Time and again we hear that you just love the costumes at Seven Stories.  We’ve taken some time out to take a look back at the year through costume.  From fairytale favourites to festive elves, a bird chair and three galleries full…2015 has been all about the costumes, costumes, costumes that really bring Seven Stories to life.

Let us introduce you to the wonderful Naomi Pugh who is the creative force behind Textiles by Gnomes and has designed and created many of the beautiful costumes you (and we!) enjoy wearing throughout the Seven Stories Visitor Centre…

“It has been a brilliant year and it’s always great to look back at everything that has been made. I love to create handmade textile pieces for commission. Each product is unique, high quality and made with attention, detail and love.  I am often commissioned by Seven Stories to transform an idea or theme into costume or textiles. Creating something to closely replicate an illustration can be quite tricky but is also really good fun. I experiment with fabrics to replicate the texture, colour and pattern that an illustrator has created using pencil, paint and pens. I use a wide variety of fabrics and materials to achieve this and apply a variety of processes including dying, fabric painting and heat transfer to ensure the finish is as close as possible to the original I am working from.

The real joy and pleasure comes from seeing what I have made been worn and used.   I see it morph from fabric to thread but it’s the visitors and Story Catchers at Seven Stories that truly bring my creations to life.

Fairytale Characters - February

I was asked to create costumes for both adults and children based on classic and recognisable characters.  I decided to reinterpret the iconic fairy tale characters’ style with fusion of different costume patterns and fabrics.   Every costume needs to be as hard wearing as possible but most importantly safe to use and wear. Buttons and zips are unsuitable for both these reasons but the magic of Velcro means that garments are adjustable in size and fit.  The beauty of Velcro means that costumes are easily fastened and unfastened, so you don't always need a grown up to help you during costume changes! 

Michael Foreman & Nursery Rhymes - July

For the relaunch of Seven Stories and installation of two new exhibitions – I was kept very busy designing and creating a selection of props and costumes.  I was commissioned to make textiles and costumes which would encourage the visitors to engage with the exhibitions and help them immerse themselves in the world of Nursery Rhymes and Michael Foreman. Quality is paramount when choosing fabrics and whatever it is made into, Seven Stories exhibitions are often in place for well over a year…in that time any props or costumes I make will be handled by thousands of visitors. 

Chris Haughton inspired Bird Chair - July

It was a great experience producing a chair that illustrator Chris Haughton had designed. The blocks of colour and graphic details gave me the opportunity to explore texture with fabrics and applique.  I up-cycle and source nearly all my materials and equipment in the North East. Along with Story Chairs I like to refurbish and re-vamp furniture, often for my own use and pleasure! 

Harry Potter inspired Sorting Hat - October

Finding the right material for the sorting hat was a challenge, I finally used an old velvet jacket which held its shape very well and the pile caught the shadows and the light brilliantly.

Santa's Elves - December

This Christmas I made a set of Elf costumes based on a book 'How Santa Really Works' by Alan Snow. Velvet is a wonderfully, festive fabric and comes in a variety of colours ideal for the Elves coats and their matching hats.  I just love choosing and working with fabrics, it is a fantastic medium to work with, the variety of textures available are infinite. Texture is very important to me and also to younger Seven Stories visitors.  I always incorporate as much texture as I can because I feel it brings a new dimension to a prop or a garment.  With my costumes, children can become a character, a king or queen and relate to the most famous nursery rhymes and stories ever told. They can put on a cape and be transformed into a lion, not just any lion but one they recognise from a story book and have seen in a book and on the walls at Seven Stories."

Photography by Damien Wootten 

Naomi has always been passionate about working with textiles – even as a child she was rarely seen parted from a pair of scissors! Naomi studied textile art and then photo-collage (both involve a lot of cutting) and has been sewing ever since. Naomi set up Textiles by Gnomes in 2013 after producing commissioned textile pieces for Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books and has since been commissioned by schools across the North East as well as other organisations including the National Media Museum. Find out more about Textiles by Gnomes and pick up great tips on creating your own Story Telling Chair .