Tuesday, November 30, 2010

rain rain go away

ew!! It's raining! And today's the day of my Marie Antoinette photo shoot. Poo. Double poo. I've finished all my sewing - the skirts, corsets, and even the wig, and now the weather isn't gonna pull it's part of the deal. If we don't go out today, I don't know when we'll do it, as I'm going to Canada on Sunday for a month. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that the rain lightens up.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Big Skirt

Here's my Marie Antoinette skirt pinned into position. I'm keeping the front open because I'm short and big skirts just make me look shorter. Then at the back it's all gathered to create the shape of the skirt. I'm just going to attach it to the waistband of the pannier to make life MUCH easier, and then it'll be easy to get on and off. I'll just need to bias tape the bottom because the fabric frays, and I may need to add some extra length because Jane (my model) is shorter than I am (plus I have heals).

I'm a bit lost on whether to keep the back of the skirt bunched, or to pleat it. What do you think? The photos are a bit difficult to see the difference, but the bunching pushes up the back of the skirt creating a big butt. The pleating keeps it a bit flatter to accentuate the hip shape.




For my Marie Antoinette photo-shoot on Tuesday, I've decided to make a skirt for the costume. I don't really want to be walking around the Rocks in only Marie Antoinette's underwear! So to begin the baroque style skirt, I had to make a pannier, or a basket skirt.

I used two circles of plastic boning (the same stuff I make cheap corsets with), ribbon and fabric. I created a waistband with 6 ribbons fall down off it. These ribbons were then tied to each "hoop" of plastic to hold it together. I then tied the two sides of each hoop (back and front) together to create the oblong shape that accentuates the hips. I covered the hoops in fabric to make it a bit prettier and to match the rest of the costume.

It took a bit of problem solving and fooling around, but in the end I'm very happy with the result. The only issue is that because I rouched the fabric around the boning (to make it pretty), the knots of the ribbons slide around, so I'd have to continue to adjust it to make sure the shape is right.

Next step - the big skirt!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


The Dusty Pink Corset is FINISHED!!! I think it's just stunning. A beautiful dusty pink with crystals bedazzling the front.

The crystals are attached the same way as in my Blingin' Headphones (which reminds me, I have another pair to make for a friend.) 

I've decided to make a romantic tutu to match this corset, but it's going to be a bit more elaborate than the one I made for the dancer in The Schelling Point. There will be tufts of toile and crystals and glitter, and all things pretty! 

I need to finish the skirt and the Marie Antoinette skirt by next Tues, cause that's when I'm doing the photoshoot with my friend Tim. I'm so excited! We went on a recce last night to find places, and I think it's going to turn out stunningly! Can't wait to play models again.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dusty Pink

I've finished my Dusty Pink Corset that I started in my last post - all but the diamontes that will cover my horrible sewing!

I love this corset, I'm so proud of it. I drafted the patten all on my own. It's adorable and incredibly wearable with a white or black dress underneath. The style is just like a vest, so it can be worn like a vest. It will be much less wearable once the diamontes go on, but I will still find excuses to wear it.

It's just a beautiful ballet pink!

Now I need to finish the bling and then make the tutu skirt. I'm debating on whether I make a real romantic tutu, or an elaborate version of my Bunny Skirt.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Inserting a Split Busk

Well, I thought I'd get started on one of my corset patterns to see if they work. I decided to do the Tudor Style underbust corset in a ballet pink for a costume. This corset has an 8 inch busk in the front. A busk is a 2 long pieces of steel that connect together to create a fastening at the front. Luckily, "Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques" by Jill Salen has a step-by-step guide to inserting a corset, which is actually comprehendible.

Here's how I did it:

Step 1: Lay the left front of the corset right side up, laying the 2 layers of lining ontop of it right side down. pin the edge and make sure that when the seam is flipped over that the right side of the top fabric is shown and that the lining with the pencil markings is shown underneath. Stitch centre-front seam.


Step 2: Fold open the seam so the linings are on one side and the top layer on the other. Position the busk so that you can see where the studs need to appear. Push holes through the top layer where the studs need to go. 


Step 3: Using a zipper foot, stitch along the side of the busk.

Step 4: Place the looped part of the busk on the right corset front and mark where the loops fall along the centre-front seam. Make sure they are aligned with the studs on the left side of the corset front. Stitch the centre-front leaving gaps for the loops.


Step 5: Turn corset right side out and push the busk through the holes. Using a zipper foot stitch alongside the busk.


