 3. With right sides together stitch in the shoulder and elbow darts. 4. Finish the head of the sleeve supports with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag. Leave the wrist ends unfinished in case of alterations. 5. With right sides together, fold each sleeve in half down the length and match up the stitch lines. Pin and stitch these seams in place. 6. Trim the seam allowance and press the seams.

Figure 5.5(a)

Shoulder point

Making a sleeve support. Shoulder dar t Finished head of sleeve

Elbow dar t

Stitch line

7. Turn the sleeve supports the right way out and stuff with polyester wadding. This can be done with scraps, but a far better finish is achieved using large pieces of wadding cut to shape. Use one of the unfilled supports as a template, laying it on top of the wadding face up and cutting around it leaving a 1 cm excess on all sides. Depending on how thick the wadding is, cut out a further two or three pieces. Lay the pieces on top of each other and loosely fasten together with large tacking stitches. With the under arm seam facing up, stuff the padding into the head of one of the supports as far as it will go. To make this easier, fold in the edges of the padding. From the wrist end of the support, take hold of the wadding and pull it down the arm until it is fully filled. Repeat this process for the second support. 8. Shape the wadding at the head of the sleeve support in the following way: using scissors, trim away any excess padding around the top of the support. Fold down the fabric so it is out of the way and continue to snip and sculpt

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

the wadding until it is formed into a reverse wedge shape (see Figure 5.5b). Make sure that enough is cut away from under the arms. This is essential, as it will allow the sleeve supports to hang flat to the sides of the figure, preventing them from sticking out unnaturally once they are attached.

Shoulder point

Figure 5.5(b)

Wadding snipped into a reverse wedge shape

Shaping the wadding at the head of the sleeve support.

Folded down fabric

9. To finish the other end, trim off any excess wadding and fold in the fabric along the wrist line marked with thread tracing. To check the length is correct, pin the supports to the figure and try the costume on. Make sure that all pins are pointing inwards so that the costume cannot snag. 10. Cut the wrist disc out of medium-weight museum board or Reemay® and cover with the support fabric. To do this, lay the disc on a piece of fabric and trim around it, leaving approximately 2 cm excess. With a needle and thread, secure it in place by catching it from side to side, pulling the thread tight until the fabric fits smoothly around the disc. 11. Slip stitch the disc to the end of the sleeve support.

Fabric folded in along the wrist line marked with thread tracing

Figure 5.5(c) Applying the wrist disc to the end of the sleeve support.

Trimmed wadding

Covered wrist disk

Continued

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12. To attach the sleeve supports, herringbone stitch to the shoulders of the figure, using a curved needle. Stitch only around the head of the support, leaving the underside to hang freely. If you are attaching sleeve supports to a fibreglass figure, cover the torso in a layer of stretch fabric first so there is something to fasten them to. Alternatively, cotton tapes can be wrapped around the figure like a harness and supports secured to these.

Figure 5.5(d) Attaching the sleeve supports to the figure.

Herringbone stitch arms to figure leaving underside to hang freely.

Supportive net frills Sleeves cut with exaggerated puffs, bells, bishops or flounces may need additional support. Originally, sleeves, such as the giant gigots of the 1830s, were often bolstered with cushion-like pads, stuffed with down. Today, historical costume makers are more likely to use net frills as a foundation and this technique can also be used when mounting costumes for display. Using net helps to keep sleeves looking light and airy and is more subtle than upholstered sleeve pads. More importantly, the insubstantial nature of the material means that it can be crushed and passed through narrow armholes with relative ease, springing back into shape once released. Net frills are used in conjunction with sleeve supports and a pair of these must be prepared for the costume, before starting work on the frills. To make a net frill for a sleeve, you will need the following measurements: (a) The approximate length of the puff or flounce. (b) The approximate circumference of the puff or flounce at its fullest, minus 10–20 cm.

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

Using measurement (a) and (b) from above, cut out two rectangles of lightweight nylon net. Gather the net and hand stitch it to the sleeve support to create a puff or frill that mirrors the location and dimensions on that of the sleeve. This will vary according to the costume. For example, supports made for puffed or gigot sleeves must be gathered both at the top and bottom of the net rectangle. The gathered net should then be arranged around the sleeve support, reflecting the position of the puff on the costume, and be stitched firmly in place through the top and bottom gathers. Supports made for sleeves with flounces or frills will need gathering and fastening at one end only, but once again, care should be taken to attach the net to the sleeve support in the correct position. To prevent the costume from catching or snagging on the raw edges of the net, a layer of fine silk or cotton is applied over the top. The top fabric is cut fractionally larger than the net and gathered and applied in the same way. Finish all raw edges with pinking, zigzag or overlocking, ensuring the fabric overlaps the edges of the net. Alternatively the fabric can be mounted onto the net and the two layers gathered up as one. When supporting sheer fabrics such as the lace flounces found on the sleeves of eighteenth century gowns, a conservation grade net should ideally be substituted for more standard varieties. This material is so fine that it is almost invisible and its edges can be left raw without any danger of snagging. Though floppy and insubstantial, once gathered, it can often provide enough support for lightweight flounces.

Figure 5.6 Three examples of different ways to apply gathered net to a sleeve support.

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Slip-on sleeve covers used to isolate an under sleeve from a top sleeve Sometimes an outfit is made up of two garments and it is necessary to dress the sleeves of one piece of costume over another. When mounting modern costumes, this is generally not an issue, but for those that are old and fragile it can be a serious problem. The friction caused by dragging one sleeve over another may result in damage to both and always makes mounting difficult and slow, putting costumes under additional strain. To ease dressing and minimise any risk, a pair of fine silk sleeve covers can be used to separate the two garments from each other. The smooth surface of the silk allows the top sleeve to glide over the bottom sleeve, avoiding any damage caused by friction or abrasion. These covers can be made using the same pattern designed for sleeve supports. Adapt the pattern to a suitable size as described, taking measurements from the sleeves of the under garment and making sure that a minimum of 2 cm ease is included in the pattern. The sleeve covers should be made out of a medium-weight silk habotai and finished at the head and cuff with pinking, overlocking or zigzag. Once the bottom layer of the outfit is mounted on the figure, the silk sleeve covers can be pulled gently into position over the top. If necessary, a length of tape can be attached to the head of each sleeve cover and tied together across the back of the figure, preventing them from slipping down. To stop the covers riding up during the dressing of the second costume, temporarily fasten them to the bottom of the sleeve supports by passing a thread from one side to the other and tying in a bow. This can easily be removed after dressing is complete. With the sleeve covers in position, the outer costume can then be dressed onto the figure.

Fitted cuff supports For costumes with tightly fitted cuffs, it is essential to create sleeve supports that are the right size for the garment to fasten around. This can sometimes be a problem when reusing old sleeve supports, as, although these can easily be made smaller, it is less obvious how to make them bigger. To solve this problem, a simple technique can be employed, using rolls of polyester wadding cut to the circumference of the wrist and covered with fabric. The padded rolls are stitched securely around the bottom of the sleeve support, effectively enlarging

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

the circumference of the wrist and providing a soft support for the cuff of the costume to button around. Leg Supports Leg supports are required for garments such as trousers, britches, pantaloons and shorts, that are displayed on figures that do not have pre-existing legs. In these cases, a simple support can be made and used to fill out the trousers, in the same way that a sleeve support is made for a figure without arms. Although leg supports are not as essential to the overall appearance and safety of the costume as arm supports, they improve the look of an empty pair of trousers considerably and prevent this part of an outfit from collapsing and looking unnaturally two-dimensional. For some garments, the use of leg supports is essential. For example, costumes cut with fitted knee or ankle cuffs, flares or gathered puffs, often require an inner structure to control their length. Some figures are more suitable than others as mounts for trousers. For example, costumes mounted on full-length mannequins with manufactured legs will not need trouser supports. It is worth remembering, however, that dressing fragile costume onto figures with rigid legs can put increased strain on the garment. In some cases, it may be preferable to opt for a figure that does not include lower limbs and construct a more flexible pair of leg supports instead. Unfortunately, not every kind of figure is suitable as a mount for trousers. Some figures (particularly female) are constructed with a lower body that is too long for the crotch of trousers and will prevent the garment from being pulled up into the waist. To avoid this, always take a waist to waist via crotch measurement on both the figure and the costume (see p. 24). If the torso has a larger measurement than the costume, select a different mannequin or prepare to cut the figure down (see p. 46). Another common problem when mounting trousers is caused by figures with central pole fixings. Although these are perfect for outfits incorporating dresses, skirts or tunics, they are not suitable for trousers, as the pole will not comfortably fall down either trouser leg. If the legs of the garment are cut very wide, it is sometimes possible to thread a central shaft down one side, but the result is usually unsightly and may put the costume at risk. Snipping holes in the crotch seams of historical costume to make way for a central pole is not something that should be considered. To overcome this problem, there are several possible solutions. The simplest is to purchase figures that include a side fixing for trousers. This kind of fitting is set off-centre and will enable the pole to fall comfortably down one trouser leg. Alternatively a figure can sometimes be adapted by moving the original fixing across and positioning it to one side. Other possibilities include figures that are suspended from the wall, ceiling or a

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Figure 5.7 Gabardine Ski-outfit comprised of jacket and knee breeches. 1920s. British. T.2411989. Outfit mounted on a dress stand made by Proportion London and padded to fit. Knee-breeches, controlled using leg supports made from calico and Rigilene®, reinforced at the hem with additional rings of boning.

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stand, without the use of a pole. When using any of these, make sure that other parts of the outfit will not be put at risk by fixings positioned in different places.

Making leg supports As with all costume mounting systems, there are probably many different ways of making leg supports. The methods described here are based on the construction of simple cylindrical tubes which are suspended from the bottom of the figure and inserted into the legs of the trousers. Method 1 makes use of

Method 1: Leg supports made by hand

Method 2: Leg supports made using a sewing machine

1. To calculate the dimensions of the leg support, try the costume on the figure, select one trouser leg and work

out the following dimensions: (a) Measure the inner circumference of the trouser leg at its narrowest point and subtract a minimum of 2.5 cm. (b) Measure the length of the trouser from the bottom of the figure to the hem of the trouser leg and subtract 2 cm. 2. Using these measurements, draw a rectangle onto a piece of medium-weight museum board or Reemay®. If using Melinex®, it is easier to make a tissue pattern and use it as a template.

2. Using these measurements, draw a rectangle onto a piece of heavy-weight calico with a pencil and ruler.

3. Mark the top of the rectangle as ‘top’ and the bottom as ‘ankle’. To give the support a more realistic shape, widen the top line of the rectangle in proportion to the circumference of the trouser leg at this point. Make sure the line is extended evenly on both sides. Redraw the stitch lines by connecting the new top line to the ankle. Curve in the top and bottom of the pattern (see Figure 5.8(a) for guidance).

extended

extended Curved top line

1 cm

Top

Stitch line Stitch line b

0.5 cm

Ankle a

curved ankle line

Figure 5.8(a) Drawing the shape of the leg support. 4. Draw an overlap of 6–8 cm down the outside of one seam line and cut out the completed rectangle. Use this as a template for the second leg.

4. Cut out the rectangle with a 2 cm seam allowance on all sides. Use this as a pattern for the second leg. Continued

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Method 1: Leg supports made by hand 5. To make the leg supports easier to sew, apply a length of cotton tape to the inside of both stitch lines. Machine or hand stitch the tapes firmly in place. This is not necessary when making leg supports out of Melinex®.

Method 2: Leg supports made using a sewing machine 5. Mark the bone lines across the fabric, working from the bottom up, mirroring the curve of the ankle line. The bones should be spaced approximately 15–20 cm apart, and should include the ankle line or hem.

Top

Top

Overlap

Cotton tape

wance Seam allo

Stitch line Cotton tape

116

15–20cm

Bone lines

Stitch line

2cm

Ankle

Ankle Stitch line

Figure 5.8(b)

Figure 5.8(c)

Applying cotton tape to a leg support.

Marking the bone lines onto the fabric.

6. Bend each leg support into a cylinder and match the stitch lines. Use paper clips top and bottom to hold the overlap in place. Herringbone or whip stitch the cylinder together by stitching into the cotton tape, using a curved needle. Melinex® supports need only be secured top and bottom. To do this, pass a thread through both layers of Melinex®, using a curved needle and tie the loose ends in a knot.

6. With right sides together, pin and sew the stitch lines together. Trim and press the seam open and finish the top and bottom with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag.

7. With the fabric the wrong way out, follow the marked lines and apply rings of Rigilene® directly to the calico, using a wide machine zigzag stitch. Overlap the ends of the boning at the seam by approximately 6 cm. N.B. Make sure that the natural curve of the boning corresponds to the curve of the finished leg support. As the support is currently the wrong way out, this means that the boning should be applied with the curve bent in the reverse direction. 8. Turn the leg support the right way out with the bones on the inside. The support should spring into a firm tubular shape. 9. Temporarily pin tabs of cotton tape to the top of the cylinders and use them to attach the leg supports to the figure. Adjust the tapes until the legs are hanging in the right position and at the correct angle. The sides of the figure should run smoothly into the outside line of the leg support as naturally as possible.

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

Method 1: Leg supports made by hand

Method 2: Leg supports made using a sewing machine

10. Once the positioning is established, the tapes should be stitched in place and the pins removed.

Figure 5.8(d) Fixing leg supports to the bottom of a figure with tabs of cotton tape.

medium-weight museum board, Reemay® or Melinex® and is useful for those who prefer to sew by hand. Method 2 requires a sewing machine and uses a combination of calico and Rigilene® boning.

Mounting leg-wear with fitted knee or ankle cuffs Some varieties of britches and trousers are cut with fitted cuffs that are buttoned, buckled, zipped, elasticated or tied at the ankle or knee. In these cases, it is sometimes necessary to strengthen the leg support at this point, providing a more solid shape for the hem of the garment to fasten around. This is especially important for britches or trousers that would ordinarily have been worn pushed s l i g h t l y up the leg, creating a blousy effect. In this case, the silhouette of the garment is dependant on the supports holding the trouser legs at the right height. There are several different ways to reinforce the hem of a leg support. Calico supports can be fortified with supplementary rings of Rigilene®, while those

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made from museum board or Reemay® can be strengthened with additional strips of the same material or plugged with a disc of Plastazote®. Melinex® is not suitable for specialist leg supports of this kind and should not be used. If the costume demands a particularly tight fit, the hem circumference of the leg support should be made slightly smaller than the costume and padded with a thin layer of polyester wadding, covered in fabric. This will give the cuff of the trouser leg something soft to grip around. For britches that are cut particularly short, there may be some danger of the underpinning being visible. When this is the case, the bottom of the leg support can be finished with a cardboard disc, hiding the inside from view. The disc should be covered with an appropriately coloured fabric and slip stitched in place, in exactly the same way that a wrist disc is made to finish the bottom of a sleeve support (see p. 109).

Net frills for non-standard leg-wear Although the cut of leg-wear tends to be more conventional and less variable than the cut of sleeves, there are always exceptions that will need special attention. For example, some of the more flamboyant theatrical costumes may require additional help. Net frills can be used to create extra supports for trousers with extreme fullness or exaggerated flares. Net can be cut and gathered to create a variety of different shapes and customised to fit beneath individual costumes. Using the leg supports as a foundation, frills are stitched in place in exactly the same way that nets are applied to sleeve supports (see p. 110). For trousers that require additions of this kind, it is helpful to construct the inner leg support from fabric or Reemay® rather than card or Melinex®, as this will provide a surface that can be stitched into with ease. As with sleeve supports, the net should be covered in a protective layer of gathered silk or lightweight cotton.

Te c h n i q u e s o f M a k i n g S k i r t S u p p o r t s Of all components of dress, perhaps the part most susceptible to change during the last three hundred years is the skirt. The diversity of size and silhouette varies dramatically throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century and continues to do so on the catwalks today. This constant evolution of skirt shapes plays a major part in defining the history of fashion, and significant changes can sometimes be observed even within a single decade. In the past, the shape of the skirt was created by the underpinnings worn beneath it. As very few costumes survive with these supports intact, it is the job of the costume mounter to provide suitable substitutes when preparing garments for display. Making appropriate underpinnings for a period skirt is not only vital to its historical interpretation and aesthetic appearance, but also

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

to the safety of the entire outfit. Skirts that are inappropriately or inadequately mounted are vulnerable to damage. For example, fabrics may become creased and fatigued, seems weakened and bodices that are stitched to skirts can be put under unnecessary strain. For these reasons, it is essential to create an underpinning that is accurate in shape and size, that will maintain its profile over time and is made of something that is both soft and supportive. As with all costume mounting techniques, there are many different ways to make skirt supports. Some costume mounters prefer to employ historical methods, using authentic materials and patterns to produce facsimile petticoats and undergarments. Building up a stock of these can be useful as they last for many years and can be reused for different mounting projects. Some costume collections already have a good supply of underpinnings that can be dipped into when required. For those that do not, alternative methods may be preferable, as making replica petticoats and supports can be very time-consuming as well as requiring a certain amount of sewing and pattern cutting expertise. Quicker methods, using more contemporary materials, can be borrowed from costume makers working in the theatre and film industry. The series of books by Jean Hunnisett, Period Costume for Stage & Screen’ is a valuable source of information, giving detailed cutting and making instructions for modern but historically shaped underpinnings. Even with books such as these, constructing underpinnings for skirts can be daunting to those less confident at sewing, and the prospect of tackling some of the more extreme shapes, such as nineteenth century crinolines or eighteenth century court paniers, can be intimidating. This is not helped by the topsy-turvy approach to petticoat making that a costume mounter is forced to adopt. Making underpinnings for an already existing costume is far less straightforward than tackling the job the other way round. Historically, the underpinnings would have been constructed first and once completed, the dress or skirt would have been cut to fit over the top. When mounting costume for display, however, everything is reversed and the process of making underpinnings the correct size and shape to fit under a skirt, can be challenging. To solve this problem, the method described in this chapter allows skirt supports to be developed through several stages. Using simple techniques, it focuses on evolving the shape and size of the underpinning by applying layers of gathered net to a simple tubular underskirt or frame. In this way, the silhouette can be developed gradually and fine tuned to an exact shape and fit.

Taking measurements for the skirt support The first step to creating a skirt support is to measure the costume. This can be done with the skirt flat on a table or dressed on the figure. If the garment is

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robust enough, this latter method is the best to adopt, as it also affords an opportunity to see the skirt as a three-dimensional object and a chance to start planning the underpinnings. If the costume is very fragile, a toile should be made and used in place of the original (see Chapter 2). When taking measurements, a simple diagram of the skirt front and back should be drawn so that all dimensions can be clearly recorded. To start the process you will need the following measurements: • • • •

Around inside waist Around hip, if relevant Around bottom, if relevant Front length of skirt

• • • •

Back length of skirt Side length of skirt Around hem Any other relevant notes

Estimating the size and shape of the skirt support Once measurements have been taken, consideration can be given to the shape and size of the support. Time should be spent researching the skirt silhouettes of the relevant period. Books with images of fashion plates, portraits, drawings and photographs will usually give a clear indication of what to expect. Reference books such as Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh also provide some valuable information about the construction, shape and dimensions of historical underpinnings. With the costume still dressed on the figure, begin roughly gauging the size of the support needed. The widest part of the underpinning is usually located at the bottom and this dimension can be roughly ascertained from measuring the hem of the skirt. Bear in mind that some skirts are designed to fall over the underpinning in folds and once again reference images should be referred to. When working on a costume with a train, be careful not to include its outside perimeter in the hem circumference, as this will give you an inaccurate measurement. It is sometimes helpful to lay a long tape measure around the foot of the figure in simulation of the finished size of the skirt. For smaller skirts, strips of card or Melinex® can be taped together, bent into a ring and tried under the hem of the skirt. This will help gauge the visual dimensions required. Once the approximate lower circumference has been established, the rest of the underpinning can be planned. Keeping this measurement in mind as a basic proportion, begin to estimate the rest of the support. Making continual references to images, work slowly up the skirt in distances of approximately 20–30 cm, noting any changes to the silhouette at these levels. The front, sides and back of the skirt should all be considered individually as the profile at these points is often different. For example, the sides of the skirt may be fairly bulky, the back even fuller, while the front is relatively flat. Additional clues that can

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

be used to help determine the shape of the support can be found in the length of the skirt. Studying the rise and fall of the hem line can be informative. For example if the hem dips towards the floor, it may indicate that increased fullness higher up the support is required to level the line. However, not all skirts are designed to be even around the hem and care should be taken not to confuse deliberate variations with those caused by lack of support. While the costume is on the figure, gather as much information as possible and record all estimated measurements and notes on the diagram. Make sure that you orientate any circumference dimensions with additional length measurements, to pinpoint their position. For example, if the fullness at the sides of the skirt swells outwards at a certain point, mark how far down from the waist this should take place.

The basic tube petticoat This petticoat can be used for smaller skirt shapes that do not require extensive underpinnings. The purpose of a tube petticoat is to provide a simple support and a firm foundation on to which net frills can be attached if necessary. Supports of this kind are particularly important for mannequins and figures that are made without legs, as skirts tend to cave into the void created by these missing limbs. Tube petticoats are so straightforward that they can be constructed in less than half an hour. They are made out of a single rectangle of fabric, stitched into a cylinder with a centre back seam and reinforced with rings of polyester boning applied directly to the fabric. To reduce bulk at the waist and eliminate the need to shape the skirt with darts, side seams and plackets, the calico tube is designed to fit the figure around the fattest part of the

Making the basic tube petticoat 1. Calculate the following measurements: (A) The circumference of the figure around the widest part of the bottom (approximately 20 cm below the waistline). When taking this measurement, mark the exact position on the figure with pins or a line of tacking. (B) The length of the petticoat. This can be established by measuring the waist to hem of the skirt and subtracting a minimum of 20 cm depending on where the circumference measurement has been taken from. A further 3–5 cm should be subtracted to ensure that the petticoat is not visible below the hem of the costume. Continued

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2. Using these two measurements, draw a rectangle/square onto a piece of heavy-weight calico or cotton duck, with a pencil and ruler. 3. Add an additional seam allowance of 2 cm on all sides and cut out the shape. Each side should be labelled as appropriate with (A) or (B). 4. Finish both sides (A) with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag. Mark one as the top of the petticoat and one as the bottom. 5. Using a pencil and ruler, draw the bone lines onto the calico from side (B) to (B). The number of bones depends on the amount of support the petticoat requires: in general three or four rows are sufficient, spaced approximately 15–20 cm apart. Work from the bottom up and include the hem as a bone line.

Figure 5.9(a)

Measurement A

Drawing the pattern for the basic tube petticoat.

A Top

B

B

15–20cm Seam allowance

Bone lines

Measurement B

A Bottom

Include hem as bone line

6. With right sides together, match side (B) to (B) and pin and stitch the centre back seam. Trim and press the seam open. 7. Keeping the tube the wrong way out, apply rings of Rigilene® boning to the calico, using the previously marked pencil lines as a guide. Stitch the boning directly onto the fabric, using a wide machine zigzag stitch. Overlap the ends across the centre back seam by approximately 10 cm. N.B. Make sure that the natural curve of the boning corresponds to the curve of the finished petticoat. As the tube is currently the wrong way out, this means that the boning should be applied with the curve bent in the reverse direction. 8. Turn the petticoat the right way out, with the bones on the inside. The petticoat should spring into a tubular shape. 9. Dress the petticoat over the head of the figure and pull into position, matching the top of the tube to the pins or tack line. Fasten the petticoat in place using a herringbone stitch and curved needle.

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

Figure 5.9(b) Attaching the basic tube petticoat to the figure.

20cm

Boning applied to the inside of the petticoat

bottom. To create a more slender support, the tube can also be made to fit below the bottom where the figure is narrower. If possible, tube petticoats are secured to the figure with stitching. For figures with non-fabric finishes, this is not possible and the tube should be made slightly differently. In this case, the length of the petticoat is extended up to the level of the figure’s hip and any excess fabric pleated to fit snugly around the torso, holding the garment in place.

The pleated tube petticoat This petticoat is designed to be used with medium skirt shapes requiring more extensive support and is made in almost the same way as the basic tube. Unlike the basic tube, the pleated tube is cut with a much bigger circumference and once made, the excess fabric is fitted around the figure by folding into pleats. Depending on the date of the costume, the fabric should be pleated in such a way that it will start to form the correct silhouette. For example, petticoats made for skirts that are fuller at the back and sides, should mimic this shape by being pleated heavily in these areas and kept smooth across the front.

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Figure 5.10 Blue linen dress with polka dot bow. 1915. British. T.17-1960. Mounted on a modern dress stand made by Proportion London and padded to fit. Skirt supported with a pleated tube petticoat made out of calico and Rigilene® boning.

Tapes can also be attached to the inside of the tube and tied off around the legs or central pole of the figure to help pull the underpinning into the right position. Unfortunately this method of support is less suitable for particularly large skirts, such as some of the nineteenth century crinolines, and a more robust foundation frame may need to be constructed (see p. 148). For skirts with less extreme dimensions, the pleated

Making a pleated tube petticoat 1. Before starting work on the pleated tube, establish the position at which the petticoat will be attached to the figure. To keep the waist clear of unnecessary bulk, the petticoat should be applied to the figure a minimum of 10 cm below the waist. Mark this with a line of pins or tacking. 2. The pleated tube petticoat can be made in exactly the same way as the basic tube petticoat, following instructions 1–8 (p. 121). The only difference is in the measurements. These are calculated in the following way: (A) Estimate the circumference of the skirt and subtract a minimum of 15 cm to allow for a layer of net. You may need to seam fabric together to make it wide enough. Remember that the maximum size for a tube petticoat is 1.5–2 m.

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

(B) Calculate the length of the petticoat. This can be established by measuring the waist to hem of the skirt and subtracting a minimum of 10 cm from the length, depending on where the petticoat is to be positioned on the figure. A further 3–5 cm should be subtracted to ensure that the petticoat is not visible below the hem of the costume. 3. Once the petticoat has been made, the tube is dropped over the head of the figure and pinned in position at the centre front and centre back. Matching the top of the tube to the pins or tack line, fold all excess fabric into pleats, so that the tube fits snugly around the figure and herringbone in place. Keep the pleats as symmetrical as possible, judging this by eye. To help create the right silhouette, the pleating should reflect the shape of the skirt, i.e. the petticoat should be pleated most heavily in areas that require greater fullness and applied flat to the figure in areas that are less pronounced.

Figure 5.11 Fitting a pleated tube petticoat to the figure.

Pleating up the top of the petticoat

10cm

Boning applied to the inside of the petticoat

tube petticoat can be used, with additional layers of net frills applied to bulk out the shape. Bear in mind that polyester boning is not strong enough to keep its shape past a certain length and will collapse if it is extended too far. As a guide, the maximum circumference a petticoat can be made is approximately 1.5 m. However, this size can be increased to over 2 m if the boning is applied in double rather than single layers. To create maximum strength, the second layer

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of boning should be applied with the natural curve running in the opposite direction to the first.

Melinex® skirt supports Although tube petticoats made of fabric are suitable as a basic underpinning for most costumes, there are always some exceptions. For example, skirts made of sheer fabrics often require an invisible underpinning in order to maintain the integrity of the style. Tight fitting pencil skirts are also better suited to more slippery foundations, while an all over smooth and firm support is essential for stretch knitted skirts, in order to prevent them from clinging unattractively to the base of dress stands or torsos. To accommodate these garments, a simple underpinning made of archival Melinex® can be used instead of the fabric tube petticoat. Available in many different weights, Melinex® is an inert polyester film, transparent and smooth, making it a perfect material for this job. The only drawback is its shiny finish, which can show through garments made of finer fabrics. This is not a problem if the outfit is exhibited in a glazed case rather than on open display, as the shine will be interpreted as a reflection on the surface of the glass. Some types of Melinex® are made with a mat finish which may be more suitable for sheer costumes. However, these tend to be made in less sturdy weights and a sample should be obtained before purchasing.

