Corsetry

To support our 18th Century Speculative Design project we undertook a week long project in the costume department making an 18th Century corset. I really enjoyed this project as costume was the area of theatre that I was first interested in and led me to pursue Theatre Design so it was great to learn something new and get back on the sewing machines!

We had to measure our model and then draft these measurements using a basic pattern block on paper. The back and front panel patterns were then transferred onto another piece of paper so that we could clearly see the bespoke pattern and drawn in the boning channels. This pattern was then transferred onto calico (which would become the lining to our garment) and tacked then sewed onto the chosen fabric. We were given a selection of fabric colours, all traditional hues available during the 1700s. I chose a navy blue. I then sewed the front two panels to the back two panels and tacked a temporary channel of eyelets so that I could do a fitting on my model.

Once I had checked and adjusted the fit of my corset on the model I was able to sew in all of the boning channels and attach an extra section to the top lining of the corset, giving the bust area structure as well (as displayed above in the second photograph). We used synthetic boning, cutting it to the right size as I put in each channel. I found this challenging as some of the channels I had sewn were a bit  tight. I enjoyed creating the eyelet holes using a hammer and leather although it was difficult! This is when my corset started to really take a form and all that was left to do was the arm straps and binding. The arm straps were fitted on the model to make for the best fit possible.

Unfortunately I didn’t finish the corset in the week we had and therefore the binding is still a work in progress that I aim to have finished at the end of my 18th Century project this term. This week allowed me to see how I would make 18th Century clothing and consider the structures and shapes used at this time.

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Theatre mentor -Peter Brooks

As I am beginning to create a body of work for my Hamlet project I wanted to research other people’s work and in particular somebody who has created minimalist theatre design before.

Peter Brooks is a film and theatre director who has explored radical theatre through his work and books such as the famous ‘The Empty Space’.

His work interests me because he rejected traditional theatre and came up with radical approaches to theatre design. For example in a 1970’s  production of A Midsummer night’s dream Oberon and pick sat and stood on swings in a very bare space. They used stilts, juggling and swings to convey the narrative rather than conventional props.


What attracts me to this style of theatre design is not only the interesting props but the idea of stripping back the stage to a blank canvas and adding things in, in the rehearsal process for example when it is actually needed. I think theatre design can be very clever when only the bare necessities are there and it becomes more improvision and play rather than putting lots of expensive set on stage for the sake of it.

Exploring Peter Brooks’ work has inspired me to push my minimalist idea further. At first I was skeptical that I could pull off designing Hamlet as a minimal, modern play as it will be hard to show in a model box the action that would happen. Peter Brooks’ work has inspired me however to push my love of this type of theatre and make it work.

Costume Construction

This week we have been learning costume making skills in order to make a 16th century medieval jerkin. We took measurements of our model and drew up a basic block pattern which we then had to alter to make it appropriate for the time period and to fit our model well. I have followed patterns before and made clothes, but I found the task challenging because I had to draw out the pattern myself and really on my measurements being accurate, considering grainlines and seam allowances.

pattern laying and cutting:

I enjoyed the sewing machine work but my weakness was hand stitching. I sometimes find it difficult to hand sew in the same way as the instructions as I am left-handed so hand sewing is something I want to improve on.

Toile:

The finished garment looked neat and crisp and although I am pleased with it, it would look much better if it was broken down to look like it is an authentic, worker’s jerkin from the 16th century. Bruegel’s paintings are a great example of how the jerkin would have been worn as shown in his painting ‘The Wedding Dance’, 1566.

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