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The Hand behind the Gowns: An Alumni’s Career in Embroidery

Date Posted: Thursday 13 February 2020

Ashford School alumni Hattie McGill (Merchants, 2007), a freelance embroiderer renowned for her work on The Favourite and Murder on the Orient Express, is soon to have her next set of work viewed on the big screens across the world in the upcoming film, Emma (in cinemas on Friday 14 February).

Hattie, who regularly works on costumes from her own studio and with costume designers as the in-house embroiderer for a whole film project, worked on the set of Emma alongside Oscar-winning costume designer Alex Byrne. Over a period of 5-6 months, she was responsible for the repair of antique pieces and the  embroidering, embellishing, lace making and edging on the film’s period costumes

‘My favourite piece from Emma was the beautiful pink dress worn by Actress Anna Taylor Joy’, Hattie told us. ‘It featured metres and metres of gorgeous chenille embroidery on a stunning pink tulle.’

Over the course of her career, Hattie has worked on several major internationally renowned embroidery projects, including for clients such as Nicholas Oakwell for the GREAT British campaign, Liberty Arts Fabric for the V&A’s Museum of Childhood, Alexander McQueen and the Zurich Opera.

Other films that Hattie has worked on include Tolkein, Doctor Strange and Mary Queen of Scots, in which she embellished and embroidered costumes worn by the likes of Margot Robbie, Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch and Michelle Pfeiffer.

For Mary Queen of Scots, one of Hattie’s favourite piece she worked on was embellishing the bodice and skirt of the dress, worn by Margot Robbie, which featured the tiniest of sequins.

After leaving Ashford School, Hattie completed a foundation degree in art and textiles and went on to achieve a First Class Honours from The National School of Furniture. Following on from this, Hattie achieved a place at The Royal School of Needlwork, where she studied hand embroidery.

Don’t miss out on seeing Hattie’s handiwork in the new film Emma, and keep up to date with what she’s up to on her website and Instagram @hattiemcgillembroidery