Gallery of Costume Manchester A few weekends back I took a trip to the Gallery of Costume in Platt Fields Manchester with my daughter. I’ve been meaning to take a visit since it was re-furbished a couple of years ago as it is only a short bus ride from home. The collection has costumes from the 1600’s through to the present day.
Embroidered garments from the 17th Century
Most of the historical items were worn by the well off, many of the garments have come from the families of wealthy Manchester based merchants.
suffragette dress from 1910
My daughter instantly recognised the suffragette dress as ‘just like Mrs Banks’ from Mary Poppins. The displays were set out in decades and went right up to the present day with designer and ready to wear garments. The designer in focus at our visit was Christian Dior, exhibiting dresses from 1947 – 1957.
Christian Dior black cocktail dress from 1953 & silk tartan day dress from 1950
Christian Dior cocktail dress from 1955 & cocktail dress and jacket from 1956
Christian Dior perfectly sewn bound button holes
The gallery is spread over two floors in a grand old house in Platt Fields just a short bus ride from the centre of town and 5 minutes further on than the Whitworth art gallery. It’s quite compact but just right to hold the interest of a six year old who can get a bit spooked by mannequins.
There was also a fabulous collection of buttons which had been the life work of a couple called the Merediths. There is over 100,000 buttons collected over 30 years. They had opened their own button museum in 1988 but the collection was bought by the gallery in 2004 with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
There was a lovely shop which had some fabulous Vogue books and postcards of the many memorable costumes. I bought two small books, ‘The Cotton Industry’ and ‘British Working Dress 1750 – 1950’. Both published by Shire Library.
The Christian Dior exhibition has now finished and the next designer in focus is Ossie Clarke 1967 – 1977. Running from the 30th January until 29th June.
After a bit of painstaking pattern matching the tartan shirt is finished. I slimmed down the Burdastyle 7136 pattern to get a closer fit than this denim shirt and it’s worked out well.
A real success for me was flat felling the underarm and side seams. I had the foresight to allow 2cm seam allowance otherwise I don’t think it would have worked so well with just 1.5cm. I stitched the seam as normal, right sides together, then after pressing trimmed one side of the seam allowance down. I folded the wider side over and under concealing all the raw edges. I tacked the seam allowance down making sure all raw edges were enclosed and then top stitched two rows of stitching.
flat felled side seam – right side
When I topstitched the underarm and side seams of the denim shirt I couldn’t manage to do it all in one line as the sleeve became too narrow. I tried a different method this time, instead of trying to fit the sleeve round the free arm I started at the hem and when I reached the underarm point I stitched up along the sleeve turning it inside out as I stitched and this way I got to the cuff without having to break off. Not sure that’s a great explanation; the picture may help a little bit.
top stitching the side / underarm seams
I shaped the back yoke which wasn’t entirely successful as I wanted a sharp point at the centre back. It didn’t quite work out and instead of a point it is a curve. I don’t think the loose weave of the fabric helped with this. I think next time I’ll go back to a straight yoke.
I was a bit unsure of the fabric to start with thinking it was a bit bright and resembled a picnic blanket. But It’s only when you get close up you can see the brighter colours. Also with the inside of the fabric being brushed it is really cosy.
I bought the pearl shank buttons from eBay and I used a red Gutterman topstitching thread, now I’ve mastered the whole topstitching thing (sort of!)
I’ve enjoyed making these two shirts but I find that the first half of the make goes really fast and you think the end is in sight but then the final half seems to take longer than expected and with 13 buttons and buttonholes the last mile is the hardest mile…
I’ve just started cutting out the lilac check fabric for another shirt and I did sigh at the thought of making the pockets and the pattern matching. I feel a bit ‘shirted’ out at the moment so I’ll take it slowly.
From the 27th January to 2nd February it was Kids Clothes week. I didn’t think I was going to be organised enough to participate but the tag line “one hour a day for seven days” made me pull my finger out.
I had wanted to make a pair of toddler trousers so when I saw the Titchy Threads Skinny Jeans pattern and also found that the age 2 was a free download I had no excuse. I ordered some navy corduroy from Calico Lane. They have 1st class post delivery so I knew it would be here in a day. For the pocket lining and inner waistband I used some quilting weight cotton I had in my stash.
There is a sew-a-long to help with the construction which is very clear and easy to follow. I did have some problems with the waistband. Firstly my belt loops, being corduroy, were a bit thick. They were made like folding binding so there were 4 layers. When I sewed them into the top edge of the waistband it was a bit lumpy. Next the buttonholes on the inner waistband for the elastic exits were a mess. My buttonhole stitch can always be guaranteed to mess up when I need it. I decided to take the whole band off and start again, which was made more difficult as I had top stitched the bottom edge.
I cut new pieces for the waistband and re-made the belt loops. This time for the loops I cut a 2cm strip and overlocked the long edges then folded in the edges into the centre, pressed and then edge stitched both sides to have a finished width of 1cm. Now I only had 2 layers of fabric which was much more flexible.
I didn’t bother trying the buttonhole again and made self fabric faced openings for the buttonhole elastic to come out of. I didn’t sandwich the belt loops into the top of the waistband but attached them when I top stitched the waistband edge.
I did manage to get a decent buttonhole for the front opening and I finished it off with a jeans stud button.
The fit of the trousers is great. The back rise comes up far enough, especially as he is still wearing nappies. What I like about slim fitting trousers on toddlers is that you can see they actually have normal length legs, sometimes baggy trousers look like their legs finish around their knees. There is a bit of growing room in these trousers as I cut the length 2cm longer. This is a pattern I will definitely use again.
Here’s a link to my project page on KCW