Seamstresses sew costumes to take you back in time

Bella Figura have made multiple costumes for The London Transport Museum. Pictured are sister co-owners, Teresa Whittaker (brunette) and Suzanne Whittaker (blonde).
Bella Figura have made multiple costumes for The London Transport Museum. Pictured are sister co-owners, Teresa Whittaker (brunette) and Suzanne Whittaker (blonde).
0
Have your say

A pair of dressmakers have put their sewing skills to the test to create retro costumes that will help take museum visitors back in time.

Sisters Suzanne and Teresa Whittaker, who own Bella Figura, in Smedley Street, Matlock, sent the costumes to the London Transport Museum on Friday after working on them for weeks.

Bella Figura have made multiple costumes for The London Transport Museum. Pictured are sister co-owners, Teresa Whittaker (brunette) and Suzanne Whittaker (blonde).

Bella Figura have made multiple costumes for The London Transport Museum. Pictured are sister co-owners, Teresa Whittaker (brunette) and Suzanne Whittaker (blonde).

Teresa said: “It’s been all hands on deck to get it done.”

The girls have been working with Nicola Holloway, of Distressed Damsels, who made hats to go with the costumes.

Teresa added: “We won a sizeable national tender to create replica historic costumes for their Family Galleries Project based on uniforms and archives in their collections.

“The project aims to enhance their family friendly activities in the galleries by providing opportunities for families to dress up and role play in the historic vehicles assisted by volunteers.

“We’ve been challenged to recreate outfits worn by Victorian crossing sweepers and tunnel miners, bus drivers from 1916, dresses for 1930s housewives and underground train guards uniforms from 1960 to the present.”

Teresa has a background in museums, having previously been an exhibition officer for Museums Sheffield, and the girls’ successful tender at the transport museum follows other contracts at the Imperial War Museum North, as well as museums in Coventry, Nuneaton and Barnsley.

In order to make the costumes as authentic as possible, the museum sent Suzanne and Teresa detailed pictures of the outfits they wanted, as well as sample articles of headware.

In her quest to make the clothing as true to the originals as possible, Suzanne had to create patterns from scratch, and she even pulled apart modern garments to find the correct fabric for pieces such as high visibility wear. In total the girls made clothing for six different characters, for which they created 15 costumes.

Period costume-making caters for a niche market. Teresa explained: “There are not many people that are making bespoke replica costumes across different time periods for both children and adults.

The costumes will be used by staff members at the museum who will help members of the public imagine the lifestyles of the various characters.

To see Suzanne and Teresa’s costumes in use, visit the London Transport Museum. For information, see www.ltmuseum.co.uk