Making a Melinex® skirt support 1. Establish at what level the Melinex® tube will be attached to the figure and mark with a line of pins or tacking. This will usually be a minimum of 20 cm below the waistline. 2. Calculate the distance between the waist and the marked line and call this measurement X. 3. Select a weight of Melinex® that is suitable for the job and cut out a rectangle/square to the following dimensions. (A) The circumference of the figure around the marked line plus an overlap of approximately 15 cm. (B) The length of the support. This can be calculated by measuring the skirt from waist to hem and subtracting measurement X. A further 3–5 cm should be subtracted to ensure that the petticoat is not visible below the hem of the costume. 4. Wrap the Melinex® around the figure at the marked level and overlap at the centre back. 5. Depending on the skirt, the shape of the support can be adjusted by angling the overlap in different directions. For example, tilting the overlap upwards will make the tube narrower at the hem and vice versa. Do not attempt to keep the top and bottom line of the Melinex® even, as this will not be possible.

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

6. Once the correct angle has been established, secure the Melinex® to the figure with pins. For mannequins with a solid surface, use temporary tabs of low-tack masking tape instead. Hold the overlap in position at top and bottom with paper clips. 7. Using a sharp pair of scissors, trim the top and bottom of the Melinex® tube to even out these lines. In order to do this, you will need temporarily to remove some of the pins or masking tape. 8. Using a herringbone or whipstitch, fasten the top of the tube to the figure, with a curved needle and sturdy thread. This can be hard work, and a thimble may be required. For mannequins with a solid surface, the support can be more permanently secured with fishing line. To do this, tie a length of line or cotton tape tightly around the waist of the figure as an anchor. Threading a curved needle with more fishing line, work around the body suspending the Melinex® from the waist-tie with long stitches. 9. Remove all pins or masking tape from the figure. 10. Secure the overlapped Melinex® at the hem of the tube. To do this, pass a thread through both layers of Melinex®, using a curved needle and tie the loose ends in a knot. 11. To complete the support, round off all exposed corners of the Melinex® as they will be sharp and may snag on the costume.

Figure 5.12

Back

Making a Melinex® skirt support.

x

Melinex® tube Trim the uneven hem and top of the support

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To make the support, a rectangle/square of Melinex® of appropriate proportions is wrapped around the figure and fastened in place with stitching. For mannequins with solid, non-stitch surfaces, supports should be fixed in position using lengths of invisible fishing line suspended from the waist. The Melinex® is positioned on the figure according to the shape of the skirt. For example, for fuller garments, the top of the tube should be located around the widest part of the bottom, but for close fitting pencil skirts it will need placing lower down where the body is narrower. If necessary, the Melinex® tube can be further shaped by angling the overlap at the top of the support, so that it becomes wider or more slender towards the hem.

Developing skirt supports using nylon net Although the hem of the costume will be partially defined and supported by a tube petticoat, the upper part of the support will still be relatively undeveloped. This can be filled out using nylon net. In the same way that padding is used to sculpt the shape and size of a torso, net can be used to create the silhouette of the skirt support. By gathering net into frills and applying them in layers to the lower figure and tube petticoat, an endless variety of shapes and sizes can be created. The amount and placement of net frills will obviously vary according to the size and shape of the costume. For example, a simple straight-skirted costume will need very few frills, while a mid-nineteenth century skirt may require many. Nylon net has several advantages: it is cheap, easily obtained and straightforward to use. As it is a non-fraying fabric, raw edges and seams can be left unfinished, making it speedy to work with. Net comes in a variety of different weights. As a rough guide, the stiffer tutu-like nets are more suitable for use as under frills, creating the actual shape of the support. Lightweight nets should be used as top layers, to soften and consolidate the silhouette. Net can be gathered into frills that are wide and long enough to wrap around the entire figure from waist to floor, or into shorter, narrower strips, that can be applied individually to build out specific areas. Do not waste time being too meticulous about cutting and making frills. Emphasis is on speed rather than accuracy and approximate measurements will be sufficient. If possible, the quick-gather method, described in the sewing appendix (p. 243) should be used, particularly when working with stiffer nets. This method will halve the amount of time it would normally take to gather the frills in the conventional fashion and will considerably speed up the process. As an alternative to net, polyester wadding can sometimes be cut into lengths, hand gathered and applied to the support in a similar way. This is a useful way of bulking out large skirt shapes, but if over used can make the support very heavy. In general it is better employed in combination with net, rather than as a substitute.

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

Making up net frills 1. Calculate the dimensions of the frill in the following way. (A) Hold a tape measure up to the figure and tube petticoat and roughly estimate the length of each frill by eye. The length of a net frill can vary from a few centimetres to over a metre, depending on how the support needs building up. (B) Wrap a tape measure around the area where the frill will be applied and note down this measurement. The width of net cut must be considerably wider than this, as the net will be drawn into gathers. The bulkiness of the frill is created by both the amount of gathers and the weight of net used. Use the following chart as a rough guide to help judge the width of the net required for each frill. Weight of net Stiff tutu net Medium-weight net Standard light-weight net

Multiply by finished width of frill 2–4 times 4–6 times 6–8 times

2. Using the appropriate weight net, cut out the frill according to measurements (A) and (B). When necessary, seam together several pieces of net to make the strip large enough. Do this by overlapping the edge of one piece with another and stitching through both layers on a machine. 3. Gather the net on the machine using the quick-gather or draw-thread methods (see Sewing Appendix). You will find this process much faster if the quick-gather method is used, particularly when working with heavier nets. 4. Pin the net frill to the figure or tube petticoat, making sure that all pins are pointing inwards.

Once the frills have been made, they are pinned to the skirt support and figure in the relevant positions, keeping the shape as symmetrical as possible. Check the dimensions of the underpinning against the measurements taken from the costume and the estimated support sizes recorded on your diagram. Gauge the shape by eye, with reference to relevant images of similar garments from the same period. To make this simpler, cover the skirt support in a top petticoat. The overall silhouette will become much clearer once this has been done and it will be easier to spot areas that need additional work. Before stitching the frills in place, try the costume on over the top of the skirt support. Make sure that all pins are pointing inwards and the nets are covered in a top petticoat. If alterations are required, record any new measurements and notes on the diagram, while the costume is still on the figure. Once the shape has been checked, the frills can be machine or hand stitched in place and all pins removed.

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Making a basque 1. Measure the waist of the figure and divide this by 3.14 (π). Call this measurement (A). 2. Using a heavy-weight calico or cotton duck, cut out a piece of fabric approximately 40 × 80 cm. For large figures, a bigger piece of fabric may be required. 3. Fold the fabric in half, making a square. 4. Lay the fabric flat on a table, with the fold on the right-hand-side. Using the top right corner of the fabric as the central point, set a compass to measurement (A) and draw a quarter circle onto the fabric. 5. Using a pencil, draw in a second curve, 20 cm outside the first. If the compass does not stretch far enough, work along the original curve using a ruler to measure the distance between the two. 6. Keeping the fabric folded in two, cut out the basque shape along the two curved lines.

Figure 5.13(a) Marking the basque onto the folded fabric.

A 20cm

Fold

7. Pin the basque to the waist of the figure with the fold running down the centre front. Wrap the rest of the basque around half of the figure’s waist from centre front to centre back. 8. Shape the basque to fit the hips by pinching out an upside down dart at the side of the yoke and securing with pins. In some cases, it may be easier to mould the basque with two darts, one closer to the front and one the back.

Figure 5.13(b) Shaping the basque with an upside down dart. CF

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

9. Remove the basque from the figure. 10. With the fabric still folded double, use a tracing wheel to mark the dart onto both sides of the basque. 11. Remove the pins and unfold the fabric. If necessary, the darts can be drawn in more clearly using tailor’s chalk or pencil. 12. If a more robust basque is required, back the semicircle onto a second piece of fabric, making sure that the dart shaping is still visible. 13. Stitch the darts together. Trim away the excess and press with an iron. 14. Finish all raw edges with overlocking, zigzag or pinking. 15. To complete the basque, a basic placket can be added, by stitching a length of cotton tape to one side of the centre back opening. This is not always necessary as the finished basque is often large enough to overlap at the centre back. 16. To assist with the application of the net frills, a series of guide lines can be drawn onto the back of the fabric, following the curved shape of the basque. Guidelines should be positioned approximately 5 cm apart. Transfer these marks through to the front of the basque with machine thread tracing. This will also help strengthen the basque. 17. Apply nets to the basque as required, using the same instructions as previously described (p. 128).

Figure 5.13(c) A completed basque with net frills attached.

Basque

Net frills applied to basque in layers

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Figure 5.14 Evening dress designed by Hubert de Givenchy. 1965. French. T.345-1997. Mounted on a modern dress stand made by Proportion London. Skirt supported with a tube petticoat and gathered nets, covered with a simple top petticoat to protect the skirt.

Basque petticoats This kind of petticoat provides an alternative system for constructing net supports for skirts and dresses. In this case, a separate fabric foundation is fitted around the waist and hips of the figure and used as a base to which layers of net can be applied. Once the petticoat has been made, it can be dressed and undressed from the figure in one easy stage. As a result, supports of this kind are particularly useful for garments requiring reusable underpinnings. Made from a layer of thick fabric such as a heavy calico or cotton duck, the basque, or

Making the top petticoat 1. With the net support on the figure, calculate the petticoat dimensions in the following way: (A) To work out the length of the petticoat, take a measurement from the waist of the figure to just below the hem of the net at its longest point. Add a minimum of 6 cm for turnings.

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

2.

3.

4.

5.

(B) To calculate the width of the petticoat, take a rough measurement of the circumference of the net petticoat at its widest point. For greater fullness, add a minimum of 50 cm. Cut out the fabric using these measurements. In order to make the petticoat wide enough, you will probably need to seam together two or more pieces of fabric. Once stitched, press the seams open and finish with pinking shears, overlocking, zigzag or leave the selvage edges intact. Lay out the fabric and select one long edge to be the top of the petticoat. Fold the silk in half along this edge and mark the centre point with a pin or tailor’s tack. Unfold the fabric and neaten the raw edge with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag. Working with the wrong side of the fabric face up, start at one end and lay a line of machine gathering stitches approximately 2 cm from the finished edge. Lock the marked centre point by reverse machining for a few stitches and then continue gathering until the far end of the petticoat is reached. Fold in the top edge along the gather line and press with an iron. To keep the fold in place and control the gathers, a second line of gathering stitches should be sewn through both layers of fabric, a foot’s width from the folded edge. Remember to lock stitch the centre point again and ensure that the stitches are laid in the same direction as the first line or the gathers will not pull up.

Neatened top edge

Locked centre point

Figure 5.15(a) Applying gathering stitches to the top of the petticoat.

2cm

Gathering stitches

A

B Wrong side of fabric

6. Remove the petticoat from the machine and pin the marked centre point securely to the centre front waist of the figure. Working on one side at a time, pull up the gathered edge of half the petticoat until it exactly fits around to the centre back waist of the figure. Pin in place. Repeat the process for the other side of the petticoat, overlapping at the centre back to ensure there is no gap.

Continued

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Figure 5.15(b) Pulling up the gathers to fit the petticoat around the waist of the figure.

7. Remove the petticoat from the figure and secure the gathers with a line of machine zigzag. If necessary, the open back of the petticoat can be joined in a centre back seam. When doing this, make sure that an opening of a minimum of 16 cm is left at the top of the petticoat so that the garment can be dressed onto the figure. 8. Place the petticoat back on the figure and mark the hem so that it overlaps the bottom edge of the net support. Finish the hem using instructions from the Sewing Appendix (p. 240). 9. Using a curved needle, herringbone stitch the petticoat directly to the figure or apply cotton tapes and tie in position.

hip yoke is cut in a semicircular shape and fitted to the body. Layers of gathered net are then applied to the basque, as required, using the same techniques as above. If necessary, the protective top petticoat can also be attached to the basque, combining all layers of the underpinning into a single garment.

Top petticoats

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

Once the silhouette has been built up with nets, the skirt support must be finished with a top petticoat. This will protect the costume from the raw edges of the net and will provide a smooth soft layer for the skirt to sit on. Depending on the fabric of the costume, the top petticoat can be made from a number of different materials. It is important that the fabric is light-weight, easy to gather and has a smooth surface. Medium-weight silk habotai is one of the best materials to use for this job, as it is inexpensive and provides an efficient barrier between net and costume and a slippery surface for the skirt to glide over. Alternatively a fine cotton lawn can be used.

Creating Period Skirt Silhouettes Although it is not necessary to use authentic support methods when mounting costume for display, a basic knowledge of historical underpinnings is essential when creating modern replacements. By observing the chronological development of the skirt, a clearer picture of the variation of underpinnings can be gained. The following pages will look specifically at the history of skirt shapes and advise how to create appropriate supports using the basic methods described in the previous section. A variety of additional techniques will also be introduced to help deal with the more extreme silhouettes.

A brief history of eighteenth century skirt shapes The exaggerated paniers or hoops worn beneath skirts during the eighteenth century are so characteristic of their time that garments from this period can be easily identified, even by those who are less familiar with the history of dress. Although the extremes of this style are a familiar image of the period, the evolution of the skirt during this century is punctuated by a variety of changes that are important to be aware of. Early alterations to the skirt silhouette were partly inspired by the newly available silks, velvets and brocades from France, which could be shown off to greater advantage if spread out over a larger surface area. Initially, skirts were supported with petticoats and pads and it was not until 1710 that the first structured underskirt of the century was introduced. This took the form of a large dome or bell-shaped garment, supported with whalebone. By the 1740s the silhouette had changed, flattening out at the front and back and extending beyond the hips, to create the hoop or panier shape that is so symbolic of this period. Throughout this time, hoops continued to expand, in some cases to a preposterous extent. Skirts and frames were shaped into a square, box-like silhouette or fashioned into a fan shape, that flared out from the top of the skirt into an even wider hem.

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Figure 5.16 Open robe made of printed cotton, overlaid with gold spots. 1780s. English. T.217-1992. Mounted on modern dress stand made by Proportion London and padded up to fit. Gown mounted over a false front replica of an 18th century petticoat.

By the 1750s, the size of the skirts had begun to reduce and pocket hoops were worn for informal wear. These supports were made as separate structures, like two half buckets worn over the hips and held together by a communal waist tape. This less extreme silhouette persisted for another twenty or thirty years, although the larger paniers of earlier decades continued to be worn for formal and court occasions. Pocket hoops were finally replaced in the late 1770s by hip and bum-pads (false rumps), made of fabric stuffed with wool, horsehair or cork. These pads were worn throughout the 1780s, creating a rounded shape to the skirt. By the mid-1790s, a more radical change had occurred. The female waistline rose dramatically, altering the silhouette to a classical line. Skirts at this time become straighter and less voluminous with only a small bustle or bum-pad used to fill out the curve in the spine and prevent skirts from resting on the backside of the wearer.

Mounting costume from the eighteenth century The exaggerated shapes of eighteenth century costume can often make skirts from this period challenging to mount. The following tips can be used and

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

adapted to assist with the making of supportive underpinnings for costumes from this century. Mounting tips for skirts from the 1730s–1770s: Although tube petticoats made from calico and Rigilene® are not strong enough to create the very large court paniers sometimes required for this period, they can be a useful support for costumes with less exaggerated side hoops. Tube petticoats should be employed to control the hem of the costume and always used in combination with hip pads or pocket hoops. Using the instructions on p. 123, a large pleated tube petticoat can be made. To create the lozenge-shaped hemline required for skirts from this period, fit the tube to the figure by pleating the fabric at the sides only. Ties made of cotton tape can be secured inside the petticoat, either side of the centre front and centre back and used to pull the base together, forming an oval shape. Hip pads, or more generally pocket hoops, can be used to define the upper shape of the skirt and layers of gathered nylon net applied over the top to consolidate and smooth the overall silhouette. To emphasise the shape, nets should be gathered more heavily at the sides than at the back or front. If necessary, the sides of the support can be enlarged with additional frills of stiff net. Finally the entire support is covered in a top petticoat. Mounting tips for skirts from the late 1770s–1790s: When mounting costumes from this period, a pleated tube petticoat can be used as a foundation for the skirt (see p. 123). Make the tube as wide as necessary and fit it to the figure by pleating the sides and back of the petticoat, leaving the front flat. To prevent the tube from pushing forward, it may be necessary to apply cotton tapes inside the front of the petticoat, using them to pull the support backwards. Tapes can be tied off around the pole or legs of the figure. A bum-pad of a suitable size should be used to define the top of the skirt and layers of gathered nylon net applied over the top to consolidate and smooth out the overall silhouette.

Making a pattern for hip pads Using Figure 5.16 as a guide, patterns can either be drawn freehand or drafted from measurements using the following instructions. The dimensions included in brackets can be used as a rough guide. 1. Wrap a tape measure around the side hip of the figure and estimate the length of the inside edge of the pad. Divide this figure in half and call this measurement X (9 cm). 2. Study the costume and estimate the required depth of the pad. To assist with this process, use temporary tissue puffs to build out the sides of the costume. Add 6 cm to this dimension and call this measurement Y (16 cm). Continued

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3. Take a piece of tissue paper and fold in half with the crease running vertically down the left-hand-side. 4. Using measurement Y as the vertical and X as the horizontal, draw a rectangle onto the tissue, treating the fold as one edge. 5. From the top of the rectangle, measure 6 cm down the fold line and mark this A. Square across from this point to assist with the drawing of the curve. 6. Referring to Figure 5.16 for guidance, mark in a smooth curve from A–B. 7. Using measurement X once more, measure this distance along the curved line from A and mark as C. It is easier to use a flexible tape measure rather than a ruler. 8. Referring to Figure 5.16, draw in a smooth curve from C–D passing through the outer edge of the rectangle. 9. Add seam allowance of 2 cm and turn the tissue paper over. Trace the shape of the pad onto the other side. The tissue can now be unfolded and used as a complete pattern.

Figure 5.17

X

Pattern for hip pads.

B C

nt me e r asu Me

x

A Fold

Y

Scale = 2.5cm D

Making a pattern for a bum-pad Using Figure 5.17 as a guide, patterns can either be drawn freehand or drafted from measurements using the following instructions. The dimensions included in brackets can be used as a rough guide. 1. Wrap a tape measure around the back of the figure from hip bone to hip bone and estimate the length of the inside edge of the pad. Divide this figure by 4 and call this measurement X (10.5 cm). 2. Study the costume and estimate the required depth of the pad at the centre back. To assist with this process, use temporary tissue puffs to build

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

4. 5.

6. 7.

8. 9.

Figure 5.18 Scale = 2.5cm B C

X

Pattern for bum-pads.

Fold ur em ent X

3.

out the back of the costume. Add 14 cm to this dimension and call this measurement Y (24 cm). Take a piece of tissue paper of an appropriate size and fold in half with the crease running vertically down the left-hand-side. Using measurement Y as the vertical and X as the horizontal, draw a rectangle onto the tissue paper, treating the fold as one edge. From the top of the rectangle, measure 14 cm down the fold line and mark this A. Square across from this point to assist with the drawing of the curve and extend approximately 6 cm beyond the edge of the rectangle. Call this point W. Referring to Figure 5.17 for guidance, mark in a smooth curve from A–B. Multiply measurement X by two and measure this distance along the curved line from A and mark as C (21 cm). It is easier to use a flexible tape measure rather than a ruler. In some cases, you may need to extend the line above the top of the rectangle. Referring to Figure 5.17 draw in a smooth curve from C–D passing through W. Add seam allowance of 2 cm and turn the tissue paper over. Trace the shape of the pad onto the other side. The tissue can now be unfolded and used as a complete pattern.

Y

ea 2x m A

s

6cm

W

D

Continued

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Making hip and bum-pads 1. Using a heavyweight calico or cotton duck, cut out two layers of fabric using the pattern as a template and making sure that a seam allowance of 2 cm has been added on all sides. Pads can be cut either on the bias or the straight of grain. 2. Mark the stitch line onto one of the pieces using a tracing wheel (see Sewing Appendix p. 235). 3. With right sides together, lay the two pieces of fabric exactly on top of each other and secure with pins. 4. Machine stitch the two pieces together along the marked stitch line. Leave an opening of approximately 4 cm on the inside curve, through which the pad can be bagged out and stuffed. 5. Trim back the seam allowance to approximately 1/2 cm on all sides. To minimise bulky turnings at the points, slice off as much seam allowance as possible in these areas without cutting the stitching. 6. Bag out the pad by pulling it through the opening. Use a blunt point, such as a knitting needle, to push out the ends, taking care not to poke through. 7. Using fragments of polyester wadding, stuff the pad until firm. 8. Close the opening in the pad with slipstitches. 9. Stitch the pad directly to the figure or apply cotton tapes and tie around the waist. It is important not position them too high. Pads should generally be placed a little below the level of the waist.

Mounting tips for skirts from the mid 1790s–1900: For costumes with high waists, a more slender tube petticoat can be used as a foundation. This must be secured at the level of the raised waistline and pleated principally at the back. For more details see the nineteenth century Empireline (p. 146).

Simplified pocket hoops 1. Using a heavy calico or cotton duck, cut out a rectangle of fabric approximately 44 × 76 cm with an additional 2 cm for seam allowance on all sides. These dimensions can be used to make up a basic pocket hoop, but sizes can be altered as necessary to suit different costumes. 2. Finish the long top and bottom edges with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag, trimming away the seam allowance. 3. With the fabric the wrong way out, mark two parallel lines 14 cm from the left-hand and right-hand edges. Label these lines X and Y. 4. Mark the bone lines between line X and line Y on to the wrong side of the fabric. The lines should be positioned 13 cm apart, working from the bottom up (see Figure 5.18 for guidance).

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

5. Fold the fabric in half, with right sides together, and stitch the two raw edges together allowing a 2 cm seam allowance. Trim the seam and press open with an iron. 6. Fold the fabric down line X and line Y and secure each fold with a few pins. 7. To help define the shape of the pocket hoop, permanently secure the folds by stitching down each one, approximately 1/2 cm from the edge. 8. Using line X and line Y as a start and finishing point, apply half rings of Rigilene® boning directly to the fabric, using a machine zigzag stitch and following the marked bone lines. The narrow area of 24 cm between line X and line Y should be left free from boning. Make sure that the natural curve of the bones corresponds to the curve of the finished pocket hoop. As the support is currently the wrong way out, this means that the boning should be applied with the curve bent in the reverse direction. To make the pocket hoop more robust, a double layer of Rigilene® can be used if necessary. To prevent the hoop from buckling, stitch the boning together, before applying it to the fabric. When doing this, make sure that the natural curve of both strips are running in the same direction. 9. Apply a final half ring of boning to the bottom of the pocket hoop. 10. Turn the fabric the right way out and allow the support to spring into shape, with the seam running down the centre back. 11. Keeping the seam positioned at the centre back, flatten the top of the tube by stitching the front and back together. 12. Finish the pocket hoop by pleating the top into approximately 15–20 cm. To do this, mark the central point along the top of the fabric and pleat evenly on either side using 2–3 tucks (see Figure 5.19). 13. Repeat the entire process for the second pocket hoop.

Scale = 5cm

12 cm

12 cm 18 cm

13 cm

Line Y

44 cm

Line X

Bone lines

13 cm

76 cm

Continued

Figure 5.19 Pattern for simplified pocket hoops.

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14. Stitch the hoops directly to the figure or apply to cotton tapes and tie around the waist. When securing, ensure that the hoops are positioned at the correct level.

Figure 5.20 Pleating up the top of a pocket hoop and fastening it to a figure. Flatten the top of the tube by stitching the front and back together

Pleat up the top of the tube CB

line x Seam line y

142

Making additional supports for eighteenth century skirts Hip and bum-pads: Pads of this kind were used at the beginning and end of the eighteenth century to give the fashionable shape to the hips and bottom. Although less historically accurate, pads can also be a useful tool when mounting costumes outside these dates. Hip pads in particular can be used instead of, or in combination with, pocket hoops or small frames, to adjust the shape of the underpinning or lend greater spring to the hips when necessary. Constructed out of a double layer of fabric such as calico and stuffed with polyester wadding, hip and bum-pads can be made to any size.

1

Credited to Michael Pope, Wimbledon School of Art.

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

Making a court panier Drafting the pattern and making the mould 1. To estimate the size of the frame needed, lay the costume on a large table and take the following measurements. Bear in mind that the frame should always be made smaller than the dimensions of the skirt: (a) The width of the costume from side to side at waist level. (b) The depth of the costume from front to back. To assist with this measurement, use temporary tissue puffs and rolls to build out the sides of the skirt. 2. Using these two measurements, draw a rectangle on a large piece of paper. 3. Divide the rectangle in half lengthways and mark on the centre front and centre back axis. 4. A second axis should be marked on the rectangle adjacent to the first. This line should be positioned 2 cm nearer the front edge of the rectangle than the back (see Figure 5.20). Label this line X and Y. 5. Draw on line H–I and P–S equidistant either side of the centre front and centre back axis. The distance between these two lines should be equal to the width of the hips on the figure at their widest point, plus 2 cm for ease. 6. From the sides of the rectangle, measure in approximately 20 cm and mark on line M–N and line O–Q. 7. Select a flat piece of scrap wood large enough to accommodate the rectangle and spread out the paper pattern on top of it. 8. Using the pattern as a guide, hammer nails into the wood at point M, H, P, O, Y, Q, S, I, N and X. Do not bang the nails in too deeply, but leave jutting out well above the surface of the wood.

M

H

20 cm

CB

P

Figure 5.21

O

Width of hips plus ease

Pattern for a court panier.

20 cm

X

Y

N

I

CF

S

Q

Continued

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Constructing the frame 1. Using steels approximately 1.5 cm wide, lay the foundation of the frame in the following way. Wrap a long piece of steel three times around the inside of the nails to make a sturdy base. Cut the steel to the relevant length by folding in half and pressing together with a pair of pliers until the metal snaps. Secure the loose ends by binding tightly in place with cotton tape. 2. Cut four equal lengths of steels approximately 70 cm long. Bend the steels into hoops and apply across the foundation from M–N, H–I, P–S and O–Q (see Figure 5.21). Tuck the cut ends in between the foundation steels and tie them tightly in place with cotton tape. 3. A fifth and sixth bone should be applied in the same way from X and Y to the top of hoop. Using cotton tape, tie the steels tightly in place wherever they cross. 4. Depending on the width and height of the support, apply one or two lengths of steel around the frame, between the top of the hoops and the foundation, in order to strengthen the structure. Using cotton tape, tie these steels tightly in place wherever they cross the vertical struts. 5. Using Figure 5.21 as a guide, two final steels should be applied at an angle to reinforce the ends of the frame. 6. To help maintain the shape of the frame, lash tapes across it from front to back. Tapes should be kept clear of the central area and applied to the foundation steel from M–N, H–I, P–S and O–Q. 7. Remove the frame from the nails and wooden base.

Figure 5.22

Space between the hoops wide enough for the figure

Constructing a court panier frame.

Y O P Q H S Use cotton tape to tie steels in place where ever they cross

M

I

N X Cotton tapes lashed across the frame

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

Suspending the frame from the waist 1. Make a waistband by wrapping a length of sturdy twill tape (approximately 2 cm wide) around the waist of the figure. Overlap by a minimum of 4 cm, positioning the join half way between the centre front and the side waist of the figure. Pin the tape securely together. 2. Slip the frame over the neck of the figure and position at the correct level. Ask someone to hold the frame in place while securing it to the waistband. 3. Cut a length of wide twill or webbing tape (approximately 5 cm wide) and apply in the following way. Wrap the tape around the bottom of the frame and thread behind the waistband at the centre back. Overlap the tape and pin together so that it forms a loop. Pin the tape together around the waistband and horizontal steels, creating channels. 4. Repeat the same process at the centre front. 5. Using the same technique, a tape of a narrower width should be used to secure the sides of the frame. To help keep these tapes in position, stitch them around the cross steels at the top of the frame. 6. Remove the frame from the figure with the waistband attached. Secure all the tapes with stitching and remove any pins. 7. When dressing the frame on to the figure, the waist tape can be secured with stitches, a hook and bar fastening or Velcro®.

