Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas 2011

Oh dear, it's been THAT long since I posted!

Oops - clearly my time has been occupied with the making of stuff, and with college (and the 'flu (proper) that we both came down with after the re-enactor's market!).

Anyway, for now I want to say Happy Christmas to all my clients, and to everybody we've spoken to at events and via e-mail over the last year.

I'm now (strictly speaking) 'closed for the holidays', although obviously my e-mail will still be operative, so if you need to get in touch, send an e-mail, and we'll reply in January when we're back at work.

Happy Christmas!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

My blue hat finished!!

We've had them returned now, athough we haven't got the grades yet (yikes!).

So I've now had time to take some decent photos of my first proper hat.

Arctic Convoy Exhibition

For a long time now, I've been interested in the stories of the unsung, and largely ignored men who took part in the most dangerous shipping operation of World War Two - the Arctic Conveys that sailed from Scotland, around the top of Norway, through the Arctic seas to dock in northern Russia, carrying much needed weapons, and food to the Eastern Front.

Churchill called the journey they made "the worst journey in the world".  Dozens of ships, both Merchant Navy and  Royal Navy were lost, either due to enemy action, or to the weather conditions, and thousands of men lost their lives in the freezing Arctic seas.

So, (the point of this post), I was very interested the other day when I found out that the National Maritime Museum have put together an exhibition about the convoys.  It's on now, at the museum in Greenwich, and it runs until the end of February 2012.

See the website for more info:

While I'm on the subject, there was an interview with a veteran of the convoys on BBC Radio 4's PM programme last week - if you can access i-player, it's very much worth listening to -  The interview is about 42 minutes into the programme.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The blue hat... now finished and in for marking.  I don't have any pictures of it completed yet, because I managed to make the deadline for the college brief clash with a work deadline, and had no spare time for photographing, so it'll be a few weeks till I can take some.

Anyway, until then, some more 'in progress' photos that I haven't shared yet...

Firstly, my crown.  I decided to use a quite classic crown block, with a little dip at one side (originally I chose a more squared, flat top crown, but changed my mind before blocking). 
As part of the challenge of this brief was to learn how to make a whole hat from one hood (or hat blank), it wasn't a problem that I didn't have enough felt  left to block the whole crown.  I used buckram to extend the crown to the full height of the block. 
Obviously, the other option would have been to make a hat with a shorter crown, but I wanted to learn how to extend it, so decided against that.

Next picture is of my brim, all ready to add to the crown, with the headfitting petersham all sewn in.

And finally, the silk that I used for the trimming.  This is a slightly off-white china silk - originally I'd planned to use it as it was, but it just felt too broght when applied to the hat - so I decided to dye it.  I dip dyed the two pieces by hand, having first rolled it and tied a bit of ribbon round it to give the colour a little texture.

As I said, more pictures to follow of the hat after it's been marked (eek!!!).

Monday, 3 October 2011

Possibly slow comms for the next few days...

My communications may be slightly off for the next few days / weeks. 

I may be less likely than I usually am to pick up the phone or answer the door.
Usually, that's because I simply can't hear either when I have machines going,  (I've been known to have the phone on the table beside me and not hear it ring).

Unfortunately, this time there's a more sinister explantion - I've been threatened by an unscrupulous individual (or pair of individuals), who is refusing to settle his bill.  The police are aware of the threat, and are taking action, and they have advised me not to open the door, nor to speak to those concerned.

Anyway, upshot being that anybody calling is even more likely than usual to get the answering machine, and we'll  get back to you!!

Normal service will (hopefully) be resumed shortly, and I'll be back to writing about fun stuff, like hats and dresses and corsets!!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Falcon and fetterlock livery

A piece I delivered this week - already to be seen on my facebook page -  a blue and white livery coat with a falcon and fetterlock back badge.

The back badge is cut from woollen fabric (the Hainsworths unfraying kind), and all the stitching is done by hand.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

My first blocked felt hat (underway)

Last week at college I blocked my first ever felt brim - I forgot to take photos then, so here are a couple now...

This one was taken after I had unpinned the brim from the block, and cut it to size, ready to be finished.  I've put it back on the block to show that it really was from that block - it can be quite hard to tell for sure, because the block is upside down.

And the brim when off the block, and sitting the right way up.  The dome piece behind the brim is the crown part of the capeline, cut from the centre of the brim, which is now sitting pinned to the block drying out, ready to be attached and finished next week.

The narrow strggly bit to the side of the brim is the off cut - I managed to choose a wide brim for my first go, meaning that it was a real effort to stretch the felt to the necessary size, and that I had hardly any left over.

Home work for this week is a sample file of stitching, and to finish the edge of my brim - and to start thinking about how to trim it - the really fun part!  :o)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


This post has absolutely nothing to do with sewing, or with my work.

When winter is on us, and the two old trees outside my sewing room window are denuded, I can see the workings of Kellingley Colliery through the gaps in the bare branches.

