Got a lot to think about. Had a lovely visit/outing on Monday and I managed to tackle a fibro flare as it happened which was great because I was able to then use some help offered as I was at the point of wanting to forget it entirely.

The steel for my hoops has been cut. Yes the snips do work. No my hands and arms do not. It’s not weakness it’s a missing bone that throws the entire joint into instability thing.

So, yes. Now I just need to find where I put the hoop fabric parts as I do seem to have lost them. Whoops.

I have been hitting limits really fast recently. I am now fairly limited geographically in how far I can go and for how long. not a new limit but a new setting on it. And I have been fairly down about.

But apparently I have a new skill which is in cutting wigs. I’ve styled and trimmed wigs a lot but with the Catwoman wig and now my Mon Mothma wig I have been able to not just cut a style but actually shape to the nape of the neck which is very cool. Might have to make a copy of my custom wig head in canvas so I have a much nicer looking form and incidentally it’ll last longer.

Anyway. Razoring wig fibre is quite meditative! It feels like sculpting in many ways. The wig also really likes hair product. I was also able to sculpt the fibres around my ears this way. But it does need a bit of thinning.

dyeing fabric

I managed to set up some inflammation in my hand from trying to dye some fabric yesterday. I’m disappointed in the results. Especially given how much work it was and the cost. I basically wasted a day and am needing a day of rest as well. So really a waste of two days.

But lesson learned. I’ll be investing in a product I have used repeatedly successfully recently.

fitting a fashionable fit

I want to do a blog post/article about proportion and the ideal in historic dress. I need it as a part of my pattern book especially so that people* can use the patterns and understand how to use them to find their own magic balance between ideal historical shape, fit, and what they want to really focus on.

I am finding it easier in all areas exempt the Saxon princess styles. But Nurnberg? Faber? Bruyn? I gotcha. And it’s great because these styles really do WERK when you have the confidence to go off the shoulder- trust me there is nifty but easy engineering.

And my system does WERK for every body I just need to prove it and I need to find examples in art to illustrate that this is an historic approach.
I have my own frustrations with not matching the ideal certain eras (like now, just oh so much.) And I also recently had my eyes open to how to make the 1920s WERK for me. That was so incredibly freeing and made me really excited about making vintage gear for deco and later events here.
Yes I am using WERK because it is about trying to feel fabulous not just oh it works.

*(yes people I fully embrace non-cis-female people using these because I love these frocks and I just want everyone to feel confident in making them and wearing them, please,please, please, use my pattern/ fit brain if you are out there not sure if what I do is for you, yes it is).

Admiral Daala

I also am working on my Admiral Daala flight suit. I mean I’m in the Essential New Reader as Daala- as a body not face but hey!

(Hint, take a photo on an overcast day and you to can achieve this level of apparent disdain!)

So I obviously do have the face down pat for my favourite version of her flight suit (first of these three):

My hair is back to being this long (yay for being on a biologic and DMARD that is not chemo any more!) but it is dark pink. I could tint to burgundy but I needed a new Satine wig anyway and the quality of lace fronts has just improved.

I managed to grab some stretch drill from my local fabric store, reasonably randomly- I always look for a match- and as it’s a mechanical cotton I can dye it slightly darker to match the above. Today is fabric washing day as it is still sunny.

The boots are not entirely in line with boots for the legions but I do have my equestrian boots that are just a tiny bit too short for the uniform version. Just no stacked heel.

I’m not looking forward to embroidering the patch but I have done cogs before so it’s not really a big deal.

The piping is interesting. So is where the seams do not extend past the pockets. I know I can do this as the legs do fill out. Also POCKETS!!! My new phone is too big for a pouch so this way I can carry that and some eye drops, som Lucas’ Paw Paw ointment, and sticky plasters and maybe even a tiny snack/hydration pack.

I have flat elastic to make my own “piping” as it needs to stretch a little with the suit and it’s not really raised in a circular detail. I checked existing bias tape and there isn’t really anything dark enough.

I do have a test pattern that fits and is made from a grey cotton rich mechanical stretch. It is stretchier vertically so I’ll have to add a couple of inches to the waist.

Back to Mon Mothma

Crinkly fabric of a width to make the Rogue One tunic? I don’t think it is one width. The depth of the folds was striking when I went looking for my own fabric and it’s at least two widths if not more (crinkled cotton is about 105-110cm wide). On the upside these are not straight rectangles- which is pretty logical when one looks at the drape. So I should have more than enough. I do need to sort out lining.

