Adventures in Showgirl Corsets.

Using commercial patterns in Costuming feels like cheating, I don’t know why, but it does! However; ever since Yaya Han released her Corset Pattern I have been dying for an excuse to use it… which I know is super weird as I am not only a pattern drafter and cutter, I have my very own Corset Pattern for sale!

M7339, Misses' Overbust or Underbust Corsets by Yaya Han M7339, Misses' Overbust or Underbust Corsets by Yaya Han

I guess sometimes I just want to join in with the cool kids, the those CosPlayers are some pretty damn cool kids! Any hoo, I needed to make three Showgirl Costumes and, because this Pattern has a range of Cup sizes I thought it would be perfect, and save me the time of drafting my own. Win!

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These bad boys needed to be spangly, so after much hunting I finally decided upon this gorgeous (and very hard to locate!) Gold Sequin and Pink Sequin fabrics. Each had to be backed with matching Silk Habotai to ensure the sequins reflected as much as possible, and they were both lined with Coutil. They are fully boned with Steel Boning and have a quick rigged,open ended zip at the back because of quick changes.

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Offset with some gorgeous Indian Beaded Trim (eye wateringly expensive and used sparingly because no more could be ordered if there was a mistake as it takes about three weeks to arrive!), in the ‘V’ of the cleavage they shimmer gloriously in the studio, and look amazing on stage.

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Matching shorts were also made- in the Gold here, but also in Pink- as they are used in several different styles of dance including the Can-Can.

I think I did Yaya Han proud, and I am super impressed with her Pattern. I didn’t really use the instructions because we made these up a little differently that they would be for personal use. Here each panel is made and neatened separately in case of alterations, the cups are kept in alterable separate pieces and all of this makes the insides look a little messy as you can see all of the Overlocked channels. They aren’t laced, as the performers had a quick change, instead they zip up which in real life looks a little clunky but can’t really be seen from the stage when they’re performing.

All in all I’m really happy, and they fit great.

If you are thinking about sewing your own Corset this Pattern can be found here, and the Eventide Corset Pattern from Laura After Midnight can be found here. A full Sew-Along for the Eventide can be found here, and discusses many of the techniques used to make these up.

Happy stitching!

A week in the life of a Costume Maker!

The last week has been incredibly hectic, with not one but three huge Costumes being made in the Studio. The first was another for Celebrity Cruises who wanted the Evil Enchantress Costume I made up earlier this year in Blue…

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The Collar was again constructed by hand using layers of Crin, Net, Calico and Blue Lycra (the base fabric of the Costume) with the addition of those fab Laser Cut Butterflies.

Each Butterfly is individually sewn on, which as you can imagine take quite a while. Indeed, I had someone just on Butterfly duty!

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Front, side and back of the final Costume. The Skirt is separate for ease and a Quick Change. I’m not sure, but I think I like the version better than the Black one!

In total this Costume took about 100 hours and three people to create however; we only had three days so you can imagine how quick we were stitching!

The second order was two Georgian Dresses for a Media Ball. Again, a little bit of a rush job but with myself and my trusty seamstress assistants we just about managed it.

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One was a delicate and flouncy affair, with Silk Ribbons, gorgeous Linen Toile du Juoy Underskirt, delicate silken Pinked and Scalloped Ruffle and Satin Bows.

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The second was a darkly Gothic creation made from lovely, heavy striped Velvet with a dark Purple line which inspired the dark Purple Silken Pinked and Pleated Ruffle with Black Satin Bows and Black Lace detailing across the Bodice and Front of the Skirt.

With over 10 meters of Boning in each Bodice, over 20 meters of trim in each and taking about 80 hours to create these were managed in a 2 and a half day period as a last minute order. We stitched until the last possible moment, but these fair ladies made it to the Ball!

After a few days off to look after my Husband who has just had an operation I shall be back at the Sewing Machine on my next order… but also at the drawing board for a huge Costume Design Commission I will be building in the new year, eek!

Happy stitching!

I’m in The Stage! Woop!!

It’s always rather pleasing to see something you have hand crafted in the Press, and this doesn’t disappoint because it’s accompanied by a rather lovely review! I’m head over heels a Costume I created was in a review in The Stage! I say again… woop!

Kristin Hutchinson, Catherine Cusack and Liam Smith in Howard Baker's Judith: A Parting from the Body at the Arcola Theatre. Photo: Nick RutterI was commissioned a couple weeks ago to create the Lead Actress’ Costume, a stunning Edwardian Bodice, Skirt and Petticoat (above, knelt center stage) in Green/Gold Shot Silk Dupion for Catherine Cusack in Judith: A Parting From The Body at The Arcola Theatre.

This costume had to be ”quick rigged” because the Actress had to unbutton the Bodice on stage, quickly, so all the buttonholes are fake! What fun!