This afternoon there was a roof collapse at Kellingley - one of the last handful of deep coal mines working in the UK.  According to accounts, two ment were trapped - one was rescued, although injured, and one man died.

My thoughts are with their families, friends and colleagues.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Etsy and Facebook

I've been meaning to do this for ages, but time, time, time...

Anyway, I have finally set up a facebook page (or pages) for my work.

My costume page is here!/pages/Deborah-Lough/123277781105753 (or search on Deborah Lough). 

And the page for my padding is here!/pages/The-Padded-Armour-Company/122691571164098

Click on the links to either page, and then click like, and you'll get updates of what I'm doing, and pretty pictures of my work, etc.

Now then, other news is that I've just set up an Etsy shop, where I'll be listing assorted items of costume, and accessories, both stock items and pieces that are made to order.

You can find it here - - at the moment I have some livery badges listed for sale, and I'll be adding more over the weekend, as well as some other bits and pieces.

I'm also in the process of setting up a shop for my padding.

All quite exiting, and I may actually be approaching the 21st century (not entering yet, but approaching!!)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

A strange week...

I've had a bit of a stange week, since last Friday...  highs and lows...

Firstly, good news - the scary health stuff is now over - my cancer scare is done, and the doctor is happy with my healing (I had to have some surgery), so I now officially have the all clear health-wise, and can get back to normal.

Then a couple of days after that, I discovered that a competitor has set up making padding, and has copied some of my design elements (such as using metal washers to reinforce eyelets), and more importantly, and absolutely infuriatingly, has obviously gone through my whole website, and has used parts of it as a base for his - including lifting certain paragraphs whole and without change.

I have no issues with facing competition, I know that I'm good at what I do.
To an extent have accepted that my work will be copied, because it has been many times before - usually by those without the training, experience, or in-depth knowledge to develop ideas and techniques for themselves - don't get me wrong, it's still upsetting, but my attitude (for self-preservation reasons) has evolved into one of 'let them scrabble about in the mud of last year's design and research, while my work moves up and on'.
But the wholesale copying and pasting of text from my website is a new one for me to face.  I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt - it does - I take time to ensure that all the infomation on my site is accurate and concise, and having somebody else coming along and just take it makes me feel a lot like I did after a burglary a few years ago - violated.

Anyway, the other nice thing that's happened - I started college yesterday, finally.  I'm now a fully fledged student, and a trainee milliner.

Ok, so the first day was largely comprised of sewing circles and straight lines on calico and paper to make sure we could use the machines without killing ourselves, and then a 50 minute health and safety lecture, but we got to look at some hat blocks! :o)  And I finished my machining first so got to leave early.

The course proper starts next week, and we start with the bit I've been looking forward to most - blocking of felt!  Just have to assemble bits and bobs of my sewing kit to take with me.

So, all in all, a mixed week, but on balance, a good one.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Back to work...

I've not been working full strength for the last month or so, because of some moderately scary 'health stuff'.  But I'm getting back down to it now, so thought I'd share the thing I'm working on at the moment.

Another dolman, still under construction, this one not a historically correct one, but to be worn as a modern coat / jacket.

It's cut to fit a woman, so has darts at the front, under the braiding, which is a new challenge (getting the braid to sit correctly over the shaping.

Hopefully I'll manage to get it done in the next few days, and show you some proper 'finished pics', but here are some teasers in the meantime!

Sunday, 7 August 2011


As I recently said, I've been given a place on the HNC Millinery course at Leeds College of Art.  (Yay!)

I thought I'd share the portfolio I took to the interview, so I've taken some pictures of it.

I should preface by saying that I was probably pushing the limits in terms of number of things to include, but when you've made as much as I have, and when it's as varied, it's extraordinarily hard to break that down into a small selection of your best (or favourite) stuff, while still making it a representative sample!

Obviously, the material is copyright, and design right, me, 2011, (or the year in the image!)

I presented the whole lot in an A3 sized display book, of the kind you get at stationery shops.  That was mainly because I already had it on the shelf, and I don't have a 'proper' portfolio at the moment.
The ribbon is added partly for looks, and partly practicality - it would be so completely like me to have picked up the folder upside down, and to have spilled all the work out all over the floor...  Probably on the train...  Or in the middle of the road when walking to the college...  Or going through the ticket barrier at leeds station...  (Not that I'm a clutz or anything.)

The front page is done with a sheet of tracing paper, textured with pastels on the back, and with the sketch and names done using a dip ink pen, then mounted onto card.

Then onto the actual work!  (Prepare for lots and lots of pictures.)

Made for Select Society, and the pictures of the outfit in use are copyright Select Society

Ignore that they're awful pictures of me, since I'm possibly the least photogenic person on the planet!!

The two above hats originally designed on the back of an envelope.

A last minute design, because I had a page to fill.  Pastels on textured paper.


Anyway, starting in September, two years of hat making here I come (one day a week at least)!