At the end of the eighteenth century a smaller pad was used to fill out the back of the dress. This pad can be made up as a simple square or curved shape and attached just below the raised waistline. Alternatively, a long net frill can be used to create the same effect and will support the back of the skirt from waist to floor. Pocket hoops: Historically, pocket hoops were used from around the middle of the eighteenth century up until 1775, but they can also be used as a support when mounting moderate sized garments from earlier in the century. Patterns taken from original pocket hoops can be found in Period Costume for Stage & Screen by Jean Hunnisett and Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh. Alternatively, the simplified method below can be used to make a quick and easy pair of pocket hoops. Large panier frames for court costumes and extended skirt silhouettes: Although the eighteenth century hoop reached its maximum extent around the middle of the century, skirts with huge side hoops continued to be worn at court up until the Revolution in France and as late as the 1820s in England. Some examples of these large court skirts are so enormous that pocket hoops are completely unsuitable as a means of support. Instead, a solid frame must be constructed and used beneath the skirt to create a suitable silhouette and adequate under-structure. The technique described here is a straightforward

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way of creating a sturdy frame made out of crinoline steels and was developed for use in the theatre1.

A brief history of nineteenth century skirt shapes The high waist that had become fashionable at the end of the 1700s marks the commencement of the nineteenth century with a particularly distinctive style of dress. Persisting with this shape, the first years of the century are characterised by a waistline that continued to rise until reaching its zenith around 1815. Although maintaining decency, underpinnings from this period were less bulky than previously. Dresses often made of transparent muslins and gauzes were cut with relatively straight skirts, requiring little support to define their shape, apart from a tiny pad worn in the small of the back. From 1815 onwards, the skirt silhouette began to fill out and the hem developed into a more spherical bell shape. By the mid-1820s the high waist had dropped while the skirts continued to increase gradually in size. The numbers of undergarments worn beneath skirts inevitably multiplied to support their swelling shape. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s, the expansion of the skirt continued, with hem circumferences steadily growing. A larger bum-pad or bustle was used at this time to fill out the back of the skirt, while many layers of starched and stiffened petticoats were now worn to create the correct silhouette. By the end of the 1830s, a sturdier petticoat known as a crinoline was being used. This undergarment obtained its name from the French word crin or horsehair with which the petticoat was reinforced and should not be confused with the crinoline frame which was introduced some years later. The waistline, which had temporarily dropped during the 1840s, rose again in the 1850s. By this time, skirts had become so large that the number of petticoats worn to produce the shape was very cumbersome. In 1856, the cage crinoline was introduced to overcome this problem. Made out of a series of spring steel hoops suspended from tapes, the crinoline successfully liberated women from their previous petticoats, providing a firm support for the skirt. The shape of the skirt soon began to develop into a slightly more elegant silhouette, flattening out at the front and extending at the back. This bias towards the back of the figure seemed to develop throughout the decade culminating at its end in the first era of the bustle. With the crinoline abandoned, the bustle shape was partly derived from the looping up and draping of the surplus material left over from larger skirts. The level of the waist was also raised at this time and the bustle worn fairly high. To create the bustle silhouette, skirts were often supported with frames based on the structure of a half crinoline and made of fabric reinforced with whalebones or steels. Pads were also used, stuffed with straw, cotton or feathers. Later, in the early 1870s, when skirts were narrower, pads were worn alone, before being temporarily dropped to make way for the new slim line shape of 1874.

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

This new fashion was a radical change to the female silhouette and was also short lived. Skirt shapes at this time were moulded tightly over the hips and kept flat and narrow down the front and sides. The back was also fitted, often with an additional train attached to the skirt and positioned sometimes as low as knee level. Trains were supported with layers of flounces attached to the back of a fitted petticoat. By 1882, the bustle began to return, becoming more exaggerated than before. Positioned slightly lower than previously, it projected almost horizontally from the back waist of the figure. The flatter front of the skirt survived, helping to exentuate the extremity of the bustle behind, which was also narrower than its previous incarnation. Reaching its zenith at around the middle of the 1880s, the size of the bustle began to shrink and had disappeared entirely by the beginning of the next decade. Skirts now became relatively unstructured and were supported with gored petticoats stiffened with frills and gathered at the centre back for greater fullness.

Mounting costume from the nineteenth century The shapes of the skirts during the 1800s are the most extreme and varied of the three centuries and consequently garments from this period can be

Figure 5.23 Spencer and dress made of taffeta. 1807–810. British. T.60-1962. Mounted on a tiny child sized dress stand, padded to fit with additional sleeve supports. Skirt supported with a long, narrow, tube petticoat fitted to the figure below the bust line.

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challenging to mount. The following tips can be used to assist with the making of underpinnings to support and define the wide variety of skirt shapes. Mounting tips for skirts from the 1790s–1820s: Although Empire line skirts from this period are far slimmer than in later decades, they still require support. A basic underpinning, made of an extended tube petticoat can be used as a foundation for skirts of this type. The petticoat should be lengthened considerably and secured to the figure just below the level of the high waist. For straighter skirts, the dimensions of the tube should be made to match the circumference of the figure’s bottom at its widest point. Any excess fabric is then pleated at the back of the figure leaving the front and sides smooth. Tubes with a larger circumference can be used for fuller skirts and additional layers of net used over the top when required. To keep the front of the tube straight and prevent it from pushing forward, it may be necessary to apply cotton tapes inside the front of the petticoat, using them to pull the support backwards. The tapes can be tied off around the pole or legs of the figure. In addition, a small pad or length of gathered net will be required to support the fullness of skirts at the centre back. All supports should be covered in a top petticoat (p. 132). These need to be lengthened, gathered more heavily at the back and applied to the figure at the level of the raised waistline. It is important to note that many dresses from this period are made from semitransparent materials such as muslin and will require a full-length under-dress custom-made to fit beneath it. In this instance, a top petticoat will not be required as the under-dress will be sufficient. Instructions for making under-dresses can be found in Chapter 6. Mounting tips for skirts from 1825–1850: Although the size of skirts during this period continues to expand, a similar technique can be applied throughout to create appropriate supports. Using a pleated tube petticoat and layers of net, the silhouette of the support can be evolved and fine-tuned to suit the individual requirements of each costume. Depending on the dimensions of the skirt, the circumference of the tube petticoat can be increased to its maximum extent. For larger or heavier costumes, the tube can be strengthened by applying double layers of polyester boning. The top of the petticoat is pleated fairly evenly around the figure and applied well below the level of the waist. The shape of the upper support can be developed with layers of net either applied directly to the figure and tube or attached to a separate basque (see p. 129). Nets should generally be more heavily gathered towards the back of the figure to create greater fullness in this area. A bum-pad can also be used to build out the back of the skirt. This can be made as a simple sausage of rolled wadding covered in fabric, or a small bum-pad can be constructed using instructions from the section on the eighteenth century (p. 137). Mounting tips for skirts from the 1850s–1860s, The cage crinoline: Although the cage crinoline was not introduced until 1856, skirts are generally so large

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

throughout this period that using more substantial frames made of steels is often advisable. It is possible, however, to create large skirt supports using the tube petticoat and gathered net technique employed for the previous two decades, but the quantity of net frills required to build up supports can be so considerable that a crinoline frame may be more straightforward. There are several different ways of using steels to make crinoline supports. Historically, rings of steels were suspended from a series of tapes fanning out from a waistband or were inserted into carefully cut fabric petticoats. Specific patterns and techniques for making crinolines using these two systems can be found in Period Costume for Stage & Screen by Jean Hunnisett and Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh. Some costume mounters prefer to simplify the system

Making a crinoline frame Drafting the pattern 1. To make the pattern for the petticoat, you will need the following measurements: (a) The waist circumference of the figure divided by 4. (b) The centre front length of the costume from waist to hem, minus 5 cm. 2. Fold a large piece of tissue paper in half and mark measurement (b) down the fold. Square across at the top and bottom. 3. Divide measurement (a) in half and mark onto the top line. The length of the bottom line should be approximately 33 cm long.

Figure 5.24

a÷2

Pattern for a crinoline frame.

0.75cm Scale = 5cm

Fold b

Bone lines

3 cm 33 cm

Continued

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4. Join these two points with a long ruler in a diagonal line. 5. To create a curved hem and waistline, raise the bottom right-hand-corner of the pattern by 3 cm and draw in a smooth curve (see Figure 5.23 for guidance). The straight line at the top of the pattern should be altered in a similar way, raising the right-hand-corner by 0.75 cm. 6. Divide measurement (b) by 6 and mark 5 equally spaced bone lines onto the pattern. These lines should mirror the curved shape of the hem. 7. Add seam allowance of 2 cm and turn the tissue paper over. Trace the pattern through to the other side. The tissue can now be unfolded and used as a complete pattern. Making up the fabric petticoat 1. In a heavyweight calico or cotton duck, cut out three panels using the pattern as a template. Make sure that a 2 cm seam allowance has been included on all sides and the bone lines are marked onto each piece. 2. Stitch the three panels together leaving the petticoat open down the back. Trim and press open the seams. 3. Finish all four sides of the petticoat with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag. To make the perimeter of the garment more robust, fold in the finished edges and topstitch to hold them in place. 4. Using a machine zigzag, stitch down the flaps of the seam allowance and edge turnings. This will make the process of threading the steels easier, by preventing them from becoming caught under loose pockets of fabric. 5. Using the bone lines as a guide, apply casings to the inside of the petticoat made from cotton twill tape. Use a width of tape that is larger than the steels. Tapes should be sewn in place with a parallel line of stitching, leaving a space large enough to insert the steel. Make sure that the channel is slightly broader than the steel so that it can be threaded comfortably into the casing, but snugly enough to prevent it from twisting. A final tape casing should be applied to the hem of the petticoat. 6. To secure the crinoline around the waist of the figure, apply ties to the top of the petticoat made of cotton tape. Preparing and threading the steels 1. Using steels approximately 1 cm wide, cut 6 lengths to the following sizes. Steels can be cut by folding in half and pressing together with a pair of pliers until the metal snaps: Bone 1 = 315 cm Bone 2 = 285 cm Bone 3 = 240 cm Bone 4 = 190 cm Bone 5 = 150 cm Bone 6 = 115 cm

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

2. Before inserting into the petticoat, each length of boning should be covered in an outer covering. To do this, use two lengths of cotton tape of an appropriate width and stitch together forming a narrow casing. Thread the steels into the casing and stitch across the ends to prevent the steels from moving. Leave a tab of soft tape at both ends and finish the raw edges. 3. Thread the steels through the petticoat casings with the largest in the hem. Pull through until an equal amount of the steel is exposed at either end. 4. Once all the steels have been threaded, secure each into a ring by overlapping them at the back and binding with a length of tape (see Figure 5.24). Depending on the size of the frame required, the steels can be overlapped to a greater or lesser extent. To create a smaller frame, overlap the steels, wrapping them around the outside and inside of the petticoat. Secure in place with a few stitches passed through the soft tape tabs at each end of the steels. 5. To prevent larger frames from sagging at the centre back, a length of cotton tape can be secured to the waist band and looped simply around each ring of steel, lifting it and holding it in the correct position. N.B. Larger crinoline frames can also be made using this technique. Ensure that the steels are increased in proportion to the measurements stated above and that the hem of the petticoat is also enlarged. To strengthen the frame, add at least one extra ring of steel.

Figure 5.25 Making a crinoline frame.

Channels for steels made from tape and stitched to the inside of the petticoat

Steels overlapped at the centre back into rings

Machine zigzag flattening the seam allowance on the inside of the petticoat

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by making an unshaped gathered calico petticoat with a drawstring waist. Tape channels are stitched to the petticoat and the steels inserted through a centre back opening. The size and shape of the support can be altered by overlapping the steels and gathering the calico in areas requiring greater fullness. This system can work well, although the insertion and manipulation of the steels can be difficult and more time consuming than might be expected. The method described here is a simplified system, using a combination of techniques to create a reusable crinoline which is quick to make and easy to adapt into different sizes (see image on the front cover). It can also be used as a foundation for larger skirts from other periods. The crinoline is made of a

Figure 5.26 Dolman made of velvet. C.1885. British. T.2991983. Mounted on a modern dress stand made by Proportion London and padded to fit. Bustle foundation created using a combination of a frame and pad applied over the top of a pleated tube petticoat.

Making a bustle pad 1. Scale the pattern (Figure 5.26) up to size and if necessary adapt the dimensions. 2. Using the pattern as a template, cut out two panels of fabric in a mediumweight calico or polycotton, adding a seam allowance of 2 cm on all sides. It is better to do this with the fabric on the bias.

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

3. Working with one piece of fabric only, mark on the stitch lines using a tracing wheel. 4. Mark the two middle stitch lines through to the front of the fabric, with hand or machine thread tracing. 5. With right sides together, lay the two pieces of fabric exactly on top of each other and secure with pins. 6. Stitch the two pieces of fabric together around the perimeter of the pad, leaving three small openings as indicated on the pattern. 7. Trim the seam allowance to approximately 1/2 cm on all sides. Minimise bulky turnings at the corners by slicing off as much seam allowance as possible without cutting the stitching. To ease the fabric when turning, snip into the curves. 8. Bag out the pad by pulling it through one of the openings. Use a blunt point, such as a knitting needle, to push out the ends, taking care not to poke through. 9. With the bustle unstuffed, stitch the two layers of fabric together along the lines of thread tracing. 10. Using the separate openings, stuff the three individual sections of the pad with fragments of polyester wadding, until each is firm. 11. Close the openings with slip stitches. 12. For extra lift, an additional pad can be made separately and secured with a few stitches to the bottom of the middle pad. 13. Apply cotton tapes to the bustle as ties or stitch the pad directly to the figure.

Figure 5.27 Pattern for a bustle pad.

Scale = 5cm

opening

opening

opening

opening

Additional pad secured to the bottom of the middle pad.

Continued

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Making a bustle frame 1. Using the measurements from the Figure 5.27, draft the frame pattern on tissue paper. Measurements can be adjusted if necessary to create smaller or larger frames. 2. Using a folded piece of heavyweight calico or cotton duck, position the tissue pattern on top of the fabric matching line Y to the fold. Hold in place with pins and cut out the shape, adding seam allowances of 2 cm to all sides. 3. Mark the pattern onto the fabric using a tracing wheel (see Sewing Appendix p. 235). Make sure that all stitch and bone lines are included as well as line X. Remove the tissue and unfold the material. 4. Fold the fabric down the two lines labelled X and secure with pins. 5. To help define the shape of the frame, permanently secure the two folds by stitching down each one, approximately 1/2 cm from the edge. 6. Finish the top and bottom of the bustle frame with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag. 7. With right sides together, stitch the two raw edges into a centre back seam. Trim the seam and press open with an iron. 8. Using the two fold lines labelled X as a start and finishing point, apply half rings of polyester boning directly to the fabric. Use a wide machine zigzag stitch and follow the marked bone lines. Make sure that the natural curve of the boning corresponds to the curve of the finished bustle. As the support is currently the wrong way out, this means that the boning should be applied with the curve bent in the reverse direction. To make

Figure 5.28 24 cm

Pattern for a bustle frame.

Scale = 5cm 7.5 cm 3 cm

16 cm Bustle frame cut on the fold

13 cm

14 cm Bone line Line X

15 cm

Foldline Y

91 cm

16 cm

17 cm 5 cm 38 cm

54 cm

16

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

9. 10. 11. 12.

13.

the bustle frame more robust, a double layer of Rigilene® can be used if necessary. To prevent the frame from buckling, stitch the boning together, before applying it to the fabric. When doing this, make sure that the natural curve of both strips are running in the same direction. Apply a final half ring of boning to the hem of the frame. Work two rows of gathering stitches along the top of the bustle, between the fold lines labelled X. Turn the fabric the right way out and allow the bustle to spring into shape with the seam running down the centre back. Using the prepared stitches, pull up the front fabric into gathers between the fold lines labelled X, until it matches the width of the back. Secure the gathers by stitching front and back together. Apply cotton tapes to the bustle as ties or stitch the frame directly to the figure.

Figure 5.29 Making a bustle frame.

Polyester boning stitched to the inside of the bustle

Tube petticoat

three-quarter sized, fabric petticoat, left open at the back. Casings are stitched to the inside of the garment into which graded lengths of steels are threaded, leaving the ends of the steels exposed at the back. To create a spherical frame, the ends of the steels are bound together into rings. The open back of the petticoat allows the support to be easily adjusted by overlapping the steels to a greater or lesser degree, avoiding any difficult bone manipulation. To prevent the front of the frame from pushing forward, cotton tapes should be applied

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Figure 5.30 Making a train support.

Frill lines

Heavy weight fabric

Finish all edges with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag

Net frills Tube petticoat

Fabric foundation

(a)

(b)

Fabric foundation.

Attaching a train support.

inside the front of the petticoat and used to pull the frame backwards. The tapes can be secured around the pole or legs of the figure. Gathered nets and a top petticoat should always be used in combination with the crinoline frame. Nets are not only a useful way of building up and fine tuning the shape of the support, but will also protect the costume from the steels. Over time, damage can be caused to historical skirts resting directly on top of these sharp edged strips of metal. Mounting tips for skirts with bustles: Supports for the two periods of bustles were historically created using a variety of different frames and pads. Once again, patterns can be found in Period Costume for Stage & Screen by Jean Hunnisett and Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh. Included here is a pattern for a basic bustle pad and a simple method for making a more structured bustle frame. The two techniques can be adapted in size for individual costumes and often work well used together as well as alone. Tube petticoats should be employed to Drafting the petticoat pattern Pattern for the front petticoat

Pattern for the back petticoat

1. To draft the pattern, you will need the following measurements: (a) The circumference of the figure approximately 8–10 cm below the waistline, divided by 4. (b) The length of the petticoat. This can be calculated by measuring the length of the centre front skirt from waist to hem and subtracting 8–10 cm depending on where the circumference measurement has been taken from. A further 3–5 cm should be subtracted to ensure that the petticoat is not visible below the hem of the costume.

Pattern for the front petticoat

Pattern for the back petticoat

2. Referring to Figure 5.30 for guidance, draw a straight line down the left side of a large piece of tissue paper 3. Using a tape measure, mark measurement (b) on to this line, labelling the top as X and the bottom Y. 4. On the front pattern, line X and Y is the centre front line of the petticoat and should be marked as the fold.

4. On the back pattern, line X and Y is the side of the petticoat and should be marked as the straight of grain.

5. Square across from point X and point Y. 6. Using a tape measure, mark measurement (a) along the top line from point X and label this P. 7. The hem of the front pattern should be between 40–50 cm. Mark this distance along the bottom line from point Y and label it Q.

7. The hem of the back pattern should be between 85–100 cm. Mark this distance along the bottom line from point Y and label it Q.

8. Join point P and point Q with a straight line. 9. Extend this line 1 cm beyond point P and label this M. Join M and X with a smooth curve, referring to Figure 5.30 for guidance. 10. From point M, use a tape measure to mark measurement (b) onto the diagonal line and label this N. Join points N and Y with a smooth curve, referring to Figure 5.30 for guidance. 11. From point M measure down approximately 15 cm and mark as the centre back opening. 12. Add a 2 cm seam allowance to the outside of the pattern. 13. Looking at the shape of the costume, gauge the number and dimensions of net frills required to support the hem of the garment. Once this has been established, mark the frill lines onto the pattern. These should follow the curve of the hem and can be used as a guide when applying the frills to the petticoat.

a X

a

M

M

X

P

P

Scale = 5cm

Scale = 5cm CB opening

lin

b

e

b

am

b

se

Side seam on straight of grain

Fold

Side seam

b

CB

Front petticoat Cut 1 panel on fold

Back petticoat Cut 2 panels

example frill line

example f

rill lin

e

N

N Y

50 cm

Q

Y

100 cm

Figure 5.31 Front and back petticoat patterns (1890s–1909).

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Making the petticoat 1. Using a medium to heavyweight calico, fold the fabric in half and position the front pattern piece on top, matching line X and Y to the fold. Pin the pattern in place and cut out the front panel of the petticoat. 2. The back pattern piece should be laid on top of the folded calico, matching line X and Y to the straight of grain, but making sure that seam allowance is included. If the pattern is too large to fit on the fabric, unfold the calico and cut out the two back panels individually. 3. Using a tracing wheel, mark the stitch lines, hem and frill lines onto the calico (see Sewing Appendix p. 235). 4. Mark the frill lines through to the front of the fabric, using hand or machine thread tracing. 5. With right sides together, stitch the two back panels together along the diagonal seam line, remembering to leave a centre back opening of approximately 15 cm. Finish the seam with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag and press open. 6. With right sides together, stitch the front and back panels together along the side seams. Finish the seams with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag and press open. 7. Trim and finish the waistline and hem of the petticoat using pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag. To strengthen the waistline, fold in the top edge and secure with a line of top stitching. 8. To add bulk to the lower part of the petticoat, prepare the appropriate net frills, using the quick-gather method, (see Appendix p. 243). Stitch the frills to the hem of the petticoat, using the previously marked lines as a guide.

Figure 5.32 Completed petticoat with net frills attached.

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

9. To protect the costume from the raw edges of the net, cover the frills with a layer of gathered fabric such as silk habotai. 10. Dress the petticoat onto the figure and position 8–10 cm below the level of the waist. Close the centre back opening with whipstitching and, if necessary, herringbone stitch the petticoat to the figure using a curved needle.

support the rest of the skirt and always used in combination with bustle pads and frames. A layer of gathered net and top petticoat should be applied over the top of the entire support, helping to consolidate and smooth the silhouette. Mounting tips for skirts from 1875–1882, Train supports: Although the relatively narrow skirts of the dresses from this period do not require any large supports or frames, the long trains of this era often need additional attention. This can be simply done by cutting a long triangular foundation shape of heavyweight calico or cotton duck, the length and width of the train (see Figure 5.29(a)). Rows of graduated net frills can then be applied to the foundation, extending out on to the floor as necessary. Once the support has been built up, the net frills should be covered with a layer of gathered fabric, such as silk habotai, to protect the costume from any sharp edges. The train support should be used in combination with a tube petticoat and fastened over the top at a level appropriate to the costume. In some cases this will be surprisingly low. Mounting tips for skirts from 1890s–1909, Supportive petticoat: Skirts from this period were relatively unstructured compared to previous fashions from the nineteenth century and tended to be supported with gored petticoats, stiffened with frills and flounces. The underpinning described here can be adapted and used as a support petticoat beneath most skirts from this period. Using the pattern as a basic shape, net frills of varying sizes and quantity can be added to the hem of the petticoat to create a foundation customised to the requirements of each costume. The petticoat is cut in three panels, one for the front and two for the back. To avoid bulk and simplify the pattern, the underpinning is positioned well below the waistline and should be used in combination with a tube petticoat.

A brief history of twentieth century skirt shapes Most of the big changes of this period were concentrated in the first half of the century. Between 1900 and 1908, when the S-bend corset was in vogue, skirts were cut to fit the figure fairly closely, flaring out below the knee. By 1906, the level of the waistline was altered by the introduction of the corselette skirt,

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which fitted tightly around the waist of the figure, rising several inches above its natural line. Petticoats from this time mirrored the styles of the skirts, with additional frills and flounces for support. As the new slim line skirts took hold of the fashionable world in 1910, petticoats of this type were discarded. Garments such as the hobble skirt took this style to such extremes that it sometimes became difficult for women to walk. Naturally, the impracticalities of such a narrow silhouette meant that it could not last long and once the First World War began, hems increased to a more realistic width. With the war over, the well-known silhouette of the 1920s developed. The fashionable flat boyish figure was dressed in simple straight cut skirts, with rising hem lines and unfitted dropped waists. By the end of the decade, this shape was already giving way to the more naturally curvaceous profile of the 1930s. Inspired by the newly developed technique for bias cutting, skirts now clung to the hips of the figure, dropping into long, graceful pleats at the feet. By contrast, the skirts of the 1940s were far more economical. This shift was generated by the Second World War and the introduction of the utility scheme in 1941, which kept strict control over the amount of time and money spent on clothes. As a result, skirts were cut straight or gathered into ungenerous pleats, with cost-effective hem lines that came just below the knee. As rationing continued for some years after 1945, the plain fashions of the war years could not be broken with immediately and it was not until the end of the decade that a more extravagant style, inspired by Christian Dior’s new look, began to take effect. This new silhouette favoured exaggerated hips, tiny waists and both a fuller and longer skirt. During the 1950s, skirts were often supported by petticoats made from layers of gathered nylon net, similar to the techniques used for costume mounting. By 1957, the fuller silhouette had given way to slimmer skirts or ‘A’ line shapes, which were continued into the 1960s. By 1965, hem lengths had risen dramatically into the first ever miniskirts. So short was this new style that very little could be worn beneath, making slips and petticoats redundant. At the end of the decade the vogue for miniskirts had passed, and floor length garments came into fashion. From then on, hem lines and skirt shapes constantly fluctuated, matching the faster changing and more diverse fashions we are familiar with today.

Mounting costume from the twentieth century Although the twentieth century went through some radical changes, skirts from this period tend to be easier to mount than those from the previous two hundred years. Depending on the size and style of the costume, most skirts can be satisfactorily supported using a combination of a tube petticoat and net frills. The following are some general guidelines and tips that can be used to help when preparing twentieth century skirts for display.

DESIGNING AND MAKING UNDERPINNINGS

Mounting tips for skirts from 1900–1909: Costumes from this period can be supported with the same kind of underskirt used at the end of the nineteenth century and used in combination with a tube petticoat. The quantity and positioning of net frills should be applied to the petticoat according to the shape of the individual costume. Mounting tips for skirts from 1910–1915: When mounting the narrow skirts from this period, it may be necessary to use a support that tapers at the hem. For example, many of the distinctive pleated dresses made by Mariano Fortuny often appear to greater advantage if mounted over the top of an inverted conical shaped foundation. The straight cut of the tube petticoat can easily be adapted by stitching a number of long darts around the hem of the support before applying the polyester boning (4 darts are usually adequate). To help the costume hang smoothly, it is often wise to back the calico tube onto a layer of slippery fabric such as silk habotai. Melinex® supports can also be used to Figure 5.33 Two petticoats made to fit under a sequined bias-cut evening dress by Coco Chanel and a satin, bias-cut evening dress by Madeleine Vionnet. The upper parts of the figures were covered by hand, while the skirts were made separately and stitched to the waists of the figures.

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lthough most of the core aspects of costume mounting have already been covered in previous chapters, a number of other problems often crop up when preparing garments for display. These additional snags are usually associated with older items where parts of the costume are weak, damaged, distorted or even missing. Modern costumes, however, can also pose the same sorts of difficulties. Problems can vary in magnitude from quite significant issues, such as missing parts of an outfit, to small adjustments, the need for which only becomes evident once the costume is mounted. Although larger problems will inevitably predominate, the importance of addressing more minor issues should not be underestimated. For example, the final tweaks and finishing touches applied to a costume before it goes out on display, can make a huge difference to its finished appearance and a little extra time should always be allowed for these improvements. This chapter deals with some of the snags and adjustments that may be necessary when mounting a costume on a figure. The number of problems that can occur are probably limitless and this book deals only with those that arise most frequently. The methods and techniques that are described here should be treated as approximate examples and must be adapted and developed to suit individual mounting difficulties.

Additional Pads Although the shaping of a torso with soft padding is covered in detail in Chapter 4, it is sometimes necessary to attach additional pieces of padding to a figure as a final step. These pads can be used to fill out residual wrinkles, define unusual bodice shapes, add the final fullness to the bust, smooth out unattractive depressions caused by distorted fabrics and warped bones and help prevent skirts and strapless bodices from slipping down the figure. Not every costume will require work of this kind and reasons for using extra pads can vary widely.

Figure 6.1 Muslin dress with embroidered hem. C. 1830. British or French. T.51-1934. Mounted on a fibreglass torso made by H&H Sculptors Ltd and padded to fit. Shear muslin frock mounted over the top of a custom-made under-dress and additional supportive underpinnings. 163

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For example, pads can be employed to deal with problem areas for figures that have already been heavily shaped with polyester wadding, while also providing a useful tool for fine-tuning mannequins that require no other modifications. Supplementary pads can be prepared and used in three different ways. The most straightforward method is to stitch isolated pieces of padding directly to the figure, covering them afterwards in fabric. Alternatively, loose pieces of covered padding can be made up individually and slipped inside the costume during dressing. A less common technique is to fashion wadding into more specific shapes by stiffening it with museum board or Reemay®. These reinforced pads can either be fastened directly to the figure or inserted loose inside the costume. The size and shape of the pads will differ according to the individual mounting problem and can vary from small pieces of padding a few centimetres wide, to large sections of wadding cut to cover the entire front of a torso.

