Friday, 30 April 2010

Corset kits

I have been very busy with my Corsetry Kits and supplies, which are flying out of the door, I guess intime for the wedding season.  I have been buying stock, adding things like trims to the shop and finding lovely new wholesalers who are supplying me with  new fabrics and patterns a'plenty!  

Latest acquisition on this front is some unbelievably good value cotton Coutil fabric - this is a traditional corsetry fabric - in white.  It's 100% cotton, herringbone weave, and a whopping 160cm wide which, at £7.99/metre means that this coutil is the best value I can find anywhere on the internet - and it's in my shop!  If there are any wedding dress makers out there, this is the stuff you need for making your inner corsolettes!

I have also been designing a logo for my business.  I can't afford to pay a proper designer, so i've been learning Adobe Illustrator with the help of this book, which has been fantastic!  

I wanted my design to look a bit like a tattoo to give it a modern edge, using the colours of my website, and the colours inspired by this mood board ..

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Setting sleeves into a summer coat

Hmmm.. I knew I wouldn't like sleeves very much... ok.. it was my own fault for not doing some extensive research beforehand, and for relying on my memory banks to serve me well in such 'difficult' circumstances, but we are all silly at times!  I am hoping that my fear and loathing of sleeves is not permanent..

So I followed the instructions on the pattern, made my gathering stitches, matched all my dots, triangles, marks, seams and notches - after spending quite a while trying to work out which direction everything should be pinned in ... I eased the sleeve cap, then basted it all together as is my habit with precision jobs like this...

Round and round I sewed, pulling and stretching the gathers out of the way, cursing when a few were caught under the needle and puckered, but after a while, I thought ... 'Surely this sleeve is done!" .. Whereupon I discovered problem number 1.. I'd been doing laps ... No thread in the bobbin meant that nothing had been sewn! Doh!

I wasn't too perturbed due to aforementioned catching, so I began again, and got this....

Puckered... not good - a 'sad sleeve' as Anne at Gorgeous Fabrics would call it (see below) ... However, cheered by the fact that this was only my first attempt I picked my needles and pins up and continued onto the second  without delay ... (note - no in between research has taken place!).

Second attempt, I was a bit more meticulous about my gathering/spreading .. but still .. not perfect ... to be honest, I find it very very difficult!  Not to mention frustrating!

Second sleeve attempt was OK enough for me to carry on with the project, and as I am going to be working with wool, I resolved that I can hide a multitude of sins with a good shot of steam!  But that wont help with the polyester lining, and so research - if only to sate my curiosity on how something so impossible can be possible was undertaken at last.

This is the finished toile ... it's a PERFECT fit - I am really impressed by this!  I will most certainly buy more McCalls patterns in the future.  I am used to Simplicity patterns which usually fall off me, however small I cut them!

And in the interests of sharing, here's the results of the further research that I should have done before I started! 

  • Gertie's Sleeve Setting Coat Vlog which gives a cool (and easy?) tailoring technique with hair canvas - I am going to do this with this project!
  • A lovely clear printable instruction sheet for regular sleeve setting - good for blouses and the like
  • Fantastic tutorial from Gorgeous Fabrics using 2 different techniques, Hand basting, and Pin Basting - I am going to try these in a non-tailoring project
  • Comprehensive video tutorials on the traditional method of sleeve setting and then sewing in the sleeve.  This video is worth watching just for the sewing machine!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Making the McCalls M5525 Coat

It's all very well making one's own patterns, and learning how to sew the various creations together using your wits, but there's ALOT to be learned from following a well chosen commercial pattern, or even better, vintage patterns where you can pick up forgotten or seldom used techniques which were probably, in their day, seen as quite basic, but which now may seem quite unusual.

And so I have had a splurge on ready printed patterns!  The first I am making, is inspired by Gertie, and is thhe McCalls M5525  summer coat.

