Adventures in Showgirl Corsets.

Using commercial patterns in Costuming feels like cheating, I don’t know why, but it does! However; ever since Yaya Han released her Corset Pattern I have been dying for an excuse to use it… which I know is super weird as I am not only a pattern drafter and cutter, I have my very own Corset Pattern for sale!

M7339, Misses' Overbust or Underbust Corsets by Yaya Han M7339, Misses' Overbust or Underbust Corsets by Yaya Han

I guess sometimes I just want to join in with the cool kids, the those CosPlayers are some pretty damn cool kids! Any hoo, I needed to make three Showgirl Costumes and, because this Pattern has a range of Cup sizes I thought it would be perfect, and save me the time of drafting my own. Win!

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These bad boys needed to be spangly, so after much hunting I finally decided upon this gorgeous (and very hard to locate!) Gold Sequin and Pink Sequin fabrics. Each had to be backed with matching Silk Habotai to ensure the sequins reflected as much as possible, and they were both lined with Coutil. They are fully boned with Steel Boning and have a quick rigged,open ended zip at the back because of quick changes.

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Offset with some gorgeous Indian Beaded Trim (eye wateringly expensive and used sparingly because no more could be ordered if there was a mistake as it takes about three weeks to arrive!), in the ‘V’ of the cleavage they shimmer gloriously in the studio, and look amazing on stage.

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Matching shorts were also made- in the Gold here, but also in Pink- as they are used in several different styles of dance including the Can-Can.

I think I did Yaya Han proud, and I am super impressed with her Pattern. I didn’t really use the instructions because we made these up a little differently that they would be for personal use. Here each panel is made and neatened separately in case of alterations, the cups are kept in alterable separate pieces and all of this makes the insides look a little messy as you can see all of the Overlocked channels. They aren’t laced, as the performers had a quick change, instead they zip up which in real life looks a little clunky but can’t really be seen from the stage when they’re performing.

All in all I’m really happy, and they fit great.

If you are thinking about sewing your own Corset this Pattern can be found here, and the Eventide Corset Pattern from Laura After Midnight can be found here. A full Sew-Along for the Eventide can be found here, and discusses many of the techniques used to make these up.

Happy stitching!

A week in the life of a Costume Maker!

The last week has been incredibly hectic, with not one but three huge Costumes being made in the Studio. The first was another for Celebrity Cruises who wanted the Evil Enchantress Costume I made up earlier this year in Blue…

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The Collar was again constructed by hand using layers of Crin, Net, Calico and Blue Lycra (the base fabric of the Costume) with the addition of those fab Laser Cut Butterflies.

Each Butterfly is individually sewn on, which as you can imagine take quite a while. Indeed, I had someone just on Butterfly duty!

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Front, side and back of the final Costume. The Skirt is separate for ease and a Quick Change. I’m not sure, but I think I like the version better than the Black one!

In total this Costume took about 100 hours and three people to create however; we only had three days so you can imagine how quick we were stitching!

The second order was two Georgian Dresses for a Media Ball. Again, a little bit of a rush job but with myself and my trusty seamstress assistants we just about managed it.

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One was a delicate and flouncy affair, with Silk Ribbons, gorgeous Linen Toile du Juoy Underskirt, delicate silken Pinked and Scalloped Ruffle and Satin Bows.

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The second was a darkly Gothic creation made from lovely, heavy striped Velvet with a dark Purple line which inspired the dark Purple Silken Pinked and Pleated Ruffle with Black Satin Bows and Black Lace detailing across the Bodice and Front of the Skirt.

With over 10 meters of Boning in each Bodice, over 20 meters of trim in each and taking about 80 hours to create these were managed in a 2 and a half day period as a last minute order. We stitched until the last possible moment, but these fair ladies made it to the Ball!

After a few days off to look after my Husband who has just had an operation I shall be back at the Sewing Machine on my next order… but also at the drawing board for a huge Costume Design Commission I will be building in the new year, eek!

Happy stitching!

Introducing the Pattern Drafting Jeans Sew-Along!

