A little of what’s been happening…

Well, ever since Laura After Midnight changed and adapted to become Midnight Costume Services and I returned to my roots Designing and Making Costumes for Stage and Screen we have been run off our feet! My little team is gradually growing and I just got back off of my first Holiday in years to Paris… but more on that delicious adventure later!

Since Christmas we have been building Costumes for a Holiday Park including mini versions of over 15 West End and Film Musicals, dream job, right?! We were also commissioned to make 8 matching Madonna Cone Bra Corsets for some Dancers, worked on an awesome Victorian BBC TV Show and completed more work for Celebrity Cruises on three more Cruise Shows and that’s not everything… phew ‘eckers!

I’m going to be sharing more over the coming weeks as I slowly get back in to this blogging lark- it’s been nose to the grindstone a bit, with 12 hour days, 7 days a week and I do hope you can understand why I haven’t been sharing the love on here so much recently- but I thought I would start with the Anna and Elsa Costumes I shipped this Thursday… because they are a treat!!

We used the Yaya Han Corset as previously talked about for the base for all three Frozen Dresses because we knew it fitted the performers really well. It also gives a great foundation to be built upon. All skirts and Cloaks were then hand drafted to measure. The most work went into the Elsa Snowflake Dress, which took three of us about 4 days to build so I thought I’d share the process…

21 22 23

The Corset for the Elsa Snowflake Dress has been made from 4 layers of fabric to build up the look I wanted. In the animation it’s actually illustrated as if it’s layers of square sequins however; anything like that that I tried to replicate was either too expensive (budget for this dress was about £100) or just didn’t move enough on stage and looked ‘clunky’ so the decision was made to emphasis the Snowflake aspect, which I think really worked.

About 200 Snowflakes were hot knifed from the Crystal Organza to use on the Silver Glitter Body Suit, the Corset and the Cloak.

24 25 26 27

Once I started sewing the Corset together I had to get it on the mannequin almost immediately to see how it looked! It’s not often I get this excited as there’s a lot of prep that goes in to a Costume so I normally have a good idea of how it’s going to look… but this was different! The layers of Organza and Satin looked amazing once they were sewn! I also started to play around with the placement of the Snowflakes at the neckline. Super exciting!!

15 14

Once the Corset was sewn properly, the Snowflakes were attached, and then Hot Stoned with Diamante Hot Stones, which really made the whole thing shimmer.

20 17 18 11

The neckline of the Silver Glitter Body Suit was also strewn with Snowflakes and then Hot Stones, as you can see from the far left and 2nd left pictures above the Diamante Hot Stones really make the whole thing sparkle.

Untitled-1 10

The final costume was gorgeous however; because of the tight deadline we don’t have too many pictures. We shall hopefully be rectifying this soon, as we hope to soon see the costumes in action.

8 7 9

As you can probably tell, I have tried to simplify the design of these Costumes. This is due in part to budget and time constraints however; it is also because I believe there is a risk in over embellishing Disney Costumes. Often the simpler they are, the more like the cartoon they look.

Above is Elsa’s 1st Dress, which has been colour blocked with the design hand painted to the front of the Corset. The thing I’m most pleased about? The Cloak!!

1a 5 1b

And last, but not least, Anna. I love the simplicity of this dress. Love it! I think the green stripes of the Skirt work wonderfully, and in person the hand painting on the Black Velvet Corset kinda glows, it’s a shame it’s not showing up so well in the photos.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into my fairy-tale world!

Happy stitching!

Corset Kit & Pattern News

I thought I would just post a quick update on Corset Month, and the Corset Kit/Pattern… pre-orders are being taken (simply email me at laura@lauraaftermidnight.com to add you name to the list) however; I have run in to some last minute technical issues. These shouldn’t effect the start of Corset Month but I shall probably have to reorganize the running order slightly to accommodate for people ordering the Kits and Patterns so that there is time for them to reach everyone before the start of Corset Month.

So, what’s been happening?

Well, I have been working. A lot! And it turns out releasing a Pattern is kind on an insane task, but hey- I’m nearly at the end of it now! I have learnt so much, mainly that if you want something done well… you’ve guessed it… do it yourself!! I had initially tried to have the Patterns I wish to release digitised professionally however, and I am not entirely sure why, no companies were that willing to help, assist or work with me. Maybe because I was ‘small fry’? This little thing has meant months of research and planning going out the window, and that I had to learn how to draft in Illustrator. Not ideal as this also meant everything has taken quite literally months longer that I had anticipated! But hey, now I can draft in illustrator… not brilliantly and with many, many swear words and cups of tea, but I can!

