Wednesday, 30 June 2010

A finished project

We finished this wedding dress a few weeks ago at the Custom Costume Company. I just got the photos.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Creeping along slowly

I did a little more on the embroidery today. I am pleased with most of. I used different numbers of threads in different areas. I think the three largest flowers, which I used only 2 threads for, look a little weedy compared to the others, so I will go back and pad them out a bit.
I spent the rest of the day being very computer-techy, I create a proper layout for this blog, and I made an online portfolio. I just need to remember to keep updating it with the new things I make.

Monday, 28 June 2010

I do love a good project

I went on a little shopping trip today, I do love fabric shopping, picking the type, the colour, the trims, bringing home the fresh little newly cut bundles, all ready to be made into something pretty.
Today's shop was for Flatmate-Weathers' corset. She found this corset which she liked, with the panels in different colours and the flower details. I am hand embroidering the flowers onto hers, which was this evenings task. I am going for a vaguely 18th century based pattern. I got this book for my 20th birthday (last Saturday) from Denise and it is wonderful. Well worth reading by anyone interested in embroidery and historical costume, its very detailed and is full of detailed line drawings of sections of real 18th century embroidery.
I flicked through it and scribbled this page down with a combination of the different flower shapes and styles.
I then went though my embroidery threads to pick out some colours for the detail, though I did actually change my mind after I took this picture. I am using grey silk-dupion for the front 4 corset panels and a slightly off white silk-dupion for the rest. I am going to keep the embroidery on the grey only, keeping it towards the centre.
This is the design I came up with, I am going to keep to only a few colours, Flatmate-Weathers didn't want the flowers to be too dominating, so I kept it fairly simple.
I used my trusty light box and a pencil to trace the design onto the silk. I'm sure that is not technically the correct way to do it, but chalk made a line too thick, and carbon paper with a tracing wheel wasn't accurate enough.
I did a little sample of my chosen threads on the silk to check the colours. This was a good idea because it made me decide one of them didn't really work (its hard to show the colours properly in a picture). Thread often looks a slightly different colour stitched into the fabric instead of just being laid on top of it, so I will definitely be doing this again.
Then I began stitching. I'm using stem stitch for the main stem, and back stitch for the thinner offshoots. When I put the corset together I shall mount the silk onto calico. I wasn't sure whether to do the embroidery through the silk and calico together or just the silk. I couldn't come up with any really good reasons for one being any better or worse than the other, so I'm just sewing through silk. Mainly because it means I get to start the embroidery and put off the mounting.
This is how far I got this evening, I was slightly distracted by the amazing Mumford & Sons live set from Glastonbury. I want to get the corset finished before Flatmate-Weathers returns on Sunday...but I will have to see how it goes. I would rather do a good job than rush it.

Such a lovely shade of blue...or is it green?

I mounted the pieces up for this corset months and months ago, back when my work experience was official, but I ran out of time and it has been sitting hidden away in a folder since then. But since Little-sisters waist nip tuned out so well I decided to bring it out and attempt to finish it.

I'm really pleased with the result, it made me giddy with happiness. It fits perfectly, the gap down the back is even all the way down. It is turquoise silk on the outside and lined with simple black cotton. I really need to take my photos wearing something a bit more considered underneath though, photoshop does help, but only really when you can be bothered to alter all the pictures rather than just one.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Flying Solo

So I have made a corset with a pattern, its now time to attempt the next stage, make a corset starting from the very beginning, the bare measurements. I have plenty of books neatly stacked on my shelf detailing exactly how I should have gone about this, but in the heat of the moment enthusiasm took over and I pretty much decided to wing it. So after lots and lots of ruler and biro, I ended up with something that looked vaguely like a corset pattern.
I ploughed on, and made it up into a toile, which much to my surprise fitted my guinea pig (Flatmate Wethers) pretty well. As far as I could tell anyway, it closed at the back, was smooth over the front, and didn't seem to gape anywhere that I could tell.
I would even go as far as to say it had the essence of corset about it.
I sewed channels for the boning from the seam allowance, I left 1.5cm seam allowance, which wasn't really enough, I was sewing right at the edge for the channels to be wide enough. Next time I will leave 2cm.
I used artificial whale bone for most of it, though I didn't have quite enough, and had to improvise with large cable ties in two places. You can see in the picture that the channels second from the centre are slightly narrower than the others. I read about using cable ties in one of my corset books, and I have to say they worked really well. I don't think I would use them for anything that would be worn a lot, or was under a lot of pressure, but for something like this, especially a toile, they worked just fine. And at 99p for 10 long ones, its greatly more student budget friendly than steels.
With the boning in the bust bagged out a bit (see picture), I found that taking in the panel third from the centre by about 2cm, sorted this problem right out.

The Whole Shabang

Here is the completed outfit beautifully modelled by my sister. I am really pleased with the corset, it turned out really well. The dress underneath was very rushed, and I know I could have done a better job which is frustrating. Hopefully this will teach me to have sparks of inspiration with longer than 3 days to go before the birthday. I think I slept a total of about 10 hours over those 3 days.
I did have my first forage into the making of ribbon flowers. Denise lent me this wonderful book, which was invaluable. There are so many different ways to do it. I pretty much made a nest of ribbons in the corner of the settee and sat late into the night (several nights) trying out all the different methods.
Here are some of them adorning the top of the dress. Complete with the compulsory ladybird bead.
I have learned from this experience, NEVER trust someone to take their own measurements. I don't know how she did it, but little-sister managed to measure her own waist 10cm smaller than it actually was, I know there is breathing in but.... ?
So the waist-nip is slightly on the snug side, though apparently she likes it that way.
I randomly rooshed up areas of the skirt and sprinkled it with more ribbon flowers. Little-sister is currently going through a huge pixie/fairy stage, so I was aiming for that kind of look. Complete with a pair of pointed latex ear tips.

