Saturday, 29 October 2011

Long Time No See (& Sew)

Well hasn't it been ages? Due to work commitments and other related stuff (like moving job and doing the 3-hour commute to work thing) I haven't been posting much online. However, this is all about to change as I am determined to get back to my gardening and corset-making ASAP. Am renting a little house for work-times so have a brand-new garden to play with and a huge pile of boxes full of fabric staring at me accusingly.

Just to whet my appetite I purchased two new books: "Sew Serendipity" by Kay Whitt of Serendipity Studio and a new book on "Vintage Lingerie" by Jill Salen. For those of you not familiar with Serendipity Studio, they are an independent pattern company based in Grand Prairie, Texas in the US.  Kay Whitt designs gorgeous patterns with a pinch of  retro-chic that she makes up in mouth-wateringly lovely quilting fabrics. Normally colour-phobic, I am desperate to try out some of these outfits in something other than black. Check out her modelling some of her designs on her blog.

My other purchase also has me waiting behind the front-door for it to arrive. I love vintage, lingerie and sewing and already own Jill's corset book and have been attempting to draft up some new (old) corset patterns based on the examples in that. Can't wait to give them a try to see how they make up and doubly can't wait to try the patterns in this new one. Bullet bra anyone?

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Dark Fairy Tales - Inspiration Where You Find It?

OK. This is just going to be a short post . I have been asked to contribute to an art show in The Virginia Galleries here in Glasgow. They are hosting a show of textile work based around the theme of "Dark Fairy Tales" which I am really honoured to be a part of. I am collaborating with Mel from Le Hat Noir again and we will be showing 2 outfits based loosely on Snow White and Red Riding Hood. However, there is not even going to be a whiff of Disney anywhere near us. They are going to be dark, darker, darkest! :)

This got me thinking about sources for inspiration. It is easy enough to clone garments from the big designers, or to use a pattern and add some trims if that is your thing, but for truly unique pieces where do you draw you inspiration from? Other designers, fashion mags, historical source books, music, art, literature, etc.?

Mel and I work well as we bounce ideas off each other and this is really useful to get them to take shape and turn into something concrete. One of the things that she mentioned was the Neil Gaiman short story "Snow, Glass, Apples". If you don't know it you can read it here (don't go there if you will be disturbed by "adult" themes though). I love this, it is such a modern twist on the Grimm tale, without the banality of the usual 20th century versions, and just as dark as the original.

For Red Riding Hood, I have drawn more on Angela Carter's "The Company of Wolves". I loved this film when it came out and to be honest I haven't seen it since, but liked her use of metaphor. Get the DVD if you haven't seen it. So our Little Red will be much less innocent than usual.

I am going to use some of the historical patterns in "Corsets & Crinolines" by Norah Waugh again for my basic patterns. A 17th C stay for Red and Snow will get something late 1800's. which I will probably add cups to to. I am kind of sketching, mostly in my head though (I don't put pen to paper nearly enough) and will start to sew it this weekend, hopefully.

Looking forward to putting up some pics when I have stuff started!!

K xx

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

OK, So Here Goes....

Well, I have decided to enter a competition. Those of you that know me will be aware that I don't have much of a competitive streak but I thought that I would stick a toe in the water and enter the "Double Period Project" on the Foundations Revealed website, as much to get some feedback on my corset making as anything else.

The corset that I am entering was made for the lovely burlesque beauty, Miss Dolly Tartan  for her "Let Them Eat Cake" routine and is roughly based on a stay pattern from "Corsets and Crinolines" by Norah Waugh (p42 see left), a photo of a gown from 1780 in "Fashion History: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century" (right) and the fashion styling generally associated with Marie Antoinette around the time of the French Revolution.. I love both these books and am slowly working my way through drafting some of the patterns in the NW book. This costume was not meant to be historically accurate in any way but a fun (and slightly cheeky) interpretation for the stage.

The main piece of the costume that I designed was a set of half-boned stays. I split the front section into two and added a busk closure. Not period I know, but this had to come off easily on stage.  An additional reason for the front busk placement was to add a bit of tease to the removal instead of having Dolly struggle out of the back lacing. Not very dignified or sexy!

I had to make the busk closure area more exciting so I in added the ribbons. This echoed the design of a gown shown in a painting by Boucher of Madame de Pompadour (see above) and also added an extra element of "peeling" to the stays removal. I made little sleeves inspired by the above gowns and to add an extra dimension to the outfit which was completed by a ostrich feather fascinator made from scrap coutil and a pair of bloomers recycled from an eighties silk dupion wedding dress.

The stays were made from a herringbone cotton coutil lining and a satin coutil outer layer with flat steels bones sandwiched in between. The fabric was from Whaley's of Bradford and was dyed using "Powder Pink" Dylon machine dye. Cream satin bias binding was used throughout, cream satin double faced ribbon for the front closures and the corset was embellished with deeper pink trim covered in pale pink seed beads, deeper pink sequins and gold embroidery, which was applied by hand.

Here is a You Tube Video of Miss Dolly (and the costume) in action.

Wish me luck!! xx

Happy New... February!

OK, so this blog has been a bit sparse since last year. I can feel the tumbleweeds blowing past, kind of sparse, BUT 2011 is a new year and although I haven't got over the working 24/7 thing I have decided to be a bit more committed to posting, even if it is only every few weeks.

There has been a lot happening over here at MOR. Last weekend I took my first group workshop, "Make Yourself a Victorian Corset", at Make it Glasgow , a sewing cafe located in Glasgow's Merchant City. The workshop was small, only 3 people, but that was quite enough for a first attempt so that I can figure out the final format.  The workshop will run over 3 full days, 2 down already, and finishing on Feb12th. I am really excited by the way the girl's corsets are coming along. We are using the Laughing Moon Mercantile #100 pattern which IMHO is one of the best commercial patterns out there. View A, the "Dore" was chosen for everyone as I think that this is the easiest for corset beginners. Everyone chose the black satin coutil from Whaley's of Bradford. I like this fabric for corsets, although I usually get the white and dye it as it takes colour beautifully, although the down-side is that it gives it a softer hand and takes off all the finishing. I normally line with at least another layer or two of cotton coutil but the sandwich method was probably a bit tricky at the moment.

Apart from that I have been sewing a corset inspired by the Mexican "Day of the Dead". I have been making this for what seems like ages, probably about a year on and off, but so much has been going on work-wise that I have been delayed. I have decided on a sugar candy skull on the front taken from the design on the left and some appliqued roses on the back inspired by the art of Sylvie Ji (on the left too). I absolutely love her work and thought that the stylized roses found in a lot of her paintings would be great for an applique design. I used silk dupion which had been fused to interfacing and sewed the rose design using free-hand machine embroidery with Sulky and Madeira lurex threads. I have added a few Swarovski crystals in Purple Velvet and will add more when the roses are embroidered onto the back.

The huge sugar skull  for the front is a lilac-ish coloured silk dupion treated the same as the roses and free-hand embroidered using the same threads. I have a ton of Swarovskis and sequins to go on the front. I haven't decided on the binding yet but will trim this with velvet ribbon at make it a bit more colourful.

Can't wait to get this finished. Hoping that it turn out ok.