Sunday, October 31, 2010

Corset suit

The photos from the corset show have been coming in here and there, and we are trying to get them all together in one place for future viewing. I like to take snapshots of events and of my work but it turned out to be impossible to do while actually involved in an event - which shouldn't have been a surprise to me.

This is one I hadn't seen until today and I'm glad the photographer captured the back detail of the suit I modeled.
You can view more shots of the corsets modeled here and Linda has a link to her Flickr page as well.

Enjoy your day.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I'm trying to rearrange my teaching notes and condense the information to a managable size which is proving to be a challenge. I have so much new information- some that I need to try out myself, as I have been doing with the Rundschau drafts, but I also have some old information that needs to be looked at again.
In regards to the old information, I came across a bunch of notes I made a couple of years ago while we were exploring creating tights.

Tights are a garment that we are called upon to make every so often and you can make them in a variety of ways, moving the seams around as needed. This exercise was about creating the pattern shape for tights with one seam on the back of the leg, plus of course a CF/CB seam. I had started the process by making a pattern for a pair of leggings (for want of a better word) that fit very closely and only had an inseam and CF/CB seam. The side seam was on the straight grain and on the fold of the fabric.
While on the body, we drew a "straight" visual line down the back of the leg, then cut them open on that line. From that point we created a new pattern shape and played around with it further using a variety of stretch fabrics.
I began by reading over my notes such as they are, and realized I needed to clarify them a bit more so I thought the best way would be to draft a pattern using those notes.

These notes which I though made perfect sense to me in the moment now seem to be sadly lacking- does that happen to you?

Nevermind- I thought- I will forge ahead and try to quantify and clarify.

Well, in the end I did get a pattern made, but I still haven't managed to finish quantifying a proper draft that someone else could follow.

Sometimes I don't know if nailing something down is just beyond me, since my mind works better with the "try it and see" approach combined with the "if it looks right it probably is" theory, rather than the "stick to the formula", but I am making the effort. Whether it will make sense to anyone else is still up in the air.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

next day

No pictures yet, but the corset show went very well and it was fun to do. No-one tumbled off the runway, we were well received and I'm sure the whole thing will be posted on Youtube soon. I'll let you know.

I don't know how you feel about your colleagues or workplace or if you ever have opportunitites to work creatively towards a goal, but I am always impressed by everyone I work with and this was no exception. Everyone rose to the challenge and we had corsets that ranged from traditional 18th century to modern interpretations to a welded corset. We were lucky to have milliners and jewellers create pieces to go with our looks, and my daughter put together the majority of the music as well as being a last minute model. Others volunteered as crew, and all in all we had a lot of fun.

We also managed to get 25 of us in one hotel room to have our hair and makeup done, get dressed and arrive on time.

Got home late and got up early to conduct sewing tests for potential employees, so right now I think I will sit down and have a glass of wine.

Til later.......

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Well, the corset fashion show is tomorrow at the Creative Festival in Toronto and I think I am almost ready.

I had been thinking about making myself a blouse to wear with the corset suit but you know how it is sometimes - great idea, but that's all it was. That is, until we had our dress rehearsal for the show this past Sunday. Linda had asked me to also model one of the waist cincher/corsets from a Farthingale's kit, as an alternative for business look and at that moment a white blouse became more of a necessity. I had looked a bit for a blouse to buy because I didn't have a lot of time, but I couldn't find one that I liked- most white blouses in the stores are really boring!
I wanted something different and fresh, and I had a reference for a 1950's blouse to go by so I got on with it and drafted myself a pattern, ( I used the Natalie Bray drafting system) made a toile that Carol fit on me and I bought some nice cotton that had a bit of interest in it's weave.
I managed to get it finished today and I'm glad I did it.

There are a few things I changed from the reference- I didn't want it to button closed to my throat, and I wanted longer sleeves, but it is close in spirit if nothing else.

I would do a couple of things differently, now that I have finished. I would look for buttons that were just a tidge smaller, I'd reduce the outside edge of the collar just a bit so it rolled a bit higher and I think I would lengthen the sleeve a bit or maybe have a bit more length along the back of the sleeve. Picky, picky right?