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With a Design and some measurements I drafted a Pattern and my assistant and I got stitching! Apart from the nifty fake buttonholes I also drafted a lovely detail in the front of the Bodice, wherein the darts are incorporated into a separate Pattern piece under the bust, with gathers above. I’m pretty pleased with the outcome!

The Skirt is shaped, as the Actress was taking the Bodice off pretty early on we decided it would create a lovely shape with the shirt underneath whilst also being period accurate.

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In just four days this was picked up and whisked off to London to tread the boards, and I have to say she looked fantastic.

Happy stitching!

It’s been a bit quiet…

… so sorry!

It’s been crazy times in the Atelier recently with 5 or 6 costume jobs being stitched up by my growing team of wonders. Most recently shipped off were these beauties for Celebrity Cruises production of Elysium.

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The Evil Enchantress

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Autumn Ballet

I’m sure I shall be sharing a little bit about the methods behind construction soon but before I catch my breath I’m off to get married this Wednesday! Eep!!

Can’t wait to start sharing more of my Sewing adventures with you soon.

Happy stitching!

Wedding preparations!

So, we’ve booked the Wedding, had a peek at the hall and are currently writing lists of all of our favorite foods and then I remembered (after having a very graphic dream where no-one turned up!) that we should probably tell people about it!!

So I have illustrated some Save The Date Flags!

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We’re seeing a lot of our families over the next week or so and I thought they would be super fun to hand out! These are the illustrations behind them… if you look closely they give a little flavor of what the wedding will be like!

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I’m rather pleased with them however; it did take me quite a while to get us ‘right’. I kept making artistic changes and suddenly I was looking at a weird girl and a guy I’d never met!

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In other news, I do believe I have decided upon the Dress Patterns for my Wedding Dresses! Eek!! Two because we will be getting married on the Wednesday, then partying on down with everyone we can think of on the Saturday! Yay!!

Happy stitching!

 

 

The Dimpsy T Sew-Along: Week 3 The Facings

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I hope you are anticipating a Sunday full of Sewing, like me!

In this weeks last post for the Dimpsy T Sew-Along I shall be showing you how attach the Collar, stitch on your Facings, turn them out and Understitch them and finally get a good look at what your Dimpsy T will be starting to look like!

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Firstly, with right sides together, sew the Shoulder Seams of the Facings and the Front and Back Bodice. You may notice that the pieces do not match perfectly, this is because (as illustrated above), one side is making allowance for the Seam and will mis-match by 1.5cm Allowance.

It is also important to maintain the slight curve on the outside edge of the Shoulder. This allows for the Hem to be made when sewing up the Sleeve edge.

Once sewn, Zig-Zag neaten the edge of all seams. All Seam Allowances are now mainly 1.5cm.

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To attach the Collar, you will be able to match the Tailors Tack on the Fang to the Center Front Seam however; as you can see I haven’t made a Tailors Tack! This is to illustrate how you can use the Collar itself to tell you where it should be places.

I have cut the Pattern so that the Collar follows the curve of the Neckline at the Center Front- as you can see above, left. Place the left hand Fang Collar piece on the Neckline and move it until it matches as mine does. Pin.

For the right hand Fang Collar piece, you shall need to do the same- move it about until it matches the curve- however; at the same time you’ll need to check the overlap of the Collar is directly on the Center Front Seam (as illustrated above, center). Pin.

And there you have it- above, right- one beautifully pinned Fang Collar in anticipation of being stitched in place!

For the Pan Collar this process is even easier! Simply match the edges to the Center Front Seam and pin as there is no overlap.

You may notice that the Collar curve and the Neck opening curve are a little different. This is to ensure the Collar ‘rolls’ away from the Neck opening and looks as lovely as possible!

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Once the Collar is pinned in place- and you will have noticed that they do not quite reach all of the way to the Center Back, which is entirely intentional!- you will need to lay the Facings, right sides together as illustrated, straight on top.

Pin the Shoulder seams so that they match first. I like to push one seam left, and one seam right as illustrated (above, right) to reduce the bulk of the seams.

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Continue pinning around the Neck opening, then down the Center Back along the Keyhole detail.

I am yet again pinning at a ninety degree angle so I can stitch away when I am ready. As you can see from the below, we are going to be stitching three layers- one of which, the Collar, is a different curve- so it is extremely helpful to keep things pinned for as long as possible. That is unless you feel like tacking/basting everything… and I never feel like that!

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With 1.5cm Seam Allowance, and starting at the bottom of one side of the Keyhole, sew all the way around to the other side. Remember to take the curve slowly, stopping and starting to that it is even.

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Once sewn, you’ll need to clip the corners and curve as above. Clipping the corners will reduce the bulk so that they can be turned out to beautiful points, Clipping the curve releases the fabric so that once the Neckline is turned out it will curve gracefully.

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Turn your Dimpsy T out the right way… doesn’t it look lovely? This is my favorite bit, as you start to get a real feel for how the final garment will be. Fabric always looks so different when it is sewn up, don’t you think?