Following the crinkles and how they interact with the hems of both garments show just how deep the curve is and can help work out the width in total. The skirt being shaped is great, it means there is less bulk at the waist and hips so that the tunic can flow nicely from shoulder to hem.

Compare this tunic hem to the original and it’s a very similar shape but the Rogue one version is fuller and the fabric has deeper crinkles.

And the full tunic image shows the folds of the tucks pleats is very deep indeed.

Also interesting is the chain is actual chain.

It’s a fantastic break for costumers as this is a fairly standard kind of chain, and is a nice easy ~10mm wide and there are 12mm chains out there for taller people and 9mm for shorter. It’s called a “rope twist” and is often sold on ebay as a hip hop style chain. 2 30″ chains should be enough to include the wrap around the shoulder.

Of interest are her shoes. There is a definitely platform but it even looks like there is a heel. By which I mean we can’t see the shoe extend under the arch which means it has a separate heel.

garsault to the rescue

As expected both the text and the illustrations are much easier to understand in Garsault than Diderot.

The Lingerie Stitches from Garsault, I think I need to use c. I was wondering if there were more variations on this- such as running the needle through the fold to hide stitches almost entirely but it looks like a slanted stitch as per the text.

A, Le Surjet.
B, Le Point noué ou de boutonniere.
C, Le Point de côté.
D, Le Point devant.
E, Le Point de chaînette.
F, L’arriere-Point.
GMH, Trois Figures pour la Couture rabattue.

A, The Overlock.
B, Knotted or buttonhole stitch.
C, The Side Point.
D, The Point in front.
E, The chain stitch.
F, The backstop.
GMH, Three Figures for Folded Stitching.

The Lingerie Stitches of Diderot

The Tailors stitches for hemming:


Of note is the upper of Fig 6; the thread is clearly seen passing through the underside to the top, then the thread not returning through the upper but between upper and lower then through the lower and back up.

Also of note is that k, or the same figure also shows this clearly as the under layer is set slightly under.

And this helps with the text:

Le point à rabattre sous la main.
Il se fait comme le précédent, excepté qu’ayant percé l’étoffe supérieure,vous allez par dehors piquer l’étoffe inférieure au travers; puis vous les percez toutes deux en remontant: on se sert de ce point pour coudre la doublure au-dessus quand il la dépasse : k dessus, n dessous.

The point to fold at hand.
It is like the preceding, except that having pierced the upper stuff, you go outside to stitch the bottom stuff through; then you pierce them both up: we use this point to sew the lining above when it exceeds: k, above, n below.

This is not as clear in the Diderot plate of the same stitches, the stitches do not seem to weave in Fig 16, and in Fig 17 there is no indication of the underlayer.


So that has made it much easier for me to not use this set of stitches for my mantua hemming as it is not formed this way.

I think a simple slanted stitch like I normally use will be fine for the seam allowances along the joins of the mantua petticoat and seen in the Lingerie sections will be enough.

mystery boning- physics and chemistry

Several years ago I managed to find several lengths of lovely rigid plastic boning. I have not found anything like it ever again. I do have some of the now readily available boning variously known as German Plastic Boning and Synthetic Whalebone (which may or may not refer to the same thing) but they just are very different for purpose.

I have a BSc in Biochemistry so plastics/resins hold a real fascination. I mean obviously I had to learn a fair bit about the resins used in fibreglassing because it changes how you use it. For example when to laminate and when to work the entire thickness- basically each batch you mix and cure becomes one giant molecule, each separate batch then only bonds to the surface- it’s more complicated but basically this is also why I like to use fillers and thinners with the same product- that surface bond is still not to be sneezed at. I am so allergic. To epoxy. Polyester is just nasty. But the pros of epoxy as basically safety; flex and resistance to flame.

So. I have a sample and I can do a few very simple tests to find out what the primary plastic is. But plastics are not pure, they may be made from several sources and may have additives and these will affect physical properties.

I don’t think I have enough for professional testing but I should be able to follow this, with a bit of help:


Of interest is this: melamines smell like fish and formaldehyde! I definitely have a few samples of this.

The cut edge is very similar to the cut edge of the Wissner product as stocked by all the main sellers. It goes opaque with compression in the centre of the cross section. It is not a pure clean cut either, the edge is somewhat flaked. It doesn’t crumble. So already that is a test.

