Fifty Shades of Sepia…



With the trailer of the film running amok in the internet and showing in every feed, we were a bit fed up with the 50 shades of Gray overexposure.  I do sincerely hope the film is going to be better than the book, which was a serious abuse of my gray matter – those who have read it know it, those who didn’t – well, if you fancy a badly written parody with hardly any plot, no character development worth speaking about and seriously bored soliloquies  and dialogues ( blessedly short, mind you  ) – have a go, you’ll enjoy it once you realize it is a bit of a parody:-). Anyway, fingers crossed the film will be at least a bit more interesting.

In the meantime, we decided to have our own 50 Shades – but in sepia… Lucas  went through our few last stock photoshoots ( the Edwardian corsetry and Stock photography) and picked out the most tasteful/funny/ridiculous/atmospheric  shoots of historical lingerie and render them in sepia….


Here is Mr. Sepia himself…


and  his girls…

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Hope  you like the experiment – some of the corsets etc are still available in our shop!

Many thanks to our elegantly playful models : Miss Lilian Love, Helen Radlett, Adrianna Renarde  and Anett Novak

Photography –Picturesque Imagery – you can find more  images from the session here



The Widow and the Bride – 1910 corset and a modern sheer


Well, since I had the 1914 mourning dress sorted, I also needed proper underwear. I have never been particularly fond of the WWI fashions, but since we are getting more and more bookings for that period for the summer,  it makes sense to be prepared. Also, since the current WWI interest is going to last for another 4 years or so due to the centenary,  we are bound to be either booked for shows, or to make clothing from that era. And so,  I bought a pattern and decided to have a go at it next time I was due for our monthly Stitch and Bitch session at Sew Curvy.


on my way to Sew Curvy – Cuckoo Lane in its spring glory!

PatternNehalenia patterns, 1910 corset – earlier than the WWI, but this type of corset was worn generally till at least mid decade if not longer – a quick look at other sources confirmed it, and so  the decision was made.  I adapted size 12 – with the bust from size 16, as specified by my measurements.


materials – bits of cotton broche, black – remnants form other projects. Alas, it  turned out that they cane from different batches and one piece was darker than the other – but the difference in hue would hardly matter on an underwear corset.

boning –  flat and spiral steels enclosed in channels made with herringbone tape.

All components,apart from the lace came from Sew Curvy shop.


mock up first…


mock up cut in calico…



mock up boned using masking tape – stupidly I didn’t notice at that point that bones do not go all the way down, so had to trim them later… Irritating…



mock up on! not too bad, just minor adaptations 🙂



it felt surprisingly comfortable, and gave a much better silhouette than I had envisaged! loving the smooth fit over the hips.


Once I saw how flattering the corset can be, I set to making the real thing with renewed enthusiasm…


pieces cut!



and stitched together…



seam detail on the outside…



and on the inside… after the first trials the flat felled seams were a joy to make! the trick is to pre-press the seam allowance on the folding over piece – makes stitching it much , much easier!



the innards…

then  eyelets were inserted…


and then the boning:-)



the whole thing was bound in cotton binding



and it was time to try it on…. 🙂


not too shabby!


very pleased with the fit – just need some nice lace to put on top, and the make and attach suspenders:-)

And while I was having fun with the  kit for my mourning kit, Julia was working on a sweet bridal sheer – a few taster pictures below, official photos not disclosed yet! 🙂


sheer mesh, silk satin and lace – divine combo!



it is progressing well 🙂



getting there…..


and done!

If you like the look of the sheer corset, check out Sew Curvy courses –  the was a recent course on sheer corsetry, but i believe the dates for the next one will be announced soon!


once back home I sorted out the suspenders…


trying to puzzle them out was a bit of a challenge at first, but it is not rocket science!


and then added lace and a velvet ribbon, flossed the bones for that extra security and fashionable look  –  and the corset was ready.  Here worn over my late Edwardian chemisette and drawers, the stockings and shoes from American Duchess







you can see the differences in the different hues of the broche quite clearly here…


Altogether, I am very well pleased with the thing – it is comfortable, gives a much better silhouette than I had expected, and above all, serves its primary function – this type of corsets did not aim a waist reduction ( though there is some!), but at streamlining the body, so that the loose, close fitting garments of the era ( hobble skirts especially) looked smooth, flowing down the body in a relatively undisturbed fashion.

In fact, I liked them so much I made 5 others, in different sizes, as a trial batch for our online shop ( news on that shortly) – we will be offering them as off the peg items alongside other corsetry items (  Regency, mid Victorian, late Victorian, early Edwardian) in standard sizes 10-18 🙂

The ones I made as a trial  were photographed one weekend in a WWI undergarment shoot  with Pitcheresque Imagery– a picture-full report on that here – and the teaser below:-)



Impromptu Autumnal Shoot


  Well, I do love autumn – it is by far my favourite season – not too cold, not too hot, stunning, ever changing colours, varied weather… Love it. And one day  coming back from a hack in the fields around Thureigh Equestrian Centre, I was struck  by the mesmerizing quality of light  sifting through the yellow gold leaves  of the birches in the compound. Dreamy and magical.  And so, having obtained permission for a few quick snaps from the owner, I decided to have a quick shoot in a a few hours time – true, the light would be changed a bit, but since Lucas was not available till  the afternoon, I had to wait. No photographer, no fun.

 I used the  time wisely – had a rummage through my own historical costume wardrobe, the bridal samples and the stock items and  quickly cobbled an outfit together.  I didn’t want a historically correct shoot – but a fantasy one, combining different elements together, simply having a play:-) After an hour of mixing and matching i had the following motley ready:

 1. 12th century bridal gown in silk satin, a sample – too small for me really, but could just put it on and simply not lace the sides.


