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!

The Midnight Atelier Skirt Making Book, a Stitch Bitch Companion!

So, this little number is now available in my Pattern Shop!

Front Coverpages pattern drafting skirt book

The Midnight Atelier Skirt Making Book, a Stitch Bitch Companion… a 36 page long, handmade and hand stitched little Pattern Making tome! Each includes instructions to Pattern Draft your very own A-Line Skirt… Choose to draw the Pattern straight on to the Fabric, or make one up in paper as also included are four separate Pattern adaptations to turn your original A-Line Skirt Pattern in to a Circle Skirt, Pleated Skirt, Tulip Skirt or Vintage style Pleated Circle Skirt! Wow!!

Available as a PDF or Hard Copy Print. Grab your copy today…

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.

sketch

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!

Top 5 posts of 2014!

Well readers, it’s been an interesting year! These are the posts published in 2014 which have been viewed time and again… thank you!

Whilst that’s self explanatory, I’d also like to say that the Pattern Free A-Line Skirt Tutorial and Pattern Month Tutorials beat these posts by a Country mile (but were published in 2013, so don’t count) however; this has made me so happy because I shall be concentrating on Pattern Cutting, Drafting and Making Up in the near future as I start to design and sell more Patterns.

I am so excited about this. I’ve got a new computer, new workroom and new passion and drive after a very hard end of the year which had left me questioning pretty much everything. But more of this later… on with the show!

1.

Simple Sewing: How to Make a Patchwork Cushion

cushion43This is a fantastic make for any young or new Sewers out there, and you end up with a pretty fantastic Cushion at the end of the make too… and who doesn’t like a Patchwork Cushion?! You can make this with a couple of Fat Quarters and some backing fabric too so it’s pretty cheap. I love Patchwork for instilling straight lines and perfectly sewn seam allowances, I’m such a dreadful old bore of a teacher!

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See the original Tutorial here.

2.

Corset Month

corset month button

Following on from the release of my very first Sewing Pattern- the Eventide Corset Pattern- this March I did a Sew-a-Long for the next month with hints and tips to sew up your very own Eventide! With such a fantastic reception (and despite the evil new VAT regulations)  I shall be releasing more Patterns in 2015, all of which will have a slightly Victorian/Edwardian or unusual flavour. I can’ wait!

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See the first article here which has links to all of the posts.

3.

5 Tips for Product Photography

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Covering tips on Backdrops, placing your Products, Framing, Lighting and Editing Software it’s no wonder this tutorial is so popular! It’s part of an occasional series and was recently followed by 5 Tips for Craft Fairs.

See the original article here.

4.

Notions: Concealed Zips

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The first entry from the Notions Series, which is (or is supposed to be!) a weekly photo tutorial on a specific technique. Lamentably abandoned in recent months, I will be resurrecting it as soon as I can as they are ridiculously popular, and exceptionally useful in class! It is no surprise to me this is the most popular as Concealed Zips are a problem for a lot of Sewers’, I’m just pleased this has helped a little bit!

See the original Tutorial here.

5.

The Sorbetto Top from Colette

slip2a

Who else is looking forward to The Great British Sewing Bee in 2015? This is a post I wrote to accompany last years Sewing Bee, when they made a simple top… which covered an awful lot of Sewing Techniques! A lot of my students were left in a spin and I like the Sorbetto for teaching these techniques, whilst making a garment from not much fabric (also known as, if it mucks up, don’t worry it didn’t cost too much!). Covering making Bias Binding and sewing it on, Slip Stitching, Understitching and a couple other techniques this is a most informative little post and the Pattern is still free over at the Coletterie! Wow!!

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See the original Tutorial here. Added bonus, click here to see my Interview with Sarai from Colette!

Well, that was 2014, I didn’t do so bad upon reflection. I am trying hard to think which was my favourite post from 2014 and I think it has to be this one. There’s much to look forward to in 2015, and it all started in that little Studio!

Happy stitching!

Christmas Makes: Stockings

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Quite a few people I know are going to be making gifts this year, and making a Stocking is a wonderful way to present them. Alternatively, if you don’t have very much time or have just started sewing then these are a quick and simple Gift to make up. Stuffed with presents or chocolate and brought out each year for ever more who wouldn’t want one?

Because they use such a small amount of fabric these are a wonderful quick, cost effective make. They can be decorated any way you like, personalized and made as big or as small as needed! Delightful!

You will need:

a large sheet of paper or some pattern paper

half a meter/yard of Fabric for the outside of your stocking

half a meter/yard of Fabric for the inside of your stocking

Ribbon, Felt, Bobble Trim, Sequins or anything else you want to decorate your stocking with

20cm Ribbon for the tag

Sewing Machine, Thread, Scissors, Pins

stocking 1 stocking 2

First, use the paper to draw out your stocking pattern (or click the above image to enlarge and print, then use to scale up as you need). Once you are happy, you will need to add on 5cm/2″ to the top- for the turn down- and Seam Allowance around the rest of the Stocking Template. I use just 1cm/ 3/8″ for small projects like this or I find myself using a lot of fabric… which I then end up cutting off so the Stocking turns out properly!

