Victorian seaside adventure!

Some things start unexpectedly…. last January I picked some lovely silk that just screamed Victorian Seaside Bustle frock… And so for the summer I put a few days aside to make it – and to nip somewhere on the coast for … Continue reading

The Buttercup Ball and the 1895 evening gown

  A long overdue post on a rather splendid ball we attended in London, in December. The Buttercup Ball was organized by Stuart Marsden ( the dance master for our  Victorian ball  last year – and this year’s edition too!) … Continue reading

Dressing Queen Victoria

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This one was a very exciting commission – a friend who often works as Queen Vic needed a new corset.. and a  new bodice and a train to go with the skirt she already had.

After a session of looking at different portraits and photographs of the Queen, with Eve pointing out which features she’d like to include in her bodice or train, we got some sketching done…

Fabric was next – and here we were lucky as got a length of beautiful silk brocade from Quartermasterie – all that i need to grab was silk taffeta for lining and pleats and some lace and buttons….

The corsets was made first –  and it is a rather jazzy affair,  so wont be shown here to preserve the dignity of the monarch, but i bet now a few people who’d meet Eve at work would be wondering what  lingerie secrets her clothes hide ;-0

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Bodice was a lovely blend of the 1880ties and earlier fashions – sporting a version of pagoda sleeves, apparently quite a favourite of the queen. we also added detachable under sleeves, for colder days .

The lace was simply lush, though applying it took some time, and the underside of the pagoda sleeves was also trimmed with lace, a  more modest version.

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The train was just fun.  The construction was simple – a slightly shaped rectangular fabric, plasted and with tapes and buttons to allow the wearer to bustle to up if needs be. But it was  recreatingthe pleated trim from one of the original photos that was interesting….

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The train has a baleyeuse ( the dust ruffle) made of black cotton lace  buttoned up  – they were  a truly delightful frilly affairs that made life so much easier –  you wash only the ruffle as your skirts are protected.

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The pick up day was also a shoot day as we offered Eve a mini session –  the results below! Hope you like the final result:-)

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train bustled up, no undersleeves

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Train flowing loosely, under sleeves attached

Eve’s  page is here – enjoy browsing!  Queen Victoria

Symington corset pattern 1907-07 experiment

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When, earlier on this year, the scans of Symington corset patterns were released, (by Leicester County council, link to the patterns, etc: Leicestershire symington patterns), a lot of corsetmakers  stormed the site and bought the images they wanted to use as an experiment in pattern-making. Well, I was one of the horde who grabbed an image (or two…) but it was only recently that I had time enough to have a go at one of the patterns.

I chose 2 complex patterns and up till the last moment I couldn’t decide on which one to make first – but  in the end the decision fell on one with a lot of gores. I know, a masochistic choice, but well… I just couldn’t resist it, as the ‘gore within a gore’ concept worked for me on a variety of levels –  historically accurate and yet with styling  that would not look amiss in a modern or steampunk corset.

So ‘Gore Galore Corset’ it was – and it turned out be be even more gore-tastic than I had imagined….

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But,  let us start at the beginning.

 

The moment I measured the printed out pattern, I knew there would be serious issues with the fit – it just wasn’t very curvy! There were just a few inches of difference between the  hip, waist, and bust, and my bod calls for more than just a few. Still, I worked out (read: husband  did the calculations) how much the  pattern has to be enlarged, and blew it up in the local photocopying place.

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Then, I took the sheet, components and lunch and drove over to Sew Curvy for our usual Stitch and Bitch session – the corset was to be constructed there –  good company and nice space make it easy for me to focus, and having an accomplished corsetiere on hand to help with the fitting can only help… 🙂

The work could then begin.

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tracing the seam lines on the blown up copy

 

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calico on the pattern and could trace the pieces next…

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Pieces traced

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and pieces cut out….

