Corsetry is currently experiencing a bit of a revival – which is great ( if you still think they are torturous, rib-breaking, garments-from-hell, please read this first…). However, since they were out of fashion for quite a while, people nowadays … Continue reading
Some things start unexpectedly…. last January I picked some lovely silk that just screamed Victorian Seaside Bustle frock… And so for the summer I put a few days aside to make it – and to nip somewhere on the coast for … Continue reading
A long overdue post on a rather splendid ball we attended in London, in December. The Buttercup Ball was organized by Stuart Marsden ( the dance master for our Victorian ball last year – and this year’s edition too!) … Continue reading
It is finished at last!!!! I have loved this plate from ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ for years, and planned to make the jacket almost 2 years ago – now am happy to say that it is complete (well, almost…) I got the … Continue reading
This one was a very exciting commission – a friend who often works as Queen Vic needed a new corset.. and a new bodice and a train to go with the skirt she already had.
After a session of looking at different portraits and photographs of the Queen, with Eve pointing out which features she’d like to include in her bodice or train, we got some sketching done…
Fabric was next – and here we were lucky as got a length of beautiful silk brocade from Quartermasterie – all that i need to grab was silk taffeta for lining and pleats and some lace and buttons….
The corsets was made first – and it is a rather jazzy affair, so wont be shown here to preserve the dignity of the monarch, but i bet now a few people who’d meet Eve at work would be wondering what lingerie secrets her clothes hide ;-0
Bodice was a lovely blend of the 1880ties and earlier fashions – sporting a version of pagoda sleeves, apparently quite a favourite of the queen. we also added detachable under sleeves, for colder days .
The lace was simply lush, though applying it took some time, and the underside of the pagoda sleeves was also trimmed with lace, a more modest version.
The train was just fun. The construction was simple – a slightly shaped rectangular fabric, plasted and with tapes and buttons to allow the wearer to bustle to up if needs be. But it was recreatingthe pleated trim from one of the original photos that was interesting….
The train has a baleyeuse ( the dust ruffle) made of black cotton lace buttoned up – they were a truly delightful frilly affairs that made life so much easier – you wash only the ruffle as your skirts are protected.
The pick up day was also a shoot day as we offered Eve a mini session – the results below! Hope you like the final result:-)
Eve’s page is here – enjoy browsing! Queen Victoria
When, earlier on this year, the scans of Symington corset patterns were released, (by Leicester County council, link to the patterns, etc: Leicestershire symington patterns), a lot of corsetmakers stormed the site and bought the images they wanted to use as an experiment in pattern-making. Well, I was one of the horde who grabbed an image (or two…) but it was only recently that I had time enough to have a go at one of the patterns.
I chose 2 complex patterns and up till the last moment I couldn’t decide on which one to make first – but in the end the decision fell on one with a lot of gores. I know, a masochistic choice, but well… I just couldn’t resist it, as the ‘gore within a gore’ concept worked for me on a variety of levels – historically accurate and yet with styling that would not look amiss in a modern or steampunk corset.
So ‘Gore Galore Corset’ it was – and it turned out be be even more gore-tastic than I had imagined….
But, let us start at the beginning.
The moment I measured the printed out pattern, I knew there would be serious issues with the fit – it just wasn’t very curvy! There were just a few inches of difference between the hip, waist, and bust, and my bod calls for more than just a few. Still, I worked out (read: husband did the calculations) how much the pattern has to be enlarged, and blew it up in the local photocopying place.
Then, I took the sheet, components and lunch and drove over to Sew Curvy for our usual Stitch and Bitch session – the corset was to be constructed there – good company and nice space make it easy for me to focus, and having an accomplished corsetiere on hand to help with the fitting can only help… 🙂
The work could then begin.
At that point I was cleverly distracted by Julia who dug out 2 lovely antique corsets and I stopped to drool over them… A teaser here, no doubt Julia will put more info and pictures of them on the Sew Curvy blog at some point…
Then it was back to work – I wanted to assemble the mock up before lunch…
The pieces assembled….. outside view
and inside, below…
The moment of truth! How does it look on the body..?
Pretty straight – as expected to be honest. As the proportions, length etc worked, I just needed an inch more reduction at the waist – and to add a few inches at the hip and bust to accommodate my curves…
And the easiest way to do that was just to cut inside the gores and use bits of calico to cover the areas that needed more expansion… and a bit more boning in front for support…
Then it was lunch time!
After lunch I amended the pattern to accommodate the changes – all that needed to be done was to enlarge the inside gores…. and since the incisions were sort of already there, I decided to let them remain split – and just get another gore in…. A gore within a gore within a gore! A bit mad, but it just seemed to work better than simply making the inside gore bigger – and it resulted in a much more interesting look too…..