Applying extra pads directly to the figure Although it is important never to over stuff a costume, pads of this kind can be conveniently used to smooth out many of the more straightforward wrinkles and creases. As the padding is stitched directly to the torso, this technique is most suitable for use on figures with a fabric finish. Mannequins with solid surfaces will need to be covered in a preliminary layer of stretch fabric before pads can be applied (see p. 57). To establish the exact shape and size of the padding, dress the costume on the figure and take a tissue paper pattern of the problem area. This can then be used as a template to cut out a piece of polyester wadding of suitable dimensions. For a smooth finish, feather out the edges of the padding. Carefully position onto the figure and herringbone stitch in place using the same technique described in Chapter 4 (p. 78). Once secured, the padding should be covered in a layer of stretch fabric to isolate the fibres from the object. With individual pieces of padding such as these, it is not necessary to cover the entire torso, but only the area where the wadding has been applied. The following instructions explain this process.

Covering isolated areas of padding in stretch fabric 1. Stretch a piece of cotton jersey over the padded area and secure to the figure with a few pins. 2. To ease out all the creases and fit the fabric smoothly over the padding, work around the shape, stretching and pinning the jersey to the figure until the wadding is completely encircled with pins. The fabric should overlap the padding by a minimum of 2 cm on all sides.

TROUBLESHOOTING

3. Working on the inside of the pins, secure the jersey permanently to the figure with a small herringbone stitch. 4. Remove the pins and trim the excess fabric away with a pair of small sharp scissors. To prevent the edges from rolling and fraying, stretch and pull the jersey away from the herringbone as you work and snip as close to the stitch line as possible.

Figure 6.2 Covering isolated areas of padding with fabric.

Jersey

Wadding

Loose pads As their name suggests, loose pads are made up individually as unattached pieces of padding that can be slipped inside a costume to help smooth out troubled areas. Pads of this sort are made from shaped pieces of polyester wadding covered on both sides with a layer of smooth isolating fabric, such as silk habotai. Loose pads can be used to assist with a number of different mounting problems. In particular, they are of great value when dressing outfits made up of more than one garment. For example, a jacket worn over the top of a dress can sometimes require more padding than the size and shape of the dress will allow. In this case, loose pads can be made and slipped inside the jacket over the top of the dress. If necessary, pads can be partially attached to the figure to help keep them in place. There are many other uses for which loose pads can be employed. Most commonly they can be used as a means of filling out the bust of fitted costumes. Made up as a matching pair, bust pads can usually be slipped inside the cup area while the garment is dressed on the figure. To help them disappear, bust pads

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should always be covered in a fabric that matches the colour of the outfit. To ease access, the fastening of the garment should be left open until the pads have been inserted. Once in position, the costume should be fastened over the top and the loose pads will be held in place by the pressure of the costume against the figure. Loose pads can also be used to help smooth out ugly hollows, indentations and creases caused by distorted fabrics and warped or damaged bones.

Making loose pads 1. With the costume dressed on the figure, make a pattern for the loose pad. To do this, hold a piece of tissue paper against the costume where extra support is required and, using a soft pencil, trace through the shape of the problem area. 2. Remove the tissue from the figure and even up the pattern as necessary. 3. Select polyester wadding of a suitable thickness and use the pattern as a template to cut out the pad. If identical right and left pads are required, use the pattern to cut out an extra shape. 4. Feather out the edges of the padding, using the same technique described on p. 78. 5. With the pad flat on a table, lay a piece of fabric, such as silk habotai, over the top of the wadding and pin in place. 6. Turn the pad over and trim the fabric around the shape so that it overlaps the padding by approximately 1 cm on all sides. 7. Sandwich the padding between a second layer of fabric and pin in position. When doing this, ensure that the pins pass right through the padding and catch into the fabric on the other side.

Figure 6.3 Feathered edge

First layer of fabric

Wadding

First layer of fabric

(a) Step 1.

1 cm

Second layer of fabric

(b) Step 2.

Additional line of stitching, only required if finishing the raw edges with pinking shears

TROUBLESHOOTING

8. Turn the pad back over and remove the original pins. 9. Using the trimmed edge as a guide, sew a line of stitching approximately 2–3 cm inside the perimeter of the pad, passing through all layers. This can be done by hand or machine. 10. Trim away any excess fabric and finish the raw edges with overlocking or zigzag. If using pinking shears, work an additional line of stitching just inside the cut line.

Stiffened pads Stiffened pads are less commonly required than the two previous types. When appropriate, however, they can be employed to great effect. Stiffened with a layer of lightweight museum board or Reemay®, pads of more precision and

Figure 6.4 Bodice and skirt made out of watered silk. C.1858. British. T.90-1964. Mounted on a modern dress stand made by Proportion London and padded to fit. To help the back of the bodice sit smoothly over the skirt, a stiffened pad made of Reemay® and reinforced with boning, was inserted into the back of the costume. Once the skirt had been mounted, the pad was positioned on top and stitched to the figure to hold it in place, before dressing the bodice.

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structure can be created. As with loose pads, supports of this kind can be slipped inside the costume as unattached shapes, or can be fastened more securely to the figure with stitching. This technique is suitable for outfits with baffling areas of surplus fabric, such as fullness around the shoulder blades or costumes with exaggerated designs that require more specialist support than an ordinary rounded body can provide. For example, some of the pleated and gathered bodices from the 1840s and 1850s are occasionally cut in such unusual shapes that they require additional assistance to help form the correct silhouette. Stiffened pads can be used to assist with such problems in a controlled and structured way. This technique can also be used to help give figures a more corseted appearance or to create a firm flattened support for the front or back of close fitting bodices.

Making stiffened pads 1. With the costume dressed on the figure, make a pattern for the stiffened pad. To do this, hold a piece of tissue paper against the costume where extra support is required and, using a soft pencil, trace the shape of the problem area. 2. Remove the tissue from the figure and even up the pattern as necessary. 3. Using the pattern as a template, cut out the shape of the pad in a piece of medium-weight museum board or Reemay®. If identical right and left pads are required, use the pattern to cut out an extra shape. 4. Lay the shape on to a piece of polyester wadding and hold in place with a few pins. Trim around it, leaving 2 cm turnings of wadding on all sides. 5. Fasten the wadding to the shape by stitching through both layers, 1 cm from the edge of the card. This should be done using a loose hand tacking stitch.

Figure 6.5

Shape made of Reemay® or museum board

fabric

Wadding

feathered out edges

(a) Step 1.

(b) Step 2.

(c) Step 3.

TROUBLESHOOTING

6. Feather out the edges of the wadding up to the tack line. Trim around the card shape, snipping away any excess. 7. Cover the wadding in an isolating layer of fabric. Fold the fabric around to the back of the padded shape and whipstitch to the edge of the card. N.B. If the reverse side of the stiffened pad touches any part of the costume, the back of the card should also be covered in fabric. 8. These pads can either be slipped inside the costume as loose pads or be secured to the figure with stitches.

Using pads to prevent skirts and strapless bodices from slipping down It should rarely be necessary to prevent skirts or strapless bodices from slipping down a figure. In the majority of cases if the waist, hips and bust are padded up to the correct size, costumes will fasten comfortably around the torso and hold their position with little difficulty. There are always exceptions to the rule however, and in some cases additional supports may be required to help garments with specific dressing problems. These problems can vary in nature, but are most regularly caused by baffling inconsistencies between the waist sizes of skirts and bodices. For example, the waistband of a skirt is sometimes constructed unaccountably larger than the waist dimensions of its matching bodice. Outfits from the nineteenth century tend to suffer most frequently from these discrepancies, complicating the mounting process. As many bodices are designed to fasten over the top of skirts, the waist of the figure must be kept small, and alternative methods of support found to keep the skirt in place. There are several possible techniques described in other sections of this chapter, which can be used to resolve this situation. These include supporting the skirt with braces (p. 178) or overlapping the waistband (p. 180). Using a combination of different methods often provides the best solution. Improvements can also be made by applying hip and bum-pads to the figure to help support the weight of the skirt. Depending on the style of the costume, pads can be made in a variety of different sizes using the instructions on p. 137. Care should always be taken to keep the size of pads to a minimum or the silhouette of the outfit will be spoilt. For this reason, hip and bum-pads will not be suitable for costumes with slim-line skirts. However, by considerably reducing the size of pads, the system can still be used to support skirts with less significant problems. Rather than using shaped hip pads, narrow rolls of covered padding can be applied around the torso just below the waistline. This provides a small, invisible shelf for the skirt to hook over and is often just enough to keep the garment in position. This technique can also work as a support for strapless bodices and dresses. Similar rolls of covered wadding can be applied around the diaphragm

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of the figure or just below the back of the bodice, adding an extra layer of soft wadding for the garment to grip and fasten around.

Collar Supports Although collars are more decorative than structural and may seem an insignificant part of an outfit, they play an important visual role and should not be overlooked when mounting costume for display. Used as a way of finishing the neck opening of a garment, collars are not only very conspicuous, but are also vulnerable to damage and, over time, often become flattened, droopy, collapsed or creased. To correct these visual defects, supports can be used to help restore the shape and set of the collar to its original condition. Although not every costume made with a collar will need additional supports, it is not uncommon, and taking time to tidy up this part of a garment can considerably improve its over-all appearance. Even the collars of very new and up-to-date outfits can sometimes benefit from extra underpinnings when being prepared for static display. Collars can be cut in many different ways to create different fashionable effects. As always, supports must be custom-made to deal with individual problems, but despite wide differences in styles, the basic difficulties with collars tend to be fairly uniform and can be dealt with in similar ways. Collars and their supports can be divided roughly into two separate categories; those that stand up and those that fold down. The following instructions provide a basic method for dealing with mounting problems from each of these groups. The techniques described should be adapted and developed as appropriate.

Supports for fold-down collars There are a number of different problems that commonly arise when mounting costumes with fold-down collars. The most simple to rectify are collars that have become over pressed along the fold, giving the neckline an unnaturally knife edge quality. This can usually be improved with a simple roll of polyester wadding covered in fabric and pressed up inside the collar to ease out the hard crease. In other cases, the inside curve of the collar stand can lose its smooth line and become buckled and distorted. Problems of this kind are usually best corrected with a more structured support. A band similar to a vicar’s dog-collar can be made of a stiffened material, such as museum board or Reemay® and inserted between the collar stand and flap. Collar flaps can also have their share of troubles, becoming droopy, squashed or even dented. Loss of definition of this kind can be revived using another stiffened support, this time cut to fit under the collar flaps. This foundation can be used alone or in combination with a band support. When making either, care should be taken to ensure that they are not visible once they have been inserted and should usually be covered in a fabric that matches the colour of the costume.

TROUBLESHOOTING

Making a band support 1. To make the pattern for a band support you will need the following measurements: (a) The circumference of the collar stand minus a minimum of 2.5 cm. (b) The height of the collar stand minus approximately 1 cm. 2. Using these two measurements, draw a rectangle on a piece of tissue paper. 3. Cut out the tissue pattern and test its shape by wrapping it around the collar. To improve the fit of the band, it may be necessary, in some cases, to adjust the rectangular pattern into a curved shape. To do this, divide the rectangle into six equal parts along the width, marking the pattern with five parallel lines. Leaving the central line intact, slash down the remaining four lines with a pair of scissors, taking care not to sever the sections fully. Overlap the pieces at the top by approximately 0.5 cm and pin or tape in place to create the curved shape. For collars requiring a more exaggerated curve, overlap the lines by more than 0.5 cm.

Figure 6.6(a)

0.5 cm

Adjusting the rectangular band pattern in to a curved shape.

b

a

4. Try the pattern for size against the collar once again. Make sure that the band will not be visible from the front of the costume. If the pattern is too big, reduce its length. 5. Use the finished pattern as a template and cut out the band in mediumweight museum board or Reemay®. 6. Cover both sides of the band in a layer of fabric of an appropriate colour. To do this, lay the shape on the fabric and trim around it, leaving turnings of 2 cm on all sides. Wrap the fabric tightly around the edges of the support and secure in place by stitching through all layers with a matching thread. This can be done either by hand or machine. Cover the other side of the support in a second layer of fabric, folding the raw edges under and slipstitching in place. Second layer of fabric

Figure 6.6(b)

Slipstitches

Covering the collar band in fabric.

First layer of fabric

7. Once the band support has been made, bend the shape into an appropriate curve and insert carefully under the collar and up into the fold. Continued

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Making a support for collar flaps 1. Lay a piece of tissue over one half of the collar flap and using a soft pencil carefully trace off the shape. It is only necessary to take a pattern of the area of collar that requires support, for example the back of the collar will not usually be included. 2. Remove the pattern from the costume and even up if necessary. The pattern can be used for both the right and left side of the collar. 3. To ensure that the support will not be visible when positioned under the collar, reduce the dimensions of the pattern by a minimum of 0.5 cm on all sides. 4. Cut out the pattern and try it for size under both sides of the collar. Make sure that it does not protrude beyond the collar flap and is sufficiently set back to be invisible from the front. If the template is too big, reduce the size of the pattern. Repeat this process until the pattern is a suitable size and shape. 5. Using the pattern as a template, cut out two shapes in a medium-weight museum board or Reemay®. These can be used as supports for the right and left half of the collar. 6. Using a fabric that matches the colour of the costume, cover both sides of the supports in a layer of fabric. To do this, use the same instructions as described for band supports. 7. Once the collar supports are completed, it is a good idea to link them together with a piece of cotton tape. Cut the tape to a suitable length and secure the ends to the back of each covered shape. The supports can then be inserted under the collar flaps with the tape hooked around the back of the neck. This will help prevent them from slipping out of position during the display.

Figure 6.7

Cotton tape

Collar flap support.

Slipstitches

TROUBLESHOOTING

Figure 6.8 Reconstruction of a Production outfit designed and worn by Alexandre Rodchenko. 1922. T40-2005. Collar defined and smoothed by a stand-up collar support, inserted inside the neck of the garment.

Supports for stand-up collars Although stand-up collars are less likely to require additional supports, they can become buckled or distorted in storage. When dressed on mannequins, these faults often become more pronounced and can spoil the look of the outfit. To deal with this difficulty, the collar can be supported with a stiffened band similar to that used for fold-down collars. In this case, however, the band is made to the exact dimensions of the inner collar, joined into a complete cylinder and inserted inside the neck of the garment. As there is no means of hiding the band from view, it is likely to be partially visible. For this reason, the support must be made to look as much like the inside of the collar as possible. This can be done by covering the support neatly in a fabric that matches the colour of the costume.

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Making a support for a stand-up collar 1. To make the pattern for a stand-up collar support you will need the following measurements: (a) The complete inner circumference of the collar stand at the top and bottom. (b) The height of the collar stand minus approximately 0.5–1 cm. 2. Draw a rectangle with these two measurements on a piece of tissue paper. 3. If the top of the collar stand is narrower than the bottom, it will be necessary to adjust the straight-sided pattern into a curved shape. To do this, divide the difference between the top and bottom circumference of the collar stand by 4 and call this measurement X. Divide the rectangular pattern into six equal parts along the width, marking on five parallel lines. Leaving the central line intact, slash down the remaining four lines with a pair of scissors, taking care not to sever the sections fully. Overlap the pieces at the top by measurement X and pin or tape in place to create the curved shape (see Diagram 6.6(a)). 4. Add an overlap of 2 cm to one end of the rectangle and cut out the pattern. 5. Curl the pattern into a cylinder and try it for size inside the stand-up collar. The centre back line can be overlapped to create the best fit. 6. Use the finished pattern as a template and cut out the stand in a medium-weight museum board or Reemay®. 7. Cover both sides of the collar support in a layer of fabric that matches the colour of the costume. To do this, lay the shape on the fabric and trim around it, leaving turnings of 2 cm on all sides. Wrap the fabric tightly around the edges of the support and secure in place by stitching through all layers with a matching thread. This can be done either by hand or machine. Cover the other side of the support in a second layer of fabric, folding the raw edges under and slipstitching in place. Make sure that the inside of the cylinder is as neat as possible as this will be visible from the outside of the costume. 8. Complete the band by stitching the ends of the rectangle together and forming a cylinder. 9. Once the support has been made, carefully insert inside the stand-up collar.

Figure 6.9

When covering, ensure that the inside of the support is as neat as possible

Stand-up collar support.

Collar support

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Training collars This is a useful technique that can be used with collars of all shapes, sizes and styles to help remould the necks of garments. Although it is not foolproof, this method can often improve the appearance of a collar significantly and is always worth trying. Essentially, it is a way of retraining collars that have fallen into bad habits and schooling them to behave as they were originally designed to do. Unlike the previous methods, this technique involves only a temporary support that is removed from the collar once the costume has been placed on display. It is therefore particularly useful for costumes where time is limited, or when more structured supports are too conspicuous to be employed. Using soft wads of tissue as padding, the collar can be moulded into a better shape and then left to acclimatise. A minimum of three to four days is usually necessary for this process. To give the collar training its best chance of success, the tissue should be left in situ until the costume is installed in the display and only removed at the last possible moment. With luck, the newly set collar will maintain its shape even after the support has been removed. Cotton tapes can also be used to assist with training techniques. For example, a costume that has lost its collar fastening can sometimes be trained to appear as if it is done up. Gently tie a piece of cotton tape around the neck of the costume to hold the collar in the correct position. Once again, the outfit should be left to acclimatise for as long as possible. When the tape is finally removed, the collar should remain in position without any further assistance.

Costumes with Missing or Damaged Fastenings Costumes can be fastened in a variety of different ways using hooks, buttons, ties, drawstrings, lacing, pins and, more recently, zips. These fixings are a vital part of a garment, particularly when preparing outfits for display. Unfortunately, fastenings are often lost and damaged, leaving a costume mounter with the difficult task of securing a garment around a figure with no means of doing it up. The most obvious way of dealing with the problem is to replace these fastenings. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, particularly when dealing with old, fragile costumes. Occasionally, it is clear from residual threads, indentations or even rust stains on a garment, where and what the fixings were, and in these cases it is sometimes possible to substitute lost fastenings with appropriate modern imitations. This tends to be the exception rather than the rule however, and for most outfits, replacing fastenings is not so straightforward. For example, costumes are often too weak to sustain the application of new fixings, while in other cases there is often nothing to indicate how a costume was originally fastened, making it impossible to select appropriate reproductions.

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This lack of evidence may be accounted for by the use of pins, which were often used to secure dress in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, instead of the more permanent forms of fastenings that we are familiar with today. Although this method may be historically correct, it is not necessarily suitable when mounting costume. Pushing pins into fragile and brittle textiles can cause damage, particularly if the fastening is under any kind of strain. Costumes that have been secured in this way are also at risk of being torn when undressed, as pins are often difficult to see and can easily be overlooked. If there is no possible alternative, fine entomological pins should be used rather than those of an ordinary dressmaking variety. The position of any pins must be well documented, so that the costume can be undressed safely at the end of a display. Before resorting to using pins, however, alternative methods should be explored first, to see if a safer way of securing a costume can be found. The following section provides a number of different techniques that can be used to help solve fastening problems. The methods range from simple and harmless tips to systems that involve more invasive stitching treatments. To ensure the safety of the costume, these latter techniques should never be implemented without first obtaining advice and guidance from a textile conservator and curator.

Training costumes with tapes When mounting costumes with missing fastenings, it is sometimes possible to make a garment appear as if it has been done up, even when there is nothing structural holding it together. This is one of the simplest techniques and is particularly valuable, as it avoids the necessity of using more invasive methods. To put this process into practice, temporary tapes are secured around the open flaps and plackets of a costume and left until the garment has been trained to remain closed. Once the tapes are removed, the costume should stay in position without any further assistance. This technique is only suitable for fastenings that are not under any tension. For example, the waistband of skirts or trousers cannot be secured in this way. Training tapes can also be used to assist with other costume mounting problems, such as controlling unruly pleats, coaxing soft sleeve supports to hang evenly and any other small corrections that may be appropriate. When using this technique, lengths of cotton tape are gently wrapped around the area that requires attention and secured by tying or pinning together. Take care when doing this that no other part of the costume is crushed or disarranged by the tapes. For the training to have time to take effect and the costume to acclimatise to its new arrangement, the tapes must be left in place for a minimum of three to four days and in some cases longer. If possible, the tapes should remain in situ until the costume is installed in the display and only removed at the last possible moment.

TROUBLESHOOTING

Figure 6.10 Satin bodice with slashed decoration. 1630-35. British. 172-1900. Mounted on a fibreglass figure made by H & H Sculptors Ltd and padded to fit. To train the opening of the bodice to remain in the correct position without the use of fastenings or pins, cotton tapes were secured around the costume and left for several weeks to acclimatise.

Fastenings solutions using stitched techniques Although it is rarely appropriate to use stitching alone as a means of doing up a costume, it is sometimes necessary to use it as part of a fastening technique. The following are some examples of different methods that require invasive stitching treatments as a way of solving the problem of missing fixings. When using any of these techniques, advice should always be sought from a curator and if possible work should be carried out by a textile conservator. All treatments should be executed with the costume flat on a table, in a controlled environment and never when dressed on the figure. Velcro® supports: Velcro® has a dual function and can be used not only as a means of fastening a garment together, but also of securing the costume to the figure. For this reason Velcro® is a particularly useful way of securing the waistbands of heavy skirts and trousers, where a single fastening such as a button or hook would be under too much strain. To implement this technique, a strip of soft Velcro® must be stitched to the inside of the waistband1 and a corresponding

1

To avoid snagging during storage, soft Velcro® only should be applied to costumes.

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layer of hard Velcro® applied around the waist of the torso. The garment can then be dressed onto the figure and carefully positioned so that the layers of Velcro® are joined and the weight of the costume is evenly distributed. This technique can also be successfully used as an additional support for costumes with weak waistbands, or for fragile bodices burdened with skirts of unsuitable bulk and weight. Braces: Applying simple tape braces to the waistband of a costume can be an effective way of holding a skirt or pair of trousers in position when fastenings are missing. As with Velcro®, braces can also be used as an additional support for costumes or dresses with particularly heavy skirts, but bear in mind that the weight will not be distributed as evenly using this technique. Braces can be made very simply out of two equal lengths of cotton tape stitched either side of the centre front and centre back waistband. If possible, braces should be crossed at the back to prevent any risk of their slipping off the shoulders of the figure. It is a good idea to select wider varieties of tape for this job in order to distribute the weight of the garment over a greater area. In some cases, fastenings for braces may already be found on the waistbands of trousers and breeches. Typically, these take the form of buttons and, although the original braces are generally lost, the buttons can still be used to attach replacement tape supports, making it possible to avoid stitching into the garment altogether. To secure the tape braces, a buttonhole must be snipped in the end of the tapes to correspond with the buttons on the waistband of the garment. To strengthen the slit, it is a good idea to use two layers of tape and reinforce the hole using a machine zigzag or hand buttonhole stitch. Stitched on placket fastenings: This method is appropriate for costumes requiring a more robust means of fastening. In particular, it is useful for close fitting bodices or jackets with no existing overlap or built in placket for fixings to be attached to. To get round this problem, false plackets made of a fabric matching the colour of the costume can be tacked inside the opening of the garment on both sides. One placket is secured flush to the edge of the opening, while the other is positioned extending beyond it by a few centimetres. Fastenings, such as hooks or press-studs, can then be applied to the false plackets, limiting any heavy stitching into the garment itself. As most varieties of fastenings are not flat, they can sometimes create a slightly lumpy effect that is not in keeping with the period. For example, the centre front opening of a closed bodice from the 1780s is not improved by the visible glint and bumpiness of modern hooks and eyes. To keep the join as smooth and even as possible an alternative method can be used called the ‘slotted placket technique’. In this case a false placket, made out of a matching coloured fabric, is stitched to both sides of the opening, in such a way that one extension can slot inside the other, bringing the two halves of the garment together into a neat join. With the costume on the figure, a line of pins or tacking can be slipped between the join, fastening the placket firmly together.

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Making up false plackets 1. Selecting a fabric that matches the colour of the costume, cut out two rectangles using the following measurements: (a) The length of the costume opening plus a seam allowance of 4 cm. (b) The width of the finished placket multiplied by 2, plus a seam allowance of 4 cm. (The placket width can vary according to the requirements of the costume. An average width is 2.5 cm.) 2. Fold in the top and bottom edge of both strips of fabric so that the length of each is fractionally smaller than the opening of the costume. Press the fold with an iron. 3. Fold both strips in half down their length and once again press with an iron. 4. Secure the fold with a line of stitching. 5. Finish the raw edge of each placket with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag. 6. Secure the false plackets inside the opening of the costume, using a running stitch. Position as necessary, avoiding weak and fragile areas. See below for the slotted placket method. 7. Attach the chosen fastenings to the plackets. When doing this avoid stitching into the garment.

Figure 6.11

Fold in top and bottom edges and press with iron

Secure fold with a neat line of stitching

a

Finishing the raw edge

b

(a) Step 1.

(b) Step 2.

Continued

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Slotted placket technique 1 Make up two false plackets as above, to a width of 2.5–3 cm. 2. Placket (a) should be stitched into the garment so that it extends beyond the opening by approximately 1 cm. The stitch line should be set back from the edge of the costume by a minimum of 1.5 cm. 3. Placket (b) should be positioned so that 1 cm is also extending beyond the opening of the garment. In this case, however, the placket can be stitched in place as close to the edge of the garment as possible. 4. To fasten the costume, slot placket (b) inside placket (a) where the stitch line has been set back by at least 1.5 cm (see Diagram). The costume should now join neatly together down the opening. 5. Secure the interlocking plackets with pins or tacking stitches using a curved needle. Pins and needle can be slipped carefully between the join in the costume, without danger of touching it and pushed into the overlapping plackets beneath. When using tacking stitches, use a double thread and tie both ends in a bow, tucking the loose threads out of sight behind the plackets. This will allow the tacking to be removed easily when undressing the costume. 1 cm

Figure 6.12 Slotted placket technique.

1 cm

1.5 cm

Inside of costume

Inside of costume Placket a

Stitch line securing placket to the costume

Placket b

Stitch line securing placket to the costume

Reducing the size of waistbands using existing fastenings As has been mentioned earlier in this chapter, it is not uncommon to come across skirts with waistbands that are unaccountably too large to fit under the bodice of the ensemble. Some methods for dealing with this problem have already been described, such as propping skirts up with hip and bum-pads

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(p. 169) or attaching supportive braces (p. 178). The following technique provides an alternative way of negotiating this difficulty, by overlapping the waistband of the skirt, reducing its overall circumference and making it small enough to fit under the bodice. Although this sounds simple, overlapping the waist of a skirt is not straightforward, as the fastenings on the garment will not be positioned to accommodate this adjustment. As the moving or application of new fastenings should be avoided, this technique has been developed to hold the overlapped skirt in position without tampering with the fixings. This can be done by securing the original skirt fastenings to imitation counterparts of a suitable size and style, that are stitched directly to the figure. The positioning of the new fastenings on the waist of the torso can be carefully adjusted so that the garment overlaps by exactly the right amount. Unfortunately, this method will result in the level of the waistband being somewhat lopsided. To avoid this unevenness, a slightly different technique can be implemented, using a length of cotton tape and securing one end to the waist of the figure. The tape can then be passed snugly around the waistband of the skirt, helping to hold the garment in its overlapped position. Appropriate counterpart fixings are stitched to the tape so that the original skirt fastenings can be hooked or buttoned in place and the costume secured firmly around the waist of the figure. Although far less likely to be required, these methods can also be successfully used to enlarge waistbands of garments that are too small. In this case an insert of a fabric matching the costume may be needed to fill any visible gap created by the extension.

Overlapping a skirt using cotton tape and counterpart fastenings 1. Using cotton tape of a similar width to the waistband of the skirt, cut a length of tape long enough to pass around the outside of the waist a minimum of 11/2 times. If necessary, tapes can be reinforced by stitching two layers together. 2. Using a curved needle, firmly stitch one end of the tape to the figure a short distance from where the under lap of the skirt will begin. If working on a mannequin with a solid surface, secure the tape by tying tightly around the waist. 3. With a pin, mark the position on the tape where the fastening of the under-lapped skirt occurs. Continued

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4. Depending on the kind of fastening used, select a counterpart fixing that will roughly fit the size of the original. For example if a metal eye has been used, select a hook that will slot into it and apply it to the underside of the tape. If a button has been used, a buttonhole must be slit in the tape and reinforced with a hand buttonhole stitch. 5. Once the first fastening on the skirt has been secured, pass the rest of the tape around the waistband of the skirt keeping it smooth and tight. Overlap the skirt as much as necessary and once again mark the position on the tape where the second fastening occurs. 6. Apply a counterpart fastening in the appropriate position, making sure that it is stitched to the outside of the tape. The original fastening on the skirt can now be secured to the tape. 7. Trim back the loose end of the tape 5–10 cm beyond the overlap of the skirt. To hold it in place, apply a final fastening of your choice to the end and secure to the tape beneath.

