Saturday, 31 December 2011

Finished Project: Gold and Blue Stays

So I finally finished these stays.  I never did manage to find just the right shade of blue/grey fabric for the bias binding and in the end I just gave in and went with a pale blue, otherwise they may never have been finished.

It doesn't matter how bendy your joints are, or even if you're a direct descendant of Houdini, getting in and out of back lacing stays is just too difficult without help.  So, I really wanted a front lacing pair of stays to be able to put them on myself without needing an assistant. 

I also made the straps front and back lacing for extra prettiness.

I love stay-making, it's so theraputic and satisfying to see them come together, so much to entertain the eye.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Finished Project: Black Crinkle Hood/Scarf Tutorial

As summer started to fade I decided to make this crinkly scarf to take the chill off.  I used voile but you can use any synthetic fabric to get the same or similar effect. You need to cut out a rectangle of fabric.  I did this by just estimating roughly what would fit nicely over my head and round my neck.

 1) Start off by sewing a rectangle of fabric into a tube and then hem the raw edges.

2) Then gather the fabric together and tie it off tightly as seen above.  It's best to use thread that shows up easily against your chosen fabric.  Keep tying until you end up with a hoop of tightly bound fabric.

3) Now you need to bring a saucepan of water to the boil and plonk your hoop of fabric straight in.  I usually give it a good soak for about a minute.  Carefully remove it from the boiling pan and quickly douse it under cold water.

4)  You will now have a soggy hoop of fabric.  I find the easiest way to deal with it is to sit with a towel on your lap and unpick/cut away all the binding threads, then I use a hairdryer to quickly blast it dry.

And voila you're done! :)

Monday, 24 October 2011

Finished Project: Steampunk Underbust Corset

This is my fourth and final version of this corset and it's also my absolute favourite!  I just love how well it turned out.

I'm not normally one for worrying too much about pattern matching when cutting out fabric but I took the time to align the stripes in an interesting and symmetrical way and it adds so much to the finished piece.  The fabric is recycled from a pair of taupe and cream curtains.  I used some rich brown bias binding that I had in my stash and the chains were from a cheap necklace I picked up at Primark specifically so i could take it apart.

A while ago I started work on another pair of 18th Century stays that ended up languishing in a corner because of bias binding issues but now I'm determined they will haunt me no longer....

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Finished Project: Pink Oriental Handbag

Ages ago I started making a handbag but you know how it is when you get a big shiney idea in your head.  I went off on a tangent and left my unfinished handbag shoved in a corner.  So when my current handbag decided to completely fall apart at the seams I liberated the poor thing from under a pile of other unfinished bits and bobs.

I was going for a slightly oriental look with the beading in the shape of blossom branch and added organza blossoms to finish it off.

A close up of the beading work.

The whole thing is made from recycled fabrics including curtains and an industrial chair foam to give it shape.  Finished just in time for a friends wedding!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Finished Project: Green and Gold Embroidered Underbust.

This is another variation on Jill Salens Victorian Underbust constructed from recycled green curtain fabrics lining and all!

After flatlining each panel I machine embroidered up the middle of each panel being careful to avoid sewing too close to the edges - leaving space for the seam allowance and boning channels.  I then fully constructed this corset using cable ties for boning and black satin bias binding to finish the raw edges.

The very last touch to this corset was to sew on the lace applique flowers to each machine embroidered 'stalk'.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Finished Project: The Aphrodite Gown

I have been a neglectful blogger but I have got lots of sewing done.  The Aphrodite Gown is finished, it was pretty quick to do, the zip was probably the most arduous task. Here is the result!

The original plan was to have red fabric roses decorating the empire line seam but when I finished all the construction it just didn't feel like the right thing to do.

View of the dress from the side/back. I love the effect of the red underdress coming through the white chiffon.

Drapeyness at the back......yummy!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Finished Project: Blue Striped Underbust Corset

I loved making my little underbust corset and I thought it would be a a great canvas for trying out new ideas.  

 This is the first, made from two shades of blue dupion cut in alternating panels to create a striped effect.

I used steel to bone this and actually I think I prefer cable ties.  My pale blue and gold underbust gives slightly better waist shaping!  Maybe it has something to do with the flexibility of the cable ties?

For my next version of this corset I'm planning on incorporating some embroidery.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Aphrodite Gown -Bodice Progress

The fiddliest bit of this project is the bodice draping.  I think I spent around 2-3 hours pinning, adjusting, repinning and readjusting on the stand, trying to get the fabric to fall just right.  Once I was happy with it I tacked it all firmly in place.

The bodice front with a drapey cowl, crossover thing going on.  You can also see the skirts are pleated up and taking shape, they will also have a pleated chiffon overlay.

The bodice back which also has a cowl, drapey thing going on.  The bodice is now ready to have the skirts attached and then I will be needing to insert a concealed zip.  Unfortunately I live in a city which for some bizarre reason has a complete lack of concealed zips in all of the haberdashers.  This means an adventure further afield where I will end up buying armfuls of fabric, trims and pretty what-nots instead of just the zip. Yay!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Finished project: Red Victorian Corset

I have finally finished my Victorian corset. I irritatingly ran out of steel before it was barely half boned, there is nothing worse than running out of materials when you are in the mood to sew.

I completely love how it turned out.  After umming and ahhing over what colour bias binding to go with I thought white would really bring the red to life.