I can easily test density-ish. If it floats in water (“room temperature”) or sinks.

So I will see how it burns- speed to catch, smoke, smell, flame, drip…

I can’t quite tell if there is pigment. It is cooler in tone than the other boning but it’s quite subtle. And it could be a matter of different pigments vs presence or absence of pigments. Zinc oxide vs Titanium etc. etc. There might be a bluing pigment?

I have been trying to find the boning online and the easiest way to identify it is the cross section. It is much more oval than what is readily available. And that cross section adds to the rigidity.

In part this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torsion_constant because it is harder to twist. But mostly because of

So sewing huh. Physics and chemistry do matter. It is not just an issue for support materials like this! Fabric is an exquisite interplay. The fibre content, the processing, the spinning, the weaving, the dyeing, the sizing.. it all affects whether you can even wash a fabric without losing properties. And that then affects what you can do to dye or stitch or store the fabric.

Cutting fabric is a calculated risk in very many ways. You cannot restore a fabric to precut. It’s not just a matter of aesthetics. It will affect the kind of stitching and fibre content and thickness and twist of thread used to sew it back together. Hand vs machine is not even a given. The fabulous cloth of gold fabric from Sartor Textiles was a dream to machine sew with tiny stitches and the smoothest polyester thread I can use with a microtex needle. Slightly harder to hand sew and it really really needs to be pressed with heat.


Time for a break.

easy mantua cutting

I did manage to cut my fabric panels for my mantua, it really is pretty darm easy as it is all on the grain rectangles. It is pretty much exactly what I expect from a pre-1920s measure, cut, fit process. It looks a bit different but ultimately it’s a case of wait to floor, shoulders to waist and that’s it. Everything else is adjustable to suit.

I knew I wanted my side extensions to be only one full width of fabric (so two widths of a more in era width. I cut (tore) one width from waist to floor plus a hand width for turnings. Then folded on the diagonal to form the two side extensions.

The underskirt is cut from three drops of fabric as these tend to be between 5-7 widths of in era fabric widths. I will wind up with side openings which will allow me to wear pockets underneath. The Henri Bonnart illustrations show a lot of openings for pockets.

The front of the robe was cut from one full width of fabric as long as from my shoulder to floor plus two hand widths. One hand width is to extend the fronts over the shoulder, the other is for turning.

To cut the back panel I laid the extensions next to the front panels and lined up the remaining fabric from top of the front panel down to waist and then followed the diagonal of the side extensions.

I didn’t want a very long train so I cut a curve about 3-4 hand widths.

The rest of the fabric will be used for sleeves and facings.

Since these I have machine stitched the joins and pressed them back ready for stitching. I haven’t yet done so as I need to really look through the Diderot stitches. Okay. Not totally clear but:

The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert Collaborative Translation Project.
Tailleur d’habits et tailleur de corps

Livre L’Encyclopédie. [38], Arts de l’habillement : [recueil de planches sur les … Diderot, Denis (1713-1784)

Points de couture.

Fig, 1. 2. & 3. Elévation & places de dessus & de dessous du point de devanten piquant les deux étoffes de haut-en-bas & de bas-en-haut.
Fig, 4. 5. & 6. Point de côté ramenant le fil en-deffous par-dehors après avoir piqué les deux étoffes.
Fig, 7. 8. & 9. Point-arriere ou arriere-point, repiquant de haut-en-bas au milieu du point-arriere après avoir piqué de bas-en-haut.
Fig, 10. 11. & 11. Point lacé comme le point-arriere, lieu qu’il fe fait au- en deux tems, revenu en-hauton ferre le point, & retournant l’aiguille on repique en-arriere commeau précédent.
Fig, 13. 14. & 15. Point à rabattre fur la main piquant le haut-en-bas & de bas-en-hauten-avant les points drus espacés & également.
Fig, 16. 17. & 18. Point à rabattre fous la main commele dernier au-lieu qu’ayant percé l’étoffe supérieure on pique-l’étoffe inférieure par-dehors, ensuite on pique les deux en remontant.
Fig, 19. 20. & 21. Point à rentraire comme le point à rabattre fur la main se faisant en deux tems en retournant l’aiguille avant tout il faut joindre à point fimple les deux envers l’étoffe retournée on ferre de ce point les deux retours il faut pour cela très-peu d’étoffe &les points très-courts.
Le point perdu n’eft qu’un point-arriere ajouté au precédent.
Fig, 22. 23.& Point traversé, couture à deux fils croisés.
Fig, 25. A, premiere opération; point coulé ou la passe, c’eft la boutonniere tracée de deux fils. B, la passe fermée du point de boutonniere. C, la passe achevée & terminée de deux brides à chaque bout quel’on enferme de deux rangs de points noués