When you are happy with your template you will need to start cutting out your fabric. If you would like to check your Stocking- if you need it to be a particular size for instance- simply make up a sample from some Calico or scrap Fabric.

Fold your Fabric, Right Sides Together, and pin your Template on. Remember if you have a Directional Pattern on your Fabric to Pin the Template the right way up! Folding your Fabric helps you to cut a left and a right side. I have seen too many people cut two lefts or two rights!!

Repeat for the Lining so you have two outside Stocking pieces, and two inside Stocking pieces as above. With Right Sides Together, Pin a Lining piece to an Outside piece as illustrated, then sew using your chosen Seam Allowance.

At this point, if you would like to decorate your Stocking, you need to do it before you start to stitching it up. Remember your Seam Allowance and don’t stitch anything too close to the edges! Also, and this is a little odd but I promise it’s right!, any decoration sewn on around the top edge of the Stocking which will be seen when the top is turned down needs to be sewn on to the Lining and upside down. This means it will be the right way up when the Stocking is made up and the top is turned down.

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When you have sewn both, lie flat and Iron your Seams ‘out’ as illustrated. Then, with Right Sides Together, pin both Stocking pieces together which should match the two outer pieces and two lining pieces on either side.

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Fold the piece of Ribbon in half and Pin. On the Lining side, tuck in as illustrated about 5cm/2″  and -using the same Pin- Pin on the the Stocking. This will mean your Tag is sewn in as you sew the Stocking up which is very neat and tidy!

Starting on the Lining side (and remembering to reverse stich a little to anchor), start to sew just below the Ribbon Tag as shown. Continue to sew all around the Stocking, remembering your Seam Allowance, until you are just above the heel on the Lining side. Stop and reverse stitch to anchor again leaving a gap in the stitching in the Lining to turn the Stocking out.

Clip your threads, then clip all of your curves. This is really important as your Stocking will not turn out nicely!

Turn the Stocking out, then push the Lining in to the outside of the Stocking. You may need a ruler or pencil to help you push the Lining all the way down in to the outside. Turn the top down about 5cm/2″ and stuff full of chocolates, or other goodies and hang up!

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As ever it would be lovely to see your makes! Kristen C tweeted me the below from my Jewel Bird Tutorial. Kristen made these stunning Birds as gifts last year, aren’t they delightful? I adore the blue one, and I am loving all of the different colour choices, which were so different from mine. The White were made as a Gift in traditional Dutch colours for her Grandmother.

       

Share your makes via Twitter (@MidnightLaura), on Facebook or here! You can join me for my Christmas Workshops or at the Royal York Crescent Christmas Fair in Clifton, Bristol on the 30th November to buy Stocking Fillers, Christmas Bunting, Gifts or a cheeky pair of Christmas Knickers or Boxer Shorts… see you there!

Happy stitching!

Notes from the Atelier

Well, I have completed the move from Midnight Heights to Midnight Atelier, and a very happy Seamstress I am too!

I have already taught my first one-to-one Class in the space (more on that soon), which seems to work very well, and today was my first day of work… and boy did I work!

Orders were stitched, packed up and shipped. New designs patterned and sewn up, including the below- quite frankly- stunning Waspy Bustle Skirt and tidying and sorting continued apace!

bustle skirt 1 bustle skirt 3 bustle skirt 4 bustle skirt 5

bustle skirt 6 bustle skirt 7

This Bustle Skirt will be on sale next week and is one of two Bustle Skirt Designs I have been working on. Adapted from a Vintage Pattern, I am quite literally in love with it! I may have to make a Mini Tricorn Hat to match… I am also loving my new Labels… printed Purple Satin Ribbon, with a flourish of Vintage Taffeta behind. So much fun!!

Corset Month will continue Monday, which will also be the day I release my Course List for the Midnight Atelier and Workshop. Courses will include Vintage Lingerie, Corsetry and Bullet Bra making! Places are limited to just three lucky Sewers so booking early will be encouraged.

Happy stitching!

Week III: Sewing the Eventide Corset up

stitching up

Today I will be starting to actually sew the Eventide Corset up! Yay!! There’s so many little preparation tasks in Corsetry that actually sitting down and stitching can be a long time coming!

A few notes first, on the order of Sewing. What I have designed the Eventide to be is an excellent easy Corset to stitch up, whether you are a beginner, want a quick make or just want to explore a different part of sewing. Because of this, the Eventide is sewn together in a very specific way- the Seams are stitched, then fitted and then adjusted as needed and finally the Boning Channels are sewn either side of the Seams. Normally, the corset would be tacked together temporarily at this stage, fitted and then sewn together properly with internal Boning Channels. This is still possible with the Eventide pattern however; you will need to decide how you would like to stitch the Corset together at this stage. If you are unsure and this is your first Corset, I would recommend sticking with the Eventide method for your first try, and then attempting something a little flashier on your next Corset. If you would like to keep all options open, simply at this stage sew the Fabric and Coutil panels together as illustrated, fit and then decide later!