I have been making my own Jeans and Trousers since I was about 16-ish, and I still remember the utter satisfaction- after another failed shopping trip to buy Jeans, any Jeans!- of rushing to my local Fabric Shop, buying the only Jeans Pattern available and making my first pair that very same day. They were great, I mean I’m sure they had a little wobble in the stitching here and there but even my Mum was impressed and I literally haven’t shopped for Trousers or Jeans since.

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Blessed with my Grandmothers huge hips, as well as height it has always been difficult to shop for clothing. Fat or thin I have always struggled however; I was to receive a rescue of sorts that same year I was 16 when I toddled off to Art School to study Fashion and Textiles… dear reader, I was introduced to the mystical art of Pattern Cutting.

I honestly haven’t looked back.

Not only did it make sense in a way that made me happy, I was good at it! Have you ever had this happen? The simple joy of embracing a new skill and devouring all that you can? Heaven! I soon had students from the years above me asking for help and I think this was my first introduction to sharing ideas and skills, which I also loved. At the time I was obviously going to become a leading light in the Fashion World *ahem* and despite this not happening- mainly because I realized I wanted to work on film and a few years later toddled off to a different Art School to study Costume- I still adore Pattern Cutting and I want to start sharing this more here, especially after my enormously successful Pattern Month a few years ago.

Simply because I need some new Jeans myself I thought I’d start with Drafting a Jeans Pattern, Toiling and making the resultant Pattern up with tips on how to do so, fit and I am sure all sorts of further nonsense!

Sound good? Awesome!

I’m hoping to do this over the next month or so, starting today with Drafting the Trouser Block. If this is entirely new to you, you may want to check out my Pattern Month, which is a good introduction to all of this.

First off, I shall be using Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting book, which is my bible! and, whilst I shall share some of the Pattern pages here, I do strongly suggest your buying a copy if this is a subject you are interested in. You can read more about why I think everyone should own this book here. After the last Pattern Month, I was asked frequently if I would email or post more pages from the book, but I will not due to copy right. Please buy the book, it’s brilliant!

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You’ll need a Pattern Master, because these are the best tools when Pattern Drafting, along with a selection of Pens and Pencils as well as a Calculator. I use coloured Felt Tip Pens because if I make a wrong line, or want to highlight a line I can do so. I also find them nice to draft with because pencils can be a bit messy and I tire quickly of sharpening them!

There’s lots of information on how to use the above pages here, I would strongly advise reading it before joining in unless you are familiar with the Winifred Books. Firstly it is important to take accurate measurements as the Basic Blocks are to be made up to your measurements. It is imperative that accurate measurements be taken so that the Block fit as accurately as possible, with minimal changes needing to be made in the later stages of creating your Working Pattern.

For the Basic Trouser Block you need to take Waist and Hip measurements, then check which size these most closely resemble in the Standard Body Measurements Chart here. The measurements listed on the Basic Trouser Block can then be found on the Standard Body Measurements Chart. I have found that taking measurements from the Chart greatly increases the accuracy of the pattern and saves time! We will then draft the Pattern and make a Toile to make the Working Pattern and in future posts I’ll cover things like adapting the Basic Block to Fit, altering the Length and adding Style Lines.

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.

Well, as I have drafted my Basic Block already- I make this Pattern up quite a lot!- I shall leave you to Draft yours, and of course check out Jeans and Trousers you like on the internet to get an idea of what sort of a Pattern you’d like to make… retro… modern… button fly?… high waisted?… aah the choice is endless! Finally, this process won’t be too difficult I promise! If you are an Adventurous Beginner I am sure you will be able to follow along, and anyone can feel free to comment or ask questions as they need or want to.

I’ll give you a week or so to gather supplies and get drafting, I can’t wait to see what you all make!!

Happy stitching!

 

Pattern Ponderings

A cheerful, Monday morning to you all. I have my delicious Phoenix Latte in front of me, and today I’d like to chat about Free PDF Patterns. Yes my lovelies, truly free Sewing Patterns! What bliss! Using a Pinterest or Google search will pop up quite a few, even 1000’s of these however; I thought I’d share a few of the ones I like the most.