Figure 6.13

Cotton tape

2nd fastening

Counterpar t fastening applied to the underside of the tape Tape stitched to figure

(a) Step 1.

Securing the loose end of the tape with fastening

5–10cm

(b) Step 2.

Making and replacing missing lacing Using lacing as a way of fastening a garment is a technique that has been used for many hundreds of years. Mounting costume with this kind of fastening is usually reasonably straightforward, as eyelet holes tend to ware better than applied fastenings such as hooks and bars. In some examples, the original lacing cords and ribbons survive and can be used to fasten the costume. In older garments, however, lacing is often either missing or is too weak and fragile to be used and it is necessary to replace it with a modern replica.

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The lacing of costumes can be divided into two different categories: lacing that is visible and lacing that is hidden. The latter variety is used purely as a structural fastening and is generally concealed by other parts of the costume, such as a stomacher. In cases such as these, the appearance of the lacing is obviously not important and fairly crude replacements can be used. For example, standard white or black lacing can be purchased in variable lengths from a haberdasher and employed as a substitute. Alternatively a narrow cotton tape or piping cord can be used with equal success. To make it easier to thread lacing through the eyelet holes, bind the ends of the tape or cord with a scrap of low tack masking tape. Once the costume has been laced up, the masking tape must be removed by snipping off the ends. For costumes where the lacing is visible, this is not only used as a structural fastening, but also as a decorative finish. The appearance of the lacing in this case is important and care must be taken to use suitably coloured and textured fabrics to make replacements. Depending on the costume, lacing can be made out of a variety of different materials. For example, cotton lacing can be bought from a haberdasher’s and custom dyed to match the object. In other cases, lengths of fine ribbon or linen tape can be used and either dyed to a suitable shade or purchased ready coloured. If necessary, ribbons can be made narrower by folding in half and sewing down both edges with a small machine straight stitch. When carrying out this process, take time to fold the ribbon exactly down the centre and iron flat before stitching. Ends should be finished by binding tightly with a length of matching coloured thread. Lacing can also be made up successfully by twisting together two lengths of threads in the time honoured way. Another way of manufacturing replacement lacing is to make it out of fabric. For this job, select a material that suits the colour and texture of the costume, avoiding fabrics that are thick or bulky. A long strip can be cut, folded in half, seamed into a channel and turned the right way out. Unfortunately, it is usually necessary to cut this kind of lacing on the bias, or the narrowness of the channel will prevent the fabric from turning through. To reduce the elasticity, the channel should be created with two parallel lines of stitching, rather than using the fold. Before starting work, it is a good idea to run up a trial on a piece of scrap fabric, to ensure that the dimensions are correct and the lacing will turn through safely.

Making lacing out of fabric 1. Using a fabric of an appropriate colour and texture, cut out a bias strip using the following measurements: (a) The width of the finished lacing multiplied by 2, plus seam allowance of approximately 8 cm.

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2. 3.

4. 5.

6.

(b) The required length of the lacing (always over estimate this measurement). To make the strip long enough, it may be necessary to seam lengths of fabric together. When doing this, always join the strips with a diagonal seam so that the stitching runs along the straight of grain. Trim and press the seams flat. With right sides together, fold the strip in half down its length and secure with pins. With seam allowances of approximately 2 cm on either side, stitch a channel in the folded fabric, the width of the finished lacing. Stitching should be carried out on a machine using a short straight stitch. Trim back both seam allowances to a few millimetres. To turn the lacing through, thread up a stout needle with a long double thread and secure to one end. Feed the needle backwards through the channel, to avoid snagging, until it drops out of the far end. Continue to pull on the thread, drawing the channel back through itself until it is fully turned out. Starting this process off can be awkward, but once underway, the rest of the rouleau will follow easily. To reduce the elasticity of the rouleau, press or steam the lacing while stretching it.

Tips on lacing up a costume Fastening a garment with lacing is a straightforward operation for anyone experienced in handling historical costume. For those who have never laced up a garment, however, this practice can be slightly confusing and it is worth highlighting a few historical conventions and practical tips that can make this job simpler. As a general rule, eyelet holes in costumes from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century are positioned slightly differently. For example, the eyelet holes in garments from the nineteenth and twentieth century tend to be placed exactly opposite to each other, while, in earlier periods, eyelets were arranged alternately. For this reason, methods for lacing up costumes from different centuries can vary, though the fundamentals usually remain the same. Nineteenth and twentieth century costume can be fastened making use of both ends of the lacing and working from the bottom up. The lacing should be pulled through the bottom two eyelet holes with an equal length on either side. Each end of the lacing is then passed through the hole diagonally opposite, from the inside out. This pattern is continued all the way up the costume and secured at the top with a bow. The lacing can be tightened in stages. Work up the costume by degrees, hooking a finger either side of the crossed laces and gently pull the two sides of the costume closer together. If necessary, the bow at the top can be concealed by tucking it down inside the back of the costume.

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Eighteenth century costume is generally fastened using only one end of the lacing, spiralling from side to side, through the alternate eyelet holes. As with nineteenth century costumes lacing should usually be carried out from the bottom up. To start the process, however, it is a good idea to thread the redundant end through the topmost eyelet hole, leaving a few inches dangling. Pass the other end down to the bottom eyelet and commence the process of lacing. When the top of the costume has been reached, the lacing can be secured by fastening the two ends together in a bow. If necessary, this can be concealed by tucking down inside the back of the costume.

Tying sashes with the invisible thread method Fastening sashes around the waist of a mounted costume can sometimes be a difficult and frustrating task. In order to prevent it from slipping, the sash must be tied in a reasonably tight knot. Unfortunately, fastening a sash in this way will not only cause severe creasing to the fabric, but can also look unattractive and lumpy. The following technique provides a simple way of securing a sash in a casual, single tie, without using a knot and without any danger of the fabric unfastening. This is done by wrapping the sash around the waist of the figure with the addition of a length of thread laid beneath it. Together the sash and the thread are then fastened in a single tie and the fabric is left gracefully dangling. The two ends of the thread are continued around the waist of the figure to the back, secured in a double bow and tucked out of sight beneath the sash. In this way the sash is held firmly in position by the thread. This method can also be effectively used as a first step to tying a bow.

Securing sashes and ties with an invisible thread 1. Select a thread of a matching colour to the sash and cut a length approximately three times the circumference of the waist. 2. Spread out the sash face down on a flat surface and lay the thread in a long smooth line on top of it. 3. Pick up the sash and the thread together, wrap around the waist of the figure as one and loop into a single tie. Make sure that the thread is hidden beneath the sash as much as possible. 4. Leaving the fabric dangling, pass the two ends of the thread around to the other side of the figure and tie firmly in a double bow. Tuck the loose ends out of sight under the sash. N.B. This process is easier to carry out with two people. Continued

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Figure 6.14 Tying a sash with an invisible thread.

Tie threads at back of costume and conceal beneath the sash

Threads should be hidden underneath the sash rather than on top

Missing Articles of Costume and Frequently Needed Reproductions One of the inevitable consequences of working with historical costume is that outfits are often incomplete. Given that garments can be two or three hundred years old, it is only natural that some losses will occur; indeed in many cases it is remarkable that so much survives. Missing parts of a costume can include anything from small items, such as decorative trimmings, to more important articles, such as petticoats and skirts. In some cases, it may be possible, to replace lost pieces with specially made reproductions. Though this can often improve the appearance of an outfit, it is not necessarily the right course of action. The use of imitation replicas in exhibitions of historical dress is a controversial area. Views on this subject vary according to the policies of different institutions, the individual opinions of curators or designers and the budget and style of the display. Occasionally, however, the need for a replacement article is unavoidable in order to make sense of an outfit and prevent it from being historically misleading or inaccurate. This section looks at the few examples of replicas that are essential to costumes when being mounted for display. Although impossible to cover every eventuality, there are a number of key items that are frequently lost and need replacing. These include belts and sashes, under-dresses for sheer costumes and eighteenth century stomachers and petticoats. Reproductions requiring more professional cutting and sewing skills should be contracted out to costume makers specialising in historical dress. For simpler items, the instructions below can be used to help create suitable replacements. No matter which item is needed, any proposed work should be discussed thoroughly with a curator or costume historian.

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One of the common difficulties when making reproductions for authentic historical costume is finding suitable fabrics. Not only the colour but also the texture must be matched and, as the fabrics available today are often different to those woven in the past, this can be a problem. Specialist dying is regularly needed to match colours, while techniques of a far more complex nature are required to reproduce patterned or embroidered fabrics. To avoid excessive labour and expense, designers and curators often choose to use plain, neutral coloured fabrics, rather than attempting to duplicate complicated designs and textures. While maintaining the integrity of the overall effect and shape of the outfit, this approach has the additional advantage of being easily recognised as a replica, leaving viewers in no doubt about what they are looking at. Replica belts and sashes Since belts and sashes are usually made as a detachable part of an outfit, they often become separated and lost. In many cases, belts and sashes are purely decorative and making replacements may not be necessary, as the garment can be displayed perfectly well without. For some costumes however, the belt or sash can have a much more significant function. For example, they can be used to cover unsightly joins between skirts and bodices or to hide crudely made waistbands, the sight of which can spoil the appearance of an outfit and give the wrong impression to the viewing public. In other cases, belts and sashes can play an important structural role in controlling the waist of a garment, creating the correct historical silhouette. In these situations, a replica belt or sash should be made. The following instructions can be used as a basic guide.

Making a simple belt 1. To make the pattern for a belt, you will need the following measurements: (a) The length of the belt, i.e. the circumference of the outside waist of the costume. (b) The width of the belt. If the costume has an obvious waistband, the belt should be cut to the same size. If there is no waistband and you are unsure about this dimension, cut out sample strips of tissue paper in different widths and hold them up against the costume to gauge the correct proportion. 2. Using these two measurements, draw out the long rectangular belt pattern on a piece of tissue paper. 3. Add an additional 2–4 cm to one end of the pattern. This will be used as an overlap, to which belt fastenings can be attached. 4. The belt is made of three layers. The inner piece gives shape and substance to the band and should be made of something robust, such as bump, heavy-weight domette, Reemay® or even a lightweight museum board if nothing else is available. Once an appropriate fabric has been selected, use the pattern as a template and cut out the inner band.

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5. Using a fine lawn, lightweight cotton or polycotton as the middle layer, cut out a strip of fabric using the following measurements: (a) The length of the belt plus 4 cm. (b) Twice the width of the belt, plus 4 cm. 6. Iron the fabric flat and lay the inner band exactly in the centre of the strip so that it is overlapped evenly on all sides. Secure with pins, keeping the fabric as smooth as possible. 7. Stitch both layers together, keeping close to the edge of the inner band. This can be done by hand or machine.

Figure 6.15

b

Inner belt band 2 cm

2 cm

2×b + 4 cm

a + 2–4cm Middle layer of fabric

(a) Step 1. 8. Using an appropriate finishing fabric as the top layer, cut out a strip the same dimensions as the middle layer. 9. Lay the top piece of fabric over the middle layer, exactly covering it and secure with pins. Make sure the fabric is as smooth as possible. 10. Fasten both layers of fabric to each other by stitching them together around the outside of the inner band. This should be done a few millimetres away from the edge. From now on, the two upper layers of fabric should be treated as one. Top layer of fabric

Inner belt band

— Middle layer of fabric

Stitching both layers of fabric together around the outside of the inner band

(b) Step 2.

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11. Place the belt face down on a table. Neatly fold in the raw edges at both ends and herringbone flat to the inner band. 12. Using the same technique, fold in the raw edge of one side of the belt and herringbone flat to the inner band. 13. Before finishing the second side, neaten the raw edge by folding in 2 cm and pressing with an iron. Wrap this edge around the inner band, overlapping the first side and slipstitch in place. All herringbone stitching should now be hidden from view and the inside of the belt neatly finished.

Raw edge folded in and pressed

Inner belt band Top of fabric

(c) Step 3.

14. With the costume dressed on the figure, wrap the belt around the waist and mark the position of the fastenings with pins. For invisible fixings use hooks and bars or press-studs.

Sashes Making a sash is quicker and less complicated than the construction of a belt. To avoid time-consuming hemming, the easiest method is to make up the sash with a double layer of fabric. These two layers can be stitched together on a machine and then bagged out like a duvet cover, producing a sash that is neatly finished on all sides.

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Figure 6.16 Striped wool dress designed by Claire McCardell with replica sash. 1955. American. T.77-1978. Mounted on a modern dress stand made by Proportion London.

Making a sash using the bagged out technique 1. Bearing in mind that sashes can be cut on the straight of grain or on the bias, cut out two lengths of fabric using the following measurements: (a) The length of the sash. This is the circumference of the outside waist of the costume, plus enough additional length to tie a bow or knot. Include an additional 4 cm for seam allowance and be prepared to seam lengths of fabric together to make the sash long enough. (b) The width of the sash plus 4 cm for seam allowance. If unsure about this dimension, cut out rough sample sashes made of scraps of fabric and hold them up against the costume to gauge the correct proportion. 2. With right sides together, lay the two pieces of fabric exactly on top of each other and secure with pins.

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3. With a 2 cm seam allowance on all sides, stitch the two pieces of fabric together on a sewing machine, keeping the seams as straight and even as possible. Leave an opening of approximately 6 cm in the centre of one long seam through which the sash can be bagged out. 4. Reinforce the four corners of the sash by sewing a second line of stitching on top of the first. Start the stitching approximately 2 cm from each corner and continue until a further 2 cm has been reached on the far side. 5. Trim back the seam allowance to approximately 1 cm on all sides. To minimise bulk, cut off the seam allowance at the four corners as close to the stitching as possible. 6. Press the sash with an iron to smooth out the stitches. 7. Bag out the sash by pulling it through the opening left in the seam, until it is the right way out. Use a blunt point, such as a knitting needle, to push out the four corners, taking care not to poke through. 8. Press the seams of the sash with an iron, so that they fold neatly along the stitch line. Take time doing this, rolling the seam between finger and thumb before flattening. 9. Close the opening in the sash with invisible slipstitches. 10. The sash can now be tied around the waist of the costume (see instructions on p.185).

Figure 6.17

a

Making a replica sash. 6 cm opening

2 cm b

1 cm

Reinforced corners

Snip off corner to reduce bulk

Replica under-dresses for sheer costumes Although the use of sheer fabrics in fashionable dress might be considered a fairly modern development, semi-transparent materials were also used in earlier periods of history. For example, lightweight and diaphanous muslins and gauzes were regularly used for women’s dresses at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century. Unlike the provocative use of such fabrics

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today, historical costumes made of translucent materials were never worn without several layers of underclothes, such as petticoats, chemises and slips. Unfortunately, these garments are rarely preserved and Empire line dresses from this period generally survive alone. As it would be extremely misleading to display such a garment without anything beneath, it is essential that a replica under-dress is made of a suitable size and style. Making a petticoat that exactly fits under an already existing costume can seem a daunting task. In order to create an undergarment of exactly the right dimensions, an individual pattern must be taken from the original dress. If an accurate toile has already been made of the costume, constructing an under-dress is straightforward, as the toile pattern can simply be reused. As this is rarely the case, however, and time is usually pressing, a pattern must be evolved using an alternative system. The simplest way of doing this is to use the quick toile method described on p. 37. This is a drafting technique which enables a three dimensional pattern to be taken from the bodice of a costume while it is dressed on a figure. As explained in Chapter 2, varying degrees of accuracy can be achieved with this method. In this case, care should be taken to create a pattern that is as exact as possible. The skirt pattern should also be drafted using instructions from this chapter, while the sleeves can be made up as individual soft arm supports, rather than attempting to make and fit what can sometimes be the most complicated part of a costume (see p. 103). Selecting a suitable fabric for this kind of under-dress is not always straightforward and advice should be obtained from a curator. As a general rule, undergarments worn beneath muslins and gauzes should be made of a fabric with a slippery surface, such as a silk or a satin weave. Muslin in particular has a clinging quality that makes it difficult to dress over matt fabrics. As the colour of the under-dress will also be visible, care must be taken in its selection. Historically, slips of pastel shades were often worn beneath Empire line dresses, glowing through as a tinted backdrop. However, it is unusual for any evidence to survive indicating the colour of such slips and decisions should be reached in consultation with a curator or dress historian. Using neutral tones, such as cream or ivory, is often a simpler option. Even with these colours, care must still be taken, as period muslins are often stained and soiled and the shade of the under-dress can play a large part in improving or exaggerating this problem. For example pure white can make muslins appear dirtier than they are, while creams and pale yellows will usually make soiling less noticeable. Although more than one undergarment would have been worn beneath a muslin dress to make it respectable, it should not be necessary to replicate all these different layers. To avoid having to make numerous petticoats and chemises, thin silks and satins should be backed onto more robust cotton fabrics to create a single under-dress of a more opaque finish. To create a suitable silhouette, underpinnings of net and calico can be made up separately and applied to the figure beneath the under-dress (see Chapter 5).

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Figure 6.18 Under-dress made out of silk habotai backed with cotton. This garment was custommade to fit under the 1830’s sheer, muslin frock that can be seen on p. 162. The pattern was made using the ‘quick toile method’.

Making the bodice for an under-dress 1. Using the quick toile method on p. 37, pieces of tissue are fitted over the top of each individual bodice panel and the seam and grain lines carefully matched to create a pattern that is as accurate as possible. 2. Once the pattern of the bodice has been taken and the seams marked with a soft pencil, remove the tissue from the costume. Even up the pattern as necessary. 3. Check the pattern size by comparing it to corresponding inside measurements taken from the costume. As the pattern is likely to be slightly bigger, adjust the stitch lines to fit the measurements. 4. To ensure that the petticoat will not be visible above the neck of the costume, redraw the neckline cutting it back by approximately 0.5 cm all the way round. 5. Add balance marks to the pattern and use to make up the bodice for the under-dress, following instructions from the sewing appendix (p. 234). If the fabric is too thin, back each panel onto a layer of cotton and make up as one. 6. To avoid using bulky fastenings and to keep the under-dress as smooth as possible, the opening of the bodice can be stitched closed.

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Making the skirt for an under-dress 1. Measure the skirt of the costume and draft the pattern for the under-dress using the method on p. 36. 2. Add an additional 5–8 cm to the bottom of the pattern and do not attempt to mark the exact hemline. 3. Use the pattern to make up the skirt of the under-dress, following instructions from the sewing appendix. 4. Gather or pleat the skirt as appropriate and join to the bodice with a waist seam, creating one garment. 5. Do not finish the hem of the under-dress before trying it on underneath the costume. With both garments dressed on the figure, mark the hemline of the costume onto the under-dress using instructions from the sewing appendix (p. 239).

Making the sleeves for an under-dress Without some previous experience, drafting sleeve patterns and fitting them into the armholes of garments can be a difficult process. To avoid this, it is possible to make a pair of soft sleeve supports instead, using the instructions on p. 103. This is far quicker and easier, and as long as the sleeve supports are made out of the same fabric as the under-dress, the join between the two will not be visible. This method essentially kills two birds with one stone, by creating the sleeve and making a supportive arm in a single process.

Replica stomacher As a small and detached part of an eighteenth century costume, stomachers are often missing from gowns surviving from this period. These small, triangularshaped accessories were used to fill the front part of a bodice left exposed by open gowns, hiding the corset from view. Although stomachers could be very ornate and decorative, their function was highly practical and it would be misleading to display a gown of this type without one. Constructing a stomacher is straightforward and can be made successfully out of a shaped piece of museum board or Reemay®, stiffened with polyester boning and covered with a layer of fine padding and fabric. Perhaps the most problematic part of the job is finding a fabric that will match the costume. Replicating complicated woven brocades or embroidered fabrics is extremely difficult and it is usually easier to select a plain material that matches the background texture and colour of the gown.

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Making a replica stomacher 1. To work out the dimensions and shape of the stomacher, some research is necessary. Advice should be obtained from a curator or costume historian and relevant reference books depicting portraits of the period are useful. With the dress on the figure, cut out a sample stomacher shape made out of tissue paper and try it against the costume. This will help to gauge its proportions. Pay particular attention to the length of the pattern and make sure it is positioned at the correct bust level. Stand back from the costume to get a clearer view. The top of the stomacher is not always straight, but can be cut in a convex or concave curve. Adjust the template, making any alterations and redrafting as necessary. Only when satisfied with the shape and size of the template should you proceed. 2. Using the tissue pattern as a template cut out the stomacher in a piece of medium-weight museum board or Reemay®. 3. To reinforce the stomacher, stitch strips of polyester boning directly to the back of the shape, using a machine zigzag stitch. Before starting, mark the bone lines onto the card at regular intervals. The bones should be applied both vertically and horizontally. Depending on the size of the stomacher, two or three running in both directions is usually adequate. When applying the horizontal strips, use the natural bend in the bones to help mould the stomacher into a gentle curve. The vertical bones should be flattened before stitching in place, by pressing with an iron.

Figure 6.19

Boning stitched directly to the back of the stomacher

(a) Step 1.

4. Cover the back of the card and boning in a layer of calico. To do this, lay the stomacher on a piece of calico and trim around it, leaving turnings of approximately 2 cm on all sides. Fasten the calico to the cardboard by stitching through both layers close to the edge of the card. Trim away the excess fabric from around the shape, leaving no turnings. Continued

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Calico 2 cm

Front of the stomacher

Stitching the calico to the stomacher

(b) Step 2. 5. Turn the stomacher over and cover the front in a thin layer of polyester wadding. Secure the wadding with pins and leave a 1 cm turning on all sides. Fold the wadding over the edge of the cardboard and herringbone to the calico on the back. 6. Using a fabric of an appropriate colour and texture, cover the wadding in a final layer of display fabric. Secure the fabric with pins, keeping it as smooth as possible with the grain running vertically up and down the stomacher. Pink the raw edges leaving a 2 cm turning on all sides. Fold the fabric over the edge of the shape and herringbone to the calico on the back. To fit the fabric smoothly around the point of the stomacher, cut small slits in the turning and overlap as necessary.

Wadding Back of stomacher Top fabric

(c) Step 3. 7. Using slipstitch, fasten the stomacher directly to the figure, sewing down both sides. Leave the point of the stomacher unattached so that the skirt can be slipped underneath. Alternatively, tapes can be fixed to the back of the stomacher and tied around the figure to secure it in position.

TROUBLESHOOTING

Replica eighteenth century petticoats Another part of eighteenth century dress that is frequently lost is the petticoat. This part of the costume should not be confused with undergarments, as the petticoats of this period were often designed to be seen. In the same way that the stomacher was used to fill in the exposed upper part of an open gown, petticoats were used to fill the area below the front waist. Displaying a dress with this part of the outfit missing would be both historically inaccurate and misleading and a replica should be used in its place. Petticoats of this period were often made from fabrics that matched the gown and were decorated with trimmings or quilted in intricate designs. As with replica stomachers, finding or creating a fabric that exactly matches a gown is very difficult. Once again, it is usually easier to select a plain fabric that matches the background texture and colour of the costume. Throughout the eighteenth century, the shape of the petticoat and the extent to which it can be seen varies according to the fashion of the time. For example, towards the latter part of the century, when the polonaise was in vogue, gowns were often looped up at the back and the petticoat was visible all the way around. Methods for making more comprehensive reproductions such as these are described in detail in Period Costume for Stage & Screen by Jean Hunnisett and may require a certain amount of sewing and cutting expertise. In some cases it may be necessary to contract work out to a professional costume maker. For replica petticoats that are only partially exposed, however, a simplified technique can be used. Rather than constructing a complete skirt, a false petticoat front can be made and used to fill in the uncovered area. To protect the gown from structured frames and hooped underpinnings, a simple gathered top petticoat should be made first and secured around the waist of the figure (see p. 132). The false petticoat front can then be positioned over this. Cut with a generous overlap; the replica is made to cover the area exposed by the open gown. The top of the false front is pleated onto a simple cotton waist tape and the hem can be turned up as appropriate. The replica is fastened into position by tying the waist tape around the figure and, if necessary, large tacking stitches can be used to secure the two sides of the false front to the undergarments. With the gown dressed over the top, these edges will not be visible and the false front will appear as a credible replica of an eigh-

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Making a false front replica of an eighteenth century petticoat 1. With the appropriate underpinnings fastened to the figure, make up a simple gathered top petticoat following the instructions on p. 132. 2. With this in place on the figure, cut a rectangular piece of fabric using the following dimensions: (a) The width of the exposed area, plus a minimum of 15 cm for overlap. Bear in mind that some styles of petticoats require more generous pleats and a greater appearance of fullness. For these types of replicas, extra ease in the width of the fabric must be allowed. (b) The length of the petticoat from waist to floor, plus 13–15 cm for turnings and waist shaping. 3. Finish the two sides of the fabric with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag. Centre point

Figure 6.20

Finished side edge

b

False petticoat front

a

(a) Cutting out the false petticoat front. 4. Select one end of the fabric and fold in half to find the centre. Pin this point to the centre front of the figure, 8–10 cm above the waistline. 5. Working down the centre front axis, use several more pins to secure the front of the fabric to the figure and under-petticoat. Keep the hem fairly straight, smoothing the fabric across the exposed area. Integrate any extra ease included for fuller petticoats. 6. Disregarding the excess fabric above the waistline, pleat up the false petticoat at waist level, securing each tuck with a pin. Always begin pleating from the centre front and work outwards, matching the pleats on either side as closely as possible. In some cases, it may not be necessary to pleat up the entire width of the fabric and any excess can be tucked out of the way or trimmed. The arrangement of the pleats will vary according to the required fullness and style of the petticoat and should be carefully researched before starting work. Petticoats with a shaped waistline and a centre front point can also be created using this method. Depending on the extent of the shaping, begin pleating a few inches below the waistline, rising gradually upwards towards the sides of the figure.

TROUBLESHOOTING

7. Cut a length of tape approximately 2 cm wide and long enough to tie around the waist of the figure. Matching the mid point of the tape to the centre front of the false petticoat, wrap the tape smoothly around the outside of the pleats at waist level and tie in a bow at the back. For shaped waistbands, fold the centre of the tape into a point and secure below the waistline, positioning the tape in an appropriate curving line. 8. Work around the waist, securing each pleat firmly to the tape with a pin. At the same time remove all previously positioned pins from the pleats, releasing the false petticoat from the figure. 9. Turn up the hem of the false petticoat as required and secure with pins. 10. Remove the false petticoat from the figure and trim away the excess fabric at the waist, so that nothing is visible above the top of the tape. Using two rows of stitching, fasten the fabric to the tape, securing the pleats firmly in position. If necessary, the raw edges of the petticoat can be finished by sandwiching between a second length of cotton tape. 11. Finish the hem of the petticoat, using a hand slipstitch rather than machine topstitching. 12. Return the false petticoat to the figure and tie in position around the waist. If required, the sides can be secured to the gathered top petticoat, using large tacking stitches and a curved needle.

CF

Trim exess fabric and stitch pleats to tape

8–10cm

CF Cotton tape

False petticoat front False petticoat front

Pin up hem

(b) Pleating up the false petticoat front.

(c) Securing the pleats to a cotton tape.

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M

annequins and dress stands are not the only mounts that can be used for costume display. Although this book deals principally with techniques relating to these, there are a number of alternative mounting methods that can also be used. For instance, costumes can be exhibited flat on boards, suspended from poles and hangers or supported by Perspex® mounts. These kinds of display techniques can be employed for a variety of different reasons and usage will depend on both the costume and the exhibition. For example, some garment styles are simply better suited to a flat support, while on other occasions, the display design and budget may dictate a less conventional mounting approach. In some cases, alternative supports of these kinds can also provide a practical solution for costumes that are considered too weak to be dressed on conventional figures. This chapter also covers some additional techniques for constructing and customising figures to fit a garment. Instead of purchasing ready-made dummies from manufacturers, or commissioning expensive mannequins from a sculptor, home-made torsos can be made out of materials such as buckram and Plastazote®/Ethafoam®. The ability to develop figures in this way is a particularly useful display tool, affording versatile and cheaper mounting solutions.