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The last thing for today’s class is to Understitch and neaten your Facing. This will help the Neckline to retain its shape and keeps the Facing magically towards the back. Pin the Facing to the Bodice (above, left), with the Collar sticking out. Do this slowly so as to ensure no pleats are pinned in.

Stitch super close to the edge (above, right) with a neat Top Stitch. Stop and start on every Pin as you’re still sewing a curve and it is very easy to stitch in a little pleat, and we need this to be as smooth as possible.

face17Zig-zag neaten the edge of the Facing- as above- by stitching on and off the very edge of the Fabric edge. This binds the edge of the Fabric and stops it fraying.

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Iron the Collar, and the center back Key Hole detail. As you can see the Collar still stops short to allow room for the Button to be sewn on later… and because I think it looks super sweet and nice!

Hand your Dimpsy T up and admire your work so far!

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Happy stitching!

The Midnight Atelier Skirt Making Book, a Stitch Bitch Companion!

So, this little number is now available in my Pattern Shop!

Front Coverpages pattern drafting skirt book

The Midnight Atelier Skirt Making Book, a Stitch Bitch Companion… a 36 page long, handmade and hand stitched little Pattern Making tome! Each includes instructions to Pattern Draft your very own A-Line Skirt… Choose to draw the Pattern straight on to the Fabric, or make one up in paper as also included are four separate Pattern adaptations to turn your original A-Line Skirt Pattern in to a Circle Skirt, Pleated Skirt, Tulip Skirt or Vintage style Pleated Circle Skirt! Wow!!

Available as a PDF or Hard Copy Print. Grab your copy today…

Happy stitching!

The Dimpsy T Sew-Along: Week 3 The Collar

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Well, how are you today and how’s your Dimpsy T coming along?

Today we will be tackling the Collar and later on this week the Facings. I have chosen to make the Fang collar however; the instructions are similar and I shall be making note of the differences as I sew my Dimpsy T up.

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You will need to lay one Collar piece on top of another, making sure of course that you will be sewing a left and a right… which is why I like to lay them out (above, left) with right sides together and then pin (above, right).

Now, a small speech concerning the pin controversy! You may have noticed that I pin at a ninety degree angle, then sew straight over them. Whilst this probably isn’t the best thing to do, and I know there are many, many people who would disagree with this, I find it super duper helpful when sewing tricky curves like this, and it helps beginner Seamsters no end because they can concentrate on the actual sewing instead of stopping every few centimeters to take a pin out! And y’know, I’m a rebel sewer and all that!

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After shaking your head at my piratical approach to pinning, or mentally high fiving as you cavalierly sew over your pins too, you’ll need to sew- with 1.5cm Seam Allowance- around the outside. Do not sew the inside curve or you wont be able to turn it out the right way! Remember to reverse stich at the beginning and end to secure.

To sew around those tricky corners of the Fang Collar sew along one of the short edges then stop 1.5cm away from the edge, make sure your needle is in the fabric, lift the Presser Foot and then turn your Fabric then lower the Presser Foot to continue Sewing.

You may find it helpful to draw in your 1.5cm Seam Allowance with some Tailors Chalk to follow around the corners too.

To sew the curve of both Pan and Fang Collars, I like to stop every once in a while to check I am still on the Seam Allowance guide as it is quite important to do this evenly and smoothly!

Clip all corners (above middle), then Grade the Seams. To Grade you will need to cut back the Seam Allowance by half (above right) and then one side of the Seam Allowance by half again (below). This allows the fabric to curve once the Collar is turned out, but it also stops a ‘ridge’ forming when the Collar is ironed. It’s a beautiful finishing detail, which works for both the Pan and Fang Collars.

collar 6Once Graded, turn the Collar out the right way. You can use a Pin (as shown below) or Point Turner to make the corners pf the Fang collar turn out perfectly sharp.

Next, pin the Collar to the ironing board, making sure the seam is turned out as much as possible and Iron. Pinning to the ironing board helps to ensure the seam isn’t pleated. You may fing using your Point turner helpful here too.

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And there you have it, one beautifully made Collar!

Collar 10Because there are no Corners on the Pan Collar, you will only need to make sure the Seam is turned out when ironing. Grading as illustrated will help with this.

An interesting fact: the Collar side with the smallest amount of Seam Allowance left is now the Under Collar. This is because the smallest amount of Seam Allowance will leave a small ridge when washed and ironed multiple times and it is preferable this is underneath where it can’t be seen!

Later this week we shall all tackle attaching the collar to the main Bodice, then we’ll get a real look at how the Dimpsy T is turning out!

Don’t forget you can buy your own copy of the Dimpsy T- available as a cheap as chips PDF Pattern, or as a beautiful Hard Copy Pattern in my Etsy Pattern shop A Tangled Stitch.

Happy stitching!