This week, I am still lusting after dresses, and easy to wash, wear and care work wear… which rhymes. So I have found, for your delectation and delight the following…

An Urban Outfitters Ecote Dress Knockoff. Now, as a lifelong Pattern Cutter I love a bit of searching the High Street for what you like but can’t afford and then popping home and making it up. In doing this I normally add/take away elements the original may have had or been lacking and end up with something unique in the process.

free pdf patterns postThis includes a hand made Pattern, full Sewing Instructions and would be a super easy make. There’re also instructions for making it larger (as I would have to)… I think I’d also be adding a little flair to the hem because this suits my body shape, and maybe some side seam Pockets. You’ve gotta love a bit of a Pocket in a contrast fabric!

This Pattern comes in a Small but you can find info on re-sizing Patterns here.

Next up is the Hemlock Tee Pattern from Grainline, which you may have heard talk about as it seems to have been endlessly made by many a Blogger! Paired with some Jeans or maybe some Capri or Cigarette Pants I think I would be happy with several of these! They’d also be a fab way to introduce yourself to sewing with Jersey (if you can’t make my T-Shirt Project Day of course!).

Britex x Grainline Studio | Hemlock Tee Pattern

The Pattern can be split to create a Two-Tone effect which I rather like. She also has some great tips for working with Jersey (She actually uses Tissue Knit, which can be awkward as hell but lovely!) and the Tutorial is very easy to understand however; you will need a Serger/Overlocker if you want to create it as it is in the Tutorial. A simple Stretch Stitch on you Sewing machine will enable you to create the top if you do not have access to one.

This Pattern comes in a S/M but you can find info on re-sizing Patterns here.

Finally, this fab-o Cropped Jacket Pattern from Camelot Fabrics!

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This also comes in a S/M so check out re-sizing info here. I love the balance of this little Jacket, the Collar and the Short Sleeves. I think it would look amazing over a little dress for work or over Jeans and a Tee as they are wearing it. I’m always getting chilly so maybe this could be the answer for those awkward Spring into Summer days?!

It too includes a free PDF download, and The Coletterie have a great Blog Post about using PDF Patterns here. Having used quite a few, my advice would be to stick all of the A4 sheets together as explained then trace off on to Pattern Paper as this is much easier to use and pin onto Fabric. This has the added advantage of being able to pass the Pattern around if you know someone who would also like to make it! Ta da!!

Can’t wait to share more of these with you all, I am also working on a new Pattern Month all about Trousers so watch this space… it’s about to become Pattern Drafting central!

As ever, if you are in the Bristol area, why now check out my Classes and Courses, join me on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter?

Happy stitching!

 

 

A Tangled Stitch on Etsy

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

My Etsy Shop, A Tangled Stitch, is back open for business since closing after Christmas and my concerns about VAT issues which Etsy have waylaid for the time being. I am hoping to add in new products soon, but for the moment all of my Patterns are back on sale including the Eventide Corset Pattern, Dusken Spats Pattern and Original Mini Top Hat Pattern as well as a Pack of all three! I am keeping the reduced prices until the end of the month too, win!

If the Eventide Corset Pattern strikes your fancy remember that as well as teaching a Course in April, I also hosted a Sew-a-Long here for you to peruse as you make your very own Bespoke Corsetry.

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As mentioned last year, I am hoping to add to and expand my Pattern line and am already sketching away on a couple of Dress designs, and a T-Shirt Pattern to begin with. All are inspired by Vintage lines but have the Midnight Ateliers classic, linear aesthetic which (hopefully!) lets the style lines shine through and pays homage to the past, but doesn’t imitate it.

I’m so excited because I am pouring all of my knowledge in to these patterns gained over the last few years of teaching. The sizes are a little more generous, the making up process a little simpler but easily manipulated in a series of ‘hacks’, and every Pattern will come with information on how to adapt them to fit perfectly.

