I’m so excited about this Course you guys! Book here with just a £10 deposit!!
I’m so excited about this Course you guys! Book here with just a £10 deposit!!
A huge, enormous cup of tea and slice of my best Carrot Cake welcome to Steampunk Family who I am handing over to today! Anna-Marie will be talking about making a Duct Tape Corset, and I am wildly excited not only to host my very first Guest Blogger, but to share this interesting way of Corsetry Construction with you all!
As a Costumier, I am often having to improvise, make up and- lets be honest- panic create Costumes completely on the fly, so I am always on the look out for different ways of doing things and this has to be my favourite find so far this year. With care, this should produce excellent results and will suit those of you who may be new to Pattern Making, want to create different shapes in Corsetry or make a Historically inspired Corset quickly that will fit your Curves… I think it’s also a right laugh to do with a couple of mates!!
So, without further ado… over to Anna-Marie!
We at Steampunk Family do custom corsetry with mad science flare. We get excellent results, and it involves a lot of duct tape. The pattern-making is high on fun, low on dignity. This is a solidly intermediate skill-level project. At many points this project requires two people, one who will wear the corset, and one doing the fitting, who must have moderate skills. If you can do it all yourself, I’ll be impressed. (And we want pictures!) Before you begin you should have researched the overall shape, shape of individual fabric panels, and the boning of the corset desired. Plenty of corsets to look at out there, get a good idea of what you’re going to do before you start.
Making the pre-pattern:
This is a two-person step all the way. It’s amusing and silly, but you need to get all the hard laughing and flailing giggles out of the way before you begin. For clarity’s sake the person the corset for is will be called the “client” and the seamstress/seamster will be called the “highly skilled, extremely talented, underpaid sewing guru”. OK, that’s too long…. Even though I am a seamster, I’m going to go with “seamstress” in honor of the women who dominate the field.
What you will need for this step:
Large t-shirt (not recoverable) Duct tape EMT (paper) scissors (sewing scissors are razor sharp and should never be used near skin) Moderate sized tip permanent marker Beverage for the person wearing the t-shirt and duct tape, if necessary Before starting, everyone involved should have gone to the restroom, and obtained sufficient beverages. To begin with the client should don the disposable T-shirt and a fitted pair of pants or skirt if modesty requires such. Depends on how well you know each other, but definitely wear underwear. Foundation garments are not necessary, unless the corset will be worn with them or needs to be shaped around such. (If you are making an under the bust corset which you intend to wear with a bra, wear that bra now.) Tape the t-shirt down with a pass through the groin (this is why you’re wearing underwear!) and tape the t-shirt down on both hips, because it will ride up as the tape shapes it over the curves of the client’s body. The client should try to minimize movements, as excess moving will cause bunching up of the pre-pattern. You can work in front of a mirror it the client wants to contribute input (or you can work in front of a movie, if the client gets bored easily). Start with a band of tape around what is to be the smallest part of the waist – the area between the floater ribs and the top of the hip. While you want it snug, it does not have to be as tight as the final product. There will be future opportunities to do reduction adjustments. Making the pre-pattern too tight will cause horizontal rolls and wrinkles. Next tape horizontally from under the breast down the tummy on the side and front of the client with overlapping, yet smooth pieces of tape. Keep it as flat as possible. Stay in the stomach region, not going down onto the hips or up into the chest. Now tape the back, again, horizontally, pulling snug and shaping the front. You can go a bit lower, but don’t cover the sides yet. Tape the back and sides up higher than they will be needed at this point. Before going farther, I like to establish a tape band about the hips as the lowest possible point for the client’s movement and use of the restroom. The bottom of the tape band is the do-not-pass point. Experience dictates this is about ½ to 1 inch above where the leg forms an angle with the lower abdomen when the client is sitting. This band is continued on level around the client. The seamstress can observe the client sitting to check the work so far. It is from this point