Saturday, September 25, 2010

Worth a Look: BBC Sewing/Fashion library

In a post buried in a discussion of Austin and Santino's traveling sewing show (which I've never cable, you know...), I came across an interesting link to a BBC archive of What We Wore, which seems to be a collection of shows related to fashion produced by the BBC since the early years of television.

I thought it would be a good research source for costuming and bookmarked it.

Then I looked around a bit and watched a show from 1982; it was the first in a series on sewing a wardrobe in a weekend, and had, as its basis, a wardrobe pattern collection designed by Caroline Charles that was published in a book, with the patterns in an envelope in the back of the book (Very similar in format to Sandra Betzina's 'No Time to Sew', if you recall that book/pattern set).

Show 1 introduces the program and the designer, and shows a bit of the design development process, and a montage of garments made from the resulting patterns. Then we return to the studio to watch the presenter (Ann Ladbury)begin construction of the first garment: a skirt. She discusses selecting a size from the multi-sized pattern (she apparently assumes everyone already knows what size to cut, there's no discussion of measuring anything to determine the 'correct size'), then demonstrates cutting and marking the pattern (she used a technique to mark the darts that I'd never seen before...interesting) and creating the lining for the skirt.

I totally didn't have time today to watch it, but I did much for the delight of listening to the lovely English accents as anything else...

Random quote from the show: "If you've gone to all the trouble to sort out the correct size, you don't want to spoil it with inaccurate stitching." - Ann Ladbury.

Amen, sister!


  1. I watched the video, and while the clothes were lovely, I was amazed at how much ease everything had. These weren't even supposed to be particularly oversized clothes, either. I hope BBC will post some other episodes of the series, I'm dying to hear why patterns are so expensive (ha ha)! The presenter had some interesting techniques. I'm familiar with tailor tacks but had never seen a dart done that way either.

  2. Nancy, the clothes struck me as being very typical of the early 80's...I kept thinking as I watched, 'I'd been married two years when this was made!' Somehow that made me feel Really Old...

    I use tailor's tacks for anything I can't snip mark, too, but I'd never seen the quick technique she used to do them.

    And...have you ever heard of --what'd she call it-- 'Tacking' thread? I wonder if that's Britspeak for something else?

    I'd love to know if there are still any copies of that book -- especially with the pattern set! Wouldn't that be cool?