Hail to the King!

Midnight Costume Services is finally at the end of a long run of Costumes for an Entertainment Park, and this job comes to a close with a Panto! Dick Whittington… and I thought I’d share the process of making some of the pieces, like King Rats Tail Coat!

Easily my favorite Costume to make so far, I decided to loosely Hand Tailor the Tailcoat to support a couple of incredibly dramatic Shoulder Pads. To get the right look I played about with layering existing Shoulder Pads and felt but in the end- even though it was more work- I had to resort to a more traditional technique and ended up layering the felt in decreasing sizes to build up a pointed, exaggerated Shoulder. As you can see in the first picture using the existing Shoulder Pads looked super clunky!

13330340_10153599195296272_2022633620_n 13330523_10153599195371272_1060407481_n

Using a mixture of hand stitching, machine stitching and a little bit of glue, each Shoulder Pad has about 20 layers of felt and is quite malleable, allowing me to gently sculpt a curve. I haven’t some this in a while and I was super pleased with the results!

 2

I found some (pretty disgusting, but amazing for the purpose!) quilted fabric which I thought looked a little like Bin Bags… it’s the kinda thing I thought the King of Rats’ would have a tailored jacket out of!! In a concession to the performers I created the sleeves from a stretch Leather- which is why they look a little like they’re pulling- but means the Jacket will fit multiple performers and wont restrict movement.

The mannequin this is pictured on is a little too large, but I think it still looks majestic!

3 64

I find Panto a difficult beast to design for, I want to do character analysis to find their motivation and design around that, which doesn’t really work here. It’s all a bit too tongue in cheek, shiny and primary coloured for me but in starting with King Rat I helped myself a lot! Deciding that as a character he would have had quilted and embroidered bin bags fashioned in to a Tailcoat got me on my way.

I also fashioned medals and ribbons for the lapel, because of course he would be decorated!, and used lace and matt black sequins to applique and embroider detailing in the lapel and jacket. With a final sprinkling of darkly glittery hot stones and a Top Hat I think he turned out to be quite the dandy!

5 7

The hat was hand stitched and created using strips and fragments from the Tail Coat machine embroidered on, with layers of sparkly net and sequins overlayed. Slightly battered- he does live in the sewers after all!-the ears were made from faux fur, a lot of dye and sprayed dye.

As I have a commission to create a White and Gold Louis XVI Sun King Tail Coat I am really pleased this turned out so well. The Sun King Tail Coat will have to be much more viciously tailored to create a base for a spectacular Gold Feathered Shoulder Piece, and I can’t wait to share it!!

Happy stitching!

My 4th Sewing Bee Challenge!

Readers, this post finds me a little sad as I have just realized that there are only six weeks in this years Great British Sewing Bee, and not the eight there were last year. Which means I only have two left after this one! I’ll miss it terribly, but might have a sneaky idea up my sleeve to tide me over until next years ‘Bee… watch this space!

So this weeks Alteration Challenge was all about updating an 80’s Suit and I think I may have taken liberties with this one, but it’s updated in my eyes!

I had initially thought the Suit I bought was from the 1990’s however; it was yet again the best I could do for under £10. In inspecting it closer however;  the label and disintegration as well as construction made me realize it was a little older than that which made me happy. I really am trying to keep as closely to the parameters of the Challenge as I can!

a a1 a2

So, what do you think of this beauty then? It’s actually super thin fabric, and I just saw Victorian when I looked at it which made me smile! I did mean that my plan wasn’t necessarily  ‘modernizing’ it, but I decided that it was changing is sufficiently and making it entirely more wearable so I ploughed ahead!

a3

Label… *snigger*!

a4 a6 a5

Having made my sketch, I started to drape like the wind as I knew this Challenge was pushing it and I wanted to make sure I finished. Cutting the Coat around the Waist to shorten, I pinned the front where I wanted it to lie, then drew on a piece of Pattern Paper the shape of the Faux Waistcoat I wanted underneath.