I’ll start drafting the first Pattern soon, and I’m going to be making up a series of Samples for sale at the end of April in my Pop Up Shop (more news on that soon), I can’t wait to relieve myself of my current work load and get started! I’m hoping to offer the Patterns as both PDF’s and Hard Copies so there is much work to be done.

Is there a Pattern out there you’d like to see?

Happy stitching!

New Sunday Sewing Bees!!

sunday sewing bee image Are you as excited as me about the Sewing Bee? And have you seen my first crazy challenge?! I have had many, many enquiries recently about all sorts of Sewing related projects so I thought I would pop a few Sunday Sewing Bees in on the Calendar to help everyone out!

You can book up here, and they’re only £25 for the whole session or £5 an hour. There are six spots for each Sunday. I think they’re a super way to create your own course- book two and make yourself a Dress or something new and lovely to wear whilst joining in with Make Me A Wardrobe!!

They will also be a chance to learn at your own pace, without having to keep up with a class, and whenever you want! Alternatively, if you have been inspired by last years Sewing Bee, one of the many glorious Sewing Magazines or have a Sewing Machine secreted away somewhere, use them as a way to dip your toes and see if you like this crazy world!

Bring a Pattern and Fabric or use The Midnight Atelier’s extensive Pattern and Book collection to trace off a Pattern to make for just the price of the Pattern Paper!

Contact me for ideas and suggestions, or join the Bristol Sewing Club’s Facebook Page and talk to the group! Alternatively, you could use them to learn a specific skill… ever wanted to try your hand at Pattern Cutting? Designing? Embroidery? Have you liked a Course I have been running but couldn’t make the time slot? Come now and learn at your own pace!!

Find out more information or book here, and I look forward to seeing you soon!!

Notions: Pattern Weights

My new copy of Love Sewing Magazine has just landed satisfyingly on my doorstop and I notice they have a Pattern Weight make so I thought I would re-blog my Tutorial to be helpful!

These are fab makes to use up scraps you might want to keep- you know, the ones where the fabric was super expensive or beautiful and even though it’s tiny, you can’t quite seem to throw that last little snippet away!- or make from new, funky fabric to make you smile as you use them!

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Pattern Weights are super useful when you’re flat Pattern Cutting delicate fabrics (no pins!), laying out Pattern Pieces to figure out layouts or when simply cutting out. They’re also the super cool eco friendly pin!

So, first gather all those lovingly hoarded scraps of fabric that I know you all have in a corner some place! Next, you will need to draw an equilateral triangle with sides 5″ or 12.5cm long.  You need one triangle of fabric per Pattern Weight, I made mine to match however; I strongly advocate making each different… much more fun!

Once you have chosen your fabric, pin the Pattern to your fabric. Then fold one side of the triangle over, Right Sides Together, and pin. Sew from the fold along the edge using a 1cm Seam Allowance. Stop 1cm from the edge. Remember to reverse stitch at the beginning and end of the Seam.

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Fold the next side over, Right Sides Together and matching the tip, and sew from where the last Seam ended (1cm in), to the fold. Finally, fold the last side over but only sew half of the side closed as illustrated, as you will need a place to turn the Pattern Weight out, and insert the weights. It is helpful to sew a little of this side closed so there is less hand sewing to do, and the finished thing looks neater.

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Turn the Pattern Weights out the right way, using a point turner to wiggle out the corners nice and sharp. Fill with Rice and a curtain weight or two to make as heavy as you need, then slip stitch stitch closed.

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Now, tell me you don’t want to make lots and lots! So useful to have around…

Happy stitching!

Happy stitching!

A li’l treat!

Yes! Gift Vouchers are now available! Available in £10, £25 and £50 denominations, they would make a fantastic gift this Christmas towards one of my Sewing Courses… get dropping those hints peeps!

You can purchase on the Class Schedule page, and for your bucks you’ll receive on of these luscious Gift Vouchers in a scrummy envelope with a Mini Bunting Sewing Kit, all wrapped up in a bow!

