A rainbow of Tailcoats!

These last few weeks Midnight Costume Services have been creating 8 matching Tailored Tail Coats for a new Cameron Mackintosh revival production of 5 Guys Named Moe!

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We were sent the designs, measurements and a huuuge box of fabrics and I got started individually Pattern Drafting each Tail Coat to each performer. I drafted sizes 36” chest to a 54” chest! Wowzer!!

There wasn’t time for Toiles so my wonderful assistant Maya got to cutting the fabric- she was also on Waistcoat duty, as I had my hands full Tailoring!- and got stuck in.

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Enormous stack of fabrics… and each Tail Coat cut, interfaces and Pad Stitched.

To be honest, this might fill some Costumers with horror, but I do love a ‘run’ of Costumes. You can really get obsessively ocd and I very much enjoyed creating the Tail Coats, so different individually because of each performers size, shape, shoulder slope or hollow back, to look sharp and exactly the same.

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The Tail Coats cut, interfaced and Pad Stitched awaiting Collars.

There was an additional challenge as some of the fabrics sent were thinner than others, and yet more had a pronounced stretch which needed to be stabilized with interfacing.

Once interfaced, all were pad stitched with horse hair and cotton tape and- with a sigh of relief if I’m honest!- they started to look sharp and lovely.

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Lined up and ready for sleeves… inserting sleeves… checking the drape… arm gussets looking swish.

Inserting the collars was a little tricky as the fabric supplied was slippery however; once tamed with yet more- you guessed it!- interfacing we managed beautifully.

There was an increased amount of ease to inserting the sleeves because I wanted to create a delicious roll to the sleeve head. I think we created a beautiful, clean line, despite having gussets inserted (which are imperative for dance performers).

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Sharp, sharp, sharp! Collars in, welt pockets done, covered buttons covered and sew on.

To finish the client had requested Welt Pockets and the designs showed Black buttons. Because of the fabrics supplied we had to create faux welt pockets. We covered Buttons in the correct sizes for the Sleeve and Centre Front and, all together, I was super happy with how sharp it all looked!

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Matching waistcoats with shawl collars and matching, covered buttons.

Matching waistcoats were also made in house. Again, they were patterned individually with shawl collars and matching, covered buttons.

I can’t wait to see pictures of these bad boys in production. From what I saw of rehearsals whilst fitting, this show looks amazing!

Happy stitching!!

You can see pictures of these wonderful Costumes in their stage show here.

Notions: Simple Patch Pockets

What with The Great British Sewing Bee, the return of Project Runway and Channel 4’s new Vintage inspired show This Old Thing, I thought I would share a few basic sewing techniques which could be used to re-vamp Clothing or customize creations!

The first is Patch Pockets! Who doesn’t like a cheerful Patch Pocket or two? Great on a pair of re-vamped Jeans or Shorts, even better on a Top or T-Shirt, they can be made in contrast fabric, lace fabric, matching fabric… endless fun!

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Cut out the pocket as indicated by your Pattern, or to the size you want (plus 3cm Seam Allowance at the top and at least 1cm Seam Allowance on all sides). Turn the top over 1cm (above, left) towards the back, then 2cm towards the front (above, centre). Pin and stitch- using a 1.5cm Seam Allowance- at each end remembering to reverse stitch at beginning and end (above, right).

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Clip the corners (above, left), then turn out the right way (above, centre). Turn the rest of the pocket edges in by the 1.5cm Seam Allowance and pin. Turn over and pin on to the main fabric of the skirt, shirt or other garment you are making (above, right).

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Using the Zipper Foot on your Sewing Machine- to Top Stitch nice and close to the edge!- stitch around the pocket evenly. You may choose to do a fancy top as I have done to strengthen the opening.

And that’s it, simple right? To make the slightly more swanky Curved Patch Pocket click here. You can add them to both the A-Line Skirt– for the Gathered, Pleated or Straight versions- and Pyjamas Tutorials I have in the Tutorials Section as well. Now be off with you to make Patch Pockets for everything!