Alas, it also meant I had 12 gores to sew in…. ouch….
but with help of coffee I persevered…
The rest of the evening was spent flossing the gores…..
And next morning saw me with the gores flossed (is it only me, or does that sound a bit weird? ), and I was ready for some boning. (Seriously, take that sentence out of context and it sounds damned indecent! Corsetry nomenclature joys…)
I marked the channels as close to the original as possible, and added a few more to support my boobage a bit better too…) The tape was applied over a waist stay.
It was time to try it on – if anything needs changing, there is still some scope for reshaping things, if needs be, before the lining comes in and covers all the inside…
At that stage I said goodbye to Julia and Sew Curvy studio and drove back home, where I finished the corset the next day – black cotton lining was added and the bones were flossed in black. Then it was binding time and it was done! If needs be, suspenders can be added at the front center and sides, but that can be done later once I decide whether to use it as an undergarment – or a modern top layer corset…
As it turned out, it was over a month later that we were able to get any decent photos – and surprise, surprise, my overindulgence in MMA and other martial activities at the club meant that I lost some inches… The corset still fitted, but was a bit on a loose side. 😦
Even with the corset a tad too big, we got to shoot it and ended up with some interesting images.
First we shot in in the historical style – with black lawn chemise and drawers, with a matching blue ribbon.
And later on in the evening, on the way back from the movies, I changed into leggings, black top and a wig – and we shot it with a cyber punk/comic/ Tron convention in mind – the results below….
As you can see, it turned out to be a pretty versatile piece – just a shame it is a tad too big now…. And as it is a bit too big, it has already been sold to a friend who plans to use it for some steampunk events – so it is bound to lead an interesting life….
But I am not saying goodbye to the pattern per se – indeed I liked the gores so much, I have now purchased black and yellow lacquered leather – it will be made into a Hornet Corset:-)
This was the last bit of the Geisha collection ( Part 1 and Part 2), and already drifting towards a Chinese or Manchurian influence. I had enough good-quality Chinese satin brocade, (proper silk stuff, not the poly/viscose thing, for a change!) to make a skirt, corset and a little bolero jacket. And since I knew that Threnody in Velvet, who modeled a part of the collection, is not only an amazingly gifted model but a talented photographer and make up artist, I decided to book a little makeover session with the other side of her business, Iberian Black Arts … and I wasn’t disappointed!
So a date was set, and I put some time aside to actually make my outfit. And as luck would have it, I ended up with an emergency commission instead – so had just a day to make something wearable…..
The corset was first – and from the start I regretted the choice of fabric.. the satin frayed like a mad, fraying thing, it wrinkled, moved, had a life of its own. It was too late to get fusible interfacing, so had to just get on with it and relay on roll-pinning and pure luck – and hoped the cat wouldn’t mind the amount of bad language that issued forth during the production…
In the end, success was just partial, I didn’t manage to get rid of all the wrinkles, but since it was not an item for sale I decided to leave it as it was and maybe trust the power of Photoshop….
On the day I grabbed the outfit, accessories etc – and since I was asked to bring another outfit just in case we had time to shoot more I packed my ‘snow queen’ gear too…
On arrival at Patricia’s studio we did not waste much time and got straight down to business. That is, I was munching on my sandwich whilst we were just getting the final details of the make up and hair – I had set up a board for inspiration, so we looked through different photos to get a clear idea of the styling.
The calm scene before we started…
Make up and hair took a bit of time, but not too much – and it was time well spent on a pleasant chatter, as well as deciding on some editing options, etc, and then it was time to don the gear, lace up and pose!
One important thing to mention beforehand – I am not a big fan of over the top post-production (Photoshopping, etc). I mentioned this, giving examples of what I definitely didn’t want – I wanted my body to stay the way it was, with no reduction etc, and my face basically unchanged as well – I often see the results of the popular boudoir make overs where ladies are virtually unrecognizable in the final image. This is fine if you are working on a product shoot ( though even here I tend to have problems with overphotoshopped models setting impossible standards), but not really for a personal image – everybody who knows me will just chuckle at a weird attempt to look much younger and much slimmer, and so I asked for minimal amount of post production. This is actually also why I chose Iberian Black Arts – the images showcased in the portfolio were a high quality ones, but not overly ‘over the top’.
And to be honest – the make up and the light worked wonders on their own…. well, see for yourself below……
After we finished shooting, I got the proofs the same day and chose the images I liked most, for editing. We discussed background options for both looks and the rest was just Patricia working her magic….