Tea and silk don't mix!

There are some people in this world, magical, clever people, who can go there entire lives and never ones spill a cup of tea. Then there are the people like me who can't, not that I spill every drink I drink, but the drink that I do spill would be right over my newly made corset wouldn't it. You can just see it in the the top picture, the stain, sat there on the so smugly on the shiny new silk. This time however we bested the tea, and thanks to Denise's speedy daubing with a clean cloth, you wouldn't never know I had been anywhere near it with my beverage.
Anyway back to the corset, well technically a waist-nip or corselette. I made it two weeks ago as a present for my sisters 17th birthday. Before this I had done lots of fabric mounting, and post sewing prep work, but I had never made an entire corset from start to finish. It was surprisingly nerve racking at some points, mainly sewing the seams that would be visible from the outside, I felt a lot of pressure to produce straight seams. And thankfully they turned out better than I expected.
The facing fabric is a gorgeous green silk, mounted onto calico, and it is lined with a beautiful gold silk embroidered with wheat sheaves also mounted onto calico.
I made my own bias-binding tape for the top and bottom edges by cutting a 5.2cm wide diagonal strip out of the silk.
I then used this wonderful little contraption known as a bias-binding maker. Its so simple, but it works so well. You feed the fabric strip in one end, and when you pull it out the other end its bias-binding shaped. Simply iron flat, and job done. Brilliant!

I bound the bottom edge (above), inserted the eyelets, inserted the bones, and bound the top edge. I need to improve my time planning slightly as I was still slightly frantically hand sewing the top binding on the train home to deliver my present. Not the easiest thing to do, though easier than sewing on the bus.

One Scoop or two?

I work as much as I am allowed at The Custom Costume Company. I get to help make all sorts of goodies, we have just finished a little project that has been nicknamed "The Ice-cream Dress", mainly due to the yummy colours and the two huge scoops on both arms.
My jobs included stitching the trim onto the cuffs,
and hand sewing the sleeve mounts into the sleeves using invisible stitch, so there are no raw edges, or even over-locked edges visible inside.
I also helped to finish off the bustle, which goes under the skirt and gives it its shape.

This involved stitching the hook and eye onto the waistband more firmly than any hook and eye have even been stitched before. These things will never be moved again, ever! They have to hold up the entire bustle with the weight of the skirt atop it, and what with all the pompoms, this is quite a weight.
I also stitched the ends of the triangles of lace down to prevent them flicking up and getting caught on things.
And finally I finished off the hem by hand sewing lace and more pompoms over the ram edges.
I also made the white blouse underneath the jacket. I made that entirely solo, it was nice to do something from scratch by my self and I was pleased by how it turned out.

Friday, 18 June 2010

You may call me the Eyelet Queen

There are quite a lot of different ways to set eyelets. I have used a cheap little hand punch one before, but it never gave very good results. However after eyeleting about 100 little holes over the past few days, I'm pretty sure I have mastered this better method.
You need: Something to eyelet, I was doing a corset toile,
Some eyelets,
Same number again of washers,
A solid base for hammering onto,
A hammer,
An eyelet base,
An eyelet steadying stick thing.
First make a hole, I used a hefty metal hole punch, but you can ease the fabric threads aside or very carefully use scissors. Then push the eyelet through the hole, make sure the right side is on the right side.
Now place the eyelet, still in the fabric, onto the eyelet base so that the front sits neatly in the little dent.
Place the washer over the top of the wrong side. It needs to be the way up so that it makes a little circular trough, this gives a place for the squashed eyelet to sit.
If you get it the wrong way round (like I did when I wasn't paying attention) it looks messy and isn't as strong, use some small pliers, carefully ease the pieces apart and start again.
Place the small end of the stick thing into the eyelet over the washer, and give it a few raps with the hammer.
It should now look like the top two eyelets in this picture. If it sticks up too much, put the stick back on and hammer it some more.

Now turn it over and tah-dah! Neat little holes, perfect for lacing.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Metric v Imperial - the never ending war

As very much a child of the 90's I really should eschew all thought of feet and inches with a firm hand, this however is not the case. I really should know by now though, that you shouldn't try and do half your measurements in cm and the other half in just doesn't work. Because it turns out the difference between 3" and 3cm is a badly fitting waistline. So after...
Carefully drawing out the basic block, checking it twice, checking it again,
Writing up the labels,
Getting help to fix the slightly dodgy bust dart that decided it didn't want to be part of the regular block,
Tracing, ironing, rough cutting, laying it all out neatly,
Correcting the massively wrong original labels,
Learning quite how useful a pattern master is at drawing on seam allowances,
Using said pattern master to draw said seam allowances (1.5cm),
Cutting out all the pieces,
Pinning them and stitching them...

Turns out this was an important kind of 3cm. The kind that really needs to be obeyed if you want the newly padded mannequin's cover to fit. The kind that you really shouldn't measure out as 3" when drawing the basic block all those hours ago.
Oh well, lets try again tomorrow.