We’re in the process of mounting costume for our new history galleries. I’ve been working on a shooting suit made by a Birmingham tailoring company called Allports in the early 20th century.
When you’re mounting costume you first have to order a mannequin (sometimes called a ‘bust form’) that is slightly smaller than the garment and then build it up if necessary to support the garment. This mannequin needed a little bit of padding around the hips and the back and shoulders. We use wadding first of all – I had to create what looked like a pair of wadding shorts with an extra bit for the bottom! (images 1 & 2).
Once the wadding is the right shape for the garment, we cover it with jersey, which protects the garment from fragments of wadding and also creates a smooth finish (image 3).
Rolls of wadding create the arms and one leg (the pole supporting the mannequin goes through the other leg). Undressed, the mannequin looks extremely odd – but once the shooting suit is mounted on it, it looks quite a natural shape (image 4). Mounting a garment like this can take two or three days to get right.
You can see this suit on display along with other Birmingham-made costume in Birmingham: its people, its history, which opens on 12 October 2012.
Curator of history
Last week was the finale of the Make Do and Mend project. The Museum and University held a special event to reunite the students and members of Birmingham Air Raids Remembrance Association BARRA. The event was a great success – it was wonderful to see BARRA members and students talking about their work.
We also announced the winner of the project. Scott Gethings patriotic ‘Dig for Victory’ pinafore will be the first outfit from the project to be displayed in the new Birmingham History galleries. When the new galleries open you will have the opportunity to see all the students work as a fashion style ‘look book’ will feature as part of the display.