Biscuits by Coy Biscuits of Bridgerton

Love Bridgerton and Queen Charlotte? Meet Hattie McGill and Flora Fricker

Thinking & Thriving
by team holly & co


Want a creative career? Meet Bridgerton embroiderer Hattie McGill and designer Flora Fricker.

Creating Queen Charlotte’s wonderful world: the artists behind the magic

Visually, Netflix’s ‘Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story’ is a creative person’s dream — a must-watch. As well as keeping you on the edge of your seat while you digest every delicious scandal, it’s a treat for the eyes — and not a single detail is overlooked in the creative process. Behind the lavish artistic expression, is a team of exceptionally skilled creatives who bring it all to life. But how do you get to work on shows like this? Is it possible to make a living this way? And what’s the secret to getting to see actors like Corey Mylchreest up close and personal???

Meet hand embroidery artist Hattie McGill and graphic designer Flora Fricker

We’re lucky enough to know two such artisans. Hattie McGill is the hand embroidery artist behind Bridgerton’s exquisite costumes (having worked on many films and TV shows, as well as for Alexander McQueen and the Zurich Opera House — and was the Holly & Co Independent Awards Modern Crafter Winner in 2021, no less).

Then there’s Flora Fricker. Flora is one of the graphic designers who created elements including playing cards, books on astronomy and love letters for Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story — in flawless Regency styling. She also happens to work on everything from branding for small business start-ups (she created the logos for Holly & Co, Polar Post and Patroula Jewellery), to designing props and animation for other major film and TV productions. Hattie and Flora’s work on the programmes not only showcases their immense talent, passion for craft and impressive self-drive, but also reminds us of the magical experiences that creative jobs can offer…

Flora Fricker Headshot

Breaking into the creative industries

The show has been such an inspiration to many (even Beyoncé is rumoured to have visited the set as she loves the show so much). Yet how does one go from studying embroidery to stitching on Bridgerton, for example? Hattie says, “I had a weird route in actually. I studied furniture restoration at the National School of Furniture, then gilded on the Cutty Sark, then as I was doing some embroidery on the side while working at an antique dealer’s, someone came in and mentioned the Royal School of Needlework. Applications were closing that week. I applied and was one of just 10 students who got in. A costume designer came to see an exhibition I was doing and offered me work, and I’ve gone from doing smaller embroidery jobs to creating goldwork stars for Lady Danbury.”

How to become a graphic designer: the power of hard work

Flora grew up in a creative household and says she’s always loved making things. “Plus I worked on lots of storytelling briefs when I studied at Falmouth University but I didn’t know that what I do now was even a job. After lots of self-initiated projects, I did a workshop with the incredible graphic designer Annie Atkins (who works with Wes Anderson), and she became a mentor. I showed her a project I did about my mum and Annie was writing a book and asked me to do the photography and styling (fake love letters, forged telegrams and prison escape maps: designing graphic props for filmmaking). After that I did a TV show for a week and then got hired again and again on bigger, longer jobs. I’ve worked ever since.” What Hattie and Flora both have in common is that they followed their passions and did so proactively, always pushing themselves to work hard and try new things.

What are the positives of working in the creative industry?

Both Hattie’s and Flora’s jobs are collaborative in working with different departments so they get to learn lots of new and exciting things from other artisans and craftspeople too. Hattie says, “I feel so lucky to get to do what I do and get paid for it. Others can too. I love embroidery as it’s such a traditional skill but it is also so varied, there are so many different types. I love sitting down with a good audio book and working away. For many embroiderers, knitters and those who crochet, it’s very meditative and stress relieving. If I’m anxious it’s the first thing I go to.”

The embroidery journey: the many ups and downs

One can work for a long time on something that only appears for an instant though as Hattie discovered. “I spent ages stitching a handmade hanky for Prince Regent and he just blew his nose on it! I don’t mind though. It was a joy to make... There’s a wonderful validation, if that’s the word, in seeing something you’ve created on screen. It makes it all worth it. Slow craft does take time though. You’re a person not a machine and you sometimes have to make sacrifices to get it done. You just have to learn to not get stressed.”