This is based on one of the simpler corsets from Jill Salen's book (Black and yellow flossed corset 1890-1900)  The panels are straight forward, no gussets etc, so it would make a good starter project for a beginnner. It's nice and comfy to wear.

The corset as seen from a weird artistic angle.

In terms of improvement I need to tweak the pattern slightly, particularly around the hip, just to ensure total "snugification".

Sunday, 26 June 2011

New project - Aphrodite Gown

I am embarking on another full length chiffon gown, this time inspired by the greek goddess Aphrodite.  It's going to have a red satin underdress with white chiffon draped over it, plus hand made fabric roses arranged around the empire line.

Bodice front.

So far I have got the bodice sewn and fitted.  The chiffon will be applied over the top and I will be going for a nice drapey, cowl effect across the front and back neckline.

The bodice back.

I will be draping the skirts separately from the bodice and bring the two together once all the chiffon is nicely sewn in place.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Finished project: German Austerity Corset

I have made another corset based on Jill Salen's book 'Corsets: Historical Patterns and Techniques'.  It's the German Austerity Corset, 1917.  Due to wartime shortages this one was designed to use as little fabric as possible, one layer, with the bones inserted into machine fell seams. However I decided to make it up my usual way with three layers.

The corset spread out flat. 

I used recycled curtain fabric, black satin bias binding and 5.5mm width spring steel for the boning.  This was the first time I have used such narrow steel and the jury is still out on it.  Although it was cheaper I think I prefer the shape and support of 13mm steel.

Corset from the front. 

It's an unusual shape,  it comes just up under the bust and comes down over the hips.

I'm not as in love with it as I thought I'd be but it was still fun to make :)

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Finished project: Underbust Corset.

Here is the finished corset - I'm really happy with it.  Whilst making it I kept looking at it and thinking it was out of proportion but my fears were unfounded!

I scraped together all the leftover scraps of fabric to make the little bow.  If there's anything I can't bear it's wasted fabric.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Finished project - Poison Ivy hooded cape.

Last halloween I made a Poison Ivy costume for myself to wear to a party and this was the cape that went with it.

It's made from forest green and deep red polycotton.  I wanted to make this as economically as possible as I needed 6 meters of each colour.  

To make the cape a bit more interesting I machine embroidered trailing vines using a satin stitch up the entire length of the garment.  Each panel was decorated separately before joining all the panels together.  Once all the seams were sewn, including the hood, I then embroidered across the seams to ensure the pattern had good continuity across the cape.

I love capes with giant, oversized hoods!!

During the construction of this I thought, hey! this really should be reversible....... you know.......just in case....

Saturday, 21 May 2011

New project - underbust corset.

What's the best thing to do if you run out of steel boning half way through making a corset? Answer: start another one of course!!!

It's a dainty little underbust corset from Jill Salen's book. I only had a narrow strip of this fabric, rescued from a remnant bin in a furnishing shop and it was just enough to make this corset.  It took a bit of maneuvering to persuade all the pattern pieces to fit on mind you!

I need to buy a busk for the centre front but that's the only steel this corset requires.  The original was whale boned so I used cable ties either side of each seam.  It still surprises me how robust and effective cable ties are!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Eye Candy -18th Century Inspired Paper Wigs

I came across these astonishing works of paper manipulation whilst poking about on the internet.  I think they are absolutely beautiful and highly recommend the website of the artists that created them.

Image from
Image from

Sunday, 15 May 2011

New project - red corset!

I have become corset obsessed!!! This one is based on one of the Victorian patterns in Jill Salens's book 'Corsets: Historical patterns and techniques'.  The patterns in this book are easy to scale up as they are all drawn on grids.

This corset is made from three layers of fabric, you could use two though, as long as they were strong. Personally I prefer to use three, it just feels really sturdy and gives it extra structure.  I had a scrap of rich red silk in my stash for the outer layer and quite a bit of gold satin left over from the Sirona gown for the lining.  For the middle layer I just use whatever plain white-ish fabric I have lying around.

A photo of the busk in place.

The back panels with steel boning inserted either side of the seams.

This is how far I got before I ran out of steel!  Argh!!!

Monday, 9 May 2011

New project - Gold and blue stays!

I got about half way through my pink stays and decided that I wanted to make another pair that were front lacing and richer in colour.  I chose a gold patterned fabric from my stash for the outer and a pale blue linen for the lining.

I have utilised the same 'Corsets and Crinolines' pattern from my pink stays but I have cut up the centre front.  The front will have eyelets which meant I needed to rearrange the placement and direction of the bones slightly.

This is the lining of one the front panels.  In order to maintain the effectiveness of the shaping around the bust, after slicing up the centre front, I put in this extra layer of bones with gaps for the eyelets.

The finished back panels.

A close up of the fabric.

I have been hunting high and low for just the right shade of blue for the bias binding to finish it off but as yet I havn't found what I'm looking for.  The quest continues.............

Friday, 6 May 2011

The Sirona gown in daylight.

I dragged Claudia out into the garden to take some proper pictures of the finished dress.  Dress forms have got to be one of the most awkward things to maneuver through a house.  Good thing they don't make them with heads or she would have been decapitated on the upstairs banister!!!

I love chiffon - if only it was easier to work with.

A shot of the train.

A close up of the bodice from the side.