Recreating Joan Woodward – Diary of a Costume Maker. Part III
Come and see us on Sunday 17th November from 11am.
We are slowly coming to the end of Joan’s costume! Here is what has been happening over the past two weeks.
We did a final corset (‘stays’) fitting to make sure everything looked right. After that I finished all the seams on all the undergarments. Seams are usually left unfinished until the last fitting; you don’t want to unpick something you have just neatly sewn on! The stays have a busk down the middle, which is a straight piece of wood or bone, slightly wider at the top. This is to achieve that flat, straight line in the bodice that was so popular during the Elizabethan period. The busk was slotted into the front in a little pocket so that it could be taken out when the stays were washed. The busk could be very valuable and sometimes husbands or lovers have them engraved so that the lady could always keep it close to her heart. How romantic! I asked my colleague Suzanne Marie to write something on hers to mirror the sentiment.
Suzie in corset showing the BUSK
Leather gloves with the motif embroidered onto them.
I have been making up all the garments in the top fabrics. The bodice, sleeves and skirt are all made in black satin with cotton velvet inserts. Elizabethans in portraiture wear a lot of one colour, whether it be black or red. If you look closely, you will see that they combined a lot of different textures and techniques to achieve a very beautiful piece of clothing. Joan’s sleeves are striped in the portrait and I have chosen to make them in black satin with cotton velvet trim and a textured braid. In the photos you can see the making of the sleeve, with the inner sleeve and shoulder puff (to create the shape) visible on the right, and the mock up for the top sleeve on the left.
Sleeves in the making (left) and basting thread to hold the layers together (right).
To create weight and shape, the bodice is made of three layers of fabric. To keep the layers together whilst sewing, you tack them together like on the photo (grey thread). This is only taken out at the very last minute. It keeps the layers together and makes the different fabrics act like one.
Stay tuned for the last instalment of the costume diary, showing the last stages of Joan’s costume. And come meet her on Sunday!
Here is a link for Parts I and II
Diary Part I / Diary part II
United St. Saviour’s Charity