Oh well, now that I have a proven pattern that fits me, I guess I can make another one can't I?

Saturday, October 16, 2010


What happened to the past week? Did time speed up after Thanksgiving? Maybe, all I know is that I blinked and here it is the middle of October.

Since I have been otherwise occupied by things beyond my control, I thought you might enjoy looking at a little something that I worked on a couple of seasons ago. This garment was made for a certain Mr. P.
My info: a sketch- and after a meeting with the actor, the designer told me we needed to make armour that was like a sweater........ hmmm.....and it needed to be as lightweight as I could make it...... light armour....... ok.... and the "kilt" and armour should be attached together so it was an all in one garment.

This is the end result.

In the beginning though, it was a bit of a leap of faith. I didn't know what fabrics we would use although I knew leather would be involved somewhere.
You've got to start somewhere so I started with a bodice of crin like fabric - that wasn't right- too rigid and not sweatery enough.....
I can't go into the full detailed description of the process of getting there, so here's the condensed version:

I made a bodice base from light weight twill, which worked.
The "pecs" were built up with thin layers of furnace filter foam.
Over that was draped a layer of chunky knit-like fabric that we had painted gold. That was caught down by hand to keep it in place.
Over that layer went a layer of brown fishnet type fabric. Same process, draping then catch stitching it by hand.
On top of all that was a grid of leather strips riveted together at the intersection points and then draped on top. Once that was in place the small rivets were put in through all the layers where possible.
The armholes and necklines were finished with facings to the inside and then leather facings were laid on the good side and top-stitched into place.
The fronts and backs were made up separately then joined later.
As an all in one garment, it opens on one shoulder and at both sides for ease of getting into. The sides are boned with spiral steel to keep the closures of large snaps and hooks from collapsing.
The shoulder pauldron on the open side needed to be split and have its own closure.
The "kilt" of leather strips was made up separately then attched later to the inside of the bodice. All the findings/decorations on the "kilt" came in two days before we needed them and they had to be sprayed the right colour and a hole punched in the centre of each one then they were placed and riveted on individually by hand. All 250 of so of them.
The tunic underneath is made of a rich red "slinky" with Swarovski iron- on details that were individually cut out and applied.

Ahhh, finally it was done.............and then we made one in gold.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rundschau sleeve drafting

Today I tried drafting the Rundschau sleeves for the coat draft.
It is a very straight sleeve, and when drafted out according to the instructions, very wide. The hem proportion in the draft is quite small especially in comparison to the width at and above the elbow.

In the instructions they calculate 1/4 of the Ad in two different points. Point C and F in the picture on the right.
I took that to be the armhole width from the body pattern but it wasn't specific as to whether that meant just the basic armhole width proportion of 1/8 chest plus 3.5 cm, or 1/8 chest plus 3.5, plus 2cm more, which is what you use in the drafting of the body.

I decided to take it as just the proportion (which I suspect is wrong) and when I pinned it into the jacket it did look too long.
The photo on the left (above) is the first try at it - very wide -and the photo above in the middle is a modification of the calculation for the width.
So, in the first I used 1/2 armscye measurement plus 1 cm and in the second 1/2 armscye minus .5 cm. The wider sleeve ended up having 6 cm of ease in it- as compared to the armhole- which I felt is way too much (that can depend on the fabric, style, and making up methods) The narrower version had a more reasonable 3 cm. Maybe using 1/2 armscye would be best.
Of course it is impossible to shape a muslin sleeve, so here it is pinned into the jacket as is.
I'd prefer a narrower elbow, and an altogether shaplier sleeve, but to take out another cm at the front at the elbow level might be a problem. The forearm seam here is displaced towards the undersleeve (as in most modern sleeves) which limits the shaping you can put into the pattern unless you are able to work the fabric with the iron.

The other option is to increase the sleeve hem circumference at the front, which I think would improve the shape in general- don't you think it is a bit too straight and abrupt there?

You can see that the back sleeve seam is too long, so I think the calculation of 1/8 chest + 3.5 + 2 is better and that decreases the back seam length by .75cm by dropping point C circled above.
That also raises point F slightly if the calculation is consistent.

I guess that means another try.