Delightful new products in the shop!

Ohmygosh you guys! I am head over heels in love with these super cute little darlings! Introducing the 1940s Style Strawberry Pin Cushion… …

strawberry 5 strawberry 7

strawberry 8 strawberry 1

I have had ‘flu over the last week, and needed something little to be getting along with. Trawling through my lovely Vintage Sewing Books, I came across the Strawberry Pin Cushion. They’re super easy to stitch up, and look delightful in the workroom so I have spent a couple days cheering myself up by illustrating the instructions and searching my Liberty Tana Lawn stash for the perfect fabric to make the Kits from.

You can buy the Kit, to make up yourself, or you can simply buy a Strawberry Pin Cushion lovingly hand stitched by me here at Midnight Heights!

At £3.50 and £3.75 respectively, these make really pretty gifts, and even better Mothers Day gifts! Click on any of the above pictures or here to buy.

Right, I’m off to carry on stitching up my Sorbetto Top!

Happy stitching!

Some stunning new Mini Top Hats.

New things have been listed (finally!) in the Laura After Midnight Etsy store, hooray!! I feel as if I am a whirlwind of activity at the moment, and had actually given myself today off. What do I find myself up to? Writing a new Zine, and excitedly photographing things for Etsy then listing! Oh well, I’ll sleep when I’m dead and all that!

Gold Hat 1 Gold Hat 4 Gold Hat 2

In the spare time that I do have, I’ve been hand embellishing some Mini Top Hats I made a while back with all sorts of lace, spangles and adornments I have found in my stash, and I do have to say that I am mighty impressed with the results! I bought a Vintage Embroidery book a while back which was all about the results Chain Stitch can give you if you layer it up.  As you can see I have used it to make Flowers and mixed it in with Spangles for a very effective and highly embellished look.

Cream Hat 3 Cream Hat 5

Above are just two, there are more in the shop! Because my line of Spats have proven so very, very popular, I have been working towards make a new and slightly more colorful range. What do you think? I adore the Pirate Spats soo much!!

Red Spats 1 Ship Spats 2

Stripe Spats 1 White Spats 1

In other news: I am on target for my 2nd Zine! Eek!

I am furiously commanding Photoshop to do my bidding as we speak, scanning in illustrations and generally having a high old time. This one is actually going to be given away as a free little extra with any Zines I sell and is all about the Vintage Sewing Books I use, and find most helpful. As I think every Seamstress (or Seamster!!) should own a couple and I have hand illustrated the covers and written a small review for a teeny tiny yellow Zine.

Right, time for tea me thinks…

Happy stitching!

New stitches

I thought I’d share what I have been working on in my downtime this week. I’ve really gotten into embroidery over the last few months, and I am excited to try my remembered skills out on my Mini Top Hats!

I am making quite a few Mini Top Hats at the moment as my Etsy shop is sadly lacking in this department…

white hat 1 white hat 2

I get quite a lot of messages on Etsy about commissions for White Silk Mini Top Hats, so I thought I’d make up this little number. As the wedding season is fast approaching, I have made it a little more romantic than I normally might but I have to say I am very pleased with the result. The flowers are appliqued, then embroidered over. I shall probably add in some beads as well for the texture.

When I have finished decorating I still have to trim… can’t decide if I want feathers or not but I am definitely going to add in a buttoned on Birdcage Veil. I haven’t done one in a  while & in looking back over my Etsy sales they were popular, & look fantastic with the added bonus that they can be removed.

I also have a couple Mini Top Hat Kits in White Silk, & wanted some example photographs to show people what can be done with the plainer kits. I have been surreptitiously listening in to the conversations customers have about my little kits & one of the notes seems to be that the more colourful  Kits really stand out but the plain black or white look a little dull, & they wonder what to do with them! Hopefully this will inspire…

Happy stitching!

Late night shopping event!


If you are in the Bristol area on the 6th December why not swing on by to Flo-Jo Boutique & join in with the Christmas shenanigans there?

Open from 6 to 8pm for late night Christmas shopping I’ll also be holding a Fascinator Making Class, for just £10 this is a great way to make yourself something unique and interesting for the party season, there will be discount shopping offers & a raffle in support of DEKI along with a cheeky mulled wine to get everyone in to the Christmas spirit!