2. an Edwardian style corset I wore for the New Year’ s Eve last year –  satin and brocade creation, with about 500 freshwater pearls


3. a long red wig I used for the Spirit of Autumn  Leaf dress project


 4.a silver wire tiara, elven style

 Quick make up, and I was ready. Seconds before we left I grabbed my harp and a medieval chair and Lucas grabbed a staff… props are good.

 We arrived at the centre and yes, the light was different, much lower, so the blazing glory of gold was slightly subdues, more nostalgic. Still – very pretty.

 It was time to have some fun –  for Lucas it was the  composition of each shoot, the light etc – for me – it was trying to hide my wellies.  Yes, forgot nice shoes…

 First sitting  shoots with the harp.  We had a bonus sensory experience  – the gentle breeze stroke the strings and the harp sang by itself. rather cute!



you can almost see the wellies….

Then I was handed the staff and we had some fun pretending I was Gandalf on the bridge of Khazad Dum. Minus the beard and the pointy hat.



  We were almost about to leave but we decided to take a few more shots on the other side of the paddock – there is rather delightful birch alley that was just too tempting….



alas, the wellies have made an appearance here… 😦


I am an angel! Ha! as if…

Needless to say the residents started to get interested at that point. First a pony trotted over so see what all that fuss was about…


Don’t be deceived by that innocent smiling face –  at that point he was deciding whether the pearls on the corset are edible…


and then decided to go for it. His clever ploy was avoided with an adroit maneuver and the pearls survived.

 Then a distinct sound of galloping horses was heard – it was only Blackie and Elgar running across the paddock,  no doubt eager for another apple – I gave Elgar one in the morning  after our hack and he was obviously hoping for seconds. No luck thins time, boys!


  Then it was time to pack up and go  – though I did manage to sneak a few restive moments on the bench!


Yep, wellies fully exposed here….

Shortly after I was freed from the clothes and wrapped warm ( it was rather cold….) and we  got back home – me back to stitching, Lucas – to editing the pictures!

Many thanks to Beth from the Centre  for allowing us to use the premises!

NYE 2012 – White Mischief party



   New Year’s Eve is always a good excuse for a party, and since our carefully prepared plans to go and spend ours in the Carpatians, skiing and snowbording, fell through due to various injuries, we needed a back up plan.

  Fortunately, merely a week after I transferred out skiing holiday to my parents,  White Mischief announced their New Year Extravaganza – ideal! We attended Tobias’ event before: we went over to see a Stempunk concert he organized  in Scala in October – featuring one of my favourite bands, Abney Park.  We were both impressed by the quality of the gig,  so we had no doubts this one would be just as good.


on the way to the Abney Park concert, here just after being laced in in the corset – in the middle of St. Pancras station….

Bedford Borough-20120823-00857  And so the train tickets were booked,  the hotel sorted out for the night ( thanks to BA Airmiles we stayed in Marrior not too far from the venue 🙂 ), and all we need to do was to sort out our attire for the night.

 The theme was Steampunk, cabaret, burlesque,  Victoriana etc – so a lot of choice! In the end, Lucas decided on a Victorian Vigilante style, an elegant dandy in a topper and with a walking stick, and I went for a more eclectic  corset/skirt combo.

  I have decided that for this outfit I was not going to buy any fabric but to make it from whatever leftovers I have living in my workroom and  garage.   I also wanted to experiment with Edwardian corset styles. I had made one before, for the Steampunk traveller’s collection, but this time I had something more complex in mind.  I fell in love with a corset I tried on at my friend Julia’s studio. Julia is a professional corsetier, running both a corsetry supplies business, Sew Curvy, but also making stunning bespoke corsets at Clessidra


lovely corset made by Julia!

  Julia was generous enough to give me the copy of the pattern, so I planned to adapt it, making sure its modern version is a proper overbust, and to make it in white  and black satin, silver tissue and lots of bling on it .

 The first stage was redrafting the pattern and making a mock up.  A bit tricky, but armed with both experience and with Julia’s corsetmaking dvd book, I managed the task, getting a comfortably fitted toile.

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the toile!


 all that remained was to make the thing in the proper fabric ( even more tricky as the silver tissue proved to be stretchy….

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corset in main fabric, final fitting


 And then stitch on all the decoration –  I accummulated quite a lot of  leftover freshwater pearls over the years, and thought this would be a good wway to utilise them. In total there is about 600 on them on the corset, each one sewn individually by hand. I do admit, I stitched the last ones on the day, already in the hotel…


bling galore!


 On the day, we made sure we were well fed ( Nandos! ) and made our way, in pournign rain to the venu at Sheperd’s Bush.

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 The place was heaving but we made a wise provision of booking a table – and soon our friends, Heather and Matthew joined us.

 The event itself –  well the entertaiment was great! the compere was provided by Professor Elemental ( another favourite performer of ours) and all the other artists: trapeze performers, singers, dancers etc were exceptional.  a thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all – and a few pictures froom the night below!


Professor doing his thing…


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One of the 3 burlesque performers we were lucky to see on the night


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stunning act by this incredible girl!



Great acrobatic jiving couple


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and a rather bizzare act of a man to did amazing things with ping pong balls.



a funny act by the girls


 On the way back we strolled through the centre of London – very nicely lit!



 And  back in the hotel we even had enough stamina left for a little ‘after the party’ photoshoot:-)


going for the seductive look here….


and having some fun dancing in the corridors….


more dancing…

  Altogerher – a lovely party, happy with the outfit ( might wear it for our Spectacular ball again…) – so Thank you White Mischief!