Friday, 25 May 2012

Scaling an antique corset pattern

I realise I haven't posted much about making stuff for a while, so here's a little report on my other latest work, the Edwardian corset pattern which is in a book called Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh. This book is a pretty standard text for corstieres and the patterns in it are easily scaled up and adapted for modern use.

The pattern in the book looks like this...

Which translates into this diagram ...

I used Ralph Pink's amazing photoshop tutorial to scale the pattern - so easy!  See HERE.  I then made the pattern up just as it was - no measuring as I only wanted to learn about the construction - how to use silk with this type of pattern and how to hide the bone channels thereby keeping the swooping lines at the front 'clean'.  So that's what I did .. and then I tried it on and by weird co-incidence,  it fit me!  The hips have a little extra space, and the bust is a teensy weensy bit small .. but to the untrained eye, I could get away with wearing this 'out'.

I adapted the pattern a little by adding some 'fins' over the hip panels to accentuate the hips but they didn't really work how I wanted them too - should have padded or stuffed them.  

So the outer layer of the corset  is double sided silk which is a bit heavier than dupion type silk - it's like the silk they make mens ties with - fused to a cotton woven fusible interfacing, and stitched together with lapped seams.

The inside is coutil stitched together the same way, and the bone channels which are cotton twill tape, are attached to the coutil layer on the inside.  The channels are placed as per the diagram above, which was pretty easy.   The boning is all 7mm flat steel with extra tough flats on the edges at the centre back.

I joined the two layers together via the front and back panels, and the binding at the top and bottom.  Also, there are three diagonal bone channels sewn through all layers at the back.

The binding and fins are made from ribbed dupion silk, inspired by ladybirds undersides.

All in all a very fascinating and insightful project.  I shall most certainly be customising this pattern in the future.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Corset making courses

Has anyone yet discovered how to make working holograms of oneself - in manner of Star Wars?  I need at least three.

The last few weeks have been a frenzy of activity .. there have been corsets to make ... along with Photographers and models to find ... and I'm happy to report, both have been found so I'll be doing a 'shoot' as they say, in the not too distance future.  My model has a Debbie Harry meets Gwen Stefani meets Jean Harlow look ... Inspiring much drama!

my latest - a bridal boudoir piece

I've also been teaching my socks off! There was the Introduction to Corsetry Course with 5 lovely lovely students including my first male student who was amazing.

Picnic lunch at the Sew Curvy Studio - so good a passer by asked where she could buy some!
He made a corset for his wife, and not only did it go together seamlessly (pardon the pun) but it fit her perfectly when he got home!

A Victorian style corset made with genuine Victorian fabric!
Oh .. and did I mention, he bought fabrics from the 18th and 19th century?  Gorgeous.  See more pics of the course here.

Selection of vintage fabrics from Morgan le Fay Antique Textiles

I've been teaching a weekly dressmaking course for beginners in Oxford, and also, we had the Sparklewren Masterclass at the Sew Curvy Studio - that was on Friday and was amazing!  4 keen beans learning about all manner of embellishments, we made a sampler each with layered lace, beads, crystals, feathers and more.  The day was full of sparkle in every way.  You can read a review here, and see more pics here.

And now the summer seems to have reached us (touch wood!) and I want to make a summer dress ... I have a collection of Collette patterns, but which to choose?  A simple one I think.  Anyone got a hologram going spare?  Must be able to sew.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Sparklewren boutique

A corset making friend of mine is planning something exceptionally exciting and I really want her to succeed.

Jenni, the creative genius behind Sparklewren is one of the most - if not the most - talented and innovative corsetieres in the UK today and I am utterly convinced that one day her name will be whispered in the same breath as Mr Pearl in the highest circles of couture - she has already dressed  Immodesty Blaize the Queen of British Showgirls.

Immodesty Blaize wearing a Sparklewren Corset
The project is ambitious - a temporary pop-up boutique in a Victorian shopping arcade in the centre of Birmingham, with 'living windows', a working atelier, and exclusive 'salon' evenings.  The Sparklewren Boutique will be stunning and it will raise the profile of top class corsetry,  making it much more accessible to those who may not otherwise know such a wonderful art form exists, and it will inspire other young, aspiring British designers to reach for the skies too.

Obviously, to get the project off the ground requires some finance and to this end, Jenni is raising money by crowdfunding, discounted etsy sales, and a little bit of teaching.  The deadline is 18 May - just over 2 weeks time!

I have a great deal to thank Jenni for - a list far too long to explain in this post - but it is why I want to help her raise all the money she needs for this project.   If you beleive in beauty and in art, and have a couple of spare pennies, perhaps you could help this wonderful project on it's way - every pound counts towards the total and she is currently a little behind target.  It really would be a crying shame if her amazing ideas and inspirational plans were to be thwarted by lack of funding.

For more details of the project along with details on how you can help realise a dream,  please click the link above.
Another amazing Sparklewren creation

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Edwardian corset - finished

I've just done an interview with Sew Magazine about 'vintage' corset patterns.  In the interview, I explained that a good way to learn all sorts of things about corsetry techniques, and fit, is to scale up antique patterns and make them up.

Where does one find these patterns?  In books.  Namely, Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh (and others), which is where this one was.

I scaled it up according to the scale given, and hey presto .. it fitted me! Which was a surprise as usually, antique patterns need much adjustment for the modern figure.

I did make a minor adjustment to the hips, in order to include 'fins' which I realise I should have padded in order to make them stand out more.  Other than that, the pattern came together very easily.

It's made from a single layer of coutil on the inside, with boning channels sewn to the inside and the outer shell is made from double sided silk stitched together with lapped seams.

It's OK but still not the standard i'm aiming for.