It promises to be great fun & places for the Fascinator Class are booking up quick, I can’t wait!!

Happy stitching!

The Victorian Aesthetic.

From the BBCs new series of Sherlock & it’s filmic counterpart, from The Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec to the passion for Steampunk, Victorian inspired design seems to haunt me wherever I look nowadays.

Dredging up memories of my History of Dress class at University I remember two distinct aesthetics from this period, one the reaction to the other & whilst I adore the theory & passion behind Rosetti, Morris & Burne Jones to name but a few, it is the more mainstream fashion from this time which is piquing my interest at the moment.

So it is with glee I turn to my old friends The Cut of Women’s Clothes, Corsets & Crinolines, Taste & Fashion, & the many other books I have collected over the years on this very subject. I want to refresh the basic principles you see, readdress my design ethos if you will and generally re-energize my inspiration.

In taking myself back to the source material I hope to emerge with new & interesting ideas on how to wear Victorian and Victorian inspired clothing today, & of course pick up some handy hints!

The ‘cuirasse’ bodice started the beautiful back seams of the early 1870s, in response to the need for a closer fit. The ‘front of the bodice was still fitted by darts, but as the sides were on the cross grain a horizontal waistline dart, taken from the bust dart to the side seam, lifted the material back to the straight to give a good fit around the hips’. Handy hint number one, & my thanks to The Cut of Women’s Clothes! I simply adore the labored seams in the back of the bodices from this period, they so beautifully emphasize the line & curve of a lady, & can easily be manipulated to work to her advantage.

The 1860s actually saw the first bustle skirt, & by the 1870s these only had fullness at the center back which is what we are most used to seeing nowadays. The over skirt ‘was at first just caught up on the seams, & at the back tapes were sewn inside & at the waist which, when tied together, pulled the material into puffs’. This is a tried & tested look & I am sure we have all seen modern examples of this as well as extant. The ‘fourreau’ or ‘tie-back’ dress came next which used the basic lines of the cuirasse bodice & had tapes sewn into the side seams which tied center back  to draw the dress close in to the figure; honestly some of these dresses look as wonderful on the inside as they do on the outside. Effectively the over skirt which was previously puffed now pleated and fell.

Tailor made jackets with matching skirts became the fashion in the 1880s, & it is understandable why they are the popular choice when wanting to wear something Victorian today, the cuirasse bodice cut higher on the hips to allow for the return of beautiful drapery which, in previous styles, had ‘been produced largely by the cut of the skirt itself, in the 1880’s the draperies & decorations were all separate pieces arranged on to a foundation skirt’.  Another useful insight!

What I am noticing in all of this, & have been for some time now, is the decoration, the pleats, the pin tucks, the bows & general loveliness! I find this is sometimes missing from their modern counterparts, which is a real shame as oftentimes this is the most beautiful part. I think I shall delve further into the adornment from this period, as I am finding it really most interesting.

Now, obviously I am swinging with great abandon through about 40 years of history here however; it is having the desired effect & I can feel my creative juices flowing! In my experience anything can be used for inspiration & I am currently trying to gather enough to inform my designs to move forward. In starting Laura After Midnight I thought that years of pent up frustration at having to interpret others ideas would break free & I’d easily be able to dash up a collection. This has not been the case & I find that, after a number of very frustrating weeks, I am to start from the beginning and gather inspiration as I would for any other job the only difference is that I am now the ‘Director’!

I want Laura After Midnight to do something new & different, something innovative & interesting and I am hoping that my costuming background will help. As I have said, a lot of modern Victorian reinterpretations miss out the most delightful things of this period & for this reason I am starting with pleats & pin tucks, with handmade flowers & hand stitching, with lace of all varieties & visually arresting seam lines & simple natural fabrics like lawns & silks.

I have also made the decision to start on the small things and work my way up. . . expect my range of silk flower corsages, mini top hats & other frippery & finery to adorn & delight to come out in the next few weeks.

Following that, I have some rather exciting ideas for waistcoats I cannot wait to get started!

Happy stitching!