1st Place

The Mantua Maker of Gloucester



Ashley Callaway


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

The Tailor of Gloucester, by Beatrix Potter:

Outline the story …

The Tailor of Gloucester was always my favorite Beatrix Potter book. Set in the 18th century, it is the tale of a poor tailor, his troublesome cat, and magical mice who save the tailor from ruin.

For my entry, I didn’t dress the tailor, but instead was inspired by the idea that a part of who we are is captured in what we create — with every stitch, we put a piece of ourselves into our work, imprinting them with the heart and soul we pour into them. While the tailor doesn’t wear the clothes he creates, they reflect who he is, and represent his life’s work in their craftsmanship. By using handsewing and other 18th century construction techniques, I felt like I was walking in the tailor’s shoes and becoming the character (or perhaps the mantua maker of Gloucester)

My piece is a reimagining of the Mayor’s wedding ensemble. The pet en l’air represents the cherry coat, with “roses and pansies upon the facings,” and the stomacher, the waistcoat, finished except for one single cherry-coloured buttonhole and a note — “NO MORE TWIST.”

The patterns on the quilted petticoat include the mice sewing by candlelight on Christmas Eve, singing birds, and Simpkin alone in the snow. The paisley shapes are inspired by a lady mouse’s gown, and the leaves by the pattern on the teacups under which Simpkin trapped the mice.

Unfortunately, I had no mice to help me, just a mischievous cat to steal my twist.

Outline the construction…

This was my first time sewing an 18th century outfit without modern construction methods and I really enjoyed the challenge. Everything is handsewn (except for gathering stitches for the robing), which allowed me to get more comfortable with different stitches.

The quilted petticoat took eight months to hand quilt, and is made of panels of silk taffeta, wool batting, and a worsted wool. I had never quilted anything in my life, so this was definitely outside my comfort zone. The thick wool batting worked well to give a trapunto effect to the quilting. I didn’t use a pattern, but looked at Patterns of Fashion 1, Costume Close Up, and other resources to figure out what typical construction was, and based mine on that. I used a linen thread instead of silk due to cost (I used over 1,000 meters of thread), and a backstitch instead of a running stitch for definition to make the story elements of the pattern more visible.

For the gown, I used the JP Ryan pet en l’air pattern, altering for historical construction using the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking and Ruth Watkin’s wonderful articles on the FR site as my guide. The gown is a cherry colored silk taffeta, with yellow robings and flowered trims, meant to emulate the floral embroidery on the mayor’s coat.

The compère stomacher is silk embroidery on taffeta, with fabric-covered bone buttons, hand-sewn buttonholes, and ribbon embroidery for the flowers. It is lined in canvas and boned.




  1. Avatar Samanthalovestosew on March 12, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    Oh my gosh, I love everything about your costume. I’ve been wanting to make a quilted petticoat and you’ve sent my imagination wild. So inspiring! I love those mice. As for your cat … I hoped my dogs would add something to my photo shoot but they were having none of it! Absolutely beautiful work and fab video.

  2. Avatar Jocelyn Lofstrom on March 12, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    This is beautiful. The petticoat is truly breathtaking. Well done!

  3. Avatar teresa van twuijver on March 12, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    i salute you this is awesome!

  4. Avatar Sparrow on March 13, 2021 at 12:31 am

    Finally, a cherry-coloured thing that’s ACTUALLY the colour of cherries! Both this idea and its execution are so cleverly thought out.

  5. Avatar Lili on March 13, 2021 at 2:04 am

    The mice on that petticoat! Oh my goodness! Your video! I’m losing my words. I think I have to stop commenting for the evening. You just did my brain in.

  6. Avatar Jackie Jacobs on March 13, 2021 at 3:56 am

    This is an amazing re-creation of an 18th century gown. The quilted petticoat is absolutely the most beautiful thing if have seen. Kudos on that. And the handwork on the bodice stomacher is exquisite. Congratulations on and excellent job.

  7. Sophia Khan Sophia Khan on March 14, 2021 at 2:09 am

    Oh my goodness that quilted petticoat! I feel like it took me a year to just do quilted pockets. Amazing work truly beautiful.

  8. Avatar Eddie Nadeau on March 14, 2021 at 8:39 pm

    Absolutely stunning in every detail! I’m gobsmacked!

  9. Avatar Pooja S on March 15, 2021 at 12:26 am

    That petticoat is awe-inspiring! Absolutely stunning across the board

  10. Avatar Carol Hughey on March 15, 2021 at 5:00 am

    Remarkable! All the quilting and embroidery work is amazing.

  11. Avatar Whats Sewing On on March 16, 2021 at 4:36 pm

    Wow. That petticoat is truly amazing! I’ll have to add it to the list! I hope I have the patience you must have!

  12. Avatar Lindsey on March 19, 2021 at 6:21 pm

    An actual dream. Bravo. It’s beautiful!

  13. Avatar Laura Ingalls Gunn on March 21, 2021 at 11:28 pm

    Oh, my stars and garters you definitely have NO MORE TWIST after this fabulous creation. Bravo!

  14. Avatar Benigna on March 26, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    I audibly inhaled when I saw your picture! This is amazing! I couldn´t even imagine quilting a petticoat for eight months (maybe because I don´t know how).

  15. Avatar Annie Bartholomew on March 28, 2021 at 3:17 am

    Congratulations on finishing that petticoat! Such an ambitious piece, and so many elements to the ensemble. Nailed it!

  16. Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 28, 2021 at 8:51 pm

    Oh my god… the embroidered buttons are gorgeous, but the quilted petticoat is incredible!!!! I am speechless! I have so much respect for the amount of work you put into this, and also, the cherry-colour is spot on, so well done!

  17. Avatar Terri Bowlby-Chiasson on April 2, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    Well done!! Loving the quilted petticoat! Very impressive result! You must be so pleased!

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