My seams are a bit wonky and there are a few bumps, but it was difficult because my fabric was slippery and so is the busk. it slips around in the fabric, so a clean stitch was difficult. No worries, I've decided to bling up this corset for a costume (and make a tutu skirt), so I can cover the ugly bits.

I stitched in all the boning channels in all panels of the corset and sewed it together. I can't do anymore at the moment because I need to get eyelets and put them in to lace it up. Once it's laced up I can see if I need to take in the corset any more so it fits better. It probably needs to be taken in the waist, so a few boning channels will be removed, but that's better than it being too big!


In a few weeks I'm doing a photo shoot with a dear photographer friend, Tim, in my Marie Antoinette Costume in the Rocks. I've decided to make a skirt to go with it to make it less slutty, and then since I'm making this pink corset, I might do a second costume with this corset blinged up, and a tutu skirt with a big bustle. Haven't figured out what I'm gonna wear over my boobs with this corset, as it is an underbust.  I'm thinking I might find a vintage slip in white and bling that up too. Or wear a lacy victorian blouse with a high collar. What do you think? Drawings of both the Marie Antoinette Skirt and this "ballet pink" costume will be posted soon.

The Curse of the Corset Pattern

Yesterday and today have been hell. I've been trying to figure out the corset patterns in "Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques" by Jill Salen, and alter them to fit some custom orders. It's been a disaster. First of all I'm trying to create a pattern for an underbust corset with straps for my first order - I thought the Black Corset with Blue Flossing from 1890 (looks like a modern day bustier) would work, skipping the bust gussets, but the waist is ridiculously small and the boobs seem to fit halfway down the waist. Hmm...that's not really normal. So I altered the measurements to see how it'd fit, and then even created a proto-type out of muslin to figure out the shape. It looked like poo, for lack of a better word. The back was saggy and the sides didn't sit right. I think I just messed around with it too much, and the pattern was wrong to begin with. But I think I've figured it out. If I put the front of this pattern with the sides and back of the Tudor style corset, then I get a Tudor Style underbust corset with a busk in the front. Pretty good I think, but not the style the order was for.

Using the back and strap of the Tudor Style corset, and the front of the 1890 corset with bust gussets, I redrew the side piece of the Tudor Style corset to fit both pieces. Seam allowances are only on the back piece, as I did not draw them on the side and front pieces.

So, I looked at the other patterns to see if I could alter another. One pattern I adore - it's the Black and Yellow Flossed Corset (1890-1900). It looks simple and has straight lines. But then I realized that the pattern cuts all the bones in half! That doesn't make any sense! So I had to redraw the pattern with the bones in full, or I could just use two 6mm bones instead of one 9mm bone and change up the style a bit but keep the same pattern. Oi. Confusing!

The Original vs. My re-draw

Original Pattern: See how there are boning channels on both sides of the pattern pieces? Well, they are supposed to be one channel, not two.

My redraw: I took off the boning channel on the right side of each piece and extended the boning channel on the left side of each piece to fit the full bone so they aren't cut in half. I also added the seam allowances.

So for the order, I will try to extend the back so it has straps and then cut down the bottom. The type of corset my customer wants goes to the hips, so an amalgamation of this corset plus the underbust and shoulder straps should work. I just want to figure out if this pattern works as it is before I go messing about with it again.

I also looked at the underbust riding corset - and the same thing happens! The seams split the channels in half. But this time there are supposed to be seams in the middle of the bones, but how I was taught how to create channels for bones, this technique doesn't work. Oi. I could do the same and redraw the pattern with full bones, or use two 6mm bones instead of one 9mm. With the riding corset, I think I'll use the two 6mm instead of redrawing the whole thing. Plus, it's only an underbust, so a little more detailing would be nice.

Again, see how there are boning channels on both sides of the seam? In the real corset, the seam does exist in the middle of the boning channel, but that's now how I know how to make corsets.

I need to wait a few days for all my supplies to arrive to actually figure out if these patterns work. I also need to go buy more muslin and canvas, as all this experimenting will eat away at my supplies. But I think that now, after I've sat and fiddled with these patterns, I'll be able to get something together. This experience has taught me a lot, and I'll be keeping the final patterns safe so I don't have to go through this again.

Also, if you have ANY idea how these patterns work - please leave a comment! Thanks.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Great DIY Sweater idea

Lovely fashion photographer and blogger Vanessa Jackman posted her photo of gorgeous Vika from Paris Fashion Week. Vika is wearing a fantastic shirt/sweater - a great DIY project. Just get an old sweater and an old man's shirt. Cut off the shoulders of the sweater and sew on the shoulders of the man's shirt (including collar). Then cut off the cuffs of the shirt and sew to the arms of the sweater, and then the "tails" of the shirt onto the bottom of the sweater. Ta da!