on, that excessive movement can cause problems. So let the client get those last squirms and scratches in while they still can. Now place a strap or two of tape starting on the taped back, over the shoulder, outside of the breast down on to the waist strapping. Do this whether it is going to be an over-the-bust or and under-the-bust design – it just helps keep things in place. Now tape from the waist down to the lowest point on the hip in bands. Hip taping should remain loose so the corset will not cut in when tightened down. This is a good point in the process to cut off the neckband of the shirt. Use EMT/paper scissors. (I cannot emphasize this enough! One nick to an artery and the client is dead. Really, don’t screw around.) Get the client to lift her breasts into place while you tape under them. Now it’s time to make the top of the corset, either under or over the bust. Under is just a matter of square top or shaping round the bust. Over the bust has a few more steps. Wrap short pieces of tape down the outside and under to create lift, before taping up the center of the area. Be aware that the areolas will be much higher than normal, if all is going well. Don’t make the chest too tight, but snug is required for some styles. If you want shoulder straps, now is a good time to tape for them. I use two or three short pieces, so as to get a nice curve over the shoulders. Shoulder straps are seldom straight, but a slight concave curve towards the arm when laid out as a pattern. Now its time for the medium tip marker. Mark your center front and center back vertical lines. It helps if the client can help the seamstress by pointing out her belly button, things that need to be covered, and give feedback about centering in general. Draw the top and bottom edge lines. Strap width should be measured, and check to see how they will work with other seams as the seamstress marks where the other seams will before the individual panels. If the corset is going to be waist slimming make the reduction curves graceful. By feeling and squishing in the natural waist area one can get an idea of how much and where the pre-pattern can be reduced. Bear in mind that while the natural waist can be compressed, the floater ribs can only be compressed a little without discomfort. Trimming the pre-pattern on the client needs to be done with care, with EMT/paper scissors. Good sewing scissors are razor sharp…. and the flesh under the duct tape and t-shirt is much softer than the pre-pattern. Trimming is done so the seamstress can see how the pattern’s overall shape is working out. Start with neck and hip lines, and then move on to arm pits. Armpits are a bit tricky. Too wide or tight and flesh and will bulge out unattractively. Too loose or small and they are not comfortable. The seamstress can use scrap of t-shirt and tape to build out an area she has trimmed to far.
Got it looking the way you want it? Then it is time to cut the client out of the pre-pattern with the EMT scissors. This can be done by cutting down the front seam marking for ease, or the back seam for modesty. You have a pre-pattern ready to transfer to a pattern paper and the client is done until a fitting of the first under layer is complete, but the seamstress’ work has just begun. Still, it’s break time!
Things to remember:
Try to keep the shape fitted but not tight so as to avoid rolls and crunching of the pre-pattern. Don’t just keep building up tape, you’re building a pre-pattern, not armour. Thickness messes up the pattern details, makes it harder to cut apart, and more difficult to transfer to the pattern. The bottom of the corset at the hips should not be tight, for this causes an unseemly bulge of skin or garment below the corset. Keep in mind only one half has to be finished and well marked, the other half is just waste, so it doesn’t need to be completed. To not complete the other hip is a great way not to get it too tight.
Thank you Anna-Marie! Fascinating, right? To read more Part 1 can be found here (with loads more pictures), Part 2 here and Part 3 here. Once you have made and modified the Pre-Pattern, you can follow the Eventide Corset Sew-a-Long for further Corsetry sewing up tips as well. I now have a burning desire to Duct Tape someone up! How about you? If you need some inspiration for styles, lines and shapes don’t forget to check out Corset Month on Pinterest!
With much trepidation, I purchased the new Great British Sewing Bee book a couple weeks ago. Finally, it popped through my door. We’ve had a little trouble with the Royal Mail this neck of the woods, and much apologies to all of my customers who have been affected. A little heavier than expected, I unwrapped it and was immensely surprised when I saw the Book and HUGE Pattern Pack!
