Charleston house project

Hi everyone

I have been away from the world of blogging for a little while but I'm back and I'm looking forward to showing you some more of what I have been up to. I  thought I would share with you a project that I have been involved in with Gladrags, the costume company I have been volunteering for.

Yes I did get to dress up... 

                                                                                                         Some of the team at Gladrags

                                                                                                         Some of the team at Gladrags

                                                                                                                      Charlston house

                                                                                                                      Charlston house

First things first just a little bit to fill you in on the project background. Charlston house was once the home of Duncan Grant, an influential artist and designer of the early twentieth century. Recently some of his sketchbooks were found and recovered by the archivists at Charlston and contained within them were costume designs drawn by Duncan for Harley Granville-Barkers production of Macbeth in 1912. 

Gladrags were approached by the Charleston house trust to get involved in the making and interpretation of these costumes so that they could be brought to life in a mini production that would take place in the gardens for the annual Charlston festival. 

We also had on board Suzanne Rowland, a professional costume maker, lecturer and writer to help us interpret the designs in the style of Duncan Grant. Below are some of the boards she put together for each costume sketch.

We had 3 days over 3 weeks to finish the costumes, one day was spent at Charlston introducing the project and viewing the house for inspiration. So technically we only had 2 full days for the making. I think we had about 16 people involved so it was all hands on deck for those days. We all choose a costume to work on depending on what skills we had and what we wanted to learn. 

For myself I chose to work on Macbeth's tunic as this would involve a couple of new techniques that Suzanne could show me. 

I began by drawing out a pattern for the tunic on drafting paper. I used the actors measurements and a sketch of Suzanne's as a guide.

I then pinned the pattern to the linen fabric to cut out the pieces. Luckily there was just enough fabric but I did have to re arrange and make some pieces smaller to make it work.




After cutting out the fabric pieces I pinned the tunic together and tried it on a mannaquin inside out to check the fit and make any adjustments. It's a pretty simple design so no changes were needed. Sometimes it's just nice to see it all starting to come together. 

Now the tunic could be sewn together on the machine. Here Suzanne showed me a great technique to make the seams appear hand stitched.


Above you can see I got to have a go at distressing the tunic for a battle weary Macbeth. Shame I had to drag my lovely tunic through the mud! It's a great skill to master though and in the costume world there are people who specialise in costume ageing/distressing. I have to say it's actually harder than you might think to make a brand new costume seem naturally worn and torn. 

The final costume..

It was a great experience to be involved in such a creative costume project and to work with such a creative and talented group of people. It's amazing what you can do in a couple of days if you put your mind to it. 

Hopefully this will be the first of many costume projects to come.

Watch this space...