Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Research

N.B. The annotated photocopies I made whilst researching period style lines, tailoring methods, and techniques are included in the hard-copy research file that accompanies this blog. Please note that I have not included copies of the construction notes I made during SDP as these are far too numerous and I don't feel that they are necessarily relevant to the project. Instead, I am collating and word-processing these into a professional-looking format which I will later bind, in order to have a really good point of reference for any more lounge suits I make in the future, as well as be able to take to interviews. 

Looking at the design it was really clear that, aside from a few changes in the style lines, this suit is really similar to the 1890s lounge suit I made for SDP. It will definitely be a traditionally tailored suit due to the style of the production as well as the character of the Narrator: I will not have to adapt the traditional tailoring methods to accommodate for excess movement (as I might be required to do so for dance or physical theatre) beyond making sure that I make the suit strongly and neatly so that it will last for many performances beyond A Soldier's Tale once it is in the AUCB Costume Store.

I am therefore able to utilise much of the same research which informed my work in SDP, such as referring to similar reference books (the Victorian/Edwardian tailor's catalogues, but of the 1910s instead of the 1890s - see Mitchell Co, 1990); tailoring pattern-cutting and method books (such as Cabrera, 1983, and Whife, 1945); and indeed the notes I made during SDP when Graham taught us how to make the suit.

At times it has been difficult to find images of what were considered "intimate" areas - such as the trouser waist band (which was always covered up by the waist coat). However I have used logic as well as a few references I could find - notably a line drawing of a pair of trousers revealing a fish tail back but which had trouser-creases and turn-ups that suggested that it was a style of the 1930s. This would suggest that trousers of the 1910s would have the same fish-tail back as of the 1930s (and indeed as the 1890s style trousers, like I made for SDP) with brace buttons on the interior.

I have had to be quite careful with what sources I have used as not all of them are necessarily reliable. For instance, the tailoring catalogues (Mitchell Co, 1990) contain advertising images which would represent the ideal Edwardian figure. As a result, upon closer analysis, the figures in the catalogue are anatomically disproportionate. Their torsos are huge, incredibly long and broad-chested. Their heads and feet are far too small, and their legs are quite short and narrow. When I, for instance, analysed the placement and size of the collars on many of these suits, they were in fact much smaller than first appeared. I decided to look at photographs of the era (see Rolley, 1992) alongside the fashion illustrations, which revealed much clearer proportions within the suit as well as with the figures. I took all my research to the Designer in order to have her decide upon what exactly she would like on the suit, such as back vents and cuff buttons. She also decided, upon looking at my research, that she wanted an extra pocket on the jacket, which was present on a lot of the fashion illustrations (see Mitchell Co, 1990).

Although I am not making the waistcoat, I have shared my reference sources with Emily M. (the Maker who is making the waistcoat instead of me, since the suit jacket will consume so much time as to make it unfeasible to make all three parts of the Narrator's costume) so that we will be visually working from the same points of reference and the costume will come together naturally.

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