Downton Abby

I’m a huge fan of the BBC television series, Downton Abby. Andra suggested our Sometimes We Do quilt bee should go see the exhibit. Winterthur is the only venue in the U.S. to display the costumes and over a thousand people a day have viewed the exhibit. Lucky for us, Andra has has worked at Winterthur and arranged for a special tour of the museum before we saw the Downton costumes. I wish I could show some of Andra’s amazing needle work on the historic furnishings, but they don’t allow photography. If you live anywhere near Wilmington, Delaware it is a fascinating museum and a wonderful place to spend the day.
The costums were displayed along with props and furnishings from the show. The exhibit was arranged beginning with morning wear and progressing through the day, ending with the evening attire.
In the background there were scenes of the actors and explanations and details about the costums worn.
The stripped material on Lady Mary’s dress on the right, was sewn using the wrong side of the fabric for a softer look. The costume on the left was the only real vintage dress. The mannequins were actually carved to resemble the bodies of the actors so that the clothing fit correctly. You can see the difference in the shoulders.
Both “upstairs” and “downstairs” costums were shown.
The designers had to plan for action in Lady Edith’s wedding gown since she had to run from the church and up a long flight of stairs when she was left at the alter.
The level of detail in the garments was amazing. And they only had six weeks to design, sew and fit all the costumes for the cast for the season.
Absolutely my favorite costume was Lady Sybil’s harem pants.
The bodice was constructed of fragil vintage fabric that split during filming and had to be repaired. The mended and frayed edges didn’t show on television.

I think this was the favorite gown of many. The “spider web” overlay was entirely beaded.
Often there were video clips playing in the background. In this proposal scene, the snow softly falling made us feel as if we were actually at Downton.
We all agreed we want to watch the show again and really appreciate the amazing art of the costume designers. Thanks for “herding cats” Andra and organizing a wonderful day out with best friends.















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