Saturday, 9 August 2014

Bespoke 'Be spoken for'

Advanced skills project. Produce a bespoke historical and contemporary bodice based on a fashion plate from a specific era.


  • Padding out the stand for a specific person and their measurements. 
  • Creating a Crinoline or bustle appropriate for the era.

  • Creating darts, seams and panels.

  • Various fittings and alterations.

  • Fittings for the contemporary bodice. Hidden internal corset inserted. 

  •  Final internal corset material -cotton drill. 

  • Creating piped bias binding to put in-between seams on the historical garment. 

  • First fitting of the historical jacket. 

  • First fitting of the contemporary bodice.

  • Inserting the lining and facing for the Contemporary garment. 

Final Garments

Saturday, 7 June 2014

1920's in York

Design - Evening dress for 'The Stepmother' performed at the York Theatre Royal in March 2014.

Setting- York Shambles & York Minster

Model: Grace Barker
Designer: Alex Palphreyman

Monday, 24 March 2014

The Stepmother - Putting Githa back on stage

The Stepmother

Putting Githa back on stage… through York Community Settlement Players and York Theatre Royal,
‘In the character of Lois Relph, Gina Sowerby has created a truly modern woman, juggling the demands of children, business and conscience at a time when the pace of social and technological change is fast and getting faster.’

As a costume design student, I was delighted to be part of this truly powerful production. I worked along side a couple of lovely costumiers for the project. When sourcing costumes, there are a lot of factors to consider, the budget, script, character analysis, the era, budget, time etc. Typically when involved in a project I follow a guide- 'research, design development, final outcome'


To begin, I was sent the costume chart, script, measurements and a brief description of each of the characters. The stepmother costumes needed to resemble the 1920-25 era, so loose fitting dresses, low waists, sashes, finger waves, tailored jackets are things we wanted to include. Through collecting imagery and gathering information on the era (using pinterest and looking at old photographs of our grandmothers and great grandmothers) we strengthened our ideas of what costumes we needed to fit in with that era.

Mood board - Lois

Another thing to take into account was the script. There are usually parts in the script that affect the costumes. For example, 

‘Lois. My dear child, what have you got there?
Betty. Where?
Lois. On your frock.
Betty. Flowers.
Lois. Please take them off. AT once.
Betty. No, Mother…
Lois. Yes, Mother. Who made that frock?
Betty. You did, of course.
Lois. Ginevra’s did. And if you think Ginevra’s is going to send you to a dance with one and eleven pence worth of paper flowers on your dear little waist, you’re mistaken.’

Consequently Betty's dress needed to be plain, for her to want to dress it up.
Initial design for Betty
After considering all the necessary attributes for the costumes, we designed and jotted down ideas for clothing. Weather it was reconstructing an old shirt and adding frills to embellish it, or creating patterns and making the costume from scratch, we needed to decide ‘how’ the design is turned into reality. Taking into account the budget we assigned money to each character, how much we were permitted to spend to make the costumes. Taking measurements, shopping for trims and fabrics, making and altering patterns, doing up toils, searching for shoes and traveling to costume hires to use what’s available are all the things we did during the development stage.

By searching the 1920's section of the West Yorkshire Playhouse costume hire, and Theatre Royal costume hire we got a better idea of what we would need to make: whole outfits, dresses, skirts, embellishments, reconstruction of old garments etc. 

Development Process

Shopping for costumes at the WYP

Pattern Cutting

Making Toiles

Making Lois's evening gown

The fitting of
Betty's dress

Final outcome

The Stepmother

by Michael J Oakes

Ask me why I love costume design? Costumes pull the whole project together, everything is complete, the actors know their lines, the set is complete, the tickets are sold, but once the costumes are on, it becomes real.