Tag Archives: Corset

Costume College – Day 3

20 Aug

Saturday brought an early morning. Up for breakfast and straight into Jennifer Rosebrugh’s (of Historical Sewing.com) Sleeve Fitting for Victorian Bodices class. I learned SO much in this class! I have hacked my way thru self drafted sleeves many times but the fit has not been perfect. Its been a sore spot for some time. I learned 2 critical rules or tips that I will absolutely note forget. 1 – the snugger the fit of the arm pit area the more movement. This is absolutely contrary to every modern plus sized pattern from the big 4. So often pattern companies (even some small ones) just enlarge a pattern instead of properly grading a pattern up. Even if it is properly graded modern ideas of ease make for huge uncomfortable arms-eyes. Now I know how to check the patterns fit in this area BEFORE I even start cutting out the pattern. In reality I knew how to do this before but now it has completely sunk in. Sometimes you just need someone to come up with the words to explain what you already know. The 2nd rule I took away was – start the decorative details of the sleeve after the break point. My notes describe the break point as just above the muscle on the arm. Jennifer went into great detail about the terminology used drafting a sleeve, most of which I could not regurgitate for you. Having never taken a true pattern drafting class most of this was new. Over all the class showed me how much I actually do understand but how much I still have to learn. I am certainly a bit excited to draft a new sleeve pattern for myself! And if I see a pattern drafting class offered some where I should probably take it.


Marie Antoinette en chemise, portrait of the queen in a “muslin” dress, by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Next up was La Chemise a la Reine presented by Sarah Lorraine. I periodically read her blog (modehistorique.com)  and knew she was presenting a class about her research. 18th century costume is not currently my passion so I knew very little about a Chemise a la Reine, just what I had scanned from her blog.  I had no idea how much Marie Antoinette was rebelling against the system or why and what part this dress had to play in that rebellion. I loved that the presentation was mostly paintings and art history. Sometimes I forget how much I love art history. Over all the story that Ms Lorraine is telling about this garment is enthralling. Or maybe its her excitement is catching. I understand why people love the era and I might come around soon. I was very sad I had to leave before the end of her presentation but I needed a lunch break before my first limited class.

The ribbon techniques I learned.

The ribbon techniques I learned.

Limited classes at CoCo, I am learning, are hit and miss. My first one of this year, Victorian Ribbon Work by Sandra Durbin, was kind of middle of the road. I loved her as a teacher, very fun and encouraging. The class over all was an intro class and went by so fast. I walked away with several good techniques I can use to trim future projects. I am sure I could learn all of it from a book but sometimes you need a teacher to build confidence. Plus the teacher was very fun and different.

After the ribbon class it was time to get ready for the evening Gala. I had arranged to go to a restaurant off sight with Rebecca Maiten and some of her friends that I did not know. I wore my very simple maroon early regency dress. My plan of wearing something simple and not getting stopped for too many photos worked. The red carpet experience still terrifies me a little  but the simplicity of dress made the evening far more pleasant. Over all I am very pleased with the dress. Its comfortable and reasonably flattering. I love the jewelry I made (my first real attempt at jewelry making) and the shawl. My hair was AMAZING! Totally worth the time to do pin curls the night before. I had made a set of transitional short stays and BOOOOOO! by the end of the night they were digging into my back. In the trash they go! Hopefully the true regency stays I am working on fit better.

Rebecca had gathered a large group of ladies who opted to eat at an Italian restaurant across the street. Rebecca looked fabulous in her court gown and we all made quiet a spectacle walking over there. After dinner another spectacle as we walked back and then to the photo studio for pictures. I stopped in at the Gala to see some of the costumes but the stays were starting to bother me so I called it a night.  Over all it was a very pleasant evening with some lovely ladies (whose names I sadly don’t really remember). But the best part of the night? Taking those bloody stays off!


A Frolick on a Train

20 May

I finally went to an event! Its only been what 5 months?!?

Sunday we went on an outing to the Northwest Railway Museum with the local steampunk group.  I tend to fit in better with the steampunk crowd because tho I love historical costuming of all sorts, I tend to prioritize flamboyant design over historical accuracy. Being absolutely historically correct would drive me mad. My hat is off to those who can do it. But I digrese… Over all we had a grand time.  It threatened to rain but really only spit on us. Most of the time we were in a covered train car so it wouldn’t have mattered much.  My husband and son went along for the ride.  I managed to get a little bit of costume for the little monster and he had a grand time! With a fit thrown in now and again (he did not want to leave the train!).

