Seamstresses’ Guild



Emily Hayes

(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

"There seem to be many Seamstresses in Ankh-Morpork, and yet bachelors or old widowers have difficulty when they try to find needlewomen who wield needles and threads to repair garments. Genuine ability with needle and thread and occasional mushroom is the province of Sandra Battye, who retains the most cordial relationship with the Guild while, strictly speaking, not practicing as a Seamstress in the accepted sense of the word.

The seamstresses in the Seamstresses' Guild are, in the politically-correct language of the modern Ankh-Morpork, ladies of negotiable affection, ladies whose company and loving attention, crudely put, could be hired for a night. A survey by the Guild of Merchants in the docks area of Ankh-Morpork found 987 women who gave their profession as 'seamstress' – and two needles (according to 'Men at Arms')."

My costume inspiration is from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of books (Men at Arms). While they don't get much of a story line, I found the descriptions of the 'seamstresses' guild', in other words, the sex workers of the city, to be wonderfully positive and humorous and wanted to create some beautiful undergarments for a character from this world, set pre-industrialisation and with just a hint of magic.

Outline the construction…

I have created a shift, modified from some traditional designs to incorporate better gussets for arm movement (these ended up being modified in shape as the shift was too tight across the bust). I have modified the Red Threaded 18th century stays pattern to incorporate chamois binding and adjustable cotton twill tape straps. This was made out of an old pillowcase with matching sheet that my Dad put his foot through and was chucked under my parents' sink for scrap, some zip ties, a chois cloth from Asda and various scraps of cotton I had in my wardrobe.

The petticoat matches the stays (being from said bed sheet) and is an 18th century style with front and back closing ties and gaps to access pockets. Everything was hand sewn by myself, only moderately destroying my fingers when thimbles went missing. I love how the thriftiness of the material pairs up with the nature of the character and contrasts with the beautiful pale pink floral pattern.




  1. Avatar Sadie on March 11, 2021 at 7:05 pm

    I love the colourful side characters you find in Ankh-Morpork, and this captures that perfectly. Even more impressive considering it is all hand-sewn!

  2. Avatar Becky C on March 11, 2021 at 7:45 pm

    Let me just say I love the fabric you chose for this. This floral pattern looks like a dream! And it’s from a sheet set?! Now I need it in my life. And it’s completely hand sewn?!

    In other words, this is absolutely incredible and I love it.

  3. Avatar Laura Boyles on March 11, 2021 at 11:51 pm

    Pratchett, yay! I love this. It’s perfect. Where do you all find these amazing bed sheets? Lovely work, and hand sewn? Wow. Good luck x

  4. Avatar Divya RV on March 12, 2021 at 6:41 am

    It is so perfect. So well made and…hand sewn? Awesome!

  5. Avatar Laura Wemyss on March 12, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    How appropriate to your chosen story to be using bed sheets! The finished outfit is so very lovely. It’s making me re-think ideas for a summer wardrobe!

  6. Avatar Andrea Olinte on March 12, 2021 at 3:31 pm

    Lady, you are a true seamstress. It looks gorgeous.

  7. Avatar Teri Plemel on March 12, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    Fantastic! So nicely done and great character piece!

  8. Avatar Carolien van Alphen on March 12, 2021 at 7:09 pm

    Love the story and I think the outfit reflects your description well. It really is fun, and I love the juxtaposition to the bare feet and stone wall behind it. Lovely!

  9. Avatar Ame on March 12, 2021 at 7:35 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous, the stays look so nice and well done and the skirt is the same! The bedsheet fabric was a beautiful choice too.

  10. Avatar Sarah Helgeson on March 13, 2021 at 4:27 pm

    Very beautiful, love those bedsheets being used!

  11. Avatar Reese on March 13, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    I’m so impressed that this is what you came up with out of old bedsheets. I love the print. Very well done.

  12. Avatar Hannah on March 14, 2021 at 4:31 pm

    Ow I do love your use of fabric. It looks absoluut great!

  13. Avatar Briana on March 15, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    It looks great! I love the color coordination!

  14. Avatar Renee on March 16, 2021 at 4:20 am

    Brilliant. It reads very feminine and inviting (which is a big bonus, I think, for ladies of negotiable affection) while at the same time the floral print lends an air of elegance and gentility. I really like this, beautiful job.

  15. Avatar Marie on March 16, 2021 at 9:34 am

    Wow, it’s an amazing costume! I love the colours of the dress and the details of the stays. And the thimble is a very nice detail. Great job!

  16. Avatar Valerie on March 17, 2021 at 1:56 am

    A+ upcycling! So many people would have just tossed those sheets, and look what a beautiful ensemble you’ve made. The proportions of the stays and the length and shape of the petticoat just seem perfect.

    (Side note: I used to have a T-shirt that said “Seattle Seamstress Union 1889” from the underground tour, and I love how Sir Pterry paid homage to those enterprising ladies. 🙂 )

  17. Avatar Xenofon on March 18, 2021 at 11:32 am

    This is so sweet! Such a seamstress you are. Congratulations!

  18. Avatar Laura Ingalls Gunn on March 21, 2021 at 11:10 pm

    This is absolutely stunning. I adore the details and fabric choice!

  19. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 23, 2021 at 12:46 am

    Gorgeous stays! Really well done! I love, love, love that fabric! Thank you!

  20. Avatar Emeline Barrès on March 24, 2021 at 8:26 am

    This is fantastic, gorgeous work ! I love the pattern of the fabric, but also how the whole outfit works together !

  21. Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 24, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    The stays have a lovely fit, and I love the fabric choice! I would totally wear that gorgeous peach colour, would never have believed it was a bedsheet!

  22. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 25, 2021 at 2:09 am

    This is really pretty, good job!

  23. Avatar Renee Starling on March 25, 2021 at 4:41 am

    Background character love! This is fantastic. Your fabric choices give it a wonderful bit of whimsey, and I like that your write-up is appropriately humorous as is befitting any homage to Discworld.

  24. Avatar Benigna on March 26, 2021 at 10:35 am

    This is wonderful! I really like the pattern you chose! And the stays looks amazing!

  25. Constance MacKenzie Constance MacKenzie on March 28, 2021 at 6:06 pm


  26. PK Reynolds McKnight PK Reynolds McKnight on March 28, 2021 at 11:44 pm

    Bed sheets! the perfect choice for a “seamstress” !

  27. Avatar Lizzie Blake on April 1, 2021 at 8:16 pm

    This is a wonderful, playful outfit. I love it! Amazing job

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