Flat Costume Mounts As an alternative to more conventional three-dimensional supports, techniques used to mount costumes flat are a useful display tool. Garments prepared in this way have several advantages; they can be slipped into narrow spaces,

Figure 7.1 Black nylon body stocking from Marks and Spencer. 1973. British. T.54-1986. Displayed on a buckram mount. Pink satin corset, designed by Agent Provocateur. 1995. British. T.12-2002. Displayed on a buckram mount with Perspex® inner support. Bra and pants by Rigby and Peller. 2004. British. T.259-2004. Displayed on a Perspex® mount. 201

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used as an interesting background for other objects and sometimes even secured to a wall like a picture. Flat mounting can be roughly divided into two different categories; costumes that are suspended and costumes that are attached to boards. Suspended techniques tend to be more popular and are particularly suitable for garments with bold and interesting textiles, where the fabric is more significant than the construction and shape of the object. Costumes can be suspended from a number of different mechanisms such as poles, hangers and T-bars. Displaying costumes on boards tends to be less common and is principally used for costumes of extreme fragility that cannot be exhibited safely in any other way. In both these different categories, additional support is generally required to help define and control the shape of the garment. More complex Perspex® mounts can also be used to assist with these mounting techniques and will also require supplementary padding. Therefore, preparing to display costumes in this way, can involve more work than might be supposed.

Suspending costume from poles, hangers and T-bars Using poles and hangers as mounts for costumes can be a simple and effective display method. Before starting work, it is important to select the appropriate structure for the costume. For example, poles and T-bars should be used for costumes that are made without shoulder shaping, such as Asian tunics and kimonos. These garments tend to be cut very simply in a straight line from neck opening to sleeve cuffs and can be suspended from a horizontal pole with the sleeves fully extended, to dramatic effect. Poles can vary from minimalist Perspex® rods, suspended from above, to heavy T-bars on metal bases. Whatever style is chosen, care must be taken to establish how the garment will be dressed onto the pole. For instance, some T-bars are constructed with retractable arms making it easier to mount the garment. Pole supports are not always suitable and cannot be used for costumes with shaped shoulders and set-in sleeves. This includes most western dress and for these garments, an angled hanger support should be used instead. Sleeves in this instance are usually left to hang down naturally. Although it is possible to use standard hangers for display, more sophisticated versions can be commissioned from specialist mount makers. For example, using materials such as Perspex®, hangers can be refined into inconspicuous mounts and suspended unobtrusively from wires. To help control and define the shape, most suspended costume will require an inner support. To establish whether one is necessary, mock up a temporary mount using a hanger or length of pole. If the garment is under any strain, hangs crookedly, falls into unattractive creases or looks limp and shapeless, an inner support is required.

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Supports for suspended costume should be constructed to fit exactly inside the garment. Made out of Reemay® or medium weight museum board, the inner should be cut in two pieces, one to support the back of the costume and one the front. These two pieces are stitched together along the shoulders, creating one large shape that flaps over the pole or hanger, taking the pressure off the costume. Alternatively, for garments displayed on poles with a straight shoulder line, the support can be cut as a single piece and folded in half. These foundations should be extended to include the sleeves. For costumes suspended from hangers, sleeve supports (if required) should be cut separately and attached to the inner with Velcro® tabs. If the support is visible at the neck opening of a costume, the card or Reemay ® can be cut away and hidden from view, or left intact and covered in a neutral coloured fabric. Although this style of flat support is suitable for most suspended costume, there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, a fitted curvaceous bodice can look completely shapeless if displayed in this way and may require a more three-dimensional inner. This can be achieved by applying padding to a flat support, or constructing a mount made of buckram or Plastazote®/Ethafoam®.

Making flat supports for suspended costume 1. Lay the costume face up on a table and arrange as it will appear when suspended. Remember the sleeves of costumes, displayed on poles should be fully extended, while those on hangers will dangle down. 2. Lay a large piece of tissue paper over the costume and with a soft pencil trace around the garment. For those requiring a concealed support, mark on the shape of the front neckline (If the back neckline is cut lower than the front then mark this instead). 3. Remove the tissue from the costume and even up the pattern as necessary. 4. To ensure that the support will fit comfortably inside the costume, work around the tissue pattern reducing its overall dimensions. The amount by which the pattern will need reducing will depend on how much smaller the costume is on the inside compared to the outside. Take some inner and outer measurements to help establish this quantity and always add a few millimetres extra for ease. The sleeve lengths and hem of the support will also need reducing by a minimum of 1 cm, while for costumes requiring a concealed support, the neckline of the pattern should be trimmed back by a minimum of 0.5 cm on all sides. 5. Using the pattern as a template, cut out a single support piece in medium weight museum board or Reemay®. For larger garments, you may need to seam together lengths of material to make a piece big enough. For concealed supports, the shape of the front neckline should also be cut away. 6. Insert the support inside the costume to ensure that it is a good fit and make any alterations necessary. Continued

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7. Using the altered support as a template, draw a second shape onto a piece of museum board or Reemay®. Add a 2 cm seam allowance to the shoulder line and cut out the silhouette. 8. Cover the outside of both support pieces in a layer of fabric to isolate them from the garment. Using a slippery fabric, such as silk habotai, will help the support slide into place when positioning it inside the costume. Cut the covering fabric larger than the support and wrap around the edge of the card/Reemay®, stitching it in place by hand or on the machine. 9. Stitch the supports together along the shoulders, overlapping by 2 cm. This can be done by hand or on a sewing machine. 10. Using a fabric that matches the colour of the inside of the costume, bind any edges of the support that might be visible when displayed. Fabric can be cut in strips of approximately 8 cm, ironed in half and secured over the relevant edges using herringbone or a simple tacking stitch. If binding the neckline, cut the fabric on the bias to accommodate the curve. For garments displayed on poles, make sure that bindings applied to the cuffs of the support are cut wider and extend well up inside the sleeves, as this area can often be seen. For non-concealed supports, the visible neck area should be covered in a smooth layer of an appropriately coloured fabric. 11. Once completed, insert the support inside the costume by laying the garment flat on a table. Prepare the support by folding in any extended sleeves. Ease the support into position from the bottom up. The sleeves can then be carefully unfolded and inserted down the armholes. For costumes displayed on hangers, sleeve supports should be made separately, slipped down the sleeves of the costume individually and secured to the support at the shoulder with Velcro® tabs.

Figure 7.2 Making a flat support for costume displayed on a T-bar.

Stitch the supports together along the shoulder

Wider binding extending up inside the sleeves

Neck binding cut on the bias

Support covered in Isolating fabric

Cut away neck for a concealed support

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Displaying costumes flat on boards Flat mounting on boards is not an ideal way of exhibiting three-dimensional objects, but occasionally it can be a useful and necessary display technique. In particular, fragile costumes that are too weak to be displayed in any other way can be mounted flat on boards as a last resort. When implementing this technique, a padded support must be made as part of the process. This will not only help define the shape of the garment and give it more depth, but can also be used as a means of securing the textile to the board. To avoid stitching into the costume, the edge of the support is fastened to the board instead, holding the garment in place. If any additional stitching into the costume is required, this work should always be carried out by a textile conservator. Supports of this type should be made with an inner core of Reemay® or medium weight museum board to provide a shape of more strength and stability. Both sides of the card are then covered in polyester wadding followed by a layer of isolating fabric. To make it less conspicuous, the support can be covered or bound in a fabric that matches the colour of the inside of the costume. Depending on the textile’s fragility, boards can be displayed at various angles, from flat to vertical. Something half way between these two extremes is usually a safe compromise.

Figure 7.3 Evening dress designed by Madame Paquin. 1925. French. T.50-1948. Mounted flat on a board with an inner padded support.

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Making padded supports for costumes mounted on boards 1. Before starting work, study the costume carefully and decide how the inner support will be attached to the board once it has been made. In some cases it may be necessary to extend the support beyond the neck or hemline, so that it can be fastened in position without danger of stitching through the underside of the costume. 2. Make a pattern for the inner core using No. 1–6 of the instructions for suspended costume supports. Ensure that the pattern is extended at the neck and hemline if necessary. In addition, the amount by which the pattern will need reducing must be increased to accommodate the additional layers of soft padding. 3. Once the inner core of Reemay® or museum board has been cut out, cover both sides of the support with a layer of polyester wadding. To do this, lay the first piece of padding over the shape and secure with a few pins, keeping it as taut as possible, without buckling the card. Trim the wadding around the shape and whipstitch to the edge of the inner core. Lay a second piece of padding over the uncovered side and secure with pins. Trim around the support leaving a 1 cm turning. Fold the wadding around the edges of the inner core and herringbone in place.

Figure 7.4 Making an inner padded support for a costume mounted flat on a board.

Second layer of covering fabric slipstitched to the edge of the support

First layer of covering fabric

Second layer of wadding

First layer of wadding whipstitched to the edge of the support

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4. Cover both sides of the padded support in a layer of isolating fabric, such as silk habotai. For supports that extend beyond the neck or hemline, it is usually better to use a fabric that matches the colour of the board, while for those that do not, a colour that matches the inside of the costume is preferable. To cover the support, lay a piece of the chosen fabric over one side and secure with pins. Trim around the shape leaving a turning of approximately 2.5 cm on all sides. Fold the excess around the edge of the support and herringbone in place. Lay a second piece of fabric over the uncovered side and secure with pins. Trim around the shape leaving turnings of approximately 1 cm. To finish, turn under the raw edge and slip stitch in place. 5. Once completed, slide the padded support inside the costume and secure to the board with invisible slipstitches.

Perspex® Mounts Mounts made of Perspex® are often used in displays of costume as alternative supports for garments and accessories. Perspex® is a popular material as it has several advantages. It is strong, inert and can be cut or manipulated into different shapes and sizes. One of its most desirable characteristics is its transparency and it can be effectively used to create mounts that are discreet, allowing the best possible view of the object. Perspex® supports tend to be custom-made to suit individual items and for this reason they can be time consuming and expensive. Some museums and collections are lucky enough to have the appropriate in-house technical expertise, enabling mounts to be developed internally. For those who do not have this advantage, work of this nature can be contracted out to specialist companies and workshops. Having a tailor-made Perspex® mount constructed to support an object, is a similar process to having a customised figure sculpted to fit a costume. The support should be designed and developed collaboratively between the mount maker, conservator, curator and designer. Depending on the complexity of the support, a number of fittings may be required and practical assistance with the garment should always be on hand at such moments. As mount makers rarely specialise in costume, it is important to provide any relevant information and reference material that will help with the project, such as a clear explanation of the required silhouette. For some costumes, it may be necessary to make a toile which can be substituted for the garment during fittings (see Chapter 2). This will reduce the handling of the object and will give the mount maker

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something that can be continually referred to while working on the support. Besides a toile, there are a number of other items that can also be useful to mount makers when working with Perspex®. For example, when making flat supports, a paper template of a garment will often be required, while for threedimensional mounts, a suitably sized torso can be used to mould the Perspex® around. Perspex® is a hard material and it may be necessary to pad concealed parts of a support with polyester wadding covered with fabric to protect a garment or help create a shape of more fullness and volume. Combining other costume mounting techniques with Perspex® supports can often work well and it is important to be as creative as possible when developing ideas. For example, soft sleeve supports, net frills, fabric underpinnings and cardboard or Reemay® structures can all be used in combination with Perspex® as well as padding. Any additions of this nature should be discussed thoroughly with the mount maker at an early stage and small holes drilled through the Perspex® to facilitate any stitching. When constructing mounts, it is sometimes necessary to screw pieces of Perspex® together; in such cases ensure that the metal screws are properly countersunk and cannot catch on the object.

Figure 7.5 A buckram bust made to assist a mount maker construct a complex Perspex® support for a bra. This invisible bra mount can be seen in use on p. 200.

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Buckram Figures Using buckram to create figures can be an extremely useful technique when preparing costume for display. Buckram is essentially a fabric-based product and has many advantages. It is light, strong, rigid, easy to cut and can be stitched into with a needle and thread. It is also inexpensive and though construction time must be taken into account, it is particularly valuable for displays with small budgets. Buckram is an easy material to use and so versatile that it can be fashioned into shapes that will fit costumes of any dimensions. As figures made of this material are hollow and can be cut away as desired, this method is also particularly suitable for making concealed costume supports. This way of displaying garments has become increasingly popular and is especially useful when mounting smaller items such as corsets and stretch underwear. Buckram is a cotton or linen fabric impregnated with a starch-based size, which acts as both a stiffener and glue. When wet, the material becomes sticky and easy to manipulate and when dry, it hardens into a rigid shell. As buckram is principally used in the hat making industry, it can be purchased from millinery suppliers. Unfortunately, manufactured buckram is often treated with supplementary adhesives, which can make it less chemically stable and consequently unsuitable for long-term display. Fortunately, buckram is relatively simple to produce, using pieces of scoured cotton or linen fabric, dipped into a paste of water and wheat starch powder. Making buckram in this way, not only ensures the quality of the materials, but also creates a particularly sticky and flexible form that is often easier to work with than manufactured varieties. Before casting a buckram mount, a mould must be prepared of a suitable size and shape. For this, it is necessary to have access to at least one, small, manufactured figure that can be used as a foundation. For modern garments, it may be possible to use the foundation figure as it is, but for historical costume some shape adaptation will usually be necessary. Using layers of polyester wadding, the foundation figure can be shaped to fit individual garments and developed into the correct historical silhouette. Foundation figures should always be made several centimetres smaller than the costume, to allow for a layer of padding and fabric to cover the buckram shell. Once the correct shape has been created or even if no re-shaping was required, the foundation figure is covered in a tight layer of cling film to provide a non-stick barrier between the gluey buckram and the mould. No matter what kind of buckram is used, the basic application technique is the same. The material is cut into strips, dipped in water or starch paste as appropriate and applied to the mould in overlapping pieces. The technique is very similar to the process of working with papier mâché and several layers of buckram should be applied to make the support strong enough. Once the

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material has fully dried, the newly cast form can be removed from the mould, trimmed to size and covered in a layer of polyester wadding and fabric. To complete the process, a base and pole fixing can be secured inside the form ready for display. Alternatively, figures can be prepared with suitable suspension fixings and hung from above.

Preparing the mould 1. Select a figure that is smaller than the finished costume and pad up as required, using polyester wadding and instructions from Chapter 4. As the padding is only temporary, it can be secured with pins rather than stitching. Smooth out the wadding by covering in a layer of nylon tights or cotton jersey. To allow space for a soft layer of padding and fabric over the buckram shell, make sure that the finished mould is a minimum of 3 cm smaller than the inside of the costume. 2. Cut out a strip of thin cardboard approximately 4 cm wide and apply to the centre back of the mould from neck to base. The strip can be held in place with masking tape. This will be used to protect the figure when cutting the buckram from the mould. 3. To provide a non-stick surface, cover the mould in a layer of cling film, keeping the shape as smooth as possible. To do this, wrap the plastic around the figure in one continuous piece.

Making and using buckram

Using ready-made millinery buckram

1. Using the recipe on p. 212 mix a paste of wheat starch powder and water.

1. Purchase ready-made buckram from a millinery supplier.

2. Prepare the cotton or linen fabric by cutting into strips of approximately 10 × 30 cm. If possible, use a fabric with a loose weave as this will make the finished form easier to stitch into. Cheap linen scrim is a particularly good fabric for this job.

2. Prepare the buckram by cutting it into strips of approximately 10 × 30 cm.

3. Wearing protective gloves, submerge a piece of fabric in the starch paste. This is easier to do while the paste is still warm. Strip off any excess starch between fingers and thumb and apply the fabric directly to the mould, smoothing out all creases.

3. Submerge the already impregnated buckram into warm water to soften.

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Making and using buckram

Using ready-made millinery buckram

If necessary the paste can be thinned with a little warm water. (For instructions on making starch paste see the recipe on p. 212.) 4. Using the same technique, apply further pieces of buckram to the mould, overlapping in a crisscross formation to make the structure as strong as possible. If the mount is to be cut down, make sure that the buckram strips overlap the cutting line by a minimum of 5 cm. 5. Once the mould has been fully covered in one layer of buckram, allow it to dry before applying a second layer. Depending on the temperature, drying times can take many hours, but can be accelerated using heaters. 6. Repeat the process applying a second and third layer, allowing the buckram to dry between applications.

Figure 7.6 The first stage of making a buckram mount, using strips of linen scrim dipped in wheat starch paste and applied to a figure covered in cling film.

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Starch paste recipe ■







Add wheat starch powder and water to a saucepan in a ratio of one part powder to four parts water. The quantity of paste required will depend on the size of the buckram mount, but for a standard figure, approximately 1.5–2 litres will be needed. Do not make too much starch paste at once, as it is smoother and easier to use if freshly made for each layer of buckram. Place the saucepan on a low to medium heat and bring the mixture slowly to the boil, stirring constantly. The white liquid will thicken and become more translucent. Continuing to stir, simmer the mixture until it has thickened into a glutinous paste. This will take approximately 10 minutes. To check whether it is ready, spoon a small amount onto a plate and leave to cool. Dip a finger into the paste and test between finger and thumb. If the starch is sticky and stretchy the paste is ready. Remove the pan from the heat and add a little cold water to cool. Once it is safe to handle, use immediately.

Concealed supports and marking cut lines on the buckram mount Concealed supports are made by cutting away areas of the mount that are visible above and below the line of the costume. In most cases this will be the parts of the support that appear above the neckline. For sleeveless garments, the armholes will also need cutting away, while for items such as corsets, bodices and jackets, the lower part of the torso may likewise need cropping to match the line of the hem. In order to cut down a mount, the areas that are to be removed must be drawn clearly onto the buckram. This should be done while the cast is still on the mould. Once the buckram is fully dried, cover in a layer of protective tissue and try the costume on. The neckline of the garment and any other relevant openings or edges are then marked onto the buckram using the following directions.

Marking cut lines 1. Once the buckram is fully dry, use a pair of scissors to snip off any sharp corners or edges and ensure the form is as smooth as possible. 2. Cover the buckram in a layer of tissue paper, fitting it snugly around the figure, using folds and darts where necessary. Secure the covering with a few tacking stitches as required. (Fine soft spider tissue is easier to use than standard tissue paper.) 3. Dress the costume over the top of the tissue layer and make sure that it is sitting symmetrically on the figure.

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4. Before marking the cut lines, the buckram must be uncovered and the edges of the costume protected. To do this, tear into the tissue and fold it back over all the edges of the costume, revealing the buckram beneath. Do not use scissors for this process but rip the tissue by hand. 5. The neckline and any other appropriate parts of the costume can now be marked using a soft pencil or tailors chalk. This can also be done with tacking stitches caught into the buckram with a curved needle. 6. While the costume is in situ on the figure, the general fit can also be assessed. Any additional padding that may be required should be noted down on a diagram. 7. Remove the costume and tissue from the figure and even up the marked lines on the buckram form as necessary. 8. To ensure that the support will be properly concealed when the costume is mounted, all lines should be re-drawn a minimum of 0.5 cm inside the original markings. Use a tape measure and draw on the new cutting lines as evenly as possible with a soft pencil.

Figure 7.7

Mould

Buckram cast

Tissue paper

Costume

Marking cutting lines on a buckram mount.

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Removing the buckram from the mould 1. To remove the cast from the mould, the buckram must be slit down the centre back from top to bottom. Before cutting, mark the line with a pencil and make sure that it overlaps the protective cardboard strip. Cut through the buckram using a sharp craft knife or scalpel. 2. With the buckram fully severed, pull apart the two sides, easing the opening wider until the mount can be removed from the mould. This may require fairly brutal handling, but the buckram should be strong enough to withstand this and will spring back to shape. 3. Once the buckram is free of the mould, the support can be trimmed to size using a scalpel or craft knife. Taking appropriate safety precautions, cut along any previously marked lines and crop the support to the correct shape. 4. The centre back opening of the support can be refastened by applying small strips of sticky buckram across the cut line. To make this easier, tie a length of cotton tape around the waist of the figure to hold the two edges together and apply the pieces of buckram to the inside of the support. Allow the buckram to dry before removing the cotton tape. For increased strength, apply a final layer of buckram strips across the cut line on the outside of the support. Alternatively the centre back opening can be held together with stitching, using a strong needle and thick, waxed, polyester thread.

Applying pole or suspension fixings Pole or suspension fixings should always be attached before finishing the outside of the buckram. This will ensure that any fastening method used to attach the fixings will be hidden from view and fully covered in a protective layer of polyester wadding. To suspend a figure, small metal rings or trouser hook bars can be fixed to the inside of the buckram form and used as an attachment for fishing line. These suspension fastenings should be stitched to the figure, using a strong needle and thick, waxed, polyester thread. A thimble will also be required to assist with this process. To ensure maximum strength, each stitch should pass fully through the buckram shell. A minimum of four rings or bars should be used to suspend a mount and care should be taken to position them so that they cannot be seen once the figure is on display. Fitting a buckram figure with a pole fixing is less straightforward, and may require assistance from someone with more technical experience and equipment. To carry out this job, the buckram form should be fitted with an inside plate,

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Figure 7.8 Fixing an inside plate into the base of a buckram mount.

Buckram mount

Inside plate

Cuff and screw fixing Aprox 8 cm Angles rivited through the buckram

positioned a minimum of 8 cm above the bottom of the figure. Preferably, the plate should be made from Hexlite® (Aluminium Honeycomb board) which is not only strong and inert, but also particularly lightweight. Alternatively, plywood can be used, though this is not ideal as it is heavier and far less chemically stable. Before cutting the plate, make a cardboard template and ensure that it fits inside the figure. Using this as a pattern, cut out the plate and mark the central point. To allow the pole to fit up inside the figure, drill a hole in the centre of the plate, wide enough for this to pass through. Position a cuff and screw fixing over this hole and screw or rivet in place. Strong metal poles and cuff and screw fixings can be purchased from mannequin and dress stand manufacturers. Once the plate has been prepared in this way, it can be fixed inside the figure, by nailing or riveting through the buckram shell, from the outside. When using Hexlite®, this process is simplified by securing two angles to the underside of the plate at the front and back. The angles are then riveted through the buckram, holding the plate firmly in position.

Finishing buckram supports To complete the mount, the buckram is covered in a layer of polyester wadding and fabric. The following instructions apply specifically to figures that have been cut back for use as concealed supports, but the same techniques can be employed for figures with necks. For mounts such as these, the top of the buckram torso will require finishing with a neck disc (p. 71).

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Finishing a concealed buckram support 1. To smooth the surface of the mount and provide a soft support for the costume, the buckram is covered in a layer of polyester wadding. Do not attempt to wrap the torso in a single piece of wadding, but apply in two or more parts, cutting darts where needed to ensure a snug fit. If necessary, wadding can be secured to the buckram by catching a thread through the top layer, using a curved needle. 2. To soften the sharp edges of the mount, fold the wadding over them and secure in place with a small whipstitch, trimming away any excess. 3. Using the instructions in Chapter 3 (p. 57), isolate the padding from the costume by covering in a layer of stretch fabric. Finish the edges in the same way as the wadding, folding the fabric over the top and bottom of the mount and whip stitching in place. 4. To ensure the mount is as inconspicuous as possible, the top edge of the support should be covered in a fabric matching the colour and texture of the costume. This must extend down inside the support, as glimpses of the interior are often visible through armholes or low necklines. To do this, prepare a band of suitable fabric, cut on the bias. The band should be long enough to wrap around the figure and wide enough to cover any parts of the inner support that are visible from the outside, plus turnings. 5. Neaten one edge of the band by folding under and slipstitching to the outside of the figure around the top edge. Flip the band over the top of the support and pin to the inside. Herringbone the lower edge in place, using a curved needle to catch the fabric to the buckram. Join the band by

Figure 7.9(a) Binding the top edge of a buckram mount with a band of fabric cut on the bias.

Binding cut on the bias

Slipstitching the folded edge of the band to the outside of the mount

Buckram covered in a layer of wadding and stretched fabric

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overlapping the two ends and folding under the visible raw edge. Position this seam wherever it is least conspicuous when the figure is on display. 6. For costumes with narrow straps it is usually easier to make separate strap supports and add them at a final stage. Strap supports can be made out of lengths of wire or Rigilene®, covered in an appropriately coloured fabric. When using Rigilene®, strengthen the support by stitching a double layer together, with the natural curve of the boning running in opposite directions. Trim the strap supports to an appropriate length before covering and secure to the outside of the figure with stitching. If necessary the straps of the costume can be tied or bound to the supports with an invisible thread. 7. When appropriate, underpinnings, such as petticoats and soft arm supports, can be added to the buckram mount in the same way that they are applied to standard figures (see Chapter 5).

Strap supports made of polyester boning covered in fabric

Buckram mount

Tube petticoat

Plastazote® or Ethafoam® Figures The practice of carving Ethafoam® to create a figure is a technique that has been widely developed in the USA. As this subject has already been well published, it is unnecessary to repeat the work of others. The method described here is an extremely simplified way of using Plastazote® or Ethafoam® to create a torso.

Figure 7.9(b) Example of a buckram mount with strap supports and a tube petticoat.

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Figure 7.10 Nineteenth century silk corset. 1864. British. T.169–1961. Mounted on a basic Plastazote®/ Ethafoam® figure and padded with polyester wadding to fit the costume.

Rather than carving a three-dimensional figure out of this material, a basic flat body shape is cut out and used as an inner core. Polyester wadding is then applied to this shape, developing the flat form into a three-dimensional torso. To make the material easier to cut, the inner core is made up of three separate layers of Plastazote® or Ethafoam® approximately 2.5–3 cm deep. Once cut to shape, these can be fastened together with hot-melt glue, creating a silhouette of greater depth. To reduce the amount of padding required and give the flat figure a more three-dimensional shape, a further two pieces are added to the front and back. Once completed, this basic form can be covered in a layer of stretch fabric and polyester wadding used to build up a suitable silhouette. As knives are used with this technique, health and safety issues must be considered and any relevant precautions taken.

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Drafting the pattern for the inner-core 1. The shape and dimensions of the inner-core can vary considerably and will obviously depend on the size of the costume. The diagram included here can be used as a basic guide and once padded up will produce a torso with approximately the following measurements: waist 52 cm, bust 80 cm and bottom 80 cm. The dimensions indicated on the diagram can be adapted as required to create a larger or smaller figure. Bear in mind that the vertical measurements will not be altered by padding, while the horizontal (or circumference measurements) will be considerably increased. The only exception to this rule are the shoulders. In order to keep this part of the figure as strong as possible, the shoulders should be cut only slightly narrower than the required finished width. 2. Once the dimensions of the inner-core have been established, draw the pattern onto a piece of tissue paper. To keep the shape symmetrical, fold the tissue in half and using this as the centre line, draw one side of the pattern only. Turn the tissue paper over and trace through the shape to create the second half of the pattern. 3. Using the diagram as a guide, mark the inside panel onto the pattern. This should exactly mirror the shape of the inner-core and is positioned approximately 1.5 cm inside the outer edge. 4. Finally, a central pole socket must be marked onto the bottom of the pattern. As poles can vary in size, the diameter of the relevant pole should be measured, reduced by approximately 2 mm and used as the width of the socket. The length of the socket can also vary, but to ensure the stability of the figure, a minimum of 20 cm should be allowed. 5. It may be necessary to trace off several versions of this pattern, as the tissue paper is often damaged when marking the pattern onto the material.

Figure 7.11

Scale = 5cm

Pattern for a Plastazote®/Ethafoam® figure.

7 4

12.5

5 31 17 26

31 50

66

15

2.5

27 20 12 27

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Marking and cutting out the Plastazote®/Ethafoam® 1. Choose a sheet of Plastazote®/Ethafoam® with a depth of approximately 2.5–3 cm. Lay the tissue pattern on top of the material, holding it in place with a few pins. 2. Mark the pattern onto the surface of the Plastazote® using a tracing wheel. Do not mark the pole shaft, but make sure that both the inner panel and outer pattern lines are transferred. Move the pattern and repeat this process, marking out a second shape identical to the first. Label these pieces 1 and 2. 3. Move the pattern once more and mark a third shape. This time the pole shaft should be marked, but the inner panel shape can be omitted. Label this piece 3. 4. To clarify the markings, go over all the wheeled tracing lines with a permanent marker pen. 5. With a cutting board positioned beneath the Plastazote®, cut out pieces 1, 2 and 3, using a large craft or kitchen knife. In addition cut out and remove the pole shaft marked on piece 3. 6. Using a sheet of Plastazote® with a depth of approximately 1.5 cm, mark and cut out two inside panels, following the inner line on the pattern. Label these pieces F and B.