I finally wore my Frolicking Suit. It was exceedingly practical for a train outing and very comfortable. Good length, easy on and off and not too cumbersome. I certainly would have been warm had the temperature been higher. It also had been many months since I had worn a corset so that was a bit uncomfortable. I vow to wear one routinely in prep for Costume College. I opted for some very comfortable brown Dr Martins. Over the years I have given up on fancy shoes and go for practical. Beautiful shoes are forbidden candy for this fat lady. Its just not worth the twisted ankles and blisters. The Docs served me well and were not too distracting. On reflection I think tan leather would be more appropriate. I am also debating my glove choice. Tan? Pink? Cream or white? I also think I need a hat. Strike that. I NEED a hat! Maybe I can get to that before costume college. As far as sewing notes I think I need to raise the back of the bustle hem because you cant see the pleating underneath.  Other than that the only mishap was a button that got caught on something and popped off.  Over all I call that a success.

Now to the pictures…


The finished Frolicking Suit! My husband did not notice the branch…


My son and I. As you can see, raising the bustle would be a good idea.


On the train. I actually like this picture of me – chins and all. It really looks like me and I am smiling. Couldn’t ask for more.


The monster does not want to leave the train.

An Overdue Progress Report

2 May

When I look at what I have accomplished in the past few weeks it seems like a lot and nothing at the same time.  This is often how sewing feels for me.

My Frolicking Suit is finished but has another few weeks before its first frolic (hopefully on a train!).  I have worn it for an hour or so as a test run.  Everything worked great except a few of the fabric covered buttons popped off.  I have since fixed them and need to reattach them.  Its pretty comfortable and easy to maneuver due to a lack of bustle cage.  Perfect for a train outing.  Hopefully I will get some good pics then or if we get a sunny weekend day maybe a few in the back yard.  Again getting photos is a huge issue for me.

20140501_150856I also completed a black and a white chemise, which was on goals my list.  I chose a linen/cotton blend for the black which I like better than the white cotton but boy it wrinkles.  both are entirely machine sewn and very comfy.  They might become summer night gowns or at least the pattern will be. The original pattern was taken from Period Costume for Stage and Screen (http://www.amazon.com/Period-Costume-Stage-Screen-1800-1909/dp/088734609X/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y ) with a few minor alterations. I tested the pattern in the white cotton and tweaked the neckline before making the black. The white one is totally wearable but not as comfortable.  I also managed the prettiest rolled hem I have ever done.  Machine rolled hems can be a challenge. So finicky but I got the hang of it this time around. I will try and get some photos of me in it soon.


Bust detail: There is a little bit of gathering over the bust for some added room.


Black Chemise


Shoulder Detail


The black and green corset is moving forward slowly.  The lining is in and needs bones, binding and flossing.  So much hand work. My goal is to have it done by the end of the month so I can wear it to SEAF.  Over all I am in love with the fit. As always there are things that could be a wee bit better but I’m not stressing over them.

Corset3 Corset2 Corset1


Beginnings of hand sewn stays

Speaking of hand work I have undertaken an entirely hand sewn project – Regency Stays! I thought I would challenge myself a little and see if I could make it thru the project.  It goes slowly but well.  I am surprised my stitching is actually pretty decent.  Considering my hand bound button holes on the Frolicking Suit I was dubious, however a back stitch is far easier.  My stitches certainly could be more even but by the end of the project they will likely be.

Costume College is quickly approaching.  Only 3 months and so much to do.  I am hoping to get my Slytherian dress done but it is a LOT of work.  Other than that I am just not sure.  I would like to get the regency stuff done but I think that will depend on how long it takes to do the stays.


Pac Fab Score! Colors is a little lighter in the photo.

I also picked up a small handful of things from an amazing sale at Pacific Fabrics. 10 yards of Pewter machine dupioni, 4 yards of pink and red striped heavy cotton, 4 yards of crazy striped silk, 2 yards of black shirting and 15 yards of gold gimp trim.  And the price? Wait for it…..$118 including tax.  The pewter silk was only $5 a yard.  I do love a deal! I have no idea what to do with any of it yet but I am sure it will not sit too long.  I might have to put other projects aside to dig into that silk.

Next time, hopefully, more work on the stays and a start to Slytherian.