FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
Celebrating Mrs. Banks
Outline the story …
When I saw this competition title and description, it did not take me long to think of Mrs. Banks from the "Mary Poppins" book series by P. L. Travers. She is a character without a first name or any character development; yet without her, there would be no Mary Poppins, so she deserved some of her own limelight.
I was inspired by YouTube videos that analysed films 'historical' costume against reality, and I wanted to do something similar. What would she have worn if you were a fly on the wall modestly looking on?
I wanted to create an everyday look of a woman who had access to money (a homeowner with four members of staff) but whose husband was very tight with that money (she is asked to choose between redoing the front of the house or her children, he couldn’t afford both). Her clothes would have been good quality, but not as fashion forward as she would have liked.
So, whilst I researched fashion plates and photos of the early 1900s, I knew I didn’t want her outfit to be her Sunday best. It had to be a weekday, not expecting to receive guests, or to hire a new nanny type of outfit. Flat boots, subtle jewellery, soft pastel colours, simple lace appliqué; all working towards achieving the grown-up look admired by the Edwardians. The vision I had in my head from all the research I did on materials, colours, and overall appearance has been realised and I’m so proud of that.
Outline the construction…
In order to get right look you must have the right layers. So, I made the entire outfit:
1. Bloomers (cotton lawn, brocade anglaise)
2. Chemise (cotton lawn, brocade anglaise, lace)
3. Corset Symington 67040 (Duchess Satin, sateen, lace)
4. Petticoat, (cotton lawn, cotton voile, lace)
5. Corset cover, (cotton lawn, brocade anglaise, lace)
6. Shirt, (poplin, lace)
7. Skirt (cotton voile, sateen, lace appliqué).
I used four different patterning methods:
The grid method – scaling up from 5cm sized squares (1, 2, 4, 7)
Flat pattern drafting – specifically the Cathy Hay method for scaling up a corset (3)
Apportioning ruler method – using the right bust measurement and finding the corresponding ruler (6)
Draping – without a dress form I did this on myself (5)
This journey wasn’t all plain sailing: I dyed my original skirt fabric (panama cotton) to get a pastel blue colour. This went really badly, I dyed it again, but the result was even worse, so I had to buy new fabric in the end.
The corset nearly broke me, after four redrafts (drawing and mocking up) nothing was working (due to inexperience, not the method). Someone on Instagram sent me an article on Edwardian corsetry, in just one line it all fell into place, Edwardian corsets used the waist measurement! This was only the third corset I’ve made and the first from my own measurements, I have learnt so much from this and look forward to making more corsets.