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!

greendress3 greendress1

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.

greendress2 greendress4

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!

PDF Flash Sale

Because of new EU VAT Regulations (boy, am I tired of typing that, and so fed up with the situation), I will have to stop selling PDF Patterns through Etsy as of Midnight on December 31st 2014. This may seem to be a knee jerk reaction to the whole Vat Mess situation however; millions of small businesses are being effected by the (ridiculous, unfair and plain stupid) change- over 3.3 million in the UK alone- and this is a precautionary step to protect myself until we can figure out what the next step it… because all sources of help within HMRC are giving conflicting, incorrect or confusing advice and no-one seems to understand how we can comply, why indeed as a Small Business/Micro Business we should comply or what the next step might be.

Just to give you an overview, from 1st January 2015 if I sell a Digital File to another EU Country I have to pay VAT there. However there are 28 countries in the EU with 75 different VAT rates… so I have to register to pay VAT in every EU Country… and often I don’t know where my Customer is. I’m going to leave it there as I tend to start angry typing and become incoherent if I add more!!

I will still be offering Patterns as a hard copy however; the new regulations will include all products by the end of the year. The best explanation of the new regulations I have found is here, please read it if you are a small business as I was convinced the 80k threshold would protect me and it doesn’t. More interesting articles can be found here and here loosely explaining the situation and a very helpful Facebook Group has been set up here.

So, why not just sell to the US? As 80% of my business is with you guys- thanks by the way!- this is a viable solution. But wait… there’s a little piece of law which says I shouldn’t discriminate against selling to a certain Country without cause. I think this is cause not to sell to the EU, expecially when historically I don’t much however; there’s another really, huge, big issue with this. I sell on Etsy, who aren’t going to help me to distinguish between Countries so I can’t do this and keep this side of my business afloat. Great.

So, we’re left with several options… just sell Hard Copy Patterns with a complimentary PDF, just sell Hard Copy, or find another platform to sell on so I can distinguish between Countries so I can only sell outside of the EU which looks like it might be a more permanent solution for the size of my business.

 

Any hoo, because of this ”VAT Mess” I’m having a Flash Sale on all PDF Patterns…

Mini Top Hat PDF Sewing Pattern Victorian Edwardian Steampunk DIY Craft Kit Eventide Corset PDF Sewing Pattern Victorian Edwardian Steampunk DIY Craft Kit

Mini Top Hat PDF (above, left) £3.25      Eventide Corset PDF (above, right) £4.25

Dusken Spats PDF Sewing Pattern Victorian Edwardian Steampunk DIY Craft Kit

**NEW** Dusken Spats PDF (above) £4.25

Costume Sewing Patterns Selection Pack inc. Victorian Corset, Steampunk Burlesque Mini Top Hat and Steampunk Spats

All three PDF Patterns (above) £10

How’s about that then? They’ll only be available for the next two days… eek!! Click the images to buy 🙂

Happy stitching

Corset Month Week IV: Finishing Part II

This is exciting! Today I will be showing you all how to insert the Eyelets in to your Corset, create a Modesty Panel and generally revel in the enjoyment of finishing the Eventide Corset!

For this you will need your Eyelets (I recommend Prym), and Eyelet Setter and Hammer. It’s time to get physical!

First, between the two lines of Boning at the Back, mark where you would like each Eyelet/Grommet to be. There are many schools of thought on this but I tend to make the first one 1cm from the Top and 1cm from the Bottom. Then, I evenly space the rest out approx. 3cm apart. This seems to be ideal to lace a Corset up well each time.

Mark with a contrast Pencil (below, left), and then using the Eyelet Punch, cut a hole on every mark (below, right).

finishing1 finishing2

Next, using your Eyelet Setting Tool, and using the instruction for it, Hammer in each Eyelet. Prym Eyelets come with an Eyelet Hole Punch, Eyelets and Setting tool so are a complete bargain! Please refer to the Eventide Corset Pattern for more recommendations.

