Michele Clapton on training a South African team to make 17th-century outfits in 12 weeks.

Designing the costumes was an enjoyable challenge. We used the paintings of Van Dyck and Hollar's detailed drawings as a reference and there are some wonderfully written books about the English Civil War period. We made approximately 15 costumes for the principal actors here in the UK and took them over to South Africa. Once there, we had to assemble a costume team from scratch relying on personal recommendations. Very few had any experience of making period costumes - some of them came from factories although one of the pattern-cutters had worked for a costume house.

Dresses from the period featured a boned corset that was integral to the dress - it made cutting the patterns for them tricky to learn. Also, people assume the Puritans dressed more simply than the Royalists. But the Puritan dresses were often very intricate, they just used more sober colours.

One of the first tests for the South African team was to recreate Andrea Riseborough's wedding dress. It was made in London from duchess satin for the wedding scene. However, the scene in which Riseborough's character is to be hanged - also dressed in her wedding dress - was filmed before the wedding scene. Because the dress gets dragged through the mud on the way to the gallows, we had to copy the UK version using a cotton satine, which we dyed to match the original.

Getting the lace to stand correctly around the neck was tricky because of all the beading. Making it sit properly around the shoulders was hard because the cut is so low and the balance of the sleeves is completely different from the way sleeves are cut today. However, we got there in the end.

We were under considerable time constraints: we had 12 weeks' preparation time, including research, but the workshops were only set up properly with less than six weeks to go. We were also making costumes throughout the film which was very full-on and often involved working from 5am until 7pm or 8pm.

The Devil's Whore was filmed in HD, which can show up every small detail, so we had to be really careful. You can't, say, use hooks and eyes to do up clothes because everything was laced and pinned; the eyelets for the laces have to be hand-stitched, they can't be metal. There was lots of hand-stitching throughout. In my view HD is getting better and better - the finished show isn't too “video”; instead, it has a very filmic look.
The Devil's Whore airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on Channel 4.