Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Previously Unseen Photos of Marie Lloyd

A quick update to showcase some action photos of 'Marie Lloyd: Queen of the Music Halls'. These images were captured by my web designer Cassie ( her website is here ) when I visited Taverham WI on Valentine's Night this year.
Taverham was where I grew up, and the village hall is an extremely familiar performance space for me. Lots of the WI ladies are my school friends' mums, and I am always assured of a warm reception there. Thankfully, the ghastly weather hadn't kept too many people away.

Marie Lloyd; Queen of the Music Halls is proving as popular as I had dared to hope for, and I am currently taking bookings for mid-2015 onwards.  Please click on the contact details page for booking information.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Enormous Edwardian Hat has Lift-Off!

...and quite literally! Although I look composed in the picture below, it was a windy day for a photo-shoot and I lost the hat several times. Big brim + no hat pins + windy day = hilarity.

Every year, lots of museums participate in the national Museums At Night campaign; today's pictures were taken to publicise 'Murder Most Grave', which is Gressenhall's contribution.

Last year our area manager, Robin, remarked to me that the Murder Mystery Night had become a staple part of the Gressenhall calendar. Quite right too: it's fab!

Our first Whodunnit was four years ago, set in the Victorian Workhouse. Then we travelled to a World War Two farm, then to a Victorian Brothel, and this year the Gressenhall Tardis lands (with an archaeological theme) in May 1914. Hence the smashing outfits.

This is a ticketed event for the public and will be running on the evenings of May 16th and 17th 2014. It always sells out, so book early! Contact details are here.

Monday, 3 February 2014

How to Make an Enormous Edwardian Hat (Tutorial- Part 2)

So we are in the process of making this:
From this:

And we have got this far:
So next we need to make it look proper pretty. Here we go...

Decorating your Enormous Edwardian Hat
I decided to put a big bow around mine, just like a few of the pictures I had seen (Here's some, on my Pinterest page). As my base fabric was a bargain lining fabric (reduced to 80p per metre) I was able to spend a little more on the fancy bit, so I got some beautiful peacock blue polyester satin.
I cut a rectangle about 150cm x 50cm and folded it right sides together lengthways. I machine-stitched down the long side and one short side, turned it the right way and hand-stitched the remaining short side to make a long, sumptuous 'ribbon'. I did consider lining it to stiffen it, but this proved too heavy to wear!

I simply tied the blue ribbon around the crown of the hat with a knot, then popped a few stitches here and there to secure it in a suitably attractive position. This also hid the elastic band and any unwanted creases in the base fabric. I also added a lace bow at the front- flowers or feathers would have been just as nice!

Lining your Enormous Edwardian Hat

You'll need to cut another circle of your base fabric for lining the underside of the brim. Turn the hat upside down and pull a couple of tiny stitches through at the top centre of the crown to fix the centre of the lining to the inside centre of the hat. 

Take a deep breath.

With the hat still upside-down, staple the edges of the lining fabric to the outer edge of the brim. As the circumference of the fabric is greater than the brim, you will need to pleat it as you go- much the same as you did with the pleats on the top side of the brim. 

The technique I used for the lining part of the process was very much Trial And Error, but I found that stapling the brim at the 'north, south, east and west' positions on the brim before beginning, and pleating loosely at first to allow room for adjustment helped a lot. But it was fiddly and I did swear a little bit.

NB Make sure you let the excess 'middle' of the fabric fall into the well of the hat so you can still get your head in. 

Then I trimmed the upper and lower fabric edges back neatly to the cardboard brim's edge...

I then concealed all these rough edges with some more lace. I glued it- first all around the top side edge, then when that was dry, I flipped it around to the underside and glued it under there. For a clear, quick-drying glue, UHU is always my choice.

Then- hey, presto! It is done! I've included a shot of me wearing it so you can see the proportions, plus another angle of the finished article.

Good luck with your own hat-making. I do hope this tutorial has been helpful.

I'd love to see pictures of your own creations!

Email me! rachel@rachelduffield.co.uk 
or post them on my FB page! https://www.facebook.com/queenielives 

How to Make an Enormous Edwardian Hat (Tutorial- Part 1)

I always say it makes all the difference to a costume if you get the hat and shoes right. Many museums, heritage sites, re-enactment societies, schools and theatres are gearing up for WW1 centenary commemorations this year (and for the next four years).My Pinterest page here has lots of examples from historical pictures.
If you are female and you work in any of these areas, as I do, the chances are at some point in the next four years you may be needing a Very Large Hat.

Disclaimer: This isn't a professional hat-making tutorial with wooden blocks and damp felt and all that specialist stuff!! Oh no, this is for mere mortals. If you were a professional hatter you wouldn't need this. And you'd be too busy having tea parties with Alice anyway...

What This Tutorial Does
This tutorial shows how to convert an ordinary cheap straw hat into one of those enormous Edwardian/WW1 hats, using fabric, cardboard and heaps of ingenuity. I've done it in two parts to allow time for Actual Real Life (mine as well as yours).  So here goes:

Creating the Enormous Edwardian Hat shape
You need a reasonably stiff hat as a base, preferably one you can get a needle through. I used this cheap theatrical straw boater:
Then I drew around it on a sheet of card to create my new mega-sized brim (it was just a flattened-out cardboard box- but avoid the creases if you can). You need enough card to make two brims, but just draw on one for now.

The circle you've drawn will be the same as the outer edge of the existing brim. You now need to draw the inner edge on your card. This will become the hole where your head goes. I drew it by measuring the brim width, then marking the same distance inside the circle on the card- the picture to the left shows this.

Join up the marks to complete the template for the inner edge of the brim. Then mark out the new external brim edge- oval or circular is fine, but if it's not a symmetrical shape you'll need to remember where the front is supposed to be!
Cut out the inner circle and outer edge, then use this card as a template to make an identical second piece.

Put one card brim over the hat, turn it over and tape it lightly into position with something like duct tape (normal sticky tape won't stick easily to straw or fabrics).

Take your second card brim and sandwich the original hat brim between your two cardboard pieces.

Tape the outer edges to hold them, then bind all the edges with duct tape all the way around.

Hats from this era hat a large crown measurement (to hold all that Big Hair) so to create this effect and to soften the original hat's shape, cover the crown with a layer of wadding. Hold it in place with big stitches going through the hat.

Covering the Enormous Edwardian Hat

Cut a circle of your base fabric about 15cm larger than the hat.
Lay your circle of fabric centrally over the hat...
Use a large elastic band or loop of elastic to pull in the fabric at the crown.
 Pull the fabric carefully through the elastic until the edge of the fabric aligns with the brim.
 Staple the fabric close to the brim- even out the creases as you go.
Your basic hat is made! 
See part two of the Enormous Edwardian Hat tutorial for the next stage.