To make the Modesty Panel, measure the Back of your Eventide Corset from Top to Bottom. Add 2cm, then draw a rectable on your Coutil 17cm x this measurement. Cut it out, then use it as a Pattern to cut out a piece of the same size from your Front Fabric.

Place Right Sides Together and with 1cm Seam Allowance, sew around leaving a small gap along one side to turn it out. Remember to reverse stitch at the beginning and end. Clip the corners (below, centre) and turn out the right way. Iron flat, and pin the gap closed.

finishing3 finishing4 finishing5

Top stitch all around the edge, then in lines across the Modesty Panel for added strength (above, right).

finishing6 finishing7 finishing8

As illustrated (above, left) place the Modesty Panel Right Side Down on the Back of the Corset. Place the edge along the far line of Boning Channel stitching. Pin as best you can- it will be thick!. On the front sew over this line of stitching exactl so that the stitching used to attach the Modesty Panel is invisible, and lies directly on top of the stitching for the Boning Channel (above, centre).

As you can see, the effect is to continue the Corset on behind the lacing. ]

Lace up your Corset. I lace mine to the Middle which is easiest to do when Lacing a Corset up on yourself as seen in the Fitting post however; there are many different ways to consider.

You are finished!

finishing9 finishing11 finishing12

Congratulations! Hopefully you have been bitten by the bug, and you will make many more Eventide Corsets!!

Don’t forget, if this is the first you are seeing of Corset Month, check out what this is all about here, and buy your Eventide Corset Pattern here.

Happy stitching!

Corset Month Week VI: Finishing Part I

It’s all about finishing this week, having tackled sewing the Boning Channels, we will be Binding, Cutting and Tipping Boning and inserting Eyelets in to our almost finished Eventide Corset!

I have chosen to sew my Eventide in the simplest method, with the Boning Channels on top (The Eventide Method). After this is accomplished, you will next need to sew the Boning Channels for the Back. If you have your Eventide Corset Book, you will have noticed these need to lie 1.5cm from the Edge Stitching at the Centre Back, then 1cm from this line of Stitching and then 1.5cm from this line of Stitching.

Again, you can use a measuring tape to mark your seam allowance guides on the sewing machine as you did for inserting the Busk. Click on the below to enlarge.

eyelet channels for blog post

Next, you will need to continue neatening the top of your Corset, which you will have started doing when Fitting. Lay each side on top of each other, and pin as illustrated.

bind5 bind6 bind7

Stretch the Corset Top or Bottom out as flat as possible (above, centre), then cut down the sides following the adjustments you made when Fitting. Both sides should match as closely as possible (above, right).

bind8

This is also a great time to start considering any adornment you may like for your Eventide!

Now that your Corset has been cleaned up- what a difference it makes!- you will need to bind the Top before we Cut and Insert the Boning. Of course you can create your own by cutting strips of Bias Cut matching or contrast Fabric (below, left), sewing them together (below, centre) and then attaching them- with Right Sides Together- to the Top of the Corset however; there are a myriad of ready made Bias Bindings out there too.

Each strip of Self Made Bias Binding should be 4.5cm wide, and as long as you can make them (if you need to join, see the below, centre illustration). When sewing on to the Top of the Corset, you have 1cm Seam Allowance. Leave about 3cm extra Bias Binding at the beginning and end of the seam (below, right).

bind9 bind10 bind11

When the Top Bias Binding is attached, you are ready to Cut and Tip the Boning.

bind12#

Draw a little diagram of the Corset (if you are using the Eventide Pattern, this will be in your booklet), then measure from the Bottom of the Bias Binding to the Bottom of the Corset (below, left). Take 2cm away from this measurement and make a note of it (below, centre). Gather up your Steel Boning, a permanent marker and Tin Snips.

bone1 bone2 bone3

Measure along the Steel Boning, draw a line where you will need to cut and write the Measurement of the Steel in permanent Marker (below, left). I like to make a note of all of the Steels I need to cut and cross them off as I do them (below, centre). This helps me not to cut too many, or one of the wrong size.

