Last week I mentioned that I was helping Jenny to decorate the Mill in time for our fantastic event ‘Victorian Christmas’. This week (after we set up the Gingerbread House, formerly known as the car park kiosk) I caught up with Jenny to talk to her about her time as Quarry Bank Mill’s costumier. Most of the costumed people you see on site is wearing one of Jenny’s creations and if you head to the Finishing Gallery when you’re next here you will see some of her more complicated and gorgeous efforts.
When did you first start making costumes?
I’ve done it from a young age, I’ve always lived in places that put on May Days, and I’ve been making costumes for school plays and before I did the costumes for Quarry Bank Mill I made them for Dunham Massey when Roz (her daughter and our Visitor Experience and Marketing Manager) worked there, and then when she moved here I started making the outfits for this property.
Where do you look for inspiration?
History books, and there is a lot of costume literature out there, and old photographs and paintings and I have a look at museums which have costume collections.
What is the most difficult part of making the costumes?
Well, in order for them to be as historically accurate as possible I don’t use elastic, so everything I make is made to fit, so particularly for an event like ‘Victorian Christmas’ when a batch of costumes need to be made I have to measure a lot of people, and if someone is ill then only someone who can fit into the same costume can cover for them at the event!
What is your favourite costume?
At Quarry Bank Mill it’s the three-tiered skirt that is worn at ‘Victorian Christmas’ (below) as it’s the most historically accurate costume I’ve ever made – it took me 2-3 weeks to make!
Well I personally cannot wait until this Sunday when I am lucky enough to wear one of Jenny’s amazing creations, and next week I’ll tell you all about the ‘Victorian Christmas’ event, but make sure you try to come along and check out Jenny’s fabulous costumes!