I knew the Book came with Patterns however; I wasn’t prepared for how many, how usable they are, and how many I want to make up, like, right now!!
For some reason I had read ’5 Pattern Sheets’ as 5 Patterns however; the Book actually comes with Patterns for all of the designs in the Book. These include Leggings, a Waistcoat and Mens Shirt Pattern- just some of the Patterns for Men!- Tops, Skirts, Dresses and even a Coat. There are a couple projects to do based around Up-Cycling and Patternless sewing and loads of tips. It’s a real bargain to be honest.
I have a couple of favourites already, which I’d like to start stitching up as soon as possible. I love this Bowling Shirt and 1930s Blouse, and I even have fabric in my stash so there is really no excuse! I am tracing both out for use at Sewing Club, as they’re both excellent Beginner and Intermediate Sewing makes.
I may even go crazy, and make that 1930s Blouse in to a dress! Watch out for my posts about making these up, as I am going to have to make many, many adjustments to make them fit. As I measure it I’ll have to add in 6″ to the length of the body alone! Eep!! The Bowling Shirt will definitely have to have some darts or shaping added in for me above the bust as well and I’ll post on how to do this as I make them up.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your copy here… happy stitching!
As many of you are aware, I teach Sewing at several different locations, and post tutorials here to share what I have learnt over the years and hopefully encourage others! One of the courses I teach is a beginners Sewing Course at Cordial & Grace in Clifton, Bristol and I have been teaching it for over two years now. The first lesson is a Patchwork Cushion, the second a Tote Bag and the third an A-Line Skirt.
Everyone starts off with a Patchwork Cushion. They all look at my sample and don’t believe they’ll manage it, some take longer, some unpick endlessly, some crash into it with glee and untidy seams but all make a Patchwork cushion in three hours (stopping for some much deserved tea and home made cake of course!), and every single one of them goes home happy and brimming with pride.
At the beginning of the year I realised I must, in my time at Cordial & Grace, have taught well over 100 students to make this simple design, and I posted the tutorial for it for others to use. Then I really got to thinking! I decided I was pretty proud of myself for inspiring so many, and came to the conclusion that I would like to record this years Cushions!
Somewhere between a New Year’s Resolution and a mini Manifesto I shall share them here.
If you would like to join in, email, comment, share, tweet your Patchwork Cushion using the Tutorial and I shall add it to the pile. At the end of the year I’ll add ‘em up and maybe even run a prize for the most outstanding!
As you can see, many students take my suggestion to switch the design up on board, each is unique and beautiful, some fabrics are obviously liked by many and most owners don’t want their picture taken!! See the full Gallery here!
2013 has been quite the whirlwind! Here are my favourite Blog posts from each month… so without further ado, and not a whiff of preamble take my hand and follow me down the yellow stitched road!
As Fella tells it, I just ‘had it one day’; and to be honest I can’t remember where I found out about it, or heard about it or even saw a copy. I really did just have it one day and I haven’t looked back since! I strongly advocate a read if you are in the first stages of starting a business- hand made or otherwise!- or if you find yourself in a rut as following Cari Chapin’s words of wisdom has helped me through more than once!
So, you’ve picked out the perfect Pattern, you’ve chosen your fabric & are generally wildly excited about learning how to make your own clothes, but where to start? With accurate measurements of course! Using beautiful Vintage Illustrations like the above and sage advice from my collection of Vintage Sewing Books this post illustrates exactly how to take your measurements, which ones to take and how to do so accurately.
Quite literally my all time favourite stitch, ever! I use Herringbone Stitch for stunning invisible hems and this Tutorial will take you through the steps. March also saw my popular article on The Best Haberdashery Shops in London, which is well worth a read too.
In April I hosted my first Sew-a-Long… only I didn’t know then that’s what they were called! The Patternless A-Line Skirt is a technique I teach many Beginner Sewers’ and these Tutorials take you through each stage of creating your very own, fitted A-Line Skirt. Watch out for my soon to be released Skirts Zine too, which will take you through adapting the Pattern you draft in this Tutorial to make different styles such as a Circle Skirt, Pleated Skirt and more. Click each picture above for each stage.