 25 Voucher

bunting  kit bunting kit

The Bunting Kits will be Christmas themed as we get closer to the Festive Season (I have some amazing Christmas Fabric stashed away, yay!). What a treat to get… you could make the Perfect Pair of Jeans with them or learn to Pattern Cut on my Springtime Skirts Course. I have a few more courses for the new year up my sleeve too, what fun!

Happy stitching!

Notions: The Sorbetto Top from Colette

My lovely new issue of Love Sewing Magazine has just arrived- a much anticipated event!- and I have just been reading the article written my Sarai of Colette (click here to see my Interview with Sarai last year) about making their free PDF Sorbetto Top. It reminded me that I wrote a little about making my Sorbetto up earlier this year for The Great Bristish Sewing Bee!

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I am completely in love with this Pattern! The scoop neck is just right, the armholes and straps fit wonderfully- they’re a pretty interesting shape to be honest,  and the fit and flair of the side seams is just perfect. I decided to Self Bind, meaning I hand made Bias Binding from the same fabric to finish the Neckline and Armholes however the hem is simply neatened and machined. Simple, and all sewn up and hand finished in under two hours!

As I said, this is a free PDF Pattern and I highly recommend it! The BEST thing? It only took an hour, yippeee!!

The essential tricks needed for a simple top like this are basic machine skills, good ironing and some simple hand stitch knowledge. Any top like this will only have two pieces- a front and a back- so a lot of the work you do will be in the neatening of the raw edges about the armholes, neckline and hem. Facings are one way to go however; Bias Binding is a another choice which I feel can make the garment look a little more unique. You can choose to Self Bind as I have, use a contrast, satin or even a lace edged binding!

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Pin, and stitch the Bias Binding Right Sides Together on to your garment (Colette’s pattern instructions for the Sorbetto take you through this step in detail). Lay flat, and push the Seam and Bias Binding away from you as illustrated above right.

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Fold the top of the Bias Binding down by the amount of Seam Allowance you have (normally 1.5cm/5/8″), and pin. Then fold again to lie next to your original Seam. Pin parallel as shown.

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 Thread a needle with thread twice as long as you need. Fold in half. Thread the loop through the Needle, and pull longer than the other threads (above left). Take a stitch through on of your machine stitches, and a small amount of the Bias Binding (above right) and, before the thread has been pulled though entirely, thread the needle through the loop and pull tight. this will anchor your thread.

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Continue down the length of the Bias Binding, taking stitches through the machine stitching and edge of the fold of the Bias Binding. Do not worry about making them teeny tiny, even lengths are better and mine are normally about 1cm or 2/8″ long. When you come to the end or need to re-thread simply thread your needle through the loop of a stitch to tie a knot.

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And there you have it, a nice simple Slip Stitch to finish any garment beautifully.

Pressing- not ironing!- is also essential and I have found a wonderfully demonstrative article on why ironing should be a firm part of your Sewing knowledge here. She makes quite the case doesn’t she boys and girls?!

A few notes on pinning (which was hotly contested during The Great British Sewing Bee!) and why even this Seamstress still does it… … it means you often don’t have to hand tack pieces together. It is also a great way to keep things in place as you sew that may alternatively slip out of place. You can use Pins to easily control ease in a garment. They’re gorgeous, have you seen Merchant & Mills selection recently?! They’re invaluable when sewing darts and finally, they are often what helps a beginner or intermediate Sewer create a more professional garment. About the only time I don’t use pins is on straight seams I am piecing quickly. Having said all of that, use pins wisely as they can mark delicate fabrics- so pin in and parallel to the Seam Allowance- and sewing machines can snag on them.

Finally, to Under Stitching. A sadly neglected art I am afraid, and even I am guilty of doing this and just pressing the Neckline down! No more! Here is my Tutorial to make us all Under Stitching superstars!!

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Pin the Facing to the Neckline and stitch the seam according to your Pattern Instructions. If you pin at a right angle the sewing machine will happily sew over the pins- especially useful when sewing curves! Remove the pins, and clip in to any curves.