 

At that point I was cleverly distracted by Julia who dug out 2 lovely antique corsets and I stopped to drool over  them… A teaser here, no doubt Julia will put more info and pictures of them on the Sew Curvy blog at some point…

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Then it was back to work – I wanted to assemble the mock up before lunch…

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The pieces assembled….. outside view

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and inside, below…

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The moment of truth! How does it look on the body..?

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Pretty straight – as expected to be  honest.  As the proportions, length etc worked, I just needed an inch more reduction at the waist – and  to add a few inches at the hip and bust to accommodate my curves…

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And the easiest way to do that was just to cut inside the gores and use bits of calico to cover the areas that needed more expansion… and a bit more boning in front for support…

 

IMG_0308   The hip spring already looks much better, (and feels more comfy too)

 Then it was lunch time!

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well, we had soup first…..

After lunch I amended the pattern to accommodate the changes – all that needed to be done was to enlarge the inside gores….  and since the incisions were sort of already there, I decided to let them remain split – and just get another gore in…. A gore within a gore within a gore! A bit mad, but it just seemed to work better than simply making the inside gore bigger – and it resulted in a much more interesting look too…..

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Corset pieces cut out in black and blue sateen

Alas, it also meant I had 12 gores to sew in…. ouch….

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seam allowances pressed and ready for assembly

but with help of coffee I persevered…

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the corset will be boned with internal boning – but since back looked a bit boring in comparison with the front, I decided to make a casting for double bones in contrasting fabric there to balance the design

The rest of the evening was spent flossing the gores…..

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And next morning saw me with the gores flossed (is it only me, or does that sound a bit weird? ), and I was ready for some boning. (Seriously, take that sentence out of context and it sounds damned indecent! Corsetry nomenclature joys…)

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I marked the channels as close to the original as possible, and added a few more to support my boobage a bit better too…) The tape was applied over a waist stay.

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and done!

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It was time to try it on – if anything needs changing, there is still some scope for reshaping things, if needs be, before the lining comes in and covers all the inside…

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verdict – not too bad!

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a tiny bit too loose at the back hip, but easy to amend. very comfortable too!

At that stage I  said goodbye to Julia and Sew Curvy studio and drove back home, where I finished the corset the next day – black cotton lining was added and the bones were flossed in black. Then it was binding time and it was done!  If needs be, suspenders can be added at the front center and sides, but that can be done later once I decide whether to use it as an undergarment – or a modern top layer corset…

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As it turned out, it was over a month later that we were able to get any decent photos – and  surprise, surprise, my overindulgence in MMA and other martial activities  at the club meant that I lost some inches… The corset still fitted, but was a bit on a loose side. 😦
Even with the corset a tad too big, we got to shoot it and ended up with some interesting images.

First we shot in in the historical style – with black lawn chemise and drawers, with a matching blue ribbon.

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And later on in the evening,  on the way back from the movies, I  changed into leggings, black top and a wig – and we shot it with a cyber punk/comic/ Tron convention  in mind – the results below….

 

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As you can see, it turned out to be a pretty versatile piece –  just a shame it is a tad too big now….   And as it is a bit too big, it has already been sold to a friend  who plans to use it for some steampunk events – so it is bound to lead an interesting life….

But I am not saying goodbye to the pattern per se – indeed I liked the gores so much, I have now purchased black and yellow lacquered leather – it will be made into a Hornet Corset:-)

 

 

 

 

Makeover photoshoot with Iberian Black Arts

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This was the last bit of the Geisha collection ( Part 1  and Part 2), and already drifting towards a Chinese or Manchurian influence.  I had enough good-quality Chinese satin brocade, (proper silk stuff, not the poly/viscose thing, for a change!) to make a skirt, corset and a little bolero jacket. And since I knew that  Threnody in Velvet, who modeled a part of the collection, is not only an amazingly gifted model but a talented photographer and make up artist, I decided to book a little makeover session with the other side of her business, Iberian Black Arts … and I wasn’t disappointed!

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Threnody … I know i have posted the image before, but – I cannot get enough of it! 🙂

 

So a date was set, and I  put some time aside to actually make my outfit. And as luck would have it, I ended up with an emergency commission instead – so had just a day to make something wearable…..