H&M Dress

I bought this dress back in April while in Toronto, and while I was there I destroyed the sides of it with my bag. The side seam split and I hand stitched it closed to last me the rest of the trip. Then I bought some ribbon planning to cover up the ugly seam, and it's been sitting in my closet untouched in May. Since my sewing machine is out this week, I thought I'd take 10 minutes and fix this dress. It's a classic and will be very useful in Canada, as it packs up lightly and goes with everything.

The original seam done back in April for a temporary fix

I pinned the ribbon over itself and stitched it along the hemline

I originally wanted the ribbon to go all the way up the side seam, but my sewing machine didn't allow me to sew past the waistline because there was too much fabric and too little "space," so I settled with just sewing the ribbon up the side of the skirt.

Another corset down!

Woohoo! I've made another one, but unfortunately I can't show y'all cause it's a Christmas gift. I don't want the giftee to see it - it's a surprise. But I can tell you it looks stunning! Red satin in a tudor style. But I'm not saying any more! My lips are sealed. *zip*

Here's a sneak peek:

I was amazed at how quickly I made it. All the sewing but the bias tape was done in 3 hours (and that's with a lot of seam picking too)! Then the bias tape itself took 3 hours, but that's because I hand sew it. All I need to do now is put the eyelets on and lace it up, but Father Dearest doesn't have pretty eyelets so I have to go find some myself. I may even find some more of my own tools instead of stealing his (but they are just so handy!). I've got quite a few more corsets to make, but I'm waiting on measurements, busks and steel boning to arrive. Come on postal service!


While I'm waiting, I've got a few more projects to revisit. Remember my leather disc jacket? Well, I still haven't finished it, and it would be perfect for my trip to Canada in a few weeks, but unfortunately I threw out my bag of discs thinking it was the bag of scraps, so now I have to sit and re-cut all the circles so I can stitch them on. Arg! And remember my proposal for a vintage doily sweater? Well, I haven't done that either. So when I head up to the mall to buy my eyelets, I'll buy a sweater to sew onto. There's also a felted sweater for my big sis - she's asked me to make her a cherry blossom sweater. So, there's a lot of DIY-ing going on, and lots of sewing to do. But I'm LOVING it!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fabric Shopping

Today I had a FABULOUS day fabric shopping with my friend Sam. We went all around the city, starting at Greenfields, then heading to The Remnant Warehouse and finally Spotlight. I loaded up on fabric, ready to start sewing some corsets! Here are my new designs for a few corsets. Some of them will go up for sale, others are for me (Nude and Space Men).

If you are interested in any of these corsets, please contact me through my Production Design Web Page. Prices will start at $110.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Corset Design Order No. 1

I've finished my Marie Antoinette corset and collected a series of corset patterns in different styles. So I've started to spread the word that I can do custom order corsets in whatever style and fabric of your choosing, and I've got my first order. A good friend that I've done costumes for before has asked for a red satin under-bust corset with shoulder straps. Sounds complicated, yes? Well, it's really not. By pulling together some of the patterns I have and altering them to her measurements, it should be quite simple.

The style of corset sits below the waist and goes slightly over the hip, accentuating the waist. This is a very traditional style in the 19th Century, especially the late 19th C (1890-1900). Because the corset has more womanly curves in the style than, say, a Tudor corset (my Marie Antoinette is a tudor style corset - yes, that's actually historically incorrect but straight style corsets were fashionable until around 1800), there are less bones in the corset and more "cording." Instead of having whale bone (now plastic boning) or steal bones, the corset is mostly made up of sewn channels in the fabric with cording pulled through those chanels. By having many of these tiny channels sewn close together with cord stuffing them, the fabric is given lots of strength and ends up holding everything in. It was done in the late 1800s because it was a cheaper way to create a stiff fabric than boning was. I love the look of cording, it makes the corset look more like a piece of lingerie than a clothing item.

There are a few more corset projects coming up. I'm gonna do a few as gifts for Christmas, and I have a few styles of corset that I'd like to make for myself - i.e. a riding corset and a corded corset.


If you are interested in ordering a custom made corset, please contact me via my Production Design Webpage. Prices will start from around $110 (depends on the style, fabric and fastenings).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Checks and Full Skirts

I've found a new love - Thom Browne (via JAK & JIL).