I hope that everyone reading has had a celebratory and/or restful holiday season! For me it has been celebratory and full of, if not rest, then the love, busyness, and exhausted excitement that only comes from mothering a toddler!
As this is my last post of 2020, I thought I would share something new and special! I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I had been commissioned by a friend to create a late 1700s British Redcoat Officer uniform. Well, although my friend understands I have a lot of priorities right now, and has assured me that time is absolutely NOT of the essence, progress on it has been slower than I had wanted. I was thrilled to get this chance to go back to my roots (For those of you that don’t know, I went to college for costume design and creation, and worked on Broadway for several years before moving to Sweden). But there was always something with a more concrete deadline coming up, and soon it slipped off my radar for a bit. Therefore I thought I would track my progress here on the blog, thus encouraging me to work a little more efficiently!
So with this first chapter, I thought I would delve a little into my personal planning process surrounding costuming. My friend – we’ll call him M – first contacted me via Messenger saying he wanted a redcoat uniform, and provided me with the following two images as reference:
This is admittedly not my era of expertise (if I even have one anymore…), but I love a good tailored coat and have been on an Outlander kick, so I was really looking forward to it!
Always looking for an excuse to buy research books, I used this opportunity to purchase British Army Uniforms from 1751 to 1783 by Carl Franklin. This book is probably not for anyone other than costume designers/makers or history enthusiasts, but seeing as I am a little of both, it was perfect. And very helpful! In addition to a written description of the various companies’ uniforms and how they differ (did you know the color of the facing/tails can help you figure out what company they are from?), the book has a plethora of illustrations done in the style of a technical drawing. It includes examples of coats, trousers, and hats of course, but also of buttons, trims, epaulettes, and more! I knew this would be a useful tool.
One of the first step in making a garment, whether it be for theater or on commission, is to take the person’s measurements. With a commission, particularly since M doesn’t live in the same town as I do, this first meeting is especially important so that I can chat face to face with the client, and talk details. So we set up a time that he would be in the area to fika and talk Redcoats!
Before this, however, I wanted to give him an idea of what the costs would be. I created a spreadsheet with two different scenarios – one as budget friendly as I could make it, and the other with as historically accurate materials as I could find. This also gave me an idea of what types of material were out there and available here in Sweden (sadly no garment district in my little town…).
So we met, we measured, we talked, and decisions were made. M wants an officer’s uniform as opposed to that of a regular soldier (because if you’re going to spend the money on a reproduction Redcoat uniform, go big or go home, right?). While he doesn’t have a specific company in mind, he prefers the look of the dark blue facings. And we’re going for historically accurate fabric as much as possible!
So hit that follow button if you want to keep up with this project! Next time we’ll discuss patterns and fabric.