The Chinese look ( with a spectacular yellow kanzashi made especially for the shoot by Kikuya Kanzashi )
and the Snow Queen one…
By comparison, see the uneditted behind the scenes shots – three of the proofs, straight off the camera, showing me having some fun…:
As you can see the skin tone was smoothed and lightened to work with the styling for the image, the corset wrinkles magically disappeared, but it is still recognizably me, my body with slightly glamorized face. Happy with that:-)
Altogether, I must say I was delighted with both only the experience and the end product – highly recommended – If any of you folks would like to have a go at a makeover with Patricia ( Ipswich based), do give her a call, you won’t be disappointed – and the prices are good too! I found it a great way to showcase my work as a designer and maker, and have a bit of a girly fun as well – so work and play combined 🙂
The first of the corsets was in fact the first to be designed – and was also the most challenging one as for the first time I was making it completely from the scratch – not using and adapting other patterns, but actually designing piece by piece, hoping it would all work together:-)
The initial design with different silk choices… I wanted to convey the traditional aspect of geisha but with a strong modern twist, including the bondage element as well – think sexy bondage manga and you will more or less see where I was planning to head…. 🙂
I used my wasp waisted mannequin to get the shape of the pieces right – it is not too far off Threnody’s measurements, so it was a useful tool. once the pieces worked on the dummy, I made a mock up in plain coutil, boned it and sent it to Threnody to try on and mark any problem areas etc – since she specialises in corsetry modelling, she was able to provide a valuable feedback – a great help!
Once I received the mock up with the corrections back, I was able to implement them and change them a bit and start making the thing for real…
I was again due for our bitch and stitch sessions with Julia from Sew Curvy, so took it with me – and Julia’s suggestions and input helped a lot when we were considering minor changes in design.
Then the work started in earnest…
Once the inside was tidies up, the suspenders were added ( with a decorative Japanese buttons) and the corset was flossed with yarn – the flossing character chosen here was a kanji symbol meaning ‘red’.
Next were the posture collar, reflecting the design of the corset, and the pasties – it was my first go at the pasties, but was pretty please with them – they are made out of leather, silk and the edges are decorated with a chemille braid.
Then the whole set, including satin ribbons for the wrists and kanzashi flower for the hair was packed and sent on to Threnody.
On the day of the shoot we discussed accessories, hair and make up styles and I got the first proof the very same day – and once I chose the photos I wanted, Threnody ( yes, she is also the photographer, editor, make up artist – you name it! a very talented lady!) worked on a suitable background options and credits font etc.
and the results – well, I loved the pictures – and I hope you do too!
The corset is now back from its adventures and is available on sale in our online shop – and i think a few more of the same design will be appearing there at some point too 🙂
The other corset was already half made when due to a sudden change of plans I had to remake it, and make it fit Threnody – this one was a sheer number with the front panel and exterior boning channels made in vibrant kimono silk. as accessories, I made a matching set of vambrances:-)
And the corset was ready:-)
Again, it look great on Threnody, and the colours suited her exceptionally well!
This corset already sold – as I write it is making its way to Hong Kong:-)
Btw, the kanzashi flowers used here were by Colorful world of Kanzashi.
Hope you have enjoyed my little forray into the ethnic inspired corsetry – and, not surprisingly, I have another collection planned for the summer, with a completely different part of the world being represented:-)
The inspiration struck when I was making a Napoleonic set for a client – a thing with loads of braiding, military lace etc. Against all odds, I enjoyed making it ( and a post on that one can be found here) and thought that it would be nice to have something like that for myself…. And then I remembered artwork of a Polish artist, Bartek Drejewicz and his Napoleonic pin up girls ( do check his facebook page out, – not only Napoleonic but different armies through the centuries, beautifully rendered!). And yes, there are Steampunk corsets with military styling etc available – but non actually using the ‘proper’ military lace or specific historical styling… So I wanted to have a go….
The final design was actually worked out one evening when I was clearing my offcuts and left overs bits – and noticed narrow scraps of the broadcloth i used for the jacket. Not good for much more, but just enough for corset panels… I quickly adapted an overbust pattern to work as a waistcoat – with a black busk in front and lacing in the back. It did come out a tad short ( not enough fabric) but the first step was done – a waistcoat in broadcloth, cotton twill being used as the strength layer. I opted for a slight curve and not much of a reduction – so that I would be able to wear it at work at the markets- but also because it was the trial version:-)
I ordered more military lace and braid and once it arrived i started putting the lace on – it took me a few months as was working on it in between commissions….
So even with help ( ahem…) it took some time….
Once the frogging was on, I could put some silver soutache on the borders and the collar….
Then it was only getting some buttons ( beads….) and we were ready for shooting!
I tried the corset first with my Regency chemisette and plain black leggings….
