PITCH PERFECT FOR THE BAFTAS!
When I was asked to make a dress for the Baftas award ceremony, I must say my initial reaction was one of trepidation. But when I found out it was for my friend Jane’s niece, Daisy Cooper, one half of the talented ‘This Country’ BBC 3 comedy duo, well I just couldn’t resist.
For anyone familiar with the award winning mockumentary, Daisy aka Kerry Mucklowe and her cousin Kurtan (real life brother and writing partner Charlie) are a hapless pair of yoofs getting up to all sorts of trouble in a quiet Cotswold village. The series is up for several awards, namely Best Scripted Comedy and Daisy is also nominated for the Best Comedy Actress. Not only that, together they have been chosen to present the ‘Best Soap’ award, one of the highlights of the evening, so to say that I was feeling the pressure would be an understatement, but equally over the moon to be involved in this amazing opportunity.
Daisy had recently found a gown which had inspired her to commission a dress made in the style of her character’s favourite attire- a Swindon Town football club shirt….a genius idea! The trapeze shaped dress was made in a black silky fabric, edged with silver sequinned fabric all around the hem, neckline and cuffs. Although short in length at the front, the hemline swept gracefully almost to the floor at the back and the neckline featured an interesting double band of sequin trim. Its potential was obvious to see. If copied in red fabric with white trim, it would accentuate the spirit of a football shirt, albeit a glamorous one.
Firstly, we had to find a suitable fabric. A polyester crepe fabric from Minerva Craft seemed to fit the bill, I had used it a while back for a Sew magazine project and I thought would be ideal, being lightweight, possessing wonderful drape and the perfect shade of ‘Swindon Town FC’ red colour that we were looking for. After ordering some swatches, 3.5m of bright red fabric was winging its way to me along with five metres of white sequin elasticated trim. Gulp! there was no going back now!
Drafting a pattern from an existing dress is something I do quite often and as it fitted Daisy well, there weren’t any adjustments to make, it seemed quite straight forward. To make things easier, I removed the sleeve of the dress to make a pattern from it. After cutting out, and stitching up, the dress was ready for its first fitting.
At this stage, I’d just pinned on the sequin trim as we weren’t too sure how much to use. I was worried that edging the entire hem risked the dress resembling a Father Xmas outfit!Lettering was traced off onto bonding web and felt which was pinned temporarily to the front and back. My son Alfie, an avid football fan and graphic designer had found the perfect football typeface to use for the word ‘Swindon’ on the front and ‘Mucklowe’ on the back. We had also retrieved a badge and the number 1 from a bought football shirt to give it an authentic feel. It was all coming together nicely.The biggest hiccup was that the dress fell too short. At the fitting it was decided to omit the sequin trim around the hemline, thus not having any weight to anchor it down, so after a bit of wangling, another 15cm or was added on, ensuring a nice border all around the edge that now skimmed just above the knee. Daisy is quite tall at 5ft 9 and she would be wearing high heels so the extra length was definitely called for. Fortunately the extra hem panel added a detail enhancing the style of the dress.
With all the letters securely fixed, it was then a question of laboriously hand stitching on the sequin trim which took several sessions over a couple of days. I had visions of them falling off in mid speech Theresa May style, so I made sure they were stitched on securely.
Making sure the dress was kept clean was paramount, so handling it was kept to a minimum. Finally came the pressing bit which was a very stressful affair. Laying a sheet underneath the ironing board helped, I kept the iron on a low setting, worried that I would burn a hole in the fabric last minute and ruin everything. A cool iron with a protective cloth and lots of steam later the dress was finally finished.
What a relief!
As an afterthought I had an idea to make a matching quilted purse with a loop handle so Daisy could sign autographs and carry her belongings. So after quilting the fabric with wadding and stiffening it with fusible interfacing to give it stability, I made a simple clutch bag with a magnetic clasp, slipping in the loop last minute. I was dead pleased with the result.
Charlie (aka Kurtan) came to pick up the dress with his mum as Daisy was on holiday which was a surreal experience having a celeb at your home but he was totally adorable and their Mum was charming too. they loved the dress and I was delighted how it had come together.
Daisy was over the moon with the finished article. And they bought home two awards at the Baftas! It all went crazy on social media but I wasn’t surprised. What a result!
Well done Daisy and Charlie!
Click a link to listen to these interviews with Fiona about THE Dress!