Continuing my ever popular ‘Notions’ series this is a handy little Tutorial for an oft asked about technique.
High excitement was in the air as I researched, designed, hand illustrated (no Wacum Tablet back then!) and put in to production the first Zine in the Notions Series. Understanding Vintage and Modern Patterns has been updated and reprinted and has sold out again, and again much to my absolute joy. More have since joined the first and what started out as a bit of a personal challenge has now turned in to one of the true Laura After Midnight pleasures. Many more are planned and I can’t wait to release the first colour one! Click here to buy.
A lovely technique to make alterations or hand made dresses unique.
Fully illustrates guide to insert these tricky little buggers!
What a month September was! Pattern Month was a huge, rip roaring, smash of a success with competitions, tutorials on Drafting Patterns, Re-Sizing Vintage Patterns and more, interviews with independent Pattern Companies like the gorgeous Gals’ over at Colette, with all sorts of additional hints, tips and tricks it has to have been the most fun one girl can have Blogging! Planning the next one has started already…
Finally, slightly exhausted after September I’m not gonna lie!, I organized myself and designed the now familiar Vintage Techniques and Tutorials Page. Here you can find all of the Tutorials I have written, projects and very much more. Enjoy, and don’t forget to make a request!
Prompted by an image I shared on Facebook, I whipped up this little Tutorial as part of the many Christmas Tutorials I did throughout November and December. From Stockings, to Pyjamas I had your Hand Made Christmas covered and they’re well worth a look through!
Throughout December I was rained on… lots!, made over 100 meters of Bunting for sale on my (rainy!) Market Stalls, worked harder than I had all year, managed an (almost) completely Hand Made Christmas, hosted a Christmas Pop Up Sewing Emporium and posted some Christmas Makes in amongst the madness! It was a satisfying end to a year which has been incredibly interesting to live/survive through.
I am not entirely sure I enjoyed all of 2013, but I am damn certain it has taught me valuable lessons, encouraged me to work harder in 2014 and given me a firm grounding with which to take Laura After Midnight to the next level. In my plans for next year I have more Pop Up Sewing Emporiums, Kits for some pretty exciting and super cool makes and patterns, Zines a plenty and so very much more!
Happy 2013, Happy New Year, and here’s to 2014… each and every one if you!!
I have just updated the Vintage Sewing Techniques and Tutorials Page, click the above tab to see it in all of it’s wonderful shiny, new glory!
Now included are links to my Notions series including tips quick tips on things like Pinning, threading a needle, ironing and general dressmaking, as well as tutorials for making a Simple A-Line Skirt, inserting various Zips, Machine Button Holes, Darts, Gathers and Pleats and a multitude of others! There is also a handy quick reference to all four weeks of Pattern Month.
I have also included a larger cross section of the many, many blogs which I follow on a daily basis- they’re well worth checking out. Don’t forget to follow me on Bloglovin‘ to see all of them.
Please do not hesitate to comment below if you would like to see a tutorial or Notions post about something which is not already there… I’m always looking for ideas! For a more comprehensive guide to Understanding patterns, Pleats, Darts, Tucks and gathers and making various Seams hop on over to my Etsy store to buy a copy of my Zine. There are currently four available, with more in the works.
As well as teaching Basic Sewing Skills and Dressmaking Skills (including the Skirt in a Day Course, which is proving popular and great fun!), at Cordial & Grace in Clifton- Bristol’s first Sewing Cafe, with truly some of the best cakes around (my favourite is a Gluten Free Blackberry Cake which somehow has a Mousse in the middle… delicious!), I also have a couple of interesting courses coming up at Flo-Jo Boutique, on the Gloucester Road.