Happy stitching!

What’s on the board this week?

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Well, boys and girls, this week on the Midnight Atelier Chalkboard is information about our up-coming Vintage Lingerie Classes, Vintage Bra Making Classes, the Eventide Corsetry Course and Sewing Club dates!

As you can see, all courses include Pattern (with the Eventide Corsetry Course you receive the Pattern and Instruction book), and they are all booking now!

Check out the Class Schedule Page for more information, and to book. If you would like to pay a deposit, and the balance later please email me on laura@lauraaftermidnight.com

Happy stitching!

 

 

Week 2: Inserting the Busk Pt II

So, having perfectly inserted the Right side of our Busks in to our Eventide Corsets, today I shall be showing you how to insert the Left.

I think this is a little simpler than the Right, but should still be sewn with care. You will need your Awl for this bit.

Place the Left hand side of the Front Corset panels Right Sides Together and draw a line 2.5cm from the Front as illustrated. Again, using a Patternmaster will make this easier.

Sew along the line, remembering to reverse stitch at the beginning and end of the seam. Iron, with the Seams out and then roll the Front Fabric  around to the Back as you did for the Right hand side so that no Coutil can be seen from the Front. Pin.

Stitch a 5mm (or half a centimetre) seam along this Front edge- shown below right- this line is now our Centre Front Line of the Corset. You may need to attach the Zipper Foot to your Sewing Machine to see where you are sewing a little more clearly.

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Place the Right side, over the Left side, and in line with the Seam you have just stitched (below left). Using a Fabric Pencil mark through the holes of the Busk Hooks… if your fabric is highly patterned you may need to use pins. Mark- or pin- at the far edge of the Busk Hook as illustrated.

Take away the Right hand side of the Corset.

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Next, you will need your Awl. On the mark, push the Awl through the two Fabric layers- NOT the Coutil layers- until a hole has formed.

The aim is to gently push a hole and not snap any of the threads of the Fabric, as this will keep the structural integrity of the Fabric. If a hole is punched, or many threads snapped, when the Corset is worn and the Fabric put under stress the hole will rip larger and look incredibly messy.

When you have made a hole, from the back push the correct Busk Post through (the two together should be at the bottom as for the Right side of the Busk). This needs to be done gently so as to not damage the Fabric.

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When all of the Busk Posts have been pushed through (below left), pin the Busk hard in as you did for the Right hand side of the Busk.

Attach the Zipper Foot to your Sewing Machine, measure the Seam Allowance and make a mark on your Sewing Machine as you did before.

Stitch along the edge of the Busk from top to bottom of the Corset panel (below right).

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Easy as pie, right? And look… it’s a Corset Front! So pretty… …

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So, it’s not all that difficult. Just remember to stitch nice and close to the Busk so it is held in nice and tight- not baggy! Remember also that it can be unpicked at any moment if you are unhappy.

At this point you may find your Fabric has ‘stepped’ or mis-aligned. Do not worry about this too much. It can be trimmed at the end of the sewing up process and is quite common as the Corset is sewn up. In fact, the Eventide Pattern has been made a little longer than necessary for this very reason.

Join me again tomorrow next week as we start to stitch the Corset up, and fit it to your figure. Also watch this space for a cheeky little Book Review of one of my favourite Corset Books and more Sewing Tips.

Don’t forget, the Eventide Corset Pattern is available in a number of options including Instant Download here, and you can join in with Corset Month on FacebookTwitter (#corsetsessions) and Pinterest!

Happy stitching!

Week 2: Inserting the Busk

So, today we’ll be seeing how to insert a Busk in to our Eventide Corsets! I love this bit of Corsetry, it’s when the Corset starts to look, well… like a Corset! It is also the first time we will be sewing with metal, which whilst not difficult, has it’s own set of rules.