It is popular assumption, amongst my classes, that inserting the Busk is the most difficult task when assembling a Corset. Whilst this needs precision however; I think that it is in fact the Seaming which can be more troublesome as you are stitching together many different curves, whilst maintaining a Seam Allowance and trying not to stitch anything which shouldn’t be!

Once this is done, you can begin the Fitting process, which is exciting and tends to make students rush this bit… please do not be tempted! If rushed, you may have to unpick and if using a Silk, Lace or more delicate fabric you stand to damage it.  The seaming needs to be precise and rushing can cause less than smooth lines to be stitched which, when the Corset is worn, will pull and stretch the Fabric in an unsightly way.

So, further dire warnings aside, let’s start stitching!

sewing up

To sew the Corset together using the Eventide method, you will need to lay all of the panels out in front of you, with the Front panels in the middle. They need to be Wrong Sides Together as illustrated (below left).

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Remember those Waist Line snips I was talking about last week? This is where you will need them, and if you forgot, snip them now!

With Right Sides Together, match the Waist Line snips of the Front and Side Front panels of the Fabric (above, Centre). Pin at this point, then continue to Pin up and down the seam as illustrated. Smooth out as you Pin and concentrate on matching the edge of the Fabric. To do this you will need to Pin every few centimetres (above right).

sewing6 sewing7 sewing8

Sew, with a 1.5cm Seam Allowance, along the pinned seam. Remember to reverse stitch at the beginning and end. Slow as you come to the Waist Line, as it is more curved and you may need to stop and start as you sew.

Continue by matching the Side Front and Side panels, then Side and Side Back and stitching all with a 1.5cm Seam Allowance until all panels are sewn in a line.

Repeat for the Coutil panels and then the other side of the Corset. You will notice (above right) that the Corset will very quickly start to take shape and begin to curve.

Of course, if you have the ability, or are wanting to sew quickly, pinning all of the Seams for the Fabric and Coutil for both sides, and then sewing them is an awful lot quicker than pinning and sewing individually. In fact, I do not pin at all! This increases my speed and efficiency and this technique is something I will be covering in more depth in my Video Series The Corset Sessions.

The Boning Channels will be sewn once the entire Corset has been stitched together, and fitted. Using the Eventide method, you are still able to get back in to the Corset seams whilst not unpicking anything which isn’t extremely necessary however; this will all be explained in further posts next week and I think that’s enough for today, lets all grab a cup of tea, step back and admire our handiwork, and have a little rest before making up out eyelet strips and preparing to Fit the Eventide Corset tomorrow!

Happy stitching!

Week III: Corset making resources

In writing and sewing for Corset Month, I have stumbled across a couple other websites which have some handy notes on creating Corsetry and further corset making resources. There are a myriad of ways to create a bespoke Corset, especially if you are unfettered by historical restraints, and these websites will illustrate both that and how to execute some of them.

As ever, there aren’t many! Corsetry is a very secretive art form it would seem but then this is why I have developed the Eventide Corset Pattern!

Foundations Revealed

Figure 29: The final corset, front.   Figure 30: The final corset, back

A fabulous resource, many of their articles you have to subscribe for (which I highly recommend if you want to continue creating bespoke corsetry, and particularly if you are interested in creating Historical Corsets) however; there are a couple free Corset making articles including this one from Sparklewren. Included are all of her helpful tips to sew clean lines, and some interesting hints including a neat little trick with Bias Binding. There are also links through out to other free articles including how to Draft your own Corset Pattern, tipping Boning and Dyeing your Coutil.

Steam Ingenious

Steam Ingenious have a whole host of Corsetry resources, which are from a more Costuming, Steampunk perspective which is really great to read through. Tutorials include Drafting, and Making Up as well as separate tutorials on Inserting Eyelets and using non-traditional Fabric and a fab list of other resources. It’s a great read, and I think presents the reader with a lot of alternatives which, as a Costumer I am more than aware of, but the home sewer or beginner will find fascinating. It is also great to read about someone learning and sharing all of these techniques!

Sidney Eileen

Black Low-Hipped Underbust - Quarter Front View, by Sidney Eileen

This thorough Corset Construction post on how to make a Basic two layer Coutil Corset is often spoken of and I think I learnt about it from Steam Ingenious. It is a very thorough Tutorial and well worth a read. Because it has been around for a little while, the comments make an interesting read too. Many of the techniques can be used for Sewing up the Eventide if you would like a different look.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did giving these varied resources a good read! As ever, don’t forget that you can share your Eventides‘ on Facebook and Twitter, as well as finding inspiration for your creation on Pinterest.

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.

 busk6 busk6a

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!