Once all of the Steels have been cut to length, cut 24 1cm lengths of Shrink Tubing. Pop a piece of Shrink Tubing on the end of the Steel, and heat with a Heat Gun or Hair-dryer until is shrinks and snugly wraps around the end of the Steel. Each piece should just cover the end of the Steel so that the sharp edge is completely protected (below, right).

bone4 bone5 bone6

Slip each Steel Bone into the relevant Casing and push until it is up against the Bound edge and about 2cm away from the raw edge of the Corset.

bone7 bone8

Sew the Bias Binding on to the Bottom of the Corset in the same fashion as you did the Top (above, right).

bone10 bone11 bone12

Iron the top of the Bias Binding over by 1cm (above, left). Pleat the excess Bias Binding neatly (above, centre), and fold in. Fold the Bias Binding over again so that the edge of the Bias Binding lies along the Stitching (above, right and below). Pin.

bone13

As you can see from the below, front view, it is obvious why Self Made Bias Binding is so wonderful! When you have pinned all four Seams, you will need to hand stitch on the inside using a Slip Stitch.

bone14

And that’s it! Just the Eyelets and Modesty Panel and your beautiful Eventide Corset will be complete! Join me later this week for this, and a couple of very interesting Interviews!

Don’t forget to share you Corsets on Facebook or Twitter, If you have just joined us, check out what Corset Month is all about here.

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!

Wordless Wednesday

2ed8c61728937817fb713256ff74ac86This glorious item is a card covered in Sewing accessories, supplies and tools, offered in Paris Department Store Etrennes as a plaything for Girls. The idea was to inspire them in  traditional needlework skill- which it certainly would have done if it had been given to me!! c.1900

As ever click the picture to see the original link.

Happy stitching!

Snippets from Pattern History

So, I thought I’d talk a little about the early history of the Dressmaking Pattern this week because, even through we are learning to make our own this month it is interesting and leads nicely in to tomorrows Tutorial all about scaling Historical and Vintage Patterns up.

File:Schematic for Butterick 5688 from patent US1313496.gif

File:Deltor for Butterick 5688 from patent US1313496.gif      File:Deltor for Butterick 5688 from patent US1313496 verso.gif

Facsimile of the pattern pieces, Front instructions and Back instructions for Butterick pattern No.5688 (a skirt for an evening dress), circa 1919. Darts, stitching lines, etc. are indicated by perforations of different sizes and patterns (here represented as dots). From Wikipedia here.  Click on the images to enlarge. 

Ebenezer Butterick’s Wife is widely credited as inspiring the first commercially graded- and therefore much more usable- Pattern. Until 1863 we had essentially been using Blocks which only came in one size and it was down to the skill and ‘eye’ of the home Dressmaker herself to scale up the pattern, then make any and all adjustments to fit necessary however; looking a little closer in to the history one stumbles upon Ellen Curtis Demorest who appears to have been a most remarkable woman!

 Published in 1872 to promote the inventor of the paper pattern - Mrs. W. Jennings Demorest

Left: 1865 Demorest Publication found here. Right: 1872 Demorest Publication found here

Demorest had the same flash of inspiration Butterick did over ten years later: on witnessing her Maid cutting out a dress from wrapping paper she realised that she could mass-produce the idea of copied paper Patterns of fashionable garments for the home sewer. In 1860 Madam Demorest’s Mirror of Fashions, a Pattern Catalogue, was introduced and Demorest established what sounds like a wonderful company- employing both Black and White women workers as she was an ardent abolitionist (those offended by her politics were asked to ‘shop elsewhere’!!). Having devised a ‘mathematical system’ to print Patterns in various sizes, this was understandably popular and by 1865 Demorest had a small empire which ten years later was distributing over 3m Paper Patterns!

