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Darcy's shirt thrills period fans at hobbycraft event

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: October 04, 2012

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AS costumes from some of the most famous television and film adaptations of Jane Austen's novel went on display, there was one item in particular which was attracting attention.

Worn by Colin Firth, the white linen shirt which inspired a generation of women to hunt for their very own Mr Darcy was on show at Westpoint.

And Jane Bolsover, costume display organiser for ICHF Events summed up the thoughts of many when she said: "It is a shame Mr Darcy isn't in it."

The Creative Stitches and Hobbycrafts show took place over the weekend, and the star-studded Jane Austen collection also included Elizabeth Bennett's wedding dress from the BBC's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; costumes worn by Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman in the Oscar-winning version of Sense and Sensibility; plus dresses from Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, and Mansfield Park starring Billie Piper.

Jane said: "We were so excited to have these costumes on display. They represent some of the most iconic outfits from TV and film adaptations of Austen's work. It is great to see them up close as you can really see the detail that went in to their design."

There was a host of other attractions including the Knitting Lounge where visitors were able to learn to knit.

Belinda Harris-Reid said: "The Knitting Lounge gave people the chance to come and explore the fantastic world of knitting. It didn't matter if they hadn't knitted before – it was an opportunity for everyone, young and old, to get involved, share their skills and techniques and have fun."

The event featured more than 150 exhibitors from across the region and UK, with products, ideas and innovations.

A spokesman said: "There was also the fantastic Sewing Hub where you could overcome your fear of sewing machines at the Sewing Machine Clinic or peruse the latest patterns at the dressmakers' Pattern Bar.

"There was a WI collection of smocks, celebrating this traditional English craft.

"There were also workshops, talks and demonstrations."

Bicton College was also exhibiting at the show for the first time, featuring the work of some its talented students, including Hilary O'Dwyer who has recently been named the Devon Guild of Craftsmen Visual Artist of the Year 2012.

Bicton College lecturer Gill Burbidge, who mentored Hilary, said: "Hilary's work is very innovative. Her techniques and processes have created unique contemporary works of art. She manages to transform materials indigenous to Bicton College into 2D and sculptural pieces, some of which are currently exhibited in Birmingham Cathedral and at Bicton EaRTH Centre."

Art, design and fibrecraft have been taught at Bicton College, within the School of Floristry, since 2005. Other students from the college were exhibiting a range of their portfolios and finished pieces at the show.

They included conceptual wall art, wraps and cocoon jackets.

As well as this, Japanese floristry student Sachiko Smale was giving demonstrations at the show alongside Bicton College floristry expert, Sarah Hills.

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