The corset was first – and from the start I regretted the choice of fabric.. the satin frayed like a mad, fraying thing, it wrinkled, moved, had a life of its own. It was too late to get fusible interfacing, so had to just get on with it and relay on roll-pinning and pure luck – and hoped the cat wouldn’t mind the amount of bad language that issued forth during the production…

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I do mind, you know…. foulmouthed creature!

In the end, success was just partial, I didn’t  manage to get rid of all the wrinkles, but since it was not an item for sale I decided to leave it as it was and maybe trust the power of Photoshop….

On the day  I grabbed the outfit, accessories etc – and since I was asked to bring another outfit just in case we had time to shoot more I packed  my ‘snow queen’ gear too…

On arrival at Patricia’s studio we did not waste much time and got straight down to business.  That is, I was munching on my sandwich whilst we were  just getting the final details of the make up and hair – I had set up a board for inspiration, so we looked through different photos to get a clear idea of the styling.

The calm scene before we started…

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Make up and hair took a bit of time, but not too much – and it was time well spent on a pleasant chatter, as well as deciding on some editing options, etc, and then it was time to  don the gear, lace up and pose!

One important thing to mention beforehand – I am not a big fan of over the top post-production (Photoshopping, etc). I mentioned this, giving examples of what I definitely didn’t want –  I wanted my body to stay the way it was, with no reduction etc,  and  my face basically unchanged as well –  I often see the results of the popular boudoir make overs where  ladies are virtually unrecognizable in the final image. This is fine if you are working on a product shoot ( though even here I tend to have problems with overphotoshopped models setting impossible standards), but not really for a personal image –  everybody who knows me will just chuckle at a weird attempt to look much younger and much slimmer, and so I asked for minimal amount of post production. This is actually also why I chose Iberian Black Arts –  the images  showcased  in the portfolio were a  high quality ones, but not overly ‘over the top’.

And to be honest – the make up and the light worked wonders on their own…. well, see for yourself below……

 

After we finished shooting, I got the proofs the same day and chose the images I liked most, for editing. We discussed background options for both looks and the rest was just Patricia working her magic….

The  Chinese look ( with a spectacular yellow kanzashi made especially  for the shoot by Kikuya Kanzashi )

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and the Snow Queen one…

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By comparison, see the uneditted  behind the scenes shots – three of the proofs, straight off the camera, showing me having some fun…:

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standard pose for all my shoots….

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As you can see  the skin tone was smoothed and lightened to work with the  styling for the image, the corset wrinkles magically disappeared, but it is still recognizably me, my body with slightly glamorized face. Happy with that:-)

 

Altogether, I must say I was delighted with both only the experience and the end product – highly recommended – If any of you folks would like to have a go at a makeover with Patricia ( Ipswich based), do give her a call, you won’t be disappointed – and the prices are good too! I found it a great way  to showcase my work as a designer and maker, and have a bit of a girly fun as well – so work and play combined 🙂

 

 

 

 

Geisha Corsetry Collection part 2

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As promised  in Part 1 – we are now happy to present the 2 other corsets from the collection, modeled by  the exquisite Threnody in Velvet, and photographed by Iberian Black Arts.

The first of the corsets was in fact the first to be designed – and was also the most challenging one as for the first time I was making  it completely from the scratch – not using and adapting other patterns, but actually designing piece by piece, hoping it would all work together:-)

 

The initial design with different  silk choices… I wanted to convey the traditional aspect of geisha but with a strong modern twist, including the bondage element as well – think sexy bondage manga and you will more or less see where I was planning to head…. 🙂

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I  used my wasp waisted mannequin to get the shape of the pieces right – it is not too far off  Threnody’s measurements, so it was a useful tool. once the pieces worked on the dummy, I made a mock up in plain coutil, boned it and sent it to Threnody to try on and mark any problem areas etc – since she specialises in corsetry modelling, she was able to provide a valuable feedback – a great help!