I was stunned to discover this and really wondered why the name Demerest was not well know today. It would appear that the Demorests’ did not Patent their idea but tailor Ebenezer Butterick- who started producing Mens and Childrens Paper Patterns in the mid-1860s but who had expanded into Womens Wear by 1867 and whose empire by 1974 was larger that the Demerests’- did, and Buttericks’ Patterns billed as “guaranteed to make a perfectly formed garment” remain one of the leaders in Paper Patterns today.

Don’t feel too sad for the Demerests’ though as it would appear that Butterick advanced the technology needed to truly mass produse Patterns. Initially folded by his wife and family and packed in boxes of 10 each, Butterick sold his patterns throughout New England. These patterns proved to be hugely popular, and Butterick could barely keep up. Finally Butterick invented a process, and a machine, that allowed him to cut stacks of paper patterns, which enabled him to produce his patterns in quantity and Butterick’s business grew to epic proportions. It’s reported that in less than a year he went from his humble tailor shop in Fitchburg, MA to opening the NYC office with The Butterick Publishing company producing nearly 6 million patterns a year.

James McCall, another tailor, started his company McCall’s patterns in 1870, with Vogue also in the picture by the 1890s and Pattern Companies had by this point started to sell Patterns in envelopes with directions. McCalls started printing cutting, marking and sewing lines on their patterns in 1921, which brings us slightly closer to the Paper Patterns we use today. Previous to this a Pattern included pre-cut but blank pieces of Pattern Tissue with numbers or letters punched in to them. A cutting diagram was included and from this one could ascertain which piece went where so I for one will always be forever greatrful to McCalls for starting the trend of printing information- such as the Grainline, number, quantity to cut etc- on the pieces!

2 3 1

McCalls c.1880s Sewing Pattern found on Ebay for a Ladies’ Sack Nightgown Pattern No.8193

During the 1910’s and 1920’s we start to see the rise of Ready to Wear Clothing which means home sewing starts to wane a little however; in America The Women’s Domestic Institute, is founded and soon led by Mary Brooks Picken, whose books are still an excellent resource today and can only have aided the production of Sewing Books from all the major Pattern Companies amongst others. I have the Womens Institute Underwear and Lingerie Book and it is just gorgeous!

In the 30’s The Depression hit America which gave rise to one of my favorite little snippets in Pattern History: the humble Grain Sack. Sewing doesn’t seem to have made the resurgence you would have expected during a time like this- unlike our most recent ‘Depression’- and it would appear that people simply made do with less however; Women did began to sew with feed or grain sacks- the colourful cloth sacks that held staples like Sugar, Grain and Flour. By 1939 this form of sewing was being promoted and companies start to print designs and projects on the sacks to be made at home.

feedsacks_3.jpg 

Left: A Flour Sack printed with an Embroidery Pattern. Middle: and example of the beautiful patterns Flour Sack companies started to print. Right: Two women wearing Flour Sack Dresses from a wonderful article on Etsy

There are various, wonderful Blogs on-line which talk about all of this at much greater length, and more detail than I have done here however; I really love the feeling of rivalry and excitement which must have been palpable as these companies were being formed and discovering new ways of producing such a useful commodity  It’s not something you hear about too much these days but I think it is just as exciting as other moments in the Industrial Revolution!

You can read more about why it took so long to get around to designing Paper Patterns here, and there’s a great article over at Burda which talks a little more about the social history here. I also liked Sew Retro’s take on it all which can be read here. Delving through Wikipedia can also be rather interesting and their article on Demerest was a great read.

As I said, I shall be posting a tutorial on how to scale up Historical and Vintage Patterns from articles, magazines and books hopefully tomorrow. I am still a little wobbly from my tussle with the ‘flu! Please also watch out for the 2nd part of my Toile Tutorial where I shall be discussing fit and further Pattern adjustments to the Basic Block.

Finally, have you read last Fridays Pattern Making Musings yet? Head on over there now and comment to get your name in the hat to win an IN-HOUSE Pattern and get ready for this Fridays Musings with Sarai of Colette Patterns.

Happy patterning!