As part of our 50th Anniversary season we staged a new production of Jane Eyre

It had a very individual design (Amanda Stoodley) with a set that resembled a metal cage, and all the costumes were made in distinct colours to clearly represent both the status and state of mind of the different characters. 

The fabric needed to be very specific colours, that would work for the period setting of the story, so we ordered whole rolls from Bernie the Bolt, who specialises in natural fabrics dyed in period colours, often for re-enactment groups.

Once all the fabric had arrived, I cut it into lengths and distributed it between about five freelance costume makers, as there was so much to make.  

The first Mrs Rochester, or the mad woman in the attic, was the only character to wear red, representing her passionate and out of control nature.  Unusually Leah, who played the part, spent a lot of time in the grid, which is the area above the stage where lighting equipment is rigged.  Our grid is tension wire and covers the entire area above the stage, which means you can walk about on it, as if it was a solid floor (as long as you have no fear of heights). 

The audience would have been barely able to see her, but would have been very aware of sound and movement from above – adding to the tension created by life at Thornfield Hall.  The grid is three flights of stairs up from the stage at the Octagon, so Leah, who also played other characters, spent a lot of time running up and down stairs for various entrances and exits.  Jess, who was the dresser on the show, also ended up doing some quick changes in odd places around the building, so that Leah was always wearing the right costume in the right place. 

Adding the next patch  

Once I had added the fabric to the patchwork in the usual way I decided on a different decorative stitch – lazy daisy. 


Lazy Daisy Stitch 

At this stage you can start to get really creative with your decorative stitches, adding different elements to the stitches you have already learnt, or trying whichever new ones you fancy.  I really like lazy daisy, which is effectively the same stitch as chain stitch (and is sometimes called detached chain stitch); I’ve also put a French knot in the centre of my daisies. 

Here is how to do Lazy Daisy:

And French knots:

You can also incorporate both of these stitches into feather stitch, to create these effects.


Coming up next 

Wedding bells… 

See the rest of the blogs in the series so far