Saturday, 8 December 2012

JAA Post Hand-in Pictures

Here are some quick snaps of the dress after hand-in. In the new year I will have it photographed professionally once the buttons are on, ready for entry into the competition.

Friday, 7 December 2012

JAA: Unit Evaluation

Specialist Practice: The Janet Arnold Award- Unit Evaluation

At the end of this unit I have completed a full historical replica of a technically challenging costume as well as a range of appropriate undergarments and a reflective blog and supporting workbook. During this time I have conducted first hand research by studying the original dress and used Janet Arnold’s book as a template for the pattern in line with the conditions set out by the Costume Society for entrance into the Janet Arnold Award next year.

The JAA has been a challenging project as I have completed it in a shorter time scale; as it is normally reserved as a project for FMP. I gave this decision much consideration before the start of SP but I felt confident that I could tackle this opportunity early as I know that my construction skills are at a standard where I could take on this project successfully. I am hoping this large jump from my last unit in level 5 to this project in level 6 will demonstrate my increasing aptitude for precise and skilled construction and push me even further as I go into the final practical unit, where I will be undertaking an even more demanding project.

I have worked very independently and mostly at home for the duration of this unit, returning for feedback from my tutors. The outcome of this has been taking on the risks that come from making my own decisions and using my own judgement. I have gone to great lengths to ensure my copy of the dress is as close to the original as possible and although there has been a large body of work to produce I have effectively planned the use of my time ensuring that I have not needed to rush any elements of the construction.

Speaking critically, I have made some mistakes during the process, some that I have managed to rectify; such as the organdie pleating at the hem of the dress, and others that have been brought to my attention by my tutors; such as the precision of cutting when working with striped fabric.

I feel that the dress imbues many elements of the original, due to finding a fabric that matched the proportions of the original dress and sourcing real antique lace. I have gained a lot of experience from working to historical specifications and this costume has allowed me to feel positive about making further period garments and crucially, it has confirmed that this is a pathway I thoroughly enjoy, helping to refine my personal set of skills.

Looking forward, this project has been an investment, both financially, and in terms of a body of work suitable for my portfolio-it will be a valuable tool in demonstrating my skills to prospective employers in industry and it will be a platform from where I can continue to improve as I move on towards FMP.

JAA Week 10: The Finale

Whose Line is it Anyway?
Well here we are then, reporting from the last week(okay the last day, I have been sewing like the wind all week after assessment and the writing always gets left to the end!).
 She is done, I have the photos to prove it, not currently looking her best in my front room, where there is enough thread on the floor to create a second carpet so please excuse the bad photos. This is a relatively short post but I would like to share some final musings before I write up my academic evaluation of the unit.
Contextualisation of my work is important. Its one of those buzz words used in the academic blurb handed out with the unit brief.
I don't just make things, I create, and behind creation is intent and thought. Yes I am making this re-creation for a competition, but the original dress came from a museum and has been dated 1878. The dress was once worn by someone, and as my work has progressed I have thought a lot about who that person was, where they wore their dress. I feel I have an intimate relationship with the original wearers figure, as it has been somewhat of an enigma, being quite different from a modern silhouette. At some point I named the dress "Eva", a Victorian name for a Victorian dress, a dress not for the faint hearted, the bold stripes, luxurious fabrics and bright colours.
But what does this piece of work mean to me? What does it mean to my degree? What will it mean to the professional world of my peers? In industry? The questions go on, and I have to consider them, because my work needs to be relevant.
In general, I am hoping this piece of work will be a stand out portfolio example, showing employers my level of capability. At a cost of around £800 to myself in fabrics, this dress is also an investment but one I feel will be worthwhile, so on some level it is also a business decision.
I must also include the fact that this dress is for a competition, there is the chance of winning a cash prize, but more importantly the accolade of winning such a thing- it would look very positive on a CV.
For my degree I am hoping this dress earns me a first class mark, a bold statement perhaps, but I think I have earned it, along with the undergarments, it represents a huge body of work produced for this unit and I hope I have done it justice. I should also be aiming to do better than my last result because my level of work should be improving.
In industry this garment demonstrates my ability and growing knowledge of historical costuming, along with my love for balletic costumes this dress could represent jobs such as making historical character costumes, replicas for museums, film and tv period dramas, private commissions for historically inspired costumes or wedding gowns and a platform to go on and study costume history at a more in depth level(MA).
Considering all these aspects helps me to be able to focus in on what I need to be aiming towards to get the most out of my studies and making sure I am heading in the right direction, because after all there is only one more practical making unit between myself and graduation.
Here then are the last photos before hand in. I will take some photos when I have the dress at uni, but they will be too late to add to this blog( which will be assessed so there is a deadline), but I will add some in a subsequent post, for all to see.



Saturday, 1 December 2012

JAA Week 9: All The Little Things

Let the Countdown Commence

As you can imagine, with hand in fast approaching next week, this has been a busy week. I have spent at least a days woth of time making the wedding cake (which was accounted for in my work plan) and also the actual wedding itself (although I made the decision not to drink, to drive home after the wedding breakfast and continue to work) hurrah for me and my steadfast tenacity.

As much as I did not need the hastle and time sucking black hole that was a two layer hand crafted wedding cake (sponge and a fruit cake) it was nice to get my practical creative flow going with the hand crafted decorations, a change is as good as a rest as they say.

Anyway, moving on...

This week, as the main body of the dress is complete I am moving on to the dreaded hem and the decorations, lace frills pleats, cuffs etc.
I had a very helpful session with two of my tutors and got some good advice on how to finish the very large and gently curving hemline of the dress. Its good to point out here that without their help and advice/experience the hem would not have turned out so well. Sometimes, especially as I have been working so independantly, it is easy to get carried away and think that I know best and that I can do it all myself without any help.
This is not the case, and although it is really important that at this stage I am making a lot of decisions, it is still sensible to refer back to those who have more knowledge than myself, even if it is just to say "this is how I think it should be done, what is your opinion?"

Fake It?

This week has also been pivotal in terms of authenticity. I have been very careful throughout the whole project to try and stay as true to the original as possible. this means using all natural materials where I can, I have been using cotton thread throughout the whole garment, even though it is a nightmare to work with as it brakes a lot, especially when hand sewing. I have waxed my thread as well. Everything, including all the linings, interlinings lace etc. match as close as possible to the original, and I have painstakingly and meticulously tried to construct the details of the garment to the same specifications.

It would have been much easier to take short cuts, I probably would have saved myself a lot of time (and have fingers that do not resemble a pin cushion to boot). No one would really know unless they had the original next to my copy, and from what I hear from my tutors, when they judge the competition, if, that is, you reach the shortlist and they physically look at yur costume; that they don't really look over all the fine details. So what is the point?

Of course the answer is, that I know. I know myself just how hard I have tried to make a true interpretation, it is after all for my benefit that I try and get it right, my learning journey, my specialist practice.

Copying all the historical techniques, such as hand overcasting seams, handsewing nearly everything and all the beautiful details and decorations, has given me a really good introduction to what I really love doing. I needed to tackle a large historical dress, from the inside out, and to do it properly.

I think I have very sound construction and interpretation skills and the challange has been doing it to a professional standard and producing a piece of work that is bettar than my last piece, so I can see my progress as a practitioner. Knowing myself that I have done everything possible to get that original feeling out of my newly made copy, and I think I am well on my way to achieving that.

More of the Pretties
Aside with the in depth self analysis for a moment as I do have some more progress photos:

I think it is coming together very well. I'm not sure how much I will have done before assessment on Monday, but it should be enough to get a goos idea of the final outcome.