The most important thing to remember is that your Sewing Machine is perfectly capable of sewing over the metal however; the Needle is not! I have clipped the edge of the Busk or Boning many times and the Needle not only breaks, it can fracture into small pieces which is not fun! It with damage the Fabric and invariable flies towards your face…

Firstly, you will need to select the Right hand Fabric and Coutil sections AS YOU WOULD WEAR THEM. To do this, lay the Fabric out, upside down as illustrated. With Right Sides Together, lay the Coutil on top then put the Left hand side to one side.

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On the Coutil side, draw a line 3cm away from the edge. As you can see from the Pattern, this is the Centre Front Line. If you have a Patternmaster this will be super easy as you can line up the 3cm line and simply draw down as illustrated.

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Place the Busk against this line, equidistant from the top and bottom, then draw either side of the Hooks. The two Hooks together go at the Bottom of the Busk, and the Busk should be laying as illustrated- with the Hooks against the Centre Front line.

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After you have marked either side of the Hooks, Pin the layers together. On the Sewing Machine, sew in between the gaps (as shown below, far left with a pink dotted line) remembering to reverse stitch at the beginning and end of each little seam. Try not to stitch too far in to the gaps or the Busk Hooks will not fit through.

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Don’t also forget that you can unpick at any moment if you are unhappy with the stitching.

Once happy, iron the Seam as follows… Iron the Seam out on the wrong side (below left), then wrap the Front around to the back so that on the Coutil side you can see a little of the Front fabric (below right) but none of the Coutil on the Right side.

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Push the Busks Hooks through the holes, then push the Busk up against the Seam and hold firmly in place whilst pinning. The Busk needs to be hard up against the edge so that, when sewn, it is not baggy. A baggy Busk simply wont do!

Push the Pin in, then scrape the Pin along the back of the Coutil until you can feel the edge of the Busk, then pin through. Pinning like this will make sure the Pins hold the Busk in place nice and tightly.

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When pinned, measure in from the edge of the Busk as as illustrated then, on the Sewing Machine, raise the Presser Foot and roll the Needle into the Machine. Place the measuring tape against the Needle, and use a Pencil to mark the Seam Allowance needed to stitch alongside the Busk.

Doing this makes sure that, above and below the Busk, you are able to sew in a neat line that is the same distance from the edge for the whole length. Marking with a Pencil means that you will be able to rub it off, alternatively you can use Washi Tape.

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When you have you Seam Allowance marked, stitch along the side of the Busk from top to bottom. You will need to attach your Zipper Foot to do this. Because the Busk starts and finishes 5 or 6cm after the start or before the end your Seam Allowance mark will come in handy to guide you in a straight line to sew next to the Busk.

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Voila! One beautifully inserted Busk!!

How easy was that? Join me tomorrow as I continue Corset Month with how to insert the Left side of the Busk.

Don’t forget, the Eventide Corset Pattern is available in a number of options including Instant Download here, and you can join in with Corset Month on FacebookTwitter (#corsetsessions) and Pinterest!

Happy stitching!

Week 2: Cutting the Eventide Corset out

Now, after a week of taking it easy it’s time to get stitching your Eventide Corset!

After having made any adaptations to fit on the Pattern, you’ll need to cut out the Fabric. Diagrams and more information can be found in the Eventide Instruction Book however; here are a couple of hints… … and dire warnings!

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After having traced off, adapted and cut out the Pattern, pin to the Fabric remembering to measure the Grain Line. Fold the Coutil in half, Selvedge to Selvedge and Right Sides Together (so you are pinning to the back of your Fabric), and lay it on a flat surface.

It is incredibly important that each piece of the Pattern is cut out ON GRAIN. The Grain runs parallel to the Selvedge, which is the woven, finished edge of the Fabric. Cross Grain, or Bias, runs at a 45 degree angle to the straight Grain. Corsets must be cut out DIRECTLY ON THE STRAIGHT GRAIN to ensure the Waist Line in particular maintains the strength provided by the Straight Grain. Cutting the pieces of the Corset even slightly ‘off grain’ will mean it will twist uncomfortably as you wear it.

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Now, dire warnings aside!, after you have pinned each Pattern piece you will need to draw on your Seam Allowance… which is 1.5cm.