The first is a Vintage Party Dress Course, running throughout November and the beginning of December. The above Pattern is provided, we shall be covering re-sizing to fit various body shapes and covering Vintage sewing techniques. How lovely would it be to have this stunning dress for the Party season this year? You can choose to make the ‘wiggle’ or 50s, full skirted option. Simply call Flo-Jo Boutique to reserve a spot, and discuss fabric requirements. The course runs from 7th November for six weeks, 6pm-8.30pm. It costs £125 which includes the Pattern.
The second- and a course I am wildly excited about!- is Sewing For Men!! Now, you don’t strictly have to be a man to book on to this course however; we have so many men asking to learn to sew but (I think) being slightly intimidated by us women en masse so to speak, that we have decided to put in this course. You will make a beautiful, long sleeve Shirt and in doing so learn all the techniques needed such as Buttons and Button Holes, French Seaming, inserting Sleeves, Collars and how to shape and mould them on a Tailors Ham then insert, Sewing a Vent for the Cuff, Flat Fell Seaming and more! Each technique is fairly simple and the pattern is easy to make up so the course will concentrate on maintaining a perfect finish. This would be ideal if you have some previous experience however; beginners would also succeed, and are encouraged. A women’s Shirt Pattern will also be available if you would like to make that, and the course is open to both Men and Women… you could even make a glorious Christmas Present for you deserving other half! The course runs from 7th January for four weeks, 6pm-8.30pm. It costs £80 which includes the Patterns.
In the New Year I shall also be teaching at a new location (fingers crossed!), so you’ll be able to learn to Sew with me in an entirely new City! Exciting!! I shall also be continuing with my Sewing Group and Private Lessons (hopefully in a new space, but more on that later). Please do not hesitate to contact me about these, or any of my courses.
I look forward to seeing you sewing!
Firstly, you will find it useful to know the four stages of Pattern development:
1. The Basic Block. This is the Basic Pattern that is used as a basis for all adaptations. The Block Pattern is traced on to pattern paper to produce the Working Pattern.
2. The Toile, Sloper or Mock Up, which will inform the fit of the Basic Blocks more accurately. Adaptations to the Basic Block are made as a result and the Basic Blocks now will not change. Toiles can be made at any stage to check the Patterning process.
3. The Working Pattern is used to cut and adapt the Basic Block to achieve the Fianl Pattern and is your design in pattern form for the first time! Adapting the Basic Block, which is not very design lead!, to a design this pattern is so called because after a toile is made changes will still need made to the Working Pattern until you are happy with scale, fit, finishings, pocket placement, dart/pleat/gather placement and all manner of small details. When happy the Working Pattern will then become…
4. The Final Pattern. The final, working and ready to be made up Working Pattern traced off with all markings, notches and notes on construction ironed out.
This week we shall be concerning ourselves with drafting the Basic Blocks. These are the Bodice Block, the Skirt Block and the Sleeve Block. Drafting the Blocks is the start of creating patterns to fit the individual figure, however difficult, for any style, past or present with flat pattern cutting. From these three Blocks any number of Final Patterns can be created from the humble A-Line Skirt to the most extravagant imaginings!
Firstly it is important to take accurate measurements. The Basic Blocks are to be made up to your measurements so it is imperative that accurate measurements be taken so that they fit as accurately as possible, with minimal changes needing to be made in the later stages of creating your Working Pattern.
I will take the Bust, Waist and Hip measurements, Nape to Waist, Back Width and Chest measurements then check which size these most closely resemble in the Standard Body Measurements Chart below. You will also need your Waist to Hip, Armhole Depth, Neck Width, Shoulder and Dart measurements which you will find on the chart. I have found that taking these smaller measurements from the Chart greatly increases the accuracy of the pattern and saves time!
It is not easy to measure oneself however; if no partner can be found use a mirror to ensure the tape measure is placed as correctly as possible. I have a few hints and tips on measuring oneself accurately here.