I spent a couple of seconds playing around with different Lace and Sequinned Fabric to see which looked best overlaid, and decided upon the Sequin.

a7 a8 a9 a10

I then pinned the Side and Shoulder Seams to fit, cut them back to 1cm Seam Allowance ready for sewing and cut my new Collar line.

a11 a12

Using the Pattern I had draped, I used a section of the Bottom of the Coat to cut the Faux Waistcoat. The Coat was lined so luckily I also cut the backing for this section at the same time! Hurrah! I also cut the Squin fabric to size and pinned everything together ready to be stitched.

I also quickly made up and cut a Peplum Pattern… so quickly!!

Now, a few people have been asking how I work so quickly so this is a little insight… I have done all of the above, and it’s all ready pinned and waiting to be sewn. I have laid each section as I’ve pinned it on to the Sewing Table in order of most time consuming/order needed to finish the garment… so starting with the Jacket which needs Side Seams, Shoulder Seams and Bias Binding around the Collar, then the Peplum which had to be cut in three sections and joined to the Bodice, then the Faux Waistcoat which needs to be sewn up, turned out and have three Button Holes popped in. This is what it looks like about a 3rd of the way through the Challenge…

a13

I always try to stack up my workload like this, whatever project I may be working on, as I find it uses the time most wisely and I am able to accurately sew things together incredibly speedily.

a14 a15

Binding the Collar took a little more time than I had thought- despite ‘ghetto fixing’ it with a Zig-Zag and not pinning! However; I was pleased with it when it went on the mannequin.

a16 a17 a18

Next in my pile of Sewing was to sew together the Faux Waistcoat, cut back the excess, trim the corners and turn out. After ironing I put three Button Holes in too.

a19 a20

As each piece of my pile is sewn I pop the back on the mannequin… which can look a little odd!

After piecing the Peplum I pinned it on to the bottom of the Bodice including Pleats at every seam for a little fullness.

At this point I was still hoping to Bias Bind the bottom of the Peplum.

23

a21 a22 a23

I had also wanted to cut down the Sleeves a little as they’re quite large however; I was in the last ten minutes at this point and panicking! Instead, I sewed above the hem of the Sleeve, which meant I could cut the lining away then pinned the Sleeve back in to the Armhole with a large Pleat at the top (which I love!).

In the last few minutes I over-locked the Bottom of the Coat- stretching the Bias cut Fabric slightly so at to create a Lettuce Hem- and sewed on Buttons, as well as a couple extra Buttons to catch the Front of the Peplum back, which I think looks extra fancy!

As I was sewing on the very last Button my Brother Ast and his Son Errol popped through the door but I didn’t stop and sewed to the…   very…   last…      second!!

(I think they though me quite, quite mad!!)

But, ta daa!! What do you think of my 4th Sewing Bee Challenge?

a30

a24 a26 a25  a28

a27 a29

As you can see, I didn’t Bias Bind the Bottom of the Coat- no time!- and the Sleeve still looks a little full however; I’m happy with it. The Fabric is draping quite nicely in the Peplum and Pleats on the Sleeve too. I actually think the shape and fall of the Peplum is rather lovely.

So, as I am a little late this week with the Sewing Bee Challenge, I already know that my next is a Wet Suit! Eep!! Can’t wait for that but I’ll try not to think about it too much, and await the delivery of my Wet Suit!

Have you been inspired? Tried any UpCycles recently? I’d love to see, feel free to share below.

If you have been inspired to learn to sew, or would like to try your hand at the mysterious world of UpCycling, why not pop along to a Sunday Sewing Bee?

Happy stitching!