Then I had an epiphany and fished out Lucas’s dancing breeches – in lovely white superfine. The just about fitted too! Then e had some fun with my old cavalry sabre as a prop:-)
The chemissette, in case anyone asks :
The conclusions – well, loved wearing it ( and wore it to markets since) but a few improvements will be needed for the next ones – longer in front, more hip spring, and probably not using busks and frogging together – it is a pain to do it all up! Still, I think it is a success – and more corsets in the style are planned, in different colours – already have a small stash of silver and gold military lace and braid, and am slowly collecting fabrics and props – I suspect we will have a bigger photoshoot with more models ( and hopefully horses) just before Waterloo 🙂 Once the next models are done, will post a link here – including a link to the shop as they will be offered on sale….
Hope you liked this experiment!
Clothes, as always, Prior Attire
photography Pitcheresque Imagery
I have been planning this one for some time – I think it was a glimpse at a kimono silk somewhere on ebay that provided the spark – 30 minutes later and I have purchased several bits of left over kimono silks and started planning. The silks arrived, and loved them even more – and they were just big enough to incorporate into some corsetry. The theme was not an unfamiliar one to me, as we have used oriental inspiration int the Petal dress, and in our Steampunk Amazones, but this one was to be a more cohesive collection.
As always the first stage was sketching, drawing, gathering inspiration ( Pinterest board is here), and gathering props. I already had an early 20th century set of a katana and tanto, and a matching kimono I wanted to use, plus a collection of kanzashi ( japanese hair flowers), parasols etc…
Ironically the first design that emerged wont be shown here – I will present it in another post giving more details – it was the first ever pattern I created myself, and the corset, together with other bits and pieces was sent on adventures, to be photographed by the Iberian Black Arts, modeled on the gorgeous Threnody in Velvet.
Do not despair though – I do have some lovely pieces for you today!
Once I had some idea of the feel for the collection, i purchased more props ( hakama trousers, jackets etc) and discussed styling and options with our main model, lovely Lizzie ( Miss Lilian Love), who also had a nice collection of oriental props:-)
Then it was just down to finding time in between commissions to make the corsets, but finally in January I managed to free a few days and frantic corsetrymaking ensued…
The feel of the collection was to be a blend of modern and traditional. The form of the corset is not a traditional shape for oriental women, however, it may be argued that obi represents a constriction and shape forming element too. In our corsets the silks or the motives were the traditional part – as well as flossing. I had a brief moment of inspiration where flossing was concerned and decided to floss the bones using kanji – chinese/japanese characters. to make it even more difficult, each kanji needed to be matched to the collection too – you cannot have a corset in silks saying for example ‘rice’ or ‘cow’, can you?
In the end we got the following kanji:
The first corset to me made was a playful geisha print – I made it as a challenge – one last corset for 2014 – and completed before midnight:-). It was meant as a sideline, to be honest, and as an exercise in pattern matching – but worked so well I decided to include it in the collection. Indeed the pattern matching worked so well that the corset is now featured on Lucy’s Corsetry blog, among other beautifully pattern matched corsets – have a look!
work in progress…
and on the Lizzie:-)
The next one was the Crane corset – a mix of kimono silks and cotton sateen.. ( this one is offered in our shop)
then another print followed, and a bit more pattern matching…
I think this is my favourite corset of the collection – I experimented with the pattern, creating a more pronounced hip spring – and as a result I love the silhouette, and it is surprisingly comfortable – I normally lace down to 27inches max – here, 26 with no problems….
and on Lizzie – again, this corset is now offered in the shop🙂
Then it was experimenting with more silks, broche and sheer mesh 🙂 both corsets are available in the shop:-)
The last one was a plain piece in broche to match my honey kimono
A week before the shoot Paul accepted our invitation to play with us on the day – and arranged for the snow machine too…. so the day was a full on fun, getting ready, changing, shooting both outside and inside with a backdrop. Whereas Lucas shot product shots and some arty stuff, Paul went for artistic and more cinematograpic mood – sexy ninjas, Kill Bill etc…
Below a few more pictures from the boys:-)
and some great shots from Paul. More of his work can be seen on his blog – link soon!
and a few behind the scenes shots:-)
and after some 6 hours, it was rest time – homemade pizza and wine! 🙂
Hope you enjoyed the collection – there are 2 more corsets, to be covered n a separate post, and since I still have a few bits of silks, I may add some more stock pieces to the shop at some point. In the meantime, 4 of the corsets are available for sale, plus some other corsets from past projects:-) have a look!
Corsetry – Prior Attire
Models, Izabela Pitcher and Miss Lilian Love
Corsetry supplies – Sew Curvy
Kanzashi – Kikuya Kanzashi