So having mastered this side of things, we were on to the printing and ‘PDF-ing’ of the Patterns. Again, so many little issues to iron out. It turns out that- only being able to print A4 at home (the other Pattern I am designing needs to be A3)- that this section needed to be done at my local copy shop. And they’re soo rude!! I have found a new copy shop, willing to scan and print for a much more reasonable price and we are inching towards our goal line.

With a selection of processes- and I am sure none of them are conventional!- I am now able to draft Patterns, digitize and clean them up/test, print and convert them to PDF. Boy, has it ever been a learning curve!!

As I said, we’re nearly there and only a week late. Which I am counting as a win!! To be honest, I’m so proud of myself and wonderfully amazed that I will have released a Pattern in the next week. It’s just that everyone has to be a little patient for a little while longer, and I thank you so much for that.

As a little bonus, and as part of the Sew-a-Long I shall be posting a Waspie ‘hack’ so the Corset Patter you buy from me will actually be able to be adapted and changed into two wonderful pieces. I shall also be running a competition for the PDF (as I have just reached over 700 followers on Facebook yay!!), so definitely watch this space!!

The Corset Kits I am producing are limited in number for the first run but there are a few left if you would like to put your name down. I’ll be shipping next week, and they’ll be on sale as wells as the Hard Copy with Instruction Book, and the PDF Download. The Sew-a-Long will start on the 14th April with a HUGE post on suppliers so if you wanted to join in you can grab your equipment in time for the Sew-a-Long. This information is also included in each Instruction Book. The Sew-a-Long proper will start a week later with inserting the Busk.

Phew, I’m off to Devon for a couple days to try to decompress (stress dreams are oh so fun!), and meet Fellas Ozzie family. Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Happy stitching!

Making your own Christmas Cards

bauble2Making your own Christmas Cards is a very satisfying experience! For years I have grabbed a couple potatoes and happily stamped away however; for this tutorial I have updated the technique slightly to produce permanent stamps which can be re-used again and again.

You will need:

Sticky Back Foam (click here to buy)

Acrylic Blocks (Click here to buy)

Scalpel

Paper

Scissors

Stamp Pad and Acrylic Paints

Blank Cards (Ebay is an excellent resource to buy these in bulk, cheaply)

Paint Brushes, Pencils, Pens and Paper

Firstly, use the Pens, Pencils and Paper to sketch out a couple Designs. You should keep them super simple to start, and just have a little fun before refining your technique. As I am an avid fan of different printing techniques- I love Lino Cuts and have been producing them since I was a child- I wanted to attempt the most Christmassy of things… Vintage style Baubles!

bauble1

Having sketched out a couple designs, I liked the 3rd the best. It’s not overly complicated but it will look good in silhouette as a stamp.

Once you have chosen a Design, draw it on to the Foam. Proceed to use the Scalpel and Scissors to cut the Design from the Foam. Loosely cut around, then cut the finer details out until it is finished. Lastly, you will need to neaten up the edges

bauble3 bauble4 bauble5 bauble6

Peel the back of the Sticky Back Foam away, and stick to one of the Acrylic Blocks. This enables you see where you are Stamping the image, and hold on to it properly.

bauble7 bauble8 bauble9

Press your beautiful new Stamp on to the Stamp Pad, rock slightly then move and stamp and rock again to properly cover the Stamp with Ink.

Gently press the Stamp on to your Card, and press down in each corner to make sure the Stamp prints properly.

I will stamp a couple of practice runs to make sure I am happy with the result before I stamp the final cards. I also like to mix in different coloured paints to make the result you can see in the far right picture above.

Squeeze out some paint on to some card, and using a paint brush spread it out as evenly and thinly as possible in a large enough area to cover the Stamp. Gently press the Stamp in to the paint, then in to the Stamp Pad to cover with Ink (this works best if the Stamp Pad is a Gold, Silver or shiny colour), then stamp on to your Card.

bauble11 bauble10 bauble12

So, what do you think of mine? Shown above are some of the Bauble Stamps I have cut, my paint trials and a finished Card. I think I like these best in a single colour, and I am going to do some in Hot Pink, Teal and Purple with Gold. They will be available on my Market Stalls, and through my Etsy store soon.

Of course, you could use these stamps to make Gift Tags, Wrapping Paper or even purchase some Fabric Paint and make your very own Christmas Fabric!

Christmas Month continues with Presents!!

Happy stitching!

