Wordless Wednesday

From La Belle Epoque: Edwardian Fashion 1900-1914, the ‘Beautiful Era’ of Edwardian fashion currently running at Peterborough Museum until 6th May 2013.

Happy stitching!

Notions: The Language of Patterns.

No doubt the sketch of the design on the front of the envelope will catch your eye first.

From McCall’s Sewing in Colour

McCALLS Understanding Patterns 1   McCALLS Understanding Patterns 2

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!

Happy stitching!

Draping a Victorian Bustle

As my Midnight Sewers’ Group wants to make Bustle Skirts next I have been digging around online & I’ve just stumbled across a wonderful illustration from Peterson’s Ladies National Magazine deconstructing how a bustle would have been draped.

As a Costume Designer & Maker, I find I can figure out fairly accurately from the illustrations, paintings & photographs of the period how to piece together a costume however; the Victorians really went to town with their drapery and it’s lovely to find an illustration which completely demystifies a little bit of this!

From http://pintuckstyle.blogspot.co.uk/ who also adds:

What you aren’t seeing here is that most successful bustles where draped on the bias, so that those front corner ‘points’ are probably right angles where the selvage & cross grain meet. The bustle pleating was similar to bunting, ruching up the fabric to create the necessary drapery.

Happy stitching!

Worth and Mainbocher online exhibition.

In 1860, Englishman Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895) founded a Parisian atelier that defined the luxurious standards of the haute couture and set high fashions stylistic course for the balance of the 19th century…

Well worth a quick peek, this is from an online exhibition bringing you works from Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895) & Mainbocher (Main Rousseau Bocher 1891-1976), the ‘masters of Haute Couture’. Exploring the ‘garments’ histories, details &  construction from the inside out’ this is a fabulous resource in to someone like Worth whose work I have seen very little of over the years. It seems to be cloistered away for fear of damage when possibly the real damage is the hiding away of such pieces of art work. My favorite is the above, a Wedding Dress from December 1878. They have provided background on the piece, as well as construction and fabric details:

The Victorian formula for the virginal white wedding gown—orange blossoms and tulle—is challenged here by the rich cherry clusters of the dress made for Annie Schermerhorn. The silk tape fringe and elaborate pearl embroidery underscore an elegance closely aligned with the house’s ball gowns. Although wedding protocol closely delineated the rare exceptions under which one could re-wear a wedding gown—foremost being presentation at the Court of Saint James—the opulent beauty of this design must have presented countless temptations for a repeat wearing. 

There are  several detailed close ups of each piece, with further information attached. It’s quite the treasure trove & I haven’t even touched on Mainbocher!


Take a look.

Happy stitching!

Beautiful Edwardian photos

Find this stunning picture of an enormous Merry Widow Hat at American Duchess, alongside dozens of others. All the beautiful pin tucks, lace, trims, ridiculous lacing and stunning shapes are there and I strongly recommend you take a look.


It’s a huge source of inspiration, as is the whole American Duchess site.

Happy stitching!

Bustle Illustrations and a good read.

I just came across these rather nice illustrations of bustles from a pretty cool vintage book I snatched from under an old ladies nose in a thrift store a couple years ago. . .



Gloriously entitled ‘Taste & Fashion’ by the indomitable James Laver it is a splendidly out of date read, & gives a massive insight into how it used to be ‘done’! With chapters such as ‘The Theory of Decolletage’ & ‘The Two Bustles & the Aesthetic Movement’ how could I not squeal in delight & proceed with ill disguised glee to the till?

I am sure that now I have made my re-acquaintance with this priceless find I shall be quoting all over the place however; here is one to keep you going. From the ‘Lingerie’ chapter comes a glimpse of thigh. . .

“It is curious to note that the suspender, once invented, took a definite place not only in the history of fashion, but in the history of eroticism, largely owing to the cancan dancers in Paris in the middle nineties. . . In the course of her dance she lifted her skirts and displayed bare thighs traversed by suspenders, which kept the stockings in place. This thigh-eroticism was very prevalent in the nineties, and then suffered a long eclipse until the success of Marlene Dietrich in the Blue Angel brought it back once more into vogue.”

Steamy stuff, eh? A corker of a find, & actually very useful too, I recommend it if you need to know anything at all about the history of fashion or costume as it is very readable, with lovely illustrations throughout.

Happy stitching!


I’ve just been linked to this, & I have to say it’s really rather ingenious!

The clever instructions take you through all the different steps to make a simple but incredibly effective Bustle Skirt. I have never thought of using Bulldog Clips to arrange the pleats, & really wish I had! The small detail I would change is to continue that beautiful trim around the skirt hem in its entirity.

Also, I adore her fabric! Follow the link. . .


Happy Stitching!

Hats, bonnets & the perfect bow.

I have just been on my very first tentative foray into the vaults of the Metropolitan Museum & I find I am rather giddy with lust!

I am a little bit obsessed with hats & bonnets at the moment, so decided to have a quick look see and oh, my! There are limitless flowery confections of course but, nestled among them, some delightfully understated pieces. It is the colours I immediately find myself attracted to most, deep violets & purples fading to fuschias & blush pinks, every shade of black, green’s, indigo’s & so very many more.

& the decoration! Sigh. . . I am sure I have mentioned my love of bows, & if not, I love bows!! I am eternally in search of the perfect bow, flat bows fascinate & delight me especially when performed in wide delicious silk ribbons that have been ombre dyed & used in carefree, abandoned & almost obscene quantities.

I have found, for the moment at least, the very epicenter of inspiration for me. I can see an endless array of possibilities within each hat, or bonnet, or bow. . .






Happy Stitching!

Visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art here www.metmuseum.org

Countdown to Midnight.

After gaining the miraculous opportunity to start my own label a couple months ago work has finally started here at Laura After Midnight!

Here is a tantalizing glimpse under our petticoats. . .



Sneak peaks include The London Smoke Ribbon Corset, Coaldust Spats & Snowhite Bolero. Details coming soon.

Happy stitching!