BBC 4: A Stitch In Time


I hope you had a joyous start to 2018! I have some very exciting news, as my BBC Four series, A Stitch in Time starts airing tomorrow, Wednesday January 3rd at 8.30pm.

Stitch iPlayer

Fusing biography, art and the history of fashion, throughout A Stitch in Time I get to explore the lives of historical figures through the clothes they wore, while key garments are recreated using the original techniques by historical tailor Ninya Mikhaila and her team. Tomorrow we begin with a look at the Restoration king, Charles II, and how he used fashion as propaganda with an outfit that foreshadowed the three piece suit.

Over the coming 6 weeks I’ll be investigating the the costume clues held within Van Eyck’s mysterious Arnolfini portrait, the role of hand-me-downs among 18th century workers, the impact of cotton on British life, a flamboyant armorial piece which sits at odds with the allegedly brutal nature of its wearer and the impact a scandalously informal gown would have on an already unpopular queen.

I’m delighted to say it’s been selected as Pick of the Day in the Guardian, featured in the Critics’ Choice section of the Sunday Times, one of the Highlights in the TV Times, and one of the Radio Times’ Choices.


There are already some clips online for episode one, click on the image below to see me examine the wedding suit of James II from 1673, with Susan North from the V&A.

Stitch Clip

Here’s a taster of what you can expect over the next 6 weeks!

stitch filming

Please do tune in! Or catch up later on iPlayer.

IN OTHER NEWS… My latest book, Fashion Illustration in Britain: Society and the Seasons for the British Library was released in October! It was fantastic spending some serious time in the British Library archives, going through previously unpublished periodicals and magazines from the 18th century to the 1930s. The book charts the history of fashion and the social calendar in Britain through the fashion plates of some of the most important publications, offering a record of fashion illustration in Britain that spans across three centuries. For a peek inside, head over to my Instagram.

BL book

Get hold of a copy at all good bookshops, including Foyles (above), online, and of course at the British Library shop.

Also, a reminder that my Radio 4 documentary, From Rags to Riches, is still available to listen online through BBC iPlayer, and to download through the Seriously podcastEpisode 1 looks at the transition of old clothes from second-hand to ‘vintage’, and how our attitude to used clothing has changed over a century and more. It features a wealth of contributors from Vogue’s thrifting connoisseur Bay Garnett to fashion auction pioneer Kerry Taylor and even my mum. Episode 2 looks at the global ramifications of our cast-off clothes. It took me from charity shops to sorting warehouses in Leeds and the markets and tailors of Dakar, Senegal.

Rags to Riches

For more regular updates you can keep up with me on Instagram and Twitter, and if you’re interested in learning more about fashion history, I’m teaching my short course again at London College of Fashion. Fashion History: The Evolution of Style covers the key moments in fashion history and theory over 200 years, from the French Revolution through to the 1990s, and it’s running in February and August. BOOKING and info HERE.

Until next time!

41 thoughts on “BBC 4: A Stitch In Time

      1. Fantastic Amber, I wish you all the best for the planning and organising. It would be brilliant to see them worn in a catwalk. Your points about movement making the outfits come alive, I suspect would be apparent in real life. Movement would do them justice.

      2. Yes, lots of chat in my sewing groups in Hampshire. We would really like to see an exhibition, with lots of the background material, trial samples etc if Nina will get involved too….although ideally not in Nottingham!

          1. I went to see the exhibition at Ham House last week, just before it closed. I loved being able to look at the clothes close up. Are they being exhibited anywhere else?

          2. I’m pleased to hear that! The leather jacket will be on display at Broughton Castle and Dido’s dress at Scone Palace in Scotland I believe, but this is the only time they’ll be displayed together so it’s great you made it!

  1. Really enjoying a Stitch in Time. I am a keen quilter with an interest in textiles and it is fascinating to watch the costumiers translating the clothes from the portraits available. Quite honestly it is a must-see in our office and we all agree that the programme could easily be 45-60 minutes long with all the subject matter, particularly expanding the sewing techniques.. I hope the BBC commission another series – best thing on TV at the moment (even my husband is enjoying the background history).