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mock up on the dummy

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mock up on Threnody, with the improvement suggestions clearly marked

 

 

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Once I received the mock up with the corrections back, I was able to implement them  and change them a bit and start making the thing for real…

I was again due for our bitch and stitch sessions with Julia from Sew Curvy, so took it with me – and Julia’s suggestions and input helped a lot when we were considering minor changes in design.

Then the work started in earnest…

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drawing out the pieces

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cutting out

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sewing the front exterior channel onto the sheer

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getting there….

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the innards showing the hip gores

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the boning channels are on….

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binding, boning and suspender next….

 

Once the inside was tidies up, the suspenders were added ( with a decorative Japanese buttons) and the corset was flossed with  yarn – the flossing character chosen here was a kanji symbol meaning ‘red’.

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Next were the posture collar, reflecting the design of the corset, and the pasties – it was my first go at the pasties, but was pretty please with them – they are made out of leather, silk and the edges are decorated with a chemille braid.

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work in progress –

 

 

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ready!

 

Then the whole set, including satin ribbons for the wrists and kanzashi flower for the hair was packed and sent on to Threnody.

On the day of the shoot we discussed accessories,  hair and make up styles and I got the first proof the very same day – and once I chose the photos I wanted,  Threnody ( yes, she is also the photographer, editor, make up artist – you name it! a very talented lady!) worked on a suitable background options and credits font etc.

and the results – well, I loved the pictures – and I hope you do too!

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The corset is now back from its adventures and is available on sale in our online shop – and i think a few more of the same design will be appearing there  at some point too 🙂

 

The other corset was already half made when due to a sudden change of plans I had to remake it, and make it fit Threnody –  this one was a sheer number with the front panel and exterior boning channels made in  vibrant kimono silk. as accessories, I made a matching set of vambrances:-)

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And the corset  was ready:-)

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Again, it look great on Threnody, and the colours suited her exceptionally well!

 

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  This corset already sold – as I write it is making  its way to Hong Kong:-)

 Btw, the kanzashi flowers used here were by Colorful world of Kanzashi.

 Hope you have enjoyed my little forray into the ethnic inspired corsetry –  and, not surprisingly, I have another collection planned for the summer, with a completely different part of the world being represented:-)

 

Hussar style corset

 

 

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 The inspiration struck  when I was making a Napoleonic set  for a client –  a thing with loads of braiding, military lace etc. Against all odds, I enjoyed making it ( and a post on that one can be found here) and thought that it would be nice to have something like that for myself….  And then I remembered artwork of a Polish artist, Bartek Drejewicz and his Napoleonic pin up girls ( do check his facebook page out,  – not only Napoleonic but different armies through the centuries, beautifully rendered!). And yes, there are Steampunk corsets with military styling etc available – but non actually using the ‘proper’ military lace or specific historical styling… So I wanted to have a go….

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The final design was actually worked out one evening when I was clearing my offcuts and left overs bits – and noticed narrow scraps of the broadcloth i used for the jacket.  Not good for much more, but  just enough for corset panels…  I quickly adapted an overbust pattern to work as a waistcoat – with  a black busk in front and lacing in the back. It did come out a tad short ( not enough fabric) but the first step was done – a waistcoat in broadcloth, cotton twill being used as the strength layer.  I opted for a slight curve and not much of a reduction – so that  I would be able to wear it at work at the markets- but also because it was the trial version:-)

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I ordered more military lace and braid and once it arrived i started putting the lace on – it took me a few months as was working on it  in between commissions….

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So even with help ( ahem…) it took some time….

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Once the frogging was on, I could put some silver soutache on the borders and the collar….

 

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Then it was only getting some buttons ( beads….) and we were ready for shooting!

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I tried the corset first with my Regency chemisette and plain black leggings….

