In the early days I thought I wanted to be a designer. I guess that is because no one talks about all the other jobs like seamstress or tailor or pattern maker or cutter, so they are invisible. The designer gets all the glory!
It is a very collaborative process and as I discovered, I was much more suited to the technical side of things.
So, even if the designers get all the glory and recognition, they also have to make a lot of decisions that the very same public never think about because the process is so hidden.
In the case of a period show, the decisions increase at an exponential rate. It isn't enough to just choose the fashion fabric and a lining anymore. Some designers are very specific about all the details in their drawings, others are not.
Take for example this doublet. I cut a half in muslin to illustrate some of the answers I needed to move forward.
It is supposed to look like two garments but really is one. When I first talked about it with the designer, I made a few notes but didn't have much time for in depth thought about how it all would work, but once I started into making the pattern, I had a lot of questions.
1. how does this garment close?- it wasn't indicated. options are CF meets edge to edge and it closes with hooks and loops, it has functional buttons (need buttons) and holes, or it has a faked closure like a zipper underneath and a decorative placket (need decor trim or such) to disguise the zip.
2. the centre front panel will either extend fully under the front or will just attach into one of the vertical seam lines- I think less bulk is better, so into a vertical seam just in front of the armhole.
3. that means the second panel has a free edge so that means it needs to be lined in something(need lining choice), and what about its finished edge? Does it need something like a trim or a piping (need trim or fabric)to help define the edge and further give the idea that it is a faked separate garment?
4. speaking of vertical seams, the fabric is a brocade. Those requested vertical seams are going to get lost. So I mean if you are making a design feature of them, they need some definition- and what is it? piping?(need fabric) if it is trim, has it been chosen?
5. that leads to the tabs at the waist. They need a lining fabric. How are they to be finished? Plain and bagged out? piped (need fabric) or bound edges(need fabric)
6. do the tabs overlap at the waist or meet edge to edge?
7. is there a centered tab at the centre back or do two tabs meet?
8. Do you want the body seams to co-relate to the tabs? that decision dictates the seaming position on the body.
10. the shoulder wings- are they short like this or do they continue all around the armhole as they sometimes do?
11. Do the wings get any kind of edge finishing? Same as the waist tabs?
Have I missed anything?
oh yes, things I don't have pictures of
12. sleeves-do they have a decorative treatment on the seams? (need decor)
13 do the sleeves close with buttons(need buttons) or a plain placket.
14. are there decorative cuffs? (need fabric) do the decorative cuffs have any lace trim?(need lace)
15. is there a decorative collar or ruff? (need fabric, and possibly lace)
16. a cape too. With a collar. Is it lined?(need fabric). Need ties (find cord of some kind)
After I get all these decisions, I still have to make and fit a mock-up, make fit and stylistic changes to the pattern that are required, then determine the support needed for the fabrics the designer chooses, all before cutting it out and having it made up.
So it isn't as simple as it looks and you can multiply these decisions by X number of costumes and then some as the ladies wear will often have a few more decisions to be made concerning understructure to give the correct silhouette and probably more decoration.
Then there are decisions to be made for wigs and millinery, footwear and jewellery and somehow blending in stock costumes to the design.
This can be overwhelming, especially to designers who have never dealt with a large period show.
They work hard for their recognition and glory :) wouldn't you say?