The importance of creative jobs

For both Flora and Hattie, it’s not just the TV part that they enjoy. Flora says, “I love designing for small businesses too and having that balance. I love bringing their dreams to life and seeing the difference that makes.” In fact, she believes that creative jobs like these have never been more important. “Life would be so boring without them,” she adds. “Like taking the colour away. I do think it’s a shame that more emphasis isn’t put on art in school. It should be compulsory until year 11. There should be time to play. Play is so important.”

Hattie McGill Embroidery for Queen Charlotte
Still from Queen Charlotte, seen wearing embroidered costume
Still of the Elements of Astronomy book being taken down from the shelves in Bridgerton
Elements of astronomy book for Bridgerton

Working on Bridgerton and Queen Charlotte: the secrets behind the scenes

So how does it all work? TV series like Bridgerton can take a year or more to bring to life, no detail is overlooked and it often involves long working days. It sounds intense. “It can be,” Flora says, “But it’s also wonderful.” On Queen Charlotte, one of Flora’s highlights was creating King George’s letters and books. He was into astrology and botany, so she got to research this, design how they’d look and worked with the independent Wyvern Bindery in Hoxton to finesse gold gilt stamping and marbled pages.

What does a typical day look like for a TV graphic designer or embroiderer?

A typical day might entail being on set at 7:30am before the actors are on set so Flora can go through what’s being filmed, see which big sets are coming up, designing and creating — and then dealing with any last minute emergencies or changes. From the start, you get to read the (top secret!) scripts, see the moodboards, talk through what’s needed and then figure out how to create it and bring it to life — and this could be anything from carpet patterns, letters or more. Hattie’s job is similar. One day she might be working on Prudence Featherington’s outfit for the races and another on Queen Charlotte’s heavily embellished dresses. So if this sounds exciting to you, how can you get involved?

How do you become an embroiderer?

Hattie offers five short pieces of advice for anyone interested in a career in embroidery, “Well firstly, have a go as you’ve got nothing to lose. Secondly, make contacts as it’s through those that you get work. Thirdly, find the area you enjoy whether that’s the fast pace of catwalk fashion or getting work appreciated in HD on TV, for example. Fourthly, find embroidery artists you love on Instagram and don’t be afraid to message them. They started somewhere too and often want to help. And finally, don’t give into imposter syndrome. You have to give yourself a talking to. Remember you wouldn’t be there if you weren’t good enough. They wouldn’t pay you!”

What do you need to do to become a graphic designer?

Flora agrees with Hattie. “You need to really believe in yourself and find cheerleaders.” And for graphic design, Flora adds, “Find your niche and do what makes you tick. If you’ve got an interest, pursue it and put that in your portfolio. If you love a character or writer, create a mini project on that as your passion will shine through and make it stand out. Your portfolio is key to getting a job and you’ll be remembered if you have a unique style. Join the Graphics Union UK. Also, get an Instagram account and talk to people online. That’s how Holly Tucker found me! Try putting some challenges and deadlines in place too like, ‘I'm going to do a drawing a day for a month’. Different things get your creative juices flowing as you don't know where they might take you, who might see your work or what your idea could lead to. When I was 18, I made a watercolour diary because I felt like I was on the computer too much. So I got these little postcards and I did a painting a day for a year. I stuck them all across my bedroom wall and I could see my painting skills improving. Little challenges like that really help.”

Rhimes’ expert advice: dreams are lovely but they are just dreams

Ultimately, it’s not just a case of dreaming but doing. As the very creator of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, Shonda Rhimes herself said in her famous Dartmouth Commencement speech, "Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It's hard work that makes things happen. It's hard work that creates change." Queen Charlotte wouldn’t wait for someone to come knocking and neither should you. The creative jobs are out there, and they can be magically rewarding.

Close up of the embroidery for Bridgerton clothing