Preparing and assembling the inner-core 1. Before sticking the inner-core together, the edges of each piece should be chevroned to help create a more rounded shape. Start work on pieces 1 and 2, carefully slicing off the corner edges on one surface of each shape. Use the inside panel line as a guide, angling the chevron from this line and slicing through approximately half the thickness of the Plastazote® (see Figure 7.12(a)).

Figure 7.12(a) Using a knife to chevron the edges of pieces 1 and 2.

Inside panel line

1.5 2.5–3 cm 1.5

Angle the knife, cutting through half the thickness of the Plastazote®

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Figure 7.12(b) Angle the knife, cutting through the entire thickness of the Plastazote®

Using a knife to chevron the edges of panels F and B.

1.5 1.5 cm

Leave the bottom of the Plastazote® intact, but trim down the corners of the neck. Piece 3 will not need shaping, but panels F and B should also be trimmed. For these two pieces, the chevron should be angled to include the entire thickness of the Plastazote®, (see Figure 7.12(b)) while the area across the shoulders should be whittled to a greater extent, graduating the chevron over a wider expanse. 2. Assemble the inner-core by sticking pieces 1, 2 and 3 together with hot-melt glue. Make sure that piece 3 is positioned in the middle, with the chevron edges of pieces 1 and 2 facing outwards. 3. Glue panel F and B on top of pieces 1 and 2, making sure that they are placed evenly. 4. Once dry, the inner-core can be positioned onto a pole and stand by sliding the pole up the central shaft.

Figure 7.12(c) Completed inner core. Panel B

Panel F Piece 1 Piece 2

Piece 3

Chevron edges

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Padding the inner-core 1. Before padding can be applied, the inner-core must be covered in a layer of cotton jersey (see p. 57). To ensure the jersey is as tight and firm as possible, stitch the side seams by hand rather than removing the jersey for machining. Secure the hem of the cover by stitching the front and back together beneath the base of the inner-core, leaving a gap for the pole. 2. Once the inner-core has been covered, polyester wadding can be applied, using the same techniques described in Chapter 4 (p. 78). Before starting work, use pins to mark the level of the bust, waist and bottom on the inner-core. As the shape of the figure is essentially built up from scratch, a greater amount of padding will be required and the diagrams below can be used to assist with this process. To develop particular historical body shapes see the relevant sections in Chapter 4. 3. Once the figure has been padded to the correct shape and size, a neck can be constructed out of museum board and calico, using the instructions on p. 54. Although the inner-core is cut with a basic neck shape, this should be used as a support rather than the neck itself. Once the new neck has been made, position it over the Plastazote® stump, ensuring that it is angled forwards. Smooth out the shape by covering in a fine layer of polyester wadding. 4. Complete the figure with a fabric top cover (see p. 57) and finish with a neck disc (p. 71).

Figure 7.13 Padding up a Plastazote®/Ethafoam® figure. (a)

(b)

Using pins to mark the level of the bust, waist and bottom.

Padding the front of the figure.

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(c)

(d)

Padding the side of the figure.

Padding the back of the figure.

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Appendix Basic Sewing Te c h n i q u e s This chapter is for the benefit of those with limited sewing experience, covering all needlework techniques that are required for the projects in this book. Methods are kept simple, making them easy to learn and use.

Useful Kit Cutting tools Dressmaking scissors/shears

Used to cut dressmaking fabrics. To prevent the blades from becoming blunt, these scissors should be reserved for use with fabric only.

Pinking shears

Used to neaten raw edges of fabric. The serrated blades are not easily sharpened and to prevent them from becoming blunt, scissors should be reserved for use with fabric only.

Embroidery scissors

Small sharp snips used for more intricate cutting and trimming.

Craft scissors

Used to cut paper, cardboard, nylon net, polyester wadding etc.

Scalpel and blades

Used for cutting cardboard, Reemay®, buckram etc.

Large kitchen knife

Used for cutting Plastazote®/ Ethafoam®. Measuring tools

Dressmakers tape measure

Essential for work with costume. A narrow tape measure (approximately 1 cm wide) is particularly recommended. If not available, standard tape measures can be trimmed down or cut in half.

Steel tape measure

Useful for measuring longer distances such as the height of mannequins.

Rulers

Standard length rulers used for drawing patterns etc.

Yardstick

Used for drawing larger patterns.

Tailor’s L-square or set square

Not essential, but a useful tool for drawing patterns.

Compass

Needed for drafting certain patterns. Continued 225

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Marking tools Tailor’s chalk

Used to mark patterns onto fabric. Can be purchased in a variety of different dispensers.

Pencil

Used to mark patterns onto fabric.

Tracing wheel

Used to mark patterns onto fabric. Tracing wheels are designed to work in combination with carbon paper, however, to avoid possible off-set onto original textiles, carbon paper should not be used for costume mounting purposes. Fabrics can be marked instead with indentations only. Available in various different styles, a spiked wheel generally achieves the best results.

Piece of thick cardboard

This can be used in combination with the tracing wheel and will help improve the clarity of the indented markings. The cardboard should be positioned beneath the fabric, to provide a softer surface for the wheel to press into. Hand tools

Coloured glass headed pins

Particularly useful when working with polyester wadding, as pins remain visible and are less likely to get left in the padding.

Dressmaking pins

Can be used with all sewing projects. Longer, finer varieties such as wedding dress or lace pins are usually better.

Entomological pins

Particularly fine pins that can occasionally be employed for use with original costume. Pins are available in different thicknesses and should always be cleaned before use (p. 12).

Needles

A variety of hand sewing and curved needles.

Thimble

Used to protect the middle finger when sewing by hand.

Tweezers

Useful for removing tacking stitches, threading machine needles, picking off small pieces of fluff from a costume and a variety of other uses.

Fine sculptor’s spatula

A practical tool that can be used to assist with the final tweaks and adjustments when mounting a costume.

Basic threads

– 100% polyester thread, weight No: 70, used for machine gathering and heavy hand sewing. – 100% polyester thread, weight No: 120, used for standard machine and finer hand sewing. – 100% polyester heavy weight buttonhole thread, No: 30.



Black, white and neutral.

BASIC SEWING TECHNIQUES

Machinery and accessories Sewing machine

A basic sewing machine is perfectly sufficient to carry out the techniques in this book. The only two essential stitches are straight and zigzag stitch.

Sewing machine accessories – General purpose foot

– This foot will accommodate both straight stitch and zigzag.

– Machine needles

– Depending on the type of machine, a stock of domestic or industrial machine needles will be required. Generally, size No: 70 and 80 are most useful. Machine needles should be changed regularly.

– Spare bobbins

– Keeping a number of bobbins supplied with the most frequently used threads saves time and wastage.

– Sewing machine manual

– This will contain vital information about using the machine, including the method for threading up, stitch settings and maintenance etc.

Overlocker (or Serger)

This is not an essential piece of equipment and all techniques in this book can be carried out without overlocking. However, these machines are extremely useful and can considerably reduce making time.

Overlocker accessories – Needles

– A stock of machine needles will be required.

– Spare blades

– The cutting blades will become blunt over time and will need replacing periodically.

– Overlocking thread

– Cheap and fine overlocking thread can be purchased on large cones.

– Tweezers

– Used to assist with threading up.

– Overlocker manual

– This will contain vital information about using the overlocker, including the method for threading up the machine, stitch settings, changing the blades and needles and machine maintenance etc.

Steam iron

Used to press fabrics and seams etc.

Iron accessories – Ironing board

– A standard domestic ironing board is adequate.

– Sleeve board

– Designed for pressing narrow parts of a garment, such as a sleeve, that will not fit onto a standard ironing board.

– Tailor’s ham

– Designed to assist with the pressing of curved seams.

– Pressing mitt

– An ironing pad, designed to be worn on one hand. Useful for pressing small areas of a garment that cannot be supported on an ironing or sleeve board.

– Iron cleaner and rags

– Essential for cleaning the plate of the iron.

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Use and Maintenance of Sewing Machines Although it may take a short while to become accustomed to using a sewing machine, they are generally very straightforward and user friendly. To maintain a high standard of stitching, change the needles frequently and ensure that the bobbin and upper spool are threaded up correctly, using a matching thread. Difficulties with stitching are usually caused by superficial problems with tension or needles and can be quickly adjusted. Having access to the machine’s manual will make this easier. To keep machines in good working order, make sure they are regularly cleaned and serviced. Older machines will also require oiling.

Troubleshooting machine problems Frequent problems

Possible causes

Skipping stitches

The needle may not be positioned high enough or could need replacing.

Breaking thread and puckered stitch lines

The needle may be inserted the wrong way round or could need replacing. The upper spool or bobbin tension may be too tight.

Needle unthreading

The needle may be inserted the wrong way round.

Loops forming on the underside of the fabric

The machine may not be threaded up correctly. The upper spool tension may be too loose or the bobbin tension too tight.

Loops forming on the upper side of the fabric

The machine may not be threaded up correctly. The upper spool tension may be too tight or the bobbin tension too loose.

Useful Hand Stitches Running stitch: The simplest hand stitch, formed by weaving the needle in and out of the fabric in one direction. The size of the stitch can vary according to the task being carried out, from approximately 2– 8 mm. Gathering stitch: This is the same as a running stitch, but is used to pull fabric into gathers. Use a sturdy thread and make sure that one end is securely knotted to the fabric and the other end left loose. Once the line of running stitch has been worked, draw the fabric into gathers by pulling on the loose end and pushing the fabric in the opposite direction.

BASIC SEWING TECHNIQUES

Figure A.1 Running stitch.

Tacking or basting: This is a large running stitch, used temporarily to hold layers of fabric or seam lines together. Each stitch is approximately 1–2 cm long and set 1–2 cm apart. Tacking should be removed once the fabric has been permanently stitched. Flat tacking: A term applied to the temporary tacking stitch used to secure two flat pieces of fabric together when backing one layer with another. This kind of tacking should be carried out flat on a table. Tailor’s tacks: This is a traditional way of marking a pattern onto fabric and can be useful for delicate materials that might be disfigured by other techniques. With the tissue still pinned to the fabric, fold back the pattern along the seam lines and use as a guide. Using a double thread, work a line of running stitch along the folded edge leaving a large loop between each stitch. To separate the two layers, remove the pattern and gently pull the fabric apart, snipping the tacks in between and leaving thread markings on each piece. Tailor’s tacks can also be stitched directly through a tissue pattern, but in order to remove the paper, the upper loops of thread must be cut, as well as snipping the tacks between the layers of fabric. Figure A.2 Tailor’s tacks.

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Thread tracing: Using a running stitch, this is a simple method for transferring essential pattern markings from the wrong side to the right side of the fabric. Backstitch: This is one of the strongest hand stitches and can be used as an alternative to a machine straight stitch. On the front, the stitches form a neat continuous line with no gaps, while on the back, the stitches overlap. Pass the needle through the fabric, from back to front. Take a small stitch backwards and push the needle up through the fabric so that it comes out approximately 3 mm ahead of the previous stitch. Repeat this process, always inserting the needle through the end of the last stitch.

Figure A.3 Backstitch.

Prickstitch: This is a variation of backstitch, forming a stitch that is almost invisible from the front of the fabric. Carry out the same instructions for backstitch, but reduce the size of each backwards stitch to the width of a pinprick. A less robust, but similar effect can be created using a running stitch.

Figure A.4 Prick stitch.

BASIC SEWING TECHNIQUES

Whipstitch: A simple diagonal stitch, generally used to join two edges together. Figure A.5 Whipstitch.

Slipstitch: This is an invisible stitch used to fasten down a folded edge and can also be used for hemming. Slide the needle through the edge of the fold. Catch a small stitch through the under fabric and pass the needle back into the fold, sliding along for approximately 3–8 mm. Repeat the process. To prevent stitches from showing on the right side of the fabric when securing a hem, ensure that the needle only picks up a few fibres from the under fabric. Figure A.6 Slipstitch.

Ladder stitch or drawing stitch: This can be used as a variation to slipstitch and is a useful way of securing folds under tension. Working from the right side of the fabric, alternate stitches are taken in the folds. Pull the thread taut and begin each new stitch parallel to the end of the last (see Figure A.7). Herringbone stitch: This stitch is used for sewing down a raw edge and keeping it flat. The stitch is always worked from left to right. Set in from the edge of the top fabric by approximately 0.6 cm, alternate backstitches are taken across the raw edge, creating a cross-stitch effect (see Figure A.8).

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Figure A.7 Ladder stitch.

Figure A.8 Herringbone stitch.

Blanket stitch: As this stitch is generally used as a decorative edge finish, it is not often required for costume mounting. With the edge of the fabric towards you, the stitch should be worked from left to right. After anchoring the thread, push the needle through the fabric towards you, approximately 0.6 cm from the edge. Loop the thread under the point of the needle and pull taut.

Figure A.9 Blanket stitch.

BASIC SEWING TECHNIQUES

Buttonhole stitch: This is used to strengthen the raw edges of button or eyelet holes, preventing them from fraying. Before starting, secure the thread to the wrong side of the fabric and pass the needle through the eyelet or buttonhole. Work the first stitch by pushing the needle down through the fabric approximately 3 mm away from the cut edge and up through the hole. Before pulling through, wrap the thread around the point of the needle, in the direction in which you are working. Draw the needle through the fabric, forming a small knot, which should be positioned along the top of the cut edge. Repeat this process keeping the stitches fairly close together.

Figure A.10 Buttonhole stitch.

Worked loops: These can be used as an alternative to buttonholes and metal eyes and bars for hooks. Using buttonhole thread, make two or three long stitches in the garment, the required length and position of the loop or bar and secure the ends. To strengthen the long stitches, work a line of blanket stitch over them creating a sturdy fastening.

Useful Machine Stitches Straight stitch: This is the most important and frequently used machine stitch and can be used to sew seams together etc. The length of the stitch can usually be varied according to requirement, but a standard stitch length is 2.5–3 mm. Gathering stitch: Machine gathers are created using a straight stitch set on the longest stitch length. Leave at least one end of the stitch line with loose ends and draw the fabric into gathers by pulling on the bobbin thread. To prevent this from snapping, a thicker thread can be used and the upper spool tension loosened. Topstitching: Although topstitching in dressmaking can be decorative, for the purposes of this book it is highly functional and used to secure folded hems, necks and waistlines etc. Topstitching is basically a straight stitch used so that it is visible on the right side of the fabric.

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Machine thread tracing: This is a simple method for transferring essential pattern markings from the wrong side to the right side of the fabric, using a straight stitch. Zigzag: This is a useful stitch, most commonly used for neatening raw edges, or applying polyester boning to fabric. The size and length of the stitch can usually be varied according to requirement. Stretch overlocking stitch: This stitch is not essential to the techniques in this book and can be replaced with a small zigzag stitch. Many sewing machines provide an overlocking stitch which is particularly valuable for use with stretch fabrics. When seaming together materials of this kind, the overlocking stitch should be programmed to a small narrow setting. Once the seam has been stitched, trim away any excess fabric close to the stitch line, leaving a small neat seam. Reverse stitch: Most machines have a mechanism that allows the stitch direction to be reversed. Using reverse stitching is a simple way of securing the threads at the beginning and end of a seam to prevent them from undoing.

Making and Using Patterns Although making paper patterns can seem daunting to someone with little sewing experience, for the purposes of costume mounting, they can be kept very simple. Patterns can be made out of any kind of paper, but using a semitransparent tissue paper is usually the best option. Use a sharp pencil, making use of rulers when necessary and label pattern pieces clearly, so that they can be easily identified, writing on any additional notes or instructions. Marking stitch lines and seam allowance: Although standard dressmaking patterns generally include seam allowance they do not always have clearly defined stitch lines. When drafting your own, stitch lines and seam allowance should always be drawn onto the pattern as two separate markings. Having clearly defined stitch lines will not only make the pattern more straightforward to draft, but will also be more accurate and easier to use. Stitch lines should be marked onto the tissue with a continuous or dotted line. Once the panel has been drawn, a seam allowance of approximately 2 cm can be added around the perimeter. Complete the pattern by cutting out the tissue panel along this outer line. For centre front and sometimes centre back pieces, the pattern can often be drawn as a half panel, with a straight line running down one side, to indicate the central axis. To duplicate the second half of the pattern when cutting out, match this line to the fold in the fabric and cut out the panel as one. Mark this line on the pattern clearly with the words ‘CUT ON FOLD’ and do not add seam allowance to it. Marking on the straight of grain: In order to position the pattern correctly on the fabric, all pieces must be marked with the straight of grain. On fabrics, the straight of grain is the strongest part of the cloth and runs up and down,

BASIC SEWING TECHNIQUES

parallel to the selvages. It can be represented on a pattern by a single straight line drawn onto each paper panel. Checking the length of the stitch lines: Where two separate panels will be stitched together into a seam, always double check that the length of the stitch lines match each other. This can be done by measuring with a tape measure or by overlapping one semi-transparent pattern piece with another and visibly testing whether the relevant lines marry up. Where curved stitch lines diverge, use the point of a pencil to hold the two patterns together, pivoting the top piece over the bottom so that the stitch lines remain exactly on top of each other. For very curved seams, this process may need to be carried out several times. Balance marks: Balance marks are used to help match up seams when sewing them together and will make the construction of a garment much easier. They can be represented on a pattern as a dot or a dash on the stitch line. When incorporating these useful markers into a pattern, select one stitch line and draw on the balance marks (one or two is usually sufficient). Transfer these marks onto the corresponding pattern piece by measuring the matching stitch line with a tape measure or by laying the second pattern piece over the top of the first and tracing the balance points through. Where curved stitch lines diverge, use the point of a pencil to hold the two patterns together, pivoting the top piece over the bottom so that the stitch lines remain exactly on top of each other. For very curved seams, this process may need to be carried out several times. Using a pattern to cut out the fabric: It is customary when making patterns to draw only half of the required panels, as these can generally be reversed and duplicated for the second half of the pattern. To speed up the cutting process, it is standard practice to lay out the tissue panels on a double layer of fabric, thereby cutting out all garment pieces simultaneously. Prepare the fabric by folding it in half, matching selvage to selvage and lay it out on a flat surface. Position the pattern pieces on the folded fabric, matching the marked straight of grain to the line of the selvages. Hold the pattern pieces in place with pins and cut along the outside edge of the tissue. For centre front and sometimes centre back pieces, the pattern is often drawn as a half panel with a straight line running down one side to indicate the central axis. To duplicate the second half of the pattern when cutting out, match this line to the fold in the fabric and cut out the panel as one. In some cases pattern pieces may be too wide to fit on doubled fabric. When this occurs, unfold the fabric and cut out the panels individually or fold the fabric the other way. Marking patterns onto the fabric: It is essential to transfer the stitch lines onto the fabric and this can be done in several different ways. The easiest method is to use a tracing wheel. This tool is designed to work in combination with carbon paper, however, to avoid possible off-set onto original textiles, this material should not be used for costume mounting purposes. Fabrics can be marked instead with indentations only. Using a spiked tool, roll the wheel along

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the stitch lines, pressing the teeth firmly through the pattern and into the fabric, creating a series of dents. The clarity of these markings will be improved by placing a piece of cardboard beneath the fabric. Wheel markings should be visible on both the front and back panels. Make sure that all stitch lines, balance marks, darts and any other construction points are marked onto the fabric before removing the pattern. If necessary, lines can be clarified once the pattern is removed by going over the indentations with a light pencil or tailor’s chalk. Make sure that any marks are drawn onto the wrong side of the fabric.

Figure A.11 Folded fabric

Making and using patterns.

Marking the stitch line

Straight of grain

Selvage edge

Tissue paper pattern

Cut on fold

236

Balance marks

2 cm Seam allowance

Stitch line

Cutting on the bias: Cutting a garment on the bias will give a fabric greater elasticity and can create some interesting effects. Using this technique however, is less straightforward than working with the fabric on the straight of grain and should only be used in costume mounting when absolutely necessary. Pattern pieces should be positioned diagonally on the fabric, with their vertical axis running at 45° to the straight of grain. To assist with this process, it is a good idea to find and mark the angle of this line before laying out the pattern. One of the

BASIC SEWING TECHNIQUES

simplest ways of doing this is to fold the fabric diagonally and press lightly with an iron to create a slight but visible crease. Alternatively the fold line can be marked with pins or a line of tacking. To create a fold with an accurate angle, match the horizontal edge at the top of the fabric with one of the vertical selvages. This technique is especially useful when cutting out long bias ribbons for binding.

Stitching Seams Stitch lines should always be pinned or tacked together before seaming. Begin the process by pinning the top and bottom of the stitch lines together and matching any balance marks or notches in between. The remainder of the stitch lines can then be pinned together between these anchor points. Pins should be positioned exactly on the stitch lines, making sure that the lines on each panel tally. To do this, keep checking the far side of the seam to ensure the pins are placed correctly. Make sure that the pins are positioned with the points away from you when you are sewing. In this way, they will remain in the fabric as long as possible and can be easily removed. Once prepared, the seams can be stitched. When using a machine, use a standard length straight stitch (2.5–3 mm) and sew along the marked stitch lines, removing the pins as you reach them. To prevent the stitches from undoing, reverse stitch at the beginning and end of each seam.

Finishing Raw Edges Pinking shears: Using pinking shears is the simplest way of finishing a raw edge to prevent it from fraying. Use the shears to trim the fabric, leaving a neatly cut zigzag edge. This technique is not suitable for all materials, particularly those that are excessively prone to fray.

Figure A.12 Finishing a raw edge with machine zigzag.

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Overlocking: Using an overlocker is a quick and effective way to finish raw edges as the fabric is trimmed and stitched in one process. Seam allowances can be pressed open and finished individually or overlocked together. Zigzag: Machine zigzag can be used as an effective finish for raw edges, though slightly more time consuming than the previous two methods. When using zigzag as a finishing technique, position the stitch line so that it is set in from the raw edge. Once completed, the excess fabric can be trimmed away as close to the zigzag stitching as possible. Seam allowances can be pressed open and finished individually or stitched together and trimmed as one.

Ironing Although most of the supports and underpinnings described in this book will be hidden beneath the costume, using an iron when sewing will make construction easier, as well as improving the garment’s finished appearance. Before pressing, seam allowances must be trimmed and finished with pinking shears, zigzag or overlocking and curved seams should be clipped into. When pressing seams, work from the wrong side of the garment and start by running an iron along the stitch line, to smooth out any puckers. The seam allowance can then be ironed to one side or pressed open. Once the seam allowance has been flattened as required, turn the garment the right way out and press the seam from the front. To assist with curves or particularly narrow parts of a garment, such as the sleeves, a ham, ironing mitt or sleeve board may be required.

Darts A dart is a wedge-shaped fold of fabric, pinched together and stitched to help mould a garment to fit the body. Tapering to a point, darts can be single or double ended. For example, those used to reduce the waist of a petticoat will

Figure A.13 Stitching a dart.

BASIC SEWING TECHNIQUES

be shaped like an upside down triangle, wide at the top, narrowing to a point further into the garment. A dart used to create the elbow in a sleeve support will be diamond shaped, wide in the middle and narrowing to points at both ends. Stitching a dart: Always pin or tack darts together before stitching. When using pins, make sure that they are positioned with the points away from you when you are sewing. For triangular darts, always start at the widest end and stitch down into the point. To keep the end of the dart as smooth as possible, do not finish with a reverse stitch, but continue machining off the fabric, creating a short tail of woven thread, approximately 2 cm long. Remove the fabric from the machine leaving the tail intact as this will prevent the dart from undoing. Pressing darts: Darts can be ironed in several different ways. For those made in finer fabrics, darts can either be pushed to one side (generally towards the back of the garment) and pressed flat, or ironed so that half the dart is on one side of the stitch line and half on the other. To reduce the bulk of those made in thicker fabrics, the dart can be snipped down the fold, stopping approximately 1/2 cm from the point and the edges pressed open.

H e m m i n g Te c h n i q u e s Marking a hem with a ruler: In the context of costume mounting, petticoats and underpinnings will generally be invisible beneath the costume and will not require a special fitting to establish an exact hemline. Instead, the hem can be marked using the ruler method. Place the petticoat or underpinning on the figure and, using a pin, mark onto it the waist to hem measurement of the costume. Raise the pin by a minimum of 2.5 cm to ensure that the petticoat will be shorter than the costume. Place a ruler vertically on the ground and measure up to this level. Using this measurement, continue around the petticoat marking the hemline with more pins. This process is usually easier with the figure placed on a table. Marking a hem from a costume: In some cases, the hemline of an underpinning must correspond more exactly to that of the costume (for example, visible petticoats constructed for skirts made out of sheer fabrics). In order to do this, a specialist fitting will be required. Place the petticoat on the figure with the costume positioned over the top. Using dressmaking pins or a tack line, mark the hem of the costume onto the petticoat. If pins are used, ensure that all sharp tips are pointing inwards so that the costume is in no danger of catching on them. The hems of historical costumes are often warped or misshapen and the marked line should exactly mirror these discrepancies. Once completed, remove the costume and petticoat from the figure. To ensure the petticoat will not dip below the bottom of the costume, mark a second line of pins or tacking 1–2 cm above the first and turn the hem up along this line.

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Quick method for finishing a hem: With the underpinning or petticoat the wrong way out, fold up the hem along the previously marked line of pins or tacking and press with an iron. Leaving a turning of approximately 1 cm, trim and finish the raw edge with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag. Working from the wrong side of the fabric, secure the fold with a line of topstitching, approximately 0.5 cm from the edge. Press the finished hem with an iron.

Figure A.14 Quick method for finishing a hem.

Inside of costume Inside of costume

0.5 cm 1 cm Fold up along marked line and iron

(a) Step 1.

Top stitching

(b) Step 2.

Plackets Plackets are slits or openings inserted into a fitted garment, such as the waist of a petticoat or skirt, making it wide enough to dress on and off a figure. There are many different techniques for making plackets, but for the purposes of costume mounting, they can be kept as simple as possible. When creating a placket, ensure that it is long enough to allow the garment to be dressed with ease and always position it where it will be least noticeable, such as the centre back or sides. Regular fastenings such as hooks, bars and pressstuds can be used to close the opening, but in most cases, a smoother flatter finish is created by stitching the placket shut once the garment is dressed on the figure.

BASIC SEWING TECHNIQUES

Making a placket opening in a seam: The easiest way to create a placket is to leave part of a seam unstitched. For example when making a petticoat, stitching can be terminated 15 cm from the top of the centre back seam, creating a natural opening. To give the placket a more characteristic under-lap, clip into the seam allowance at the bottom of the opening. Finish the raw edges with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag and fold in one side along the original stitch line, securing the fold with topstitching. Leave the other side to flap naturally across, creating an under-lap. To secure the bottom of the placket, top stitch through all layers, holding the seam allowance in this position.

Topstitching securing the fold

Inside of garment

Clipped seam allowance

Seam line

Simple slit placket: In some cases, it is necessary to create an opening in a piece of fabric where there is no seam. To do this, mark the slit onto the wrong side of the fabric with tailor’s chalk or a pencil. Using a small straight stitch, machine down one side of the marked slit line, at a distance of approximately 3 mm. At the bottom of the slit, leave the needle in the fabric, release the pressure foot and rotate the fabric by 90°. Work a few stitches across the bottom of the slit before rotating the fabric once more and stitching back up the far side. Snip down the slit line, using a pair of pinking shears. Fold the pinked edges to the inside of the garment and stitch in place by hand or machine (see Figure A.16).

Figure A.15 Making a placket opening in a seam.

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Figure A.16 Making a simple slit placket.

Inside of garment

Inside of garment Stitch line

Slit with pinking shears

Marked slit

(a) Step 1.

(b) Step 2.