There is no tailoring in this pattern, but, Gertie has applied "light tailoring" techniques to hers, and it seems to have worked very well, so I thought it might be a good place to experiment before trying a more advanced tailoring project which I have wanted to do for a while, and even more so, since following Gertie's fantastic series of Vlogs, which explain how to make a coat.

I'm going to make view A - the yellow one bottom middle.  This design is made for summery fabrics, but I am going to use a light wool fabric which has a 'waffle' type weave from my stash - I really can't justify going out to buy more fabric and lets face it - this is the UK, it could be snowing in June!!

The lining is a stretch polyester green tone leopard print fabric, and I shall use some medium weight calico as interfacing along with a bit of hair canvas to interface the collar with.  I will cover the buttons (both sides?) using these fabrics.

Having made up the toile very quickly in one afternoon, I am quite impressed with McCalls sizing and ease of instructions!  Usually, if I cut a size 12, which is what I am in pattern language (size 8 in the shops), it's far too big, but this fits very well and is a very nice cut, with a very sleek line.  Even though I haven't cut all the pattern pieces to make the toile - I am primarily interested in fit at this stage, it has been very simple to assemble, and the instructions easy to follow..

Now I have a small confession to make ... ahem .... err... I have NEVER sewn anything which has a sleeve!  So that's what I'm going to do tomorrow!  Attach the sleeves to my toile.  Yes, never ... I'm frightened of them!  I can see disaster looming! Wish me luck!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Making retro bra cups for a dress

I have been obsessing over curves still because following my last bra making experiment, my cups were decidedly flat.  Something was wrong .. it all looked ok on paper, and the calculations were correct, but instead of this:

I got this ... 

Which as you can see, is not quite my intended outcome!

The answer, I discovered, after several 'lucid dreams' - do you dream about conundrums and find the answers?  I often do.  Anyway, the answer is in dart distribution.  Doh! Why didn't I think of it before?

Dart distribution is the key.  You put bigger darts where there are bigger curves.  Simples.  Standard measurements can be applied - this I knew.  The standard boob radius (ie: from nipple to ribcage) for a standard pattern size 12, is 8cm.  Did you know that?  

And so armed with this knowledge, and my trusty pattern cutting book by Winifred Aldrich, I set to work on cutting a party dress, with a 'bra' top - I need practical applications to work with sometimes, and I also needed a party dress!  Instead of following the instructions in the book to the letter, I increased the width of the dart from bust to waist, and narrowed the side darts - so the reduction to the waist is the same but the distribution is different.  The instructions in the book don't say this, but they do dictate that you should double the shoulder dart.

This I did .. It worked ... but still a bit baggy at the top line.  I increased the shoulder dart by a further 1.5cm.   These darts then need to be closed on paper, thereby forming side darts.  These side darts create the curve when the two parts are sewn together in a straight line.  After testing a further muslim, and then applying my 'design' to final fabric cups, I ended up with this...

Which i'm pretty damned pleased with.  The top of the bra is quilted as you can see, and the bottom part is re-inforced with some sturdy sew-in interfacing.  During all my cup consternations, I'd ordered myself a new book which confirmed that what I had done, was correct - don't you love it when that happens?   I have been glued to this book for other reasons, not only does it have instructions on how to cut all styles of bra, swimwear, corsets (with cups), bustiers, basques and knickers,  it also has a whole host of other tips and tricks which are not included in my other pattern book but which apply to skirts, dresses and trousers.

.. and the whole ensemble - in creation still - looks like this:

Ignore those pink straps - they are the bra I used to pad out Madge to the correct proportions for my figure.  There will be a halter strap added to the dress,  although with the quilting on the 'bra' it could probably stand up to being topless.

I have now got to work out how to bone the dress as the fabric which is a polyester satin, is very 'slippy' - it needs support, but I don't want to add a whole corsolette into it.  Any ideas?  I have made the lining in one piece but I may have to change it.

Unfortunately, the dress wasn't ready for the party, but I have plenty of time to finish it for the next appropriate event which is August.  Check it out, Vintage at Goodwood!