Have you fallen in love with Downton Abbey? This acclaimed British television show set in the early 1900s has taken the world by storm over the past few years and now Andover Fabrics has introduced a licensed fabric inspired by Downton Abbey that is taking the quilting and sewing communities by storm. Their first collection, in stores now, is based on the upstairs women: Violet, the Dowager Countess, and her three granddaughters—Lady Mary, Lady Edith and Lady Sybil.
First, let me show you a sneak peek of Quiltmaker’s Jan/Feb ’14 cover with Reminisce, our Downton Abbey-inspired quilt:
Can’t you just see this on a bed at Highclere Castle when Season 4 premiers in the U.S. on PBS on January 5? It would fit right in with the styles and colors of the show because of the attention to detail that Kathy Hall, design director at Andover and designer of the fabric, was able to execute as she worked with Donal Woods, the head production designer for Downton Abbey and Caroline McCall the head costume designer.
It was a privilege at Fall Quilt Market a few weeks ago to hear about the work that went into the development of this fabric. Here are Quiltmaker Staff at International Quilt Market, Fall ’13, with Caroline McCall and Donal Woods:
The ballroom at the Houston Convention Center was set with 1400 chairs for Downton Abbey fans (cleverly disguised as quilt shop owners and other professionals from the quilt industry) to gather for our initial glimpses of the fabric and to hear from both the Downton Abbey production team and the Andover Fabrics staff.
Andover also created mood boards that tell each character’s story in her fabric. I’ve added some of the details that Caroline and Donal told us in Houston.
Violet, a contemporary of Queen Alexandra, is an Edwardian lady, she is immaculate, and wears a lot of silks in somber colors because she was a widow. Now as the series progresses into the 1920s, Maggie Smith is starting to wear a bit more color.
Lady Mary, the eldest, sees herself as the heir (through marriage since she’s not eligible to inherit the estate herself). Her look is classic and stylish, yet still fashion conscious much like Kate Middleton today. She wears lots of blues and burgundy. It seems that she has always worn burgundy at key moments in the series such as when she met Matthew and at her engagement. Mary also wears feathers frequently—adornments in her hat or hair.
Middle sister Lady Edith is the supposed “ugly duckling”, but the costume designers never saw her that way. Her look has changed the most during the series because she always is dressing to allure someone—her look changes based on who her object of interest is: whether she is dressing older or in working gear when she’s keen on a farmer. She becomes her own in season 3 after she’s jilted. Her colors though have been constant with coral and green with lots of prints.
Lady Sybil, the youngest and most free-spirited and modern, wore lots of teal. Remember the pantaloons in season 1? They were inspired by Paul Poiret, who is credited as the first designer to mix bright colors and pattern. His inspiration for the bright colors came from the arts. Sybil’s fabric is very modern for the times, her fashion followed the movement of the arts.
McCall went on to tell us how the colors are key in the costuming as they help to identify the characters, yet they all need to work together when everyone’s in the room at the same time.
Check out Andover’s YouTube video with Caroline McCall if you’d like to watch her Schoolhouse session:
Kits are shipping this week for our queen-size quilt from QuiltAndSewShop.com. Watch for your issue to show up in your mailbox soon or, if you aren’t a subscriber, watch for Quiltmaker Jan/Feb ’14 on your newsstand by Dec. 3.
I think I need to watch the series again, this time keeping a particular eye out for the prints and colors used in the costumes and on the set. How do you plan to get ready for season 4, starting January 5 in the U.S.? Will you re-watch season 3, or perhaps the whole series? Make your own Downton Abbey quilt? Or maybe you need to check it out for the first time to see what all the buzz is. Have you seen Downton Abbey fabric in your local quilt shop yet?
Giveaway! Let me know your Downton Abbey thoughts in a comment below by midnight Sunday December 1 (Mountain time) for a chance to win some Downton Abbey fabric.
Cath, who posted on 11/25/13 at 10:51 pm, is our winner. Her comment:
To get ready, some friends and I are going to spend Sunday afternoon watching reruns straight through. Saturday is reserved for fabric shopping as my local quilt shop is having a gala Downton Abbey event to launch the line. I plan to be at the shop door then minute they turn the key!!! Love, love, love the series and the fabric! AND now that I have seen the quilt, I am sold!!!! So in review, Saturday – fabric, Sunday marathon D.A. with friends, December 3rd…magazine!
Sounds like she’s already had a Downton Abbey-filled weekend. How fun!