Dangerous Arts: Meet our Costume Maker


hi i’m Meredith Towne I’m the resident
costume maker and maintenance person here at the Royal Armouries it’s my job
to make sure all the staff here look their best in their finest costumes for
all the events that happen here at the Museum I’d be making costumes a very
long time I made all the costumes for my Barbie’s when I was a child so that
means I’ve got a good 25 years of costume making under my belt but
professionally speaking I’ve been a costume maker for about six years
ever since I graduated from the Northern College of costume just in York and I’ve
been here at the Armouries ever since then
oh I’ve loved costume for so long I was the person and watched all the films as
a child and I just thought all the gowns and dresses were amazing and but it was
until I went to university and where I studied archaeology of all things that I
really kind of grasped the idea that costume is a really good way of looking
at the past and looking at real people we all wear clothes and so it’s
something we should look at a little bit more closely as to what it tells us
about people in history about their economic circumstances who they are what
gender they are and so that’s why I kind of got into the costume side of things
and the best fun fact I can think of which really interested me when I came
across it was that as women’s hats got really really big at the beginning of
the 20th century there hatpins got really really long up to sort of 20
inches plus and men were getting very suffragettes with their self-defense
mastery Edith Garrud she did advise people to just whip their hat pins out and poke
men in their eye if they came anywhere near them so rather than putting for a
new law to say that women could have the vote the government instead put for a
new law in 1908 restricting the length of hat pins to a mere 10 inches
absolutely love over the 18th century the Georgian period because the men’s
coats are absolutely fabulous I mean we think we have dandies now they were in
pink and blue with braids they’re a fabulous thing to make in terms of me
getting to wear something I absolutely love the First World War era ladies
civilian wear is really interesting that period because they’re getting a lot
more practical shorter skirts still with a real hint of style a very classic
style for ladies so that’s my favorite so when I come in in the summer the plan
is we’re gonna have a load of costumes from behind the scenes out on show so
people can see the full range of what we do I’m also going to be there for
demonstrating some of the sewing techniques that I use and fabrics I use
so people can come and chat to me about that and then we’re also going to do a
special talk one each day on the dressing of a medieval gent so you can
see all the different layers of clothing that we’ve got to consider when we’re
putting together an outfit for the museum

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