And so, without further ado, and making sure we have a nice cuppa sitting next to us, it is time to draft the Basic Bodice Block. For this I have used Winifred again, of Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear fame. All one needs to do is follow her instructions- listed to the left- without hesitation or deviation.
A few notes:
Click to enlarge the images and print if necessary, I find it helpful to tick off each point as I go or I can get terribly confused about half way through!
The Sleeve and Tailored Skirt Blocks. Click for an enlargement and to print. All Block Patterns are taken from Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich.
Remember to comment below with any thoughts, queries or struggles and triumphs… Good luck, brave pattern makers!
I am just about managing to meet my target! The third Zine was finished last night, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.
Seams: the Simple Stitches and Techniques needed to Sew is all about the basic seams you need to know to sew with confidence. It covers Plain Seaming, French and Flat Fell Seaming as well as taking the reader through Curves, Hand Stitches and Finishing among other hints and tips.
Containing both original illustrations and some taken from my collection of Vintage Sewing Books- which I am so happy to be able to share in this way!- it even comes with a free gift! A handy piece of beautifully soft Calico, so trying out all of those seams and hand stitches is no problem. It also comes with a copy of my 2nd Zine Books We Like, which is an illustrated guide to the Vintage Sewing Books I love, use daily and even teach my classes with.
Available soon through my Etsy store, I think it looks most effective next to my first Zine- I’m becoming quite the publishing Empire!
I hope you all are having a lovely Friday… I’m off to the post office. I have had a small deluge of orders and I have to post copies of all of my Zines to my Mum!
No doubt the sketch of the design on the front of the envelope will catch your eye first.
From McCall’s Sewing in Colour
A beginning seamstress may feel Einstein’s theories are as easy to understand as the intricacies of a first pattern. Here is a place where first steps should be taken slowly […] &, whether you are a beginner or an experienced home-sewer, every pattern should be carefully studied before you lay out your pattern & start to cut.
A pattern […], not only gives complete instructions for constructing the garment, but also suggests the proper fabrics to use & provides basic information on preparing fabric, adjusting the pattern, cutting, marking & sewing techniques.
No doubt the sketch of the design on the front of the envelope will catch your eye first. On the back of the pattern envelope there is quite a bit of information to digest. Beginners may wish to avoid certain design features such as gussets, long button front closings, complicated collars & intricate darting. These features may not be clearly shown in the sketch, but will be noted in the description. Use this information to judge whether the construction of the garment is within your level of skill.
From McCall’s Sewing in Colour
Other useful information detailed on the Pattern Envelope is a section on Suggested Fabrics. Here the manufacturer has listed what fabrics would best suit the pattern such as light weight cottons for dresses & shirts or heavier weight fabrics for jackets. It is incredibly important to follow these guidelines as they will have taken into account things like the drape & fall of the fabric to best suit the design & silhouette of the pattern. If you do decide to use a different fabric you may create a silhouette which is entirely different from the one intended.
Once you have decided upon your size using the measurements you have taken, you can use the Yardage Chart to buy the right amount of fabric for your design. By reading down the column from your size, & across from the widths of fabric listed, the exact yardage/meter-age needed is listed. I always tend to buy a little more to be on the safe side. This enables me to make things a little longer if needed. When interfacings or linings are required the amounts will also be listed according to your size.
There will also be a section for Notions. A strange word, I’ll grant you! Notions covers any Buttons, Hook & Eyes, Zipper, Ribbons or Ties, & any other items you may need to complete your design.
You will save time by buying everything at one time, & it’s easier to match colour of thread, zipper, buttons & trims if they are all purchased at once. Be sure to buy all the notions listed. It’s frustrating to have to interrupt a sewing session just to run out & pick up a forgotten item
From McCall’s Sewing in Colour
Don’t you just love these Vintage sewing books for their pithy & helpful yet slightly rude advise? Brilliant, & so very much more to come!!
Also, check out our publication Understanding Vintage and Modern Patterns, available now on Etsy!