To do this, use a Tape Measure to measure out 1.5cm from the Pattern piece, and mark with some Tailors Chalk or a Fabric Pencil in a contrast colour. As you can see, Tailors Chalk is available in a variety of colours and it is useful to have a selection. Continue around each Pattern piece, measuring out and making a mark every few centimetres or so. Use a ruler or Patternmaster to connect the dots.

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Cut each piece out, and before you un-pin it, make a little snip no more then 1cm deep at the Waist Line. This is called a notch and will assist you in sewing the Corset up. It is another important little detail!

Repeat for the Coutil.

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You may have noticed that each piece looks similar to the next, and you can choose to cut out some paper markers to Pin on to each piece. To do this simply write what the piece is on a little scrap of paper and pin to the piece BUT pin to the piece as you would WEAR it. To do this, lay the pieces out upside down so the top is closest to you.

And that’s it!

Don’t forget, the Eventide Corset Pattern is available in a number of options including Instant Download here, and you can join in with Corset Month on FacebookTwitter (#corsetsessions) and Pinterest!

Happy stitching!

Notions: Preparing to Sew with Difficult Fabric

For this weeks’ Notions, I thought I would discuss something which, whilst being relevant to Corsetry, is also good basic knowledge for using unusual fabrics for all types of projects.

There comes a time when we all would like to use something a little more adventurous! Preparing the Fabric well is half the task of sewing Lace, or Sequinned Fabric.

Lace Overlays

When using Lace for Corsets, you will need to consider the pattern of the Lace- is it large or small and do you need to take this into consideration when placing the Pattern Pieces? You will need to re-trace off your Corset Pattern (from your adapted Pattern) and add in Seam Allowance before cutting out. This will ensure you do not have to draw the Seam Allowance on to the Lace which can be difficult for a number of reasons- the Lace will move about and can stretch out of shape, it will also be delicate and should not be overly handled.

After tracing the Paper Pattern off, pin the Paper Pattern on and cut out as you would Fabric. If the lace is very delicate, you may wish to use Pattern Weights instead of Pins to ensure you do not damage the Lace. I do not worry about being overly accurate- as long as the Lace is cut out within 1cm of the edge of the Paper Pattern and all Waist Notches are marked you will be fine.

Once all Lace sections are cut out, lay the Fabric pieces of the Corset out, then lay the Lace sections on top. Double check your Waist Notches are all in line throughout the Corset pieces, and that you have a left and a right of each piece.

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Pin the layers together, pin carefully so as to not damage the Lace.

Tack each section together as illustrated. Use a contrast Tacking Thread, and try to keep within the 1.5cm Seam Allowance so you will not have to remove it. If, when the Corset is sewn up, you can see the Tacking Stitches, the contrast thread will help you to see where to remove them.

Once the pieces are tacked, you can trim back any excess Lace to the edge of the Fabric.

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Alternatively, and you may wish to Sew a couple Corsets having tacked them before trying this method!- you can pin the sections together as illustrated. Pin along the Seam Allowance as shown, and keep the Pins in until they are stitched up. Of course, whilst this method is quicker there are some obvious drawbacks! If you have to adjust the Corset or unpick it for any reason, these pieces will become separated and need to be pinned again, it will take a little more experience to be able to control the layers of fabric with just pins holding them together… you also use a lot of pins!!

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This is a technique I often use when manufacturing multiple Corsets.

Sequinned and Beaded Fabrics

Sewing with Sequinned and Beaded fabrics has another set of rules. Because you are unable to Sew over Beads or heavier weight Sequins, you will need to remove them from the Seam Allowance.

It is easiest to trace off the Pattern, and add the Seam Allowance as for working with Lace Fabrics before pinning in the Pattern and cutting out.

Using a Tape Measure, measure in 1.5cm (which is the Seam Allowance for the Eventide Corset Pattern) and mark with a line of Pins as illustrated.

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With a contrast Thread, tack along the line of Pins.