PDF Flash Sale

Because of new EU VAT Regulations (boy, am I tired of typing that, and so fed up with the situation), I will have to stop selling PDF Patterns through Etsy as of Midnight on December 31st 2014. This may seem to be a knee jerk reaction to the whole Vat Mess situation however; millions of small businesses are being effected by the (ridiculous, unfair and plain stupid) change- over 3.3 million in the UK alone- and this is a precautionary step to protect myself until we can figure out what the next step it… because all sources of help within HMRC are giving conflicting, incorrect or confusing advice and no-one seems to understand how we can comply, why indeed as a Small Business/Micro Business we should comply or what the next step might be.

Just to give you an overview, from 1st January 2015 if I sell a Digital File to another EU Country I have to pay VAT there. However there are 28 countries in the EU with 75 different VAT rates… so I have to register to pay VAT in every EU Country… and often I don’t know where my Customer is. I’m going to leave it there as I tend to start angry typing and become incoherent if I add more!!

I will still be offering Patterns as a hard copy however; the new regulations will include all products by the end of the year. The best explanation of the new regulations I have found is here, please read it if you are a small business as I was convinced the 80k threshold would protect me and it doesn’t. More interesting articles can be found here and here loosely explaining the situation and a very helpful Facebook Group has been set up here.

So, why not just sell to the US? As 80% of my business is with you guys- thanks by the way!- this is a viable solution. But wait… there’s a little piece of law which says I shouldn’t discriminate against selling to a certain Country without cause. I think this is cause not to sell to the EU, expecially when historically I don’t much however; there’s another really, huge, big issue with this. I sell on Etsy, who aren’t going to help me to distinguish between Countries so I can’t do this and keep this side of my business afloat. Great.

So, we’re left with several options… just sell Hard Copy Patterns with a complimentary PDF, just sell Hard Copy, or find another platform to sell on so I can distinguish between Countries so I can only sell outside of the EU which looks like it might be a more permanent solution for the size of my business.

 

Any hoo, because of this ”VAT Mess” I’m having a Flash Sale on all PDF Patterns…

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

Mini Top Hat PDF (above, left) £3.25      Eventide Corset PDF (above, right) £4.25

Dusken Spats PDF Sewing Pattern Victorian Edwardian Steampunk DIY Craft Kit

**NEW** Dusken Spats PDF (above) £4.25

Costume Sewing Patterns Selection Pack inc. Victorian Corset, Steampunk Burlesque Mini Top Hat and Steampunk Spats

All three PDF Patterns (above) £10

How’s about that then? They’ll only be available for the next two days… eek!! Click the images to buy 🙂

Happy stitching

Sample Sale and New Products

At the end of the week I shall be releasing my much anticipated Corset Covers. At the same time I shall be running a Sample Sale of all of the pieces I have made for Laura After Midnight either as a way to figure out the Pattern, as an example to Photograph or pieces I have made for films.

  

Samples included a few Waistcoats- one of which has an amazing lining which legend has it was printed for the Rolling Stones in the 70s’!- a Steel Boned Victorian Bustle, a fantastic Fan Laced Victorian inspired Jacket (both from the below left Costume), a beautiful White Cotton Lawn Shirt and Petticoat and more. I’d love for them all to find homes!

costume waistcoat

Sizes are varied- some pieces will be able to be re-sized for an extra fee- some are a little rough and ready and others are gorgeous. I’m hoping to sell as much ex-stock as possible to make way for my new line of Vintage inspired Dresses, Corsets and other new designs.

I have an ulterior motive… money raised from this Sample Sale will go towards developing more Patterns. I have so many ideas! I want to release more Corset Patterns, as well as more underwear Patterns like Bustles and Corset Covers, and even start developing my own designs influenced by the Victorian era and my love of Costuming.

I will also be releasing new Spats Designs and the Spats Pattern and Kit in a few weeks time, Corsets, a new range of Vintage Party Dresses will première this Sunday and I shall be starting to print my own Fabric, so September promises to be a great month!

Throughout this time you can use Discount Code STEAMPUNK15 for 15% off of your order.

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!