Going Greek! Part 2: Himations & Tunics

Costume Construction, Costume History, Eureka! The National Children's Museum, Fashion History, Realised Design

Yassou! Kalimera! (That’s out of our Ancient Greek script, and they mean “hello!” and “good morning!” in Greek.) Welcome to Part 2 of the Greeks, in which we explore ancient menswear.

First, the tunic! Or chitoniskos if you want to be technical about it. A chitoniskos is basically a big Ancient Greek tee shirt, as seen on vase paintings like this:

Going Greek! Part 1: Hellenic Chitons

Costume Construction, Costume History, Eureka! The National Children's Museum, Fashion History, Realised Design

Good news guys! I recently got the opportunity to design and make the costumes for Eureka!’s latest school workshop, The Ancient Greeks. Woohoo!

In the past Eureka! has sourced all of its costumes for special events and workshops from a fancy dress company called Smiffys, so I was chuffed to be asked to take on the project.

I found this handy website, essentially a manual on ancient Greek costume construction and draping. It all looked so simple, and I thought it’d be a breeze. That is, until I realized just exactly¬†how much fabric you need to make a 2m x4m rectangle for an Ionic peplos (or Hellenic chiton, as I prefer to call it).

Regency Week

Costume Construction, Costume History, Fashion History

Remember Lucy from the History Wardrobe? Well, she’s developing a new show all about the “old maids and matriarchs” of Jane Austen’s novels, and so needed some Regency costumes making. Pauline very kindly invited me back to York for a week to make one of the pieces, a spencer jacket. Here’s how the week went…!

Playing Teacher

Costume Construction, Costume History, Eureka! The National Children's Museum

Greetings! Apologies for the long hiatus, but I was waiting until I had something really good to write about. So, without further ado…

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit a primary school and talk to a group of 5-to-7-year-olds all about costumes! After a few months in the closet, my bustle dress got taken on an outing and introduced to the Year 1 and Year 2 classes at Hebden Royd C.E. Primary. This came about thanks to my part-time job as an Enabler at Eureka! The National Children’s Museum. One of my co-workers left Eureka! to become a teacher and is currently doing her placement at Hebden Royd. As her class topic was clothes, she asked me if I’d like to come along and help give a lesson. And so I did!

Gathering Queen

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Well, I survived! Two weeks making real costumes for a real theatre company going on a real stage (and just in case you don’t believe me, you can check out the details here)! Ok, well, most of what I made was just for the fitting stage, so the only things I did completely from start to finish were an apron and a floppy bonnet. I nearly finished a second floppy bonnet, but I had to leave early yesterday and was on the second-to-last step when Liz (the supervisor) brought out a bouquet and some cake as a thank-you for my hard work.

So, it appears I have made a positive enough impression to be missed next week. I really would have liked to do the full three weeks (and possibly into tech week as well), but we leave for California on Monday (eeeeee!). Here’s a comprehensive list of what I worked on throughout the last two weeks:

  • two aprons
  • dungarees (plackets!)
  • pinafore (lots of gathering)
  • two floppy bonnets (more gathering)
  • taking up a petticoat with a tuck (might have gone a bit wonky, that one)
  • taking up a skirt hem
  • bunny rabbit dress (even more gathering)

Most of what I made up had to be taken apart and adjusted after the fittings, but oh well, at least it wasn’t me having to deal with readjusting loads of gathers!

All in all, I’d call the last two weeks a success. Huzzah!