Helen Donnelly, Notts, UK
I wanted to make a new outfit for my LARP character. I felt considering the name of the competition it would be wasteful to make something that I would only use for the competition. There is a Jacobian feel to her so I thought I would start with 18th century. I really liked the Jacket Pattern B out of Patterns of Fashion 1. I also wanted to incorporate some embroidery into the design as I have done very little.
I love the elder tree and the obvious life cycle of it. The stomacher design is based on the life cycle of the Elder and although the competition is based on renewal, each stage of the cycle of the Elder is dependant on the previous stage. There is also a lot of mythology surrounding the elder, in particular the curative properties of various parts of the plants.
I was very focused on using as many pre-owned or pre-used materials as possible. The bits I had to buy new came from local small businesses. Much of the design of the outfit was dependant on the fabrics that I could source from my local charity shop and vintage section of my local craft shop. I have tried very hard to keep the look of the outfit 'natural' and use mainly natural fibre fabrics.
The jacket is made from cotton curtains from the charity shop. The skirt is some sort of wool blend fabric from the charity shop. The embroidery floss on the stomacher is also from the charity shop. The calico for the stomacher came from my stash. The ticking which I used in my stays to interline the jacket and to back the stomacher came from fabric which I was gifted by a childhood neighbour who ran an upholstery business after she sadly passed away. The linen for my shift came from the same neighbour. The linen and cotton thread used came from my local craft shop which has a pre-owned section. The fashion fabric of my stays and cable ties are new but I sourced them locally.
Everything is hand stitched. For my stays I used the arch method from Patterns of Fashion 5 and a huge amount of help from the Stitchlings group. They are constructed from one layer of ticking, one layer of hessian and an outer fashion layer of linen. I used cable ties for boning. I used the Sharon Burnston tutorial for my shift. The petticoat comes from watching various YouTube videos, as did the jacket. I flat lined the jacket, cutting it out with pinking shears. I started to whip the seam allowance down but ran out of time. My whole outfit was really helped by using the pathways tutorials. The stays were by far my biggest challenge, but this whole endeavour was very bold for my skill level.
Linen for the shift and fashion fabric of the stays. Ticking for the base layer of the stays and interlining for the jacket. Wool blend fabric for the skirt. Cotton curtains for the fabric for the jacket.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
It has given me some focus for my winter make. If I can do it, anyone can.