Pattern Making Musings: IN-HOUSE Patterns

in house title card

Alexandra, of IN-HOUSE Patterns, was enormously enthusiastic when I contacted her about Pattern Month, and was more than happy to answer a couple questions about how she works and what design element she is most proud of amongst other things. Alexandra is most generously offering an IN-HOUSE Pattern of your choice in our first give away! My particular favourite, the Belle Bow Blouse, is simply gorgeous. Sleeveless, with a drop shoulder and gathered front yoke and featuring stitched pleats this pattern has a bow tied collar or rolled shirt collar option, as well as the option to make from a sheer fabric. This beautiful top would suit anyone, and just as soon as I have time I shall be making one up… but more on that later!

IN-House Patterns are a Vintage and high fashion inspired dressmaking Pattern company based in Canada. Designing patterns which are sleek and super stylish, Alexandra has an impressive background as a pattern maker, designer and fit technician for several apparel companies however; her desire to tackle her own personal fitting issues has lead her to develop In House.

q3

Like many of us, Alexandra has been sewing since she was a child, and her desire to fit an average hourglass figure with a full bust shines through, and it is one of the many reasons I have come to admire and respect independent Pattern companies- they cater for us! What sets In House Patterns apart however; is that they have been developed to create a completely professional looking finished garment.

q1

In order to achieve this professional finish, Alexandra says that In-House Patterns are not quite the same as many other home sewing patterns! They are developed using industrial construction techniques however; these have been adapted for regular home sewing equipment. As someone who teaches sewing, I wholly approve of this approach, as I strongly believe in pushing oneself to achieve the very best garment possible. Using a combination of industrial, historical and home sewing techniques in both my working life and in my classes has helped produce good looking garments quickly, creatively and with a good finish.

I do hope you find the following interesting, and more importantly informative! I especially found the books Alexandra has recommended very interesting as I have not come across one of them! It is even now at the top of my Christmas List!

 As a professional Pattern Cutter, are there any tools, or equipment you would recommend?

I couldn’t live without my computer. I do all my Patterns on the computer using Pattern Making Software and Adobe Illustrator. If you are Pattern Making by hand, use Professional tools. They are expensive but well worth the price, were designed specifically for Pattern Cutting and will streamline Pattern Development.

 What has been the best piece of Pattern Cutting advice you have come across?

 Maintain a 90 degree angle at intersecting seam lines. This is a super simple notion, but makes all the difference in the fit and hang of a finished garment. Some books don’t mention or demonstrate this well and I think it is one of the most important techniques for great patterns.

q2

Are there any Books you would recommend to aid Pattern Cutting?

I love all pattern making books! I have a very large collection which I reference on a regular basis. My favourite book for Block development is Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich. For general Pattern Making with lots of content I use Pattern Making for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph Armstrong. Overall I’ve found that no one book can teach you everything and no matter what book/method/class you go to you will need to do the manual labour of tweaking and perfecting your patterns. Your greatest teachers are experimentation and experience.

q4

Of the patterns you have designed, which stands out as something you are proud of?

I made a strapless dress with an inner corset bodice which turned out beautifully. I loved that the inner corset supported the entire dress while the exterior looked effortless.

There are so many new, interesting and exciting Pattern Companies beginning to emerge at the moment, which has you excited to start stitching one of their designs up?

Thread Theory Designs, which are Menswear Patterns designed by Morgan who was a student of mine in the very first Pattern Making Class I taught. She’s a fellow Victorian, and has been developing her line over the past year and she’s an absolutely lovely person.

Thanks to Alexandra for being the first Interview for Pattern Month! Read more from Alexandra on her blog, and she has some sage advice on developing Pattern Blocks here. Pattern Cutting Software is something I have been meaning to investigate, having been trained in just the very basics at Uni. As quite a few of our interviewees have spoken of their love of CAD I am tasking Fella with assisting me! Do also look up Thread Theory Designs, their Parkland Wardrobe Builder Package is awesome, I especially love the cardigan. It’s completely unique and wonderful to see trendy, unusual patterns for men.

As I mentioned Alexandra is rather kindly giving away an IN-HOUSE Pattern of your choice. All you have to do to be entered in to the competition is comment below either about what Alexandra had to say, or with your own answers to any of the questions! Simple! The competition will run until midnight GMT next Friday.

Belle Bow BlouseBlossomPDF sewing pattern for a knit cowl neck top from In-House Patterns

IH6000-Claire sketchKimono Tee PDF downloadable sewing patternNew York Mini

Next week, as well as the second Pattern Making tutorial all about making up a toile, another Pattern related Notions and a great Wordless Wednesday, we have Pattern Making Musings from Sarai of Colette, and a rather special give away!