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Then I had an epiphany and fished out Lucas’s  dancing breeches  – in lovely white superfine. The just about fitted too! Then e had some fun with my old cavalry sabre as a prop:-)

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The chemissette, in case anyone asks :

 

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The conclusions – well, loved wearing it ( and wore it to markets since) but a few improvements will be needed for the next  ones –  longer in front, more hip spring, and probably not using busks and frogging together – it is a pain to do it all up! Still, I think it is a success – and  more corsets in the style are planned, in different colours – already have a small stash of silver and gold military lace and braid, and am slowly collecting fabrics and props – I suspect we will have a bigger photoshoot with  more models ( and hopefully horses) just before Waterloo 🙂 Once the next models are done, will post a link here – including a link to the shop as they will be offered  on sale….

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Hope you liked this  experiment!

 

Credits:

Clothes, as always, Prior Attire

photography Pitcheresque Imagery

 

 

Geisha Corsetry Collection 1

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I have been planning this one for some time – I think it was a glimpse at a kimono silk somewhere on ebay that provided the spark –  30 minutes later and I have purchased several bits of left over kimono silks and started planning.   The silks arrived, and loved them even more – and they were just big enough to incorporate into some corsetry. The theme was not an unfamiliar one to me, as we have used oriental inspiration int the Petal dress, and in our Steampunk Amazones, but this one was to be  a more cohesive collection.

As always the first stage was sketching, drawing, gathering inspiration ( Pinterest board is here), and gathering props.  I already had an early 20th century set of a katana and tanto, and a matching kimono I wanted to use, plus a collection of kanzashi ( japanese hair flowers), parasols etc…

Ironically the first design that emerged wont be shown here – I will present it in another post giving more details – it was the first ever pattern I created myself, and the corset, together with other bits and pieces was sent on adventures, to be photographed by the Iberian Black Arts, modeled on the gorgeous Threnody in Velvet.

Do not despair though – I do have some lovely pieces for you today!

Once I had some idea of the feel for the collection, i purchased more props ( hakama trousers,  jackets etc) and discussed styling and options with our main model, lovely Lizzie ( Miss Lilian Love), who also had a nice collection of oriental props:-)

Then it was just down to finding time in between commissions to make the corsets, but finally in January I managed to free a few days and frantic corsetrymaking ensued…

The feel of the collection was to be a blend of modern and traditional. The form of the corset is not a traditional shape for oriental women, however, it may be argued that obi represents a constriction and shape forming element too. In our corsets the silks or the motives were the traditional part – as well as flossing. I had a brief moment of inspiration where flossing was concerned and decided to floss the bones using  kanji – chinese/japanese characters.  to make it even more difficult, each kanji needed to be matched to the collection too – you cannot have a corset in silks saying  for example ‘rice’ or ‘cow’, can you?

In the end we got the following kanji:

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‘Spring’

 

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‘Bird’

 

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‘Flower

 

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‘Woman’

 

 

 

The first corset to me made was a playful geisha print – I made it as a challenge  – one last corset for 2014 – and completed before midnight:-).  It was meant as a sideline, to be honest, and as an exercise in pattern matching –  but worked so well I decided to include it in the collection. Indeed the pattern matching worked so well that the corset is now featured on Lucy’s Corsetry blog, among other beautifully pattern matched corsets – have a look!

work in progress…

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and  on the Lizzie:-)

 

 

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The next one was the Crane corset – a mix of kimono silks and cotton sateen.. ( this one is offered in our shop)

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then another print followed, and a bit more pattern matching…

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I think this is my favourite corset of the collection – I experimented with the pattern, creating a more pronounced hip spring  – and  as a result I love the silhouette, and it is surprisingly comfortable – I normally lace down to 27inches max – here, 26 with no problems….

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More kimono silks and pattern matching was next – IMG_20150120_150910

 

and on Lizzie – again, this corset is now offered in the shop🙂

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Then  it was experimenting with more silks, broche and sheer mesh 🙂  both corsets are available in the shop:-)

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The last one was a plain piece in broche to match my honey kimono

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A week before the shoot Paul accepted our invitation to play with us on the day – and arranged for the snow machine too…. so the day was a full on fun, getting ready, changing, shooting both outside and inside with a backdrop. Whereas Lucas shot product shots and some arty stuff, Paul went for artistic  and more cinematograpic mood – sexy ninjas, Kill Bill etc…

Below a few more pictures  from the boys:-)

from Lucas:

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and  some great shots from Paul. More of his work can be seen on his blog – link soon!