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When you have tacked a line of stitching 1.5cm in, you will need to remove all of the Beads and Sequins from the Seam Allowance. And yes, this takes ages!! I keep the Beads and Sequins I remove, in case I need to add a couple in again. The stitching which holds on the Beads or Sequins is actually a chain so sometimes a couple of centimetres can unravel when it is cut, and will need to be carefully sewn back down, or added in by hand.

I will insert the Busk by hand if I am making a Corset from Beaded Fabric so as to not disturb the pattern of the Beading at the front of the Corset.

Pattern Matching and using Patterned Fabrics

This tip for Pattern Matching Fabrics is enormously helpful however; if you are using a Patterned Fabric you may wish to select the sections you wish to use, or even Pattern Match the Front Panels so that the Pattern runs across them. This isn’t too difficult BUT please do try to remember to cut out a LEFT and a RIGHT of each Panel!! For this you will need to flip the Pattern Piece over.

pattern matchAs illustrated above, I have chosen which piece of the Pattern I would like to run down the front of the Corset. Folding the Pattern Piece back along the Centre Front line, I have matched it so that- when the Corset is sewn together- the Cyclist will pedal across the Bust!

Remember to fold the Pattern Back along the Centre Front line, then match on the Fabric. As you Pin the Pattern Piece on to the Fabric you can un-fold it and pin it down.

Matching along the Centre Front line is incredibly important because- and you’ll see this from the Instruction Book– the Fabric beyond the Centre Front is used as a Seam Allowance when inserting the Busk, so any pattern will be lost.

By the way, this awesome Fabric is available from Spoonflower, and I may just have to snap up a bit!

Don’t forget, the Eventide Corset Pattern is available in a number of options including Instant Download here, and you can join in with Corset Month on FacebookTwitter (#corsetsessions) and Pinterest!

Happy stitching!

Week 1: Recommended Tools and Equipment…

… to help you make the Eventide Corset, and for Corsetry in general, these Tools and pieces of Equipment come highly recommended.The full list of supplies, with recommended Suppliers etc comes in the Instruction Book with the Eventide Pattern or can be found in The Little Book of Corset Tips.

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Later, I shall be discussing how to adjust and alter the Pattern to fit! Don’t forget to join in with Corset Month on Facebook, Twitter (#corsetsessions) and Pinterest!

Happy stitching!

Welcome to Corset Month!!

Corsetry Sew-a-Long using the newly released Eventide Corset Pattern.

Firstly, I would like to thank very much all of the people who have purchased a copy, and the amazing response to the Eventide Corset Pattern. I am super thrilled that I have finally been able to take this step as it has been a dream of mine since stepping on to my first Fashion course aged just 16 and discovering the awesome power of Pattern Cutting.

I have so many more Patterns planned- now that I can produce them!- and I am wildly thrilled to take this step to help all of you and many more create bespoke Corsetry, Costumes and more! Central to the ethos of Laura After Midnight is to aide the creation of Professionally Sewn Garments… simply being told how to Sew isn’t good enough! I demand more from Tutorials, the ins and outs, the nitty gritty, the down low! What makes a garment beautiful, what are the little tips we have picked up to make something a little easier or smoother? During Corset Month I hope to share with you some of mine… which is where The Corset Sessions step in!

Filmed as a series, The Corset Sessions introduce some of the ways I manufacture Corsets quickly, accurately and beautifully. I am over the moon that I have been given the opportunity to work with a Production Company to film the process of making an Eventide Corset and simply can’t wait to show you the result.

During this process I shall be introducing you to basic Pattern alterations and cutting, assembling the Corset, fit and finishing. It all sounds so simple, doesn’t it?! I promise however; that with a little care and some attention to detail that even a beginner can make an Eventide Corset.

This week we shall be starting slowly- no sewing just yet!- with articles on how to Print the PDF Pattern, Materials and Equipment needed, Cutting and Preparing the Fabric as well as tips on using fancy schmancy Fabrics like Lace and Silk.

Sound good? Excellent… then I shall begin…

Happy stitching!