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Fit the Zipper Foot on to the sewing machine and, on the Facing side, and making sure the clipped seam lies underneath the facing, stitch round nice and close to the edge as illustrated.

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 The Under Stitch will immediately make the Facing ‘roll’ towards the back so that, with a little press, the facing will sit invisibly behind the front. Lovely!

The image to the far right clearly illustrated the technique of sewing the Seam Allowance at the same time at the Facing.

Don’t forget to take a peek at Laura After Midnight on Pinterest, I have a great collection of free patterns and sewing projects over there from all corners of the globe! Remember that all Laura After Midnight Patterns are also available at PDFs here!

Happy stitching!

Week III: Reproducing Historical Corsets

So, I have designed The Eventide Corset to be a ‘gate-way’ Corset Pattern, to introduce easily the magnificent world of Corsetry! If you have not made a Corset before, or want a challenging Sewing project then the Eventide is a wonderful choice however; I am sure you- like me!- have been lusting after the glorious Historical Corsets I have been sharing on my Wordless Wednesday posts.

It is more than possible to use the Eventide to start your journey in creating wonderful Historical and Historically inspired Corsets, indeed The Eventide is actually taken from an 1880s Corset but has been adapted both for the modern figure and ease of use. A great many of the processes don’t change all that much… the finishing does a lot though!

    

A small selection of Corset Books from my collection. Click on the image to read more/buy. 

You will need to have, or gain, a good grasp of basic Pattern Cutting principles, and the first book I would suggest you invest in is Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh.

It has an amazing selection of Historical Corset Patterns, taken from extant examples from the beginning of the 16th Century right up to the 20s. I have made many of the Corset Patterns up and they do need to be adjusted for today’s figure, wasp-waisted almost doesn’t cover it!

The Victorian Corsets in particular have the most amazing seaming, as well as details like Cording and Flossing. Extant examples of similar Corsets can be found in many Museums, as well as online using resources from Museums like the V&A and The Met.

    

Images from Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh.

As you can see, there are a few Corset Pattern and Construction Books out there. I have all of the above (and more, I’m addicted!) in my collection and these are the ones I would recommend. Waisted Efforts contains a lot of construction details and techniques whilst The Little Corset Book contains very simple to make Patterns, with a little construction advice, and was the inspiration behind The Little Book of Corset Tips. Jill Salen’s Corsets has Vintage and extant Corset Patterns with details on their original construction and The Basics of Corset Building is a How To Guide.

Almost all of these books will require you to Grade or Scale up the Patterns yourself. They all inform you on how to do this, and more information on this subject can be found here.

I shall be illustrating different methods of making Boning Channels in future posts however; one of the best on-line resources for Corsetry Construction is Foundations Revealed. I highly recommend them if you would like to research or read further in this area.

Whilst many of the techniques of Construction may be familiar, many too will be new. One of these will be Flossing- the decorative stitching at the top and bottom of a Boning Channel. By no means limited to Historical Corsets as it is an excellent way to reinforce and protect the fabric from the Steel Bone rubbing through and creating a hole.

Corset embroidery detail, 1895, Symington Collection, Leicestershire County Council. Black flossing on scarlet longline corset. Victorian Corset Detail by Verdaera.deviantart.com on @deviantART

Some examples of Corset Flossing from Pinterest, click the images for more details. 

As you can see, it can become incredibly decorative!

Cording, which you can see in the above right image, can be used to flexibly support areas of the Corset Boning may not be able to. It’s a simple technique however; I wouldn’t advise it without an exceptionally good domestic Sewing Machine or an Industrial Machine as it is a lot for the machine to sew over. Cording will give support whilst still allowing the wearer to bend and move, which is why is was used historically in predominantly in lower class Corsets.

A lot of this information can be found on-line in the pages of Farthingales, Foundations Revealed, and more. This article on alternative Boning was also a great read.

Well, I’m off to take some pictures of all my wonderful Boning Channels for you luck peeps- there’s so many ways to make a Boning Channel!- and to brush up on my Flossing skills.

Have a lovely afternoon and happy stitching!