G a t h e r i n g Te c h n i q u e s Gathers are a series of small folds or tucks made in a garment to reduce its overall width to a narrower dimension. Gathers can be made as full or as sparse as necessary and will depend on the width of the ungathered fabric compared to the required finished width. Draw-thread method: This is the most basic gathering technique and is achieved by pulling the fabric up on lines of hand or machine stitching. Whether gathering by hand or machine, two parallel lines of stitching approximately 1/2 cm apart, should be used. This will reduce the strain on the thread when drawing up the fabric and help keep the gathers straight. If using a machine for this job, always make sure that the two lines of stitching are worked in the same direction and on the same side of the fabric. When working with large quantities of fabric or net, it is a good idea to leave the threads loose at each end, so that the gathers can be pulled up from both sides. To help draw up the gathers evenly, mark the centre of the fabric with a pin and lock the gathering stitches at this point by reverse stitching. Once the fabric has been pulled up, knot the ends of the threads to prevent the gathers from undoing. To secure the gathers further, stitch them down with a small zigzag or hand backstitch.

BASIC SEWING TECHNIQUES

Quick-gather method: This technique can only be carried out on a machine and is particularly useful when manufacturing frills made of heavier nets. In this case, the finished appearance of the frill is not important and a more rough and ready approach can be taken to gathering. To carry out this method, set the sewing machine to a standard straight stitch. Starting at one end, use the point of a pair of scissors to push the net into small pleats beneath the foot of the machine, stitching them in place as you go. Continue to gather the net in this way until you have reached the far end. Remove the net from the machine and check its width. If the frill is too long, return it to the machine and repeat the process, gathering up as much or as little as required. Remember that the emphasis of this method is on speed rather than accuracy. Drawstring method: As an alternative to the two previous methods, the waistline of petticoats or underpinnings can be gathered using a drawstring. This is done by creating a simple channel in the top of the garment and threading a length of tape or cord through it. To make the channel, first neaten the raw edge at the top of the petticoat with pinking shears, overlocking or zigzag. Fold in the finished edge by approximately 1.5–2.5 cm and hold in place with pins. Secure the fold with a line of topstitching positioned as close to the top edge as possible. Work a second line of stitching below the first, making sure that the distance separating them is slightly wider than width of the drawstring. For skirts with no placket, a small slit in a seam must be opened to allow the drawstring to be inserted. When threading the drawstring through the channel, attach a safety pin to one end and feed it between the two lines of stitching. Once fully in position, the drawstring can be used to pull the waist of the petticoat into gathers.

Figure A.17 Gathering the top of a skirt using the drawstring method.

Opening in seam

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P l e a t i n g Te c h n i q u e s Pleats are essentially a series of folds or tucks taken in the fabric and held in place with stitching. For the purposes of costume mounting, they are principally treated as an alternative to gathers and used to shape and reduce fabric around the top of a petticoat or underpinning. By comparison, using pleats for this job will create a flatter smoother finish and in some instances can be quicker. Distributing pleats around a waistband: Although pleating techniques used in dressmaking tend to be very exact, in the context of costume mounting, pleats can usually be arranged by eye. Depending on the quantity of fabric involved, pleats can be pinched into folds of any size and spaced out as required. To keep each side as symmetrical as possible, halve and quarter the top of the petticoat and mark each point with a pin. Dress the petticoat onto the mannequin, securing the centre front and centre back points to the appropriate position on the waist of the figure. The quarter points should be secured to the side waist. With the petticoat anchored in this way, pleat up the excess fabric between these four points, creating the same number of pleats on each side.

Figure A.18 Different pleats.

Knife pleats: These pleats are used most frequently and are formed by pinching the fabric into folds and flattening them to one side. Knife pleats can be pushed in either direction, but are generally arranged so that the folds point towards the back. This means that the pleating either side of a petticoat should fan out from the centre front in opposite directions.

BASIC SEWING TECHNIQUES

Inverted pleats: These are formed by two knife pleats facing towards each other with the folds exactly meeting in the centre.

Box pleats: These are formed by two knife pleats facing away from each other with the under-fold meeting exactly at the centre.

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Boning Boning is a general term that describes the material used to stiffen garments such as bodices and structured skirt supports. Originally made from whalebones, it is now made out of man-made materials, such as polyester. A heavyduty variety manufactured out of strips of flexible steel is also available. Applying polyester boning directly to fabric: Rigilene® or polyester boning is the easiest type of stiffening to use, as it can be sewn directly to the fabric. Apply the boning to the fabric by stitching through both layers, using a machine zigzag stitch. When using Rigilene® to stiffen cylindrical underpinnings, always apply the boning to the inside of the garment and overlap the ends by approximately 10 cm. As Rigilene® is often stored in a tight coil, it is generally bent into a curve. Make sure that this curve corresponds to the curve of the finished underpinning. If necessary, Rigilene® can also be pressed with an iron to flatten it, but take care not to melt the polyester. Boning channels or casings: To attach non-stitch boning such as steels to an underpinning, a casing or channel must be created through which the steel can be threaded. Casings can be made out of twill or cotton tape, applied to the inside of the underpinning. Position the tape as appropriate and fasten to the fabric with two parallel lines of stitching, creating a channel. Make sure that the channel is slightly broader than the width of the steel, so that it can be threaded comfortably into the casing, but snugly enough to prevent it from twisting. An opening should be left in the casing through which the steel can be inserted, although this will not be necessary when making the crinoline frame described in Chapter 5. To facilitate the threading of a steel, the sharp ends can be temporarily covered with small pieces of masking tape, to prevent them from snagging on the tape.

Figure A.19 Making channels or casings for boning.

Tape

Garment

Steel or boning

BASIC SEWING TECHNIQUES

Backing or Mounting One Fabric onto Another This is a useful way of stiffening a light-weight or transparent fabric and is achieved by mounting one layer of material on top of another. Unlike the lining of a garment, which is usually made up independently and inserted at a later stage, items stiffened using this technique should be backed before the seams are stitched. Any fabric can be stiffened using this method. Sturdy fabrics, such as plain cottons are generally selected as a backing. Cut out a set of pattern pieces in the chosen top and backing fabrics, making sure that the straight of grain is correctly positioned on all panels. Using a tracing wheel, mark the stitch lines etc. onto the backing fabric only and remove the tissue pattern. With the fabric flat on the table, mount each panel of top fabric onto a corresponding backing and smooth out any wrinkles. Pin the two pieces together around the perimeter and turn the fabric over. Using a needle and thread, work a line of flat tacking along the outside edge of each stitch line and remove the pins. The two separate pieces of fabric can now be treated as one.

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Bibliography Pattern Books Arnold, J. (1977). Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction, C. 1860-1940. Macmillan, London. ISBN 0 333 13607 1. Arnold, J. (1984). Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction, C. 1660-1860. Macmillan, London. ISBN 0 333 13606 3. Hunnisett, J. (1988). Period Costume for Stage and Screen, Patterns for Women’s Dress, 1800-1909. Unwin Hyman Limited, London. ISBN 0 04 440086 1. Hunnisett, J. (1991). Period Costume for Stage and Screen, Patterns for Women’s Dress, 1500-1800. Players Press, Studio City, CA. ISBN 0887346103. Waugh, N. (1987). The Cut of Women’s Clothes, 1600-1930. Faber and Faber Limited, London. ISBN 0 571 08594 6. Waugh, N. (1993). Corsets and Crinolines. Routledge/ Theatre Arts Books, New York. Waugh, N. (1994). The Cut of Men’s Clothes, 1600-1900. Faber and Faber Limited, London. ISBN 0 571 05714 4.

General Costume History Buck, A. (1979). Dress in Eighteenth Century England. B.T. Batsford Ltd, London. ISBN 0 7134 0415 9. Byrde, P. (1992). Nineteenth Century Fashion. Batsford, London. ISBN 0713455462. Carter, A. (1992). Underwear, the Fashion History. Batsford, London. ISBN 0713462211. Chenoune, F. (1993). A History of Men’s Fashion. Flammarion, Paris. ISBN 2 8013 536 8. Costantino, M. (1997). Men’s Fashion in the Twentieth Century, from Frock Coats to Intelligent Fibres. B.T. Batsford Ltd, London. ISBN 0 7134 7203 0. Davis, R. I. (2000). Men’s 17th & 18th Costume, Cut and Fashion: Patterns for Men’s Costumes. Players Press, Studio City, CA. ISBN 0 88734 637 5. De Marly, D. (1989). Fashion for Men: An Illustrated History. Batsford. London. ISBN 0 7134 4494 0. Doyle, R. (1997). Waisted Efforts, an Illustrated Guide to Corset Making. Sartorial Press Publications, Halifax, N. S. ISBN 0 9683039 0 0. Ewing, E. (1978). Dress and Undress: a history of women’s underwear, Batsford, London. ISBN 0 7134 1630 0. Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century: The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute (F. Akiko, ed.) (2002). Taschen Köln, London. ISBN 3 8228 1206 4. Foster, V. (1986). The Nineteenth Century, a Visual History of Costume. Batsford, London. ISBN 0 7134 4095 3. Gernsheim, A. (1981). Victorian and Edwardian Fashion, a Photographic Survey. Dover Publications, New York. ISBN 0 486 24205 6. Gibbs-Smith, C. H. (1960). The Fashionable Lady in the 19th Century. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London. ISBN 0112902294. 249

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Ginsburg, M., Hart, A. and Mendes, V. D. (1992). Four Hundred Years of Fashion. The Victoria and Albert Museum, London. ISBN 185177 116 6. Hart, A. and North, S. (2000). Historical Fashion in Detail, the 17th and 18th Century. V&A Publications, London. ISBN 1 85177 2588. Johnston, L. (2005). Nineteenth-Century Fashion in Detail. V&A Publications, London. ISBN 1 85177 4408. Mansfield, A. and Cunnington, P. (1973). Handbook of English Costume in the 20th Century 1900 -1950. Faber and Faber Limited, London. ISBN 0 571 09507 0. Ribeiro, A. (1984). Dress in Eighteenth Century Europe, 1715-1789. Batsford, London. ISBN 0 7134 4650 1. Ribeiro, A. (1986). The Eighteenth Century: A Visual History of Costume. Batsford, London. ISBN 0 7134 4091 0. Shep, R. L. (1993). Corsets: A Visual History. Mendocino, Calif. ISBN 0 914046 20 9. Sichel, M. (1984). History of Men’s Costume. Batsford, London. ISBN 07134 1513 4. Warren, P. (2001). Foundations of Fashion, the Symington Corsetry Collection, 1860-1990. Leicestershire County Council, Leicester. ISBN 0 85022 4365. Wilcox, C. and Mendes, V. (2002). Modern Fashion in Detail. V&A Publications, London. ISBN 1 85177 032 1. Willett Cunnington, C. and Cunnington, P. (1970). Handbook of English Costume in the Nineteenth Century. Faber and Faber, London. ISBN 0 571 04703 3.

Other Useful Reading Brunn, M. and White, J. (2002). Museum Mannequins. Alberta Regional Group of Conservators, Alberta, Canada. ISBN 0 9730549 0 5. Haldane, E. A. (1999). The Search for the Perfect Body – or How to Choose Your Mannequin. Unpublished MA research project, RCA/V&A Conservation, London. Robinson, J. and Pardoe, T. (2000). An Illustrated Guide to the Care of Costume and Textile Collections. Museums and Galleries Commission, London. ISBN 0 948630 95 7. Wood, J. (2001). A Guide to Accurate Measuring, from Figure to Fashion. Historic Royal Palaces, London.

Suppliers List UK Suppliers

US Suppliers

Fabric and Haberdashery/Notions Suppliers Whaleyes (Bradford) Ltd. Harris Court Great Horton Bradford West Yorkshire BD7 4EQ Tel: 01274 576718 www.whaleys-bradford.ltd.uk MacCulloch and Wallis 25-26 Dering Street London W1S 1AT Tel: 020 76290311 www.macculloch-wallis.co.uk Wolfin Textiles Limited 359 Uxbridge Road Hatch End Middlesex HA5 4JN Tel: 020 84289911 www.wolfintextiles.co.uk Streets Interior Textiles Fredrick House Hurricane Way Wickford Business Park Essex SS11 8YB Tel: 01268 766677 www.streets.co.uk Pongees (specialists in silk) 28-30 Hoxton Square London N1 6NN Tel: 020 77399130 www.pongees.co.uk

Baer Fabrics 515 E. Market Louisville KY 40202 Tel: 800-769-7778 www.baerfabrics.com Testfabrics, Inc. 415 Delaware Avenue P.O. Box 26 West Pittston PA 18643 Tel: 570-603-0432 www.testfabrics.com Thai Silks 252 State Street Los Altos CA 94022 Tel: 650-948-3426 800-722-7455 www.thaisilks.com Richard the Thread 8320 Melrose Avenue West Hollywood CA 90069 Tel: 800-473-4997 www.richardthethread.com

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UK Suppliers

US Suppliers

Fabric and Haberdashery/Notions Suppliers—cont’d John Heathcoat and Co Ltd. (Nylon net) Westexe Tiverton Devon EX16 5LL Tel: 01884 244238/254949 www.heathcoat.co.uk Jacob Cowen and Sons Ltd (Polyester wadding) Ellers Mill Dalston Carlisle, Cumbria, CA5 7QJ Tel: 01228 710205 www.jacobcowen.com

Conservation Suppliers Preservation Equipment Limited Vinces Road Diss Norfolk IP22 4HQ Tel: 01379 647400 www.preservationequipment.com Conservation By Design Limited Timecare Works 5 Singer Way Woburn road Ind. Estate Kempston Bedford MK42 7AW Tel: 01234 853555 www.conservation-by-design.co.uk Atlantis European Ltd (Paper products) 7-9 Plumber’s Row London E1 1EQ Tel: 020 73778855 www.atlantisart.co.uk

Talas 20 West 20th Street 5th Floor New York NY 10011 Tel: 212-219-0770 www.talas-nyc.com University Products, Inc. 517 Main Street P.O. Box 101 Holyoke MA 01041-0101 Tel: 800-628-1912 www.universityproducts.com Gaylord Bros. P.O. Box 4901 Syracuse NY 13221-4901 Tel: 800-448-6160 www.gaylord.com

SUPPLIERS LIST

UK Suppliers

US Suppliers Conservation Suppliers—cont’d Museum Services Corporation 385 Bridgepoint Drive South St Paul Minnesota MN 55075-2466 Tel: 651-450-8954 800-672-1107 www.museumservicescorporation.com Archivart (Paper products) 40 Eisenhower Drive Paramus NJ 07652 Tel: 800-804-8428 www.archivart.com

Conservation Net Dukeries Textiles & Fancy Goods Ltd Spencia House 15A Melbourne Road West Bridgford Nottingham NG2 5DJ Tel: 0115 9816330

Dukeries Textiles & Fancy Goods Ltd Spencia House 15A Melbourne Road West Bridgford Nottingham NG2 5DJ Tel: 0115 9816330

Entomological Pins Watkins & Doncaster P.O. Box 5 Cranbrook Kent TN18 5EZ Tel: 01580 753133 www.watdon.com

Carolina Biological Supply 2700 York Road Burlington NC 27215 Tel: 800-222-7112 www.carolina.com

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UK Suppliers

US Suppliers Steels and Boning

Devine and Co. Ltd. 57a Brightwell Avenue Westcliff-on-sea Essex SS0 9EB Tel: 01702 352500 MacCulloch and Wallis 25-26 Dering Street London W1S 1AT Tel: 020 76290311 www.macculloch-wallis.co.uk

Lacis 3163 Adeline Street Berkeley CA 94703 Tel: 510-843-7178 www.lacis.com Corset Making Suppliers DC Enterprises P.O. Box 15743 Philadelphia PA 19103 Tel: 215-413-8259 www.corsetmaking.com Richard the Thread 8320 Melrose Avenue West Hollywood CA 90069 Tel: 800-473-4997 www.richardthethread.com

Plastazote®/ Ethafoam® Ramplas Ltd. 84 Birmingham Road Dudley DY1 4RJ Tel: 01384 453160

University Products, Inc. 517 Main Street P.O. Box 101 Holyoke MA 01041-0101 Tel: 800-628-1912 www.universityproducts.com Talas 20 West 20th Street 5th Floor New York, NY 10011 Tel: 212-219-0770 www.talas-nyc.com

SUPPLIERS LIST

UK Suppliers

US Suppliers Plastazote®/ Ethafoam®—cont’d Gaylord Bros. P.O. Box 4901 Syracuse NY 13221-4901 Tel: 800-448-6160 www.gaylord.com

Melinex®/Mylar® Polyester Converters Ltd. Polymex House 49-53 Glengall Road London SE15 6NF Tel: 020 77409740 www.polyesterconverters.co.uk

Talas 20 West 20th Street 5th Floor New York, NY 10011 Tel: 212-219-0770 www.talas-nyc.com Gaylord Bros. P.O. Box 4901 Syracuse NY 13221-4901 Tel: 800-448-6160 www.gaylord.com

Hexlite®/Aluminium Honeycomb Board Technical Resin Bonders Ltd 12 Clifton Road Huntingdon Cambridgeshire PE29 7EN Tel: 01480 52381 www.trbonders.co.uk

Museum Services Corporation 385 Bridgepoint Drive South St Paul Minnesota MN 55075-2466 Tel: 651-450-8954 800-672-1107 www.museumservicescorporation.com Archivart (Paper products) 40 Eisenhower Drive Paramus NJ 07652 Tel: 800-804-8428 www.archivart.com

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SUPPLIERS LIST

UK Suppliers

US Suppliers Dress Stands and Mannequins

Proportion London 9 Dallington street London EC1V OLN Tel: 020 72501798 www.proportionlondon.com H&H Sculptors Ltd Unit 2 Sherwood Court London SE13 7SD Tel: 020 82971474 Gems Studio Unit 2 The Acorn Centre 30-34 Gorst Rd London NW10 6LE Tel: 01923 855858 www.gems-studio.com Adel Rootstein Ltd. Shawfield House Shawfield Street London SW3 4BB Tel: 020 73511247 www.rootstein.com Kyoto Costume Institute Mannequins Wacoal Corp. 103, Shichi-jo Goshonouchi Minamimachi Shimogyo-ku Kyoto 600-8864 Japan Tel: +81(0)75-321-9221 www.kci.or.jp

Siegel and Stockman 126 West 25th Street Ground floor New York NY 10001 Tel: 212-366-0575 www.siegel-stockman.com Dorfman Museum Figures, Inc 6224 Holabird Avenue Baltimore MD 21224 Tel: 410-284-3248 800-634-4873 www.museumfigures.com Adel Rootstein Inc. 205 West 19th street New York NY 10011 Tel: 212-645-2020 www.rootstein.com Kyoto Costume Institute Mannequins Wacoal Corp. 103, Shichi-jo Goshonouchi Minamimachi Shimogyo-ku Kyoto 600-8864 Japan Tel: +81(0)75-321-9221 www.kci.or.jp

Index A Abaca fibre, 9 Accurate toile, 17, 26, 27, 29–31, 35, 36, 43, 192 Acid-free tissue paper, 9 Across back, 23 Across front, 23 Aluminium Honeycomb board, 10 Arms, 43, 45, 103, 202 B Backing one fabric onto another, 247 Bagged out, 140, 189, 191 Balance marks, 235, 237 Basque, 148 Basque petticoats, 129–131 Belts, 186–189 Bias, 19, 63, 159, 183, 216, 236 Bias-cut, 18 Bias-cut dresses, 3, 160, 161 Bodice, 19, 29, 39, 211 Bodice block, 19, 20 Boning, 246 Boning casings, 150, 151, 246 Bottom, 24 Bra, 91, 93, 201, 203 Braces, 169, 178 Brassiére, 91 Britches, 113, 117 Buckram, 11, 42, 201, 203, 208 Buckram figures, 201, 203, 208–217 Bump, 11, 187 Bum-pads, 135, 137–140, 145, 148, 169 Bust, 22, 208 Bust pads, 165 Bust points, 5, 22, 82, 88 Bustle, 146, 152 Bustle frame, 154, 155 Bustle pad, 152, 153 Bustles, 152–155 Buttonhole thread, 226 C Calico, 10 Cheese cloth, 10 Child-sized figures, 45, 86, 98, 99, 147 Collar supports, 170–175

Concealed buckram support, 209, 216 Concealed supports, 203, 209, 212, 215, 216 Condition checking, 15 Conservation grade net, 11, 111 Corsets, 75, 80, 86, 87, 94, 209, 211, 212 Costume fittings, 79 Costume liners, 100 Cotton duck, 10 Cotton jersey, 11, 57, 61, 62, 164, 210, 222 Cotton lawn, 10 Cotton sheeting, 10 Cotton stockinette, 11 Cotton tape, 11, 177 Cotton/Polyester, 10 Covering figures with fabric, 57–73 Crinoline, 119, 123, 145, 146, 148–151 Crotch, 24, 113 Cuirasse, 85, 90 Custom-made figure, 42, 76, 207 Cutting on the stand, 19, 37 D Darts, 19, 31, 238, 239 Dolman, 152 Domette, 11, 187 Drawstring, 148, 243 Dress stand, 46–48 Dressmaking pins, 226 Dust, 8, 13 E Eighteenth century body shapes, 81 Eighteenth century skirt, 135–145 Empire line, 81, 87, 137, 146, 192 Entomological pins, 12, 29, 176, 226 Eyelet, 85, 182, 184 F Fastenings, 175–186, 240 Fibreglass figures, 41, 43, 44, 60, 61 Finishing raw edges, 237 Fishing line, 12, 127, 214 Flat costume mounts, 201–208 257

Flat mounting costume on boards, 202, 205 Flat packing costume, 13 Flat pattern, 19, 28, 37 Flat supports, 203, 208 Fold-down collars, 170–173 G Gathering techniques, 242 Girdle, 91 Gloves, 4 Gored petticoat, 146, 156 Gussets, 31, 85 H Hand stitches, 228–233 backstitch, 230 blanket stitch, 232 buttonhole stitch, 233 flat tacking, 229 gathering stitch, 228, 242 herringbone stitch, 231, 232 ladder stitch or drawing stitch, 231, 232, 257 prickstitch, 230 running stitch, 228, 230 slipstitch, 231 tacking or basting, 229 tailor’s tacks, 229 thread tracing, 230 whipstitch, 231 worked loops, 233 Hangers, 202, 203 Heads, 43, 45, 46 Hemming techniques, 231, 233, 239, 240 Hexlite®, 10, 215 Hip pads, 81, 135–140, 169 Hip yoke, 129 Hoops, 81, 135 Hot melt glue, 12, 218, 221 I Ironing, 8, 227, 238 Ironing mitt, 227, 238 J Jackets, 46, 98, 165, 211

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INDEX

L Lacing, 182–185 Leg support, 113–118 Legs, 43, 45, 113 Legs of tights, 60, 105 Light levels, 12 Linen scrim, 11, 210, 211 Long-term fatigue, 12 Loose pads, 100, 165–167 Lounge suit, 98 Lux levels, 12 M Machine stitches, 233, 234 gathering stitch, 233, 242 machine thread tracing, 234 polyester boning, 234 reverse stitch, 234 straight stitch, 233 stretch fabrics, 234 stretch overlocking stitch, 234 topstitching, 233 zigzag, 234, 238 Making a pattern, 234 Male body shapes, 95–101 Male dress, 95 Mariano Fortuny, 160 Marking patterns onto the fabric, 235 Marvelseal®, 42 Materials testing, 9 Measuring costume, 21–26, 119, 120 Melinex®, 10, 126 Melinex® skirt supports, 125–128, 160 Moistop®, 42 Mounting one fabric onto another, 247 Multi-venue loans, 15 Museum board, 9 Muslin, 10, 145, 163, 191, 192 Mylar®, 10 N Nape of neck, 22 Nape to waist, 22, 26, 45 Neck, 68, 71, 98, 221 Neck discs, 72 Necks, 54–56 Net frills, 103, 104, 110, 111, 118, 129, 131, 208, 243 Nineteenth century body shapes, 86 Nineteenth century corsets, 85 Nineteenth century skirt, 145–159 Non-custom-made figure, 45 Non-stretch fabrics, 63–70 Nylon net, 11, 110, 128 Nylon netting, 11

O Off-gas, 42 Open display, 13 Overlocker, 227 Overlocking, 238 P Packing instructions, 15 Packing mounted costume, 14 Padding, 75–101 Pads, 163–175 Paint finishes, 42 Panier, 81, 119, 135, 136, 142–145 Pantyhose, 11 Pattern-cutting, 18–21 Perspex® mounts, 76, 201, 202, 207 Pinking shears, 225, 237 Placket, 178–180, 240 placket in a seam, 241 simple slit placket, 241 Plastazote® or Ethafoam® figures, 10, 42, 76, 201, 203, 217–223, 225 Pleated tube petticoat, 123–125 Pleating techniques box pleats, 245 inverted pleats, 245 knife pleats, 244 Pocket hoops, 135, 136, 140–142 Pole fixings, 113, 214, 215, 219, 221 Poles, 46, 202, 214, 219, 221 Polycotton, 10 Polyester batting, 10 Polyester boning/Rigilene®, 11, 124, 234, 246 Polyester wadding, 10, 78, 79, 226 Polyurethane foams, 14, 42 PVA (Archival), 12 Q Quick toile, 17, 37–39, 76, 192, 193 Quick-gather method, 128, 129, 158, 243 R Reemay®, 9 Replica eighteenth century petticoats, 197–199 Reproductions/Replicas, 186–198 Ribcage, 7, 11, 22 Rigilene®, 11, 246 Rouleau, 184 S Sashes, 185, 186, 189–191 S-bend, 90, 93, 159 Scissors, 225, 243

Seam allowance, 234 Selvage, 19, 235 Sewing machine, 227, 228 Shoulder point, 22 Shoulders, 48–53, 81, 86, 98, 202, 219 Signs of deterioration, 4 Silk habotai, 11, 104, 193 Skate, 7 Skirt supports, 118–134 Skirts, 6, 21, 36, 39, 169, 178 hobble skirts, 159 knitted skirts, 126 miniskirts, 160 narrow skirts, 159, 160 pencil skirts, 125, 126 Sleeve board, 227, 238 Sleeve covers, 100, 112 Sleeve supports, 5, 6, 60, 103–112, 176, 194, 204, 208 Sleeveless garments, 65, 66, 211 Sleeves, 6, 35, 100, 192, 194, 202, 203 bishop sleeves, 110 gigot sleeves, 110 puffed sleeves, 110 sleeve cuffs, 105, 107, 112 sleeve flounces 110 sleeve pads, 110 Slips, 160, 161, 192 Slotted placket technique, 178 Spider tissue, 9, 37 Spigot, 7, 15 Spoon busk, 85, 87, 90 Stand-up collars, 173, 174 Stays, 80, 81, 84, 85 Steels, 11, 142, 144, 146, 148–150, 246 Stiffened pads, 167–169 Stitch lines, 234, 235, 237 Stitching seams, 237 Stomacher, 183, 194 Straight of grain, 19, 234, 235 Strap supports, 217 Strapless bodies, 169, 170 Stretch fabric, 57–63, 79, 164, 234 Suspension fixings, 214, 215 T Tailor’s chalk, 226 Tailor’s ham, 227, 238 Tape measure, 21, 28, 225 T-bars, 202, 204 Threads, 226 Tights, 11, 57, 61, 62, 210 Toiles, 17–39, 119, 207 Top petticoats, 128, 129, 132–134 Tracing wheel, 226, 235 Train supports, 155, 156 Training collars, 175 Training costumes, 176

INDEX

Transport, 3, 5, 7, 8, 13–15 Trousers, 7, 35, 96, 98, 113, 114, 117, 118, 178 Tube petticoat, 121–123, 146, 147, 160, 217 Twentieth century body shapes, 91–95 Twentieth century corsets, 90, 91 Twentieth century skirt, 159–161 Twill tape, 11, 145, 150 Tyvek®, 10

U Under-dresses, 147, 160, 163, 186, 191, 193 Underpinnings, 103–161 Using a pattern, 235 V Velcro® (Hook and Loop fastener), 12, 177

W Waist, 21 Waistbands, 169, 177, 178, 180–182, 187, 244 Waistcoats, 46, 96, 98, 100 Wax, 42 Wax figures, 41, 42 Whalebones, 135, 146, 246 Wheat starch, 12, 209, 211, 212

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