    1. Thanks you for your lovely message, and please pass my regards on to everyone in the office! The costumiers are absolutely brilliant. If there’s any news on another series I’ll be updating everyone here. Fingers crossed!

  2. I adore this series. It’s such a clever idea, and has astonished me in how the clothes come to life when made and worn. Thank you so much for doing it and I do hope there’s a second series!

  3. Wonderful series, please BBC make another but longer episodes so we see more of the techniques used and learn more of the history.

  4. Your series has been a joy to watch. Glad I came to this site and read that you are planning an exhibition. Have you considered The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle as a venue? They have hosted some good touring exhibitions.

  5. Hi Amber, came across the ‘Stitch’ program by accident – what a great find ! Thank you. Have you thought about recreating the ancient Celtic cloaks that were so highly regarded by the invading Roman soldiers for their warmth and waterproofness that they became exported all over the roman empire ? I know the Irish Celts had their versions too (I think without the hood, and shorter). Perhaps combine it with another item of Celtic clothing as well to fill out the time ? I think this would make a great ‘balance’ (like the WoodCutter outfit), and, especially as it is our 1st great clothing export ! That said, me and the family, loving the show.

  6. Really love the show. Not involved in clothing industry, just interested in a lot of different things. Hope there is another series as I have found it really fascinating and educational. Loved learning about the techniques involved in reproducing historical costumes.

  7. What a wonderful show – every sewer and historical fashion aficionado I know has been transfixed! I shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a large overlap there.

    I really hope that there’s another series in the offing!

  8. loved the white frilly blouse your wore while presenting the Marie Antoinette item Weds Feb 7th. Is it available and where might I buy it?

  9. Hi Amber, absolutely loved this programme. So interesting to the garments being recreated and the mixture of art, history, fashion and design. Perfect blend, congratulations. The film Belle based on Dido was on this week. I watched it because I saw your programme. Zoe

  10. Hi Amber what a wonderful programme A Stitch in Time is. It is my absolutely favourite programme, such an inspired concept. It happens to combine my 2 main activies in life; being an artist and being fascinted with historic dress. I just hope there is a new series in the offing. Thank you for the programme! Best Wishes Lucinda Denning

  11. Dear Amber – my partner and I really enjoyed watching A Stitch in Time and were inspired enough by the show that we slogged through the ice and snow today to view the costumes at Ham House. It was a really lovely day out, and it was a fabulous experience to actually see the finished pieces up close! We are so glad you were able to arrange the exhibition – it really complements the experience of watching the show. We are recommending to everyone we know who enjoyed the show to go and see the costumes while they can. Fingers crossed for a second season!

    1. Hi Kylie, Thanks so much for letting me know, I’m so pleased you enjoyed the show, and that you braved the weather to get to Ham House! It’s much appreciated. Thanks for recommending it – and fingers crossed indeed for a second series! x

  12. Hello Amber, I am an expat living in Canada, and soaked up your series thirstily. There is a lack of superbly produced programmes like yours on this side of the Atlantic (why Downton Abbey was such a hit!). I do so hope there will be a second series. I appreciated the sewing challenges as a sewer myself and watched with admiration as Ninya manipulated the cotton lawn for the Marie Antoinette chemise. Thank you, I hope for more.

    1. Hi Davina, thanks so much for your message, I’m really pleased you enjoyed the show! No news yet on a second series but we all have our fingers crossed. Ninya and her team are fantastic! Thanks again x

  13. Congratulations Amber and team on a wonderful series! I loved the MA dress and wondered if the Palace of Versailles would also like it for exhibition? 😉 They may scoff at the ‘Made in England’ label but it might compensate for not owning the original painting 🙂

  14. Dear Amber

    My friends and I absolutely love your series and even make cozy evenings out of watching each episode. When can we expect the second season? x

  15. Just watched all episodes through Acorn TV on Amazon.I live in North Carolina and I love fashion history and collect fashion plates. I LOVED THIS SHOW! I hope another season can be arranged!

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