Happy patterning!

Pattern Cutting Resources

Welcome back to Pattern Cutting Month!! Remember to snaffle a button for your Blog if you are following along!

Some invaluable Pattern Cutting resources are listed here. If you are to take drafting your own patterns seriously, some, if not all, of these basics should inevitably be purchased.

Obviously there are many Pattern drafting and sewing books on the market. These are a few I use regularly.

Product DetailsProduct Details

Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich

This is a, quite frankly, staggering resource in Pattern Cutting. With all of the Basic Blocks illustrated and with full instructions on how to draft them in a standard size 12, or to your size, this book also covers adjusting the Basic Blocks, and drafting further pattern pieces for design elements when designing your own patterns. With chapters covering Skirts, Sleeves, Collars amongst other design elements such as collars, this is absolutely the first place to turn when learning to draft patterns. The big drawback is that absolutely no information is given on sewing the patterns up, so some experience in sewing garments is a big help. This is the definitive guide, at least in my mind, for making modern day patterns of your own design. Also available is Pattern Cutting for Beach and Lingerie Wear, Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear and Metric Pattern Cutting for Children’s Wear.

The Cut of Women’s Clothes by Norah Waugh

Covering pattern drafting from 1600 to 1930, this is one for the Vintage lovers! It has for many years now been the go to book for Costumers  which is how I came across it however; it is also invaluable to anyone who wishes to take the history and construction of Women’s clothes seriously.  The book contains many patterns from each period taken from extant garments with clear illustrations and notes taken from early technical books and journals on construction details. You will need to scale up each pattern to use, and I shall be talking about how to do this in a future post.

Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing

One of the best sewing manuals about, with information on sewing up and creating patterns, this is definitely a help in sewing up the patterns you create. Find my complete review here.

Vintage Sewing Books

I expound at great length upon the virtue of Vintage sewing books! You can find my favourites here.

As for equipment, these are my recommendations. I have included links however; Ebay is your friend in these matters as Pattern Drafting can be an expensive past time!

PatternmasterDot and Cross Pattern Paper

The Patternmaster

An invaluable tool in creating patterns. This is a see through perspex tool which has markings for centimetre measurements and useful curves for drawing neck, and sleeve holes.

Pattern Paper

I prefer plain Pattern Paper however, all that seems available is Dot and Cross!! This is available in 40 meter rolls (for the truly serious!) through Morplan however; in the UK Fabric Land sell it for 50p a meter and again, Ebay sells smaller rolls and sheets from just 99p +P&P. It is important to get Pattern Paper of 45gsm as you will need to see through it to trace your Blocks to Working Patterns. The thinner paper is also much easier to pin in use.

Sharp pencils and several colours of felt tip pens, a rubber, a tape measure and a calculator will also be needed. As you can see when looking through the above links there are many, many more pieces of equipment available however; if you set yourself up with the above few pieces you will be able to pattern draft effectively, and decide upon further equipment, and therefore further expense!, at a later date!

Not many of the Sewing Blogs I follow post about drafting patterns from scratch however some helpful information can be found at Your Wardrobe Unlock’d, Burda (which is a surprising resource over all), and quite a lot of good basic advice can also be found at Madalynne too. Grainline Studio has handy tips on adapting their patterns, their Tips and Tricks page is also very interesting. Good patterning advice is quite scarce and I am always on the look out, please share links below if you find any!

Well, until tomorrow, happy patterning!

Week 1: Drafting the Basic Blocks

pattern pictureFrom Practical Home Dressmaking Illustrated by Lynn Hillson

Welcome to the first Tutorial of Pattern Month!!

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:

  • 1cm = 3/8th of an Inch
  • It is extremely important to maintain precision in all details. A few millimetres out could mean the whole is several sizes too small or too large by the end of the drafting process.
  • ‘Square Up/Down’ or ‘Square Accross’ means draw down or accross at a 90 Degree angle. Try to make this angle as accurate as possible using a set square or Patternmaster. If none is at hand a piece of card can do the trick nicely!
  • Mark all Waistlines, Bust Lines and Hip Lines as illustrated.

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!

PATTERN CUTTING Standard Body MeasurementsThe Standard Body Measurements Chart, with illustration showing where each measurement should be placed.

PATTERN CUTTING Basic Bodice BlockThe Basic Bodice Block, with space to note down your measurements from the measurements needed.

PATTERN CUTTING Sleeve Block   PATTERN CUTTING Basic Skirt Block

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!

Happy patterning!