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and a few behind the scenes shots:-)

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 and after some 6 hours, it was rest time – homemade pizza and wine! 🙂

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Hope you enjoyed the collection – there are 2 more corsets, to be covered n a separate post, and since I still have a few bits of silks, I may add some more stock pieces to the shop at some point. In the meantime,  4 of the corsets are available for sale, plus some other corsets from past projects:-) have a look!

 

Credits:

Corsetry – Prior Attire

Models, Izabela Pitcher and Miss Lilian Love

Photography – Mockford Photography and Pitcheresque Imagery

Corsetry supplies – Sew Curvy

Kanzashi – Kikuya Kanzashi

 

 

 

 

 

 

1860 gown

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I have never done a proper  day 1860 kit before –  yes, did ballgowns and bridal versions, but not day dresses – and not for me!  I didn’t actually need one either, but when I saw that wool it just screamed late 50ties, early 60ties to me – and my will power failed me. I got the wool and put it in the fabric shed…

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Over the next few months I  acquired a crinoline cage and experimented with the corsetry for the era too….

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Still, I was too busy dealing with commissions and stock items, so the project, and the fabric was still waiting. Then we decided to go to St. Audries Park  ball –  and I was kicked into a whirl of activity The venue is amazing ( indeed it is our wedding venue, and we held a short bridal shoot there too), and since we could all arrive early in the afternoon, we decided it would be a perfect place to shoot some Victorian frockage – the 1860 one included:-)

No time to rework the corsets, and since we would be shooting other eras,  I decided to save time needed to swap corsetry and stay in my 1880 corset – it did provide the right shape, as it turned out.

What I did need was a proper petticoat…. 6m of cotton and tedious pink tucks sewing, the petticoat was ready 🙂

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detail of the pintucks and lace – and the inevitable moggy under the crinoline….

I was happy with that -time for the skirts….

Not too difficult a job, though it needed a lot of seams – the fabric I had was vintage and narrow….

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80cm wide…

lots of hemming and pleating was done, and the hem was decorated with a wide velvet ribbon  in deep olive …

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Bodice next – I didn’t have a pattern, and so based mine on original items found online ( my pinterest board is here), cross – referenced with pattern diagrams from Jean Hunnisett.

Mock up being more or less shaped – just getting the seam placements here, I did the detailed shaping on myself wearing a corset…

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Once that was done, it was time to cut the fabric and lining….

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and stitch the thing up.

The seams are boned, turned to the side and secured. the edges are faced with the same fabric

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The sleeves were a modest pagoda style, trimmed with the olive velvet ribbon and a pleated satin ribbon on the inside of the cuffs.   Buttons were a nice eBay find – a velvet covered metal buttons, vintage 🙂

Chemisette with a plain collar and undersleeves with lawn and lace were next…

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close up on the sleeves – work in progress

and then, there was the bonnet – a spoon straw bonnet from Dressing History, trimmed with the following:

1 inside – a lawn lining and a cotton lace ruffle, paper and silk flowers

2. outside – combination of velvet ribbon, satin ribbon and pleated satin ribbon…. edges and bavolet in silk taffeta

The stockings and shoes from American Duchess  :-),  chemise in cotton and split drawers in cotton too –  and am wearing my corset in silk taffeta

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oops!

The result – well, I was amazed at how fetching the style was – I looked positively sweet, a perfect disguise for my somewhat grumpy personality ( and a grumpy mood on the day as I was suffering from a nasty cold) – must the be hat;-)

It was a fun style to wear and something tells me I am not done with the 1860ties yet! 🙂

The photos by Pitcheresque Imagery, and the dress etc by Prior Attire

hope you like it!

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