About Us

Welcome to the About Us section! To give you a quick glimpse of the world behind the website, let us tell you about our history, paint a picture of our workrooms and go into the detail behind our projects.

Our History

We’ve been studying 18th C costume since 2011 and we still have more questions than answers! However, it is the drive to understand the world of 18th century costume for ourselves that has fuelled the passsion for this company. How did Stays work? In what order did the 18th c. lady get dressed? Why are most of the inside work of these gowns messy and strange? These may all sound like light and easy questions but they are seriously not and the research into answering them is always ongoing. Our thinking was if we wanted to know, maybe others did too.

Our first study session was at the Bath Fashion Museum and stemmed from when we were doing a tour of the Costume section downstairs. We had heard on the earphones that the museum had stores of gowns that could be requested to be looked at. We went home and wrote an email that night. That was back in 2012 and over 86 study sessions later, we’re still going strong.

Our research often takes shape in the form of ‘Projects’. This is when we fall down the metaphorical Rabbit hole and live a whole world of Stays, or Mantuas, or 1760s sack backs – whatever it is we’ve stumbled into. We’ve not figured out what the trigger is yet but it seems it can start with an innocent enough sounding question like “I wonder if….”

Our Projects

One of the very first projects we found ourselves embroiled in was the Construction of Stays. This started off as mere curiosity about whether or not some of the curvatures were enhanced on the inside by Pad stitching (a technique used by tailors to shape the collars and lapels). We can happily and conclusively say it is not, but it kicked off A) a love for Stays and B) a serious in-depth look into their construction and a rather large Comparison table. It’s a project that is still on-going. But what’s most important about understanding Stays is that you are understanding the very basis of the gown! This too has helped us focus on creating displays and costumes that structure on the stays themselves, and help create that real and solid feel to the costume.

Click here to take a look at some of the Projects we’re currently involved in:

Our Workshop

For many years we’ve worked from a tiny living room space. The television was kicked out and the sofas replaced with shelving of fabric and a cutting table. We are now in a nice, light, and breezy workroom, overlooking the river in our pretty home town of Bude.

We’ve currently got plans to expand into a back room as The Mantua Project that we are involved in has some rather large petticoats and we are getting tired stepping round them all the time. Watch out for some exciting photos of our new workroom.

We engaged Michelle to work with us when we were conserving an eighteenth century court mantua. The dress came to us in pieces and we needed to undertake conservation work on it. Michelle, with her excellent knowledge of historical garments, was able to work with our conservator and together they pooled their knowledge and expertise and pieced the garment back together. We all found her extremely easy to work with. Super-enthusiastic. Careful. Considered. And great fun! I would have no hesitation in recommending Michelle for work on re-creating historical garments. Derw Thomas, Berrington Hall, National Trust
Michelle came to Coleridge Cottage and put on a beautiful exhibition of Georgian costumes. She interacted with our visitors, explaining about the different costumes and helping to bring them to life and provided a brilliant experience for our visitors. Her costumes and exhibition really helped to show visitors the variation in clothing for Georgian people. Bethan, Coleridge Cottage, National Trust

Latest News

This has been a bit of a stop-starter due to other works and deadlines, but this is such an exciting mantua to be replicating that we’re itching to crack on with it again....

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About Us

For us it all starts with the garments themselves – and some of them are M.E.S.S.Y! But, making sense of the logic behind the mess is one of our favourite jobs. Click here to read more of what we do and where we come from.

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