Google translated:

Sewing stitches.
Fig, 1. 2. & 3. Elevation & places from above & from the fronten point pricking the two fabrics from top-to-bottom & bottom-to-top.
Fig, 4. 5. & 6. Side point bringing the wire in-bursts from outside after stitching the two fabrics.
Fig, 7. 8. & 9. Point-back or back-point, pushing up and down in the middle of the back-stitch after dipping from below upwards.
Fig, 10. 11. & 11. Point laced like the point-back, place which it is made in two tenses, returned to the top, turns the point, and turning the needle backwards.
Fig, 13. 14. & 15. Point to be folded on the hand, stitching up-down and down-up in front of the thick points spaced & equally.
Fig, 16. 17. & 18. Point to be folded in the hand as the last one instead of having pierced the upper stuff, the lower stuff is thrown out, then the two are stitched upwards.

Fig, 19. 20. & 21. Point to point as the point to be folded on the hand being done in two times by turning the needle before all must be joined at the same time the two to the returned fabric we iron this point both returns require very little material and very short points.
The lost point is only a back-point added to the previous one.
Fig. 22. 23. & Crossed point, cross-stitched seam.
Fig, 25. A, first operation; cast point or the pass, it is the buttonhole traced two sons. B, the closed pass of the boutonniere point. C, the pass is completed & completed with two straps at each end which enclose two rows of knotted stitches

Google translate can’t really understand it. But I am no better off reading heh translation here: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/d/did/did2222.0000.178?view=text;rgn=main

Figures 13. 14. and 15. Overhand hem stitch piercing from top-to-bottom and from bottom-to-top in front, the stitches densely spaced and even.
Figures 16. 17. and 18. Underhand hem stitch [is] like the last, except that having pierced the upper fabric one pierces the lower fabric at the outside, one pierces the two together fortifying.

The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert Collaborative Translation Project.


The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert Collaborative Translation Project.

Livre L’Encyclopédie. [38], Arts de l’habillement : [recueil de planches sur les … Diderot, Denis (1713-1784)

Fig, 1. 2. & 3. Points noués simples de neuf différentes formes.
Fig, 4. Points noués doubles de trois différentes sortes.
Fig, 6. & 7. Points croisés de simples & doubles de neuf différentes sortes.

Google translation:

Fig, 1. 2. & 3. Simple knotted stitches of nine different shapes.
Fig, 4. Double knotted stitches of three different kinds.
Fig, 5. 6. & 7. Cross points of single & double of nine different

To be honest it is the section on linen items that has nice clear hemming illustrated.

LivreL’Encyclopédie. [38], Arts de l’habillement : [recueil de planches sur les … Diderot, Denis (1713-1784)

Livre L’Encyclopédie. [38], Arts de l’habillement : [recueil de planches sur les … Diderot, Denis (1713-1784)

Fig, 1. Le point de surjet.
Fig, 2. Le point de côté.
Fig, 3. Le point-arriere ou arriere-point:
Fig, 4. Le point devant.
Fig, 5. La couture rabattue.
Fig, 6. Le point noué ou point de boutonniere.
Fig, 7. Le point de chaînette.
Fig, S. Le point croisê.
Fig, 9. Peignoir en pagode:
Fig, 10. Bonnet piqué.
Fig, 11. Coëffure de dentelle.
Fig, 12. Coëffure à deux rangs ou à bavolet.
Fig, 13. Grande coëffe en mousèline. A coëffure en papillon sur une tête de carton.

Google translation:

Fig, 1. The overlock stitch.
Fig, 2. The side point.
Fig, 3. The rear-end or back-point:
Fig, 4. The point in front.
Fig, 5. The seam folded.
Fig, 6. The lockstitch or boutonniere.
Fig, 7. The chain stitch.
Fig, S. The point crossed.
Fig, 9. Bathrobe in pagoda:
Fig, 10. Quilted hat.
Fig, 11. Scallop Coif of lace.
Fig, 12. Coeffure Coif with two rows or bolster.
Fig, 13. Large mussel cockerel mouseline coif. A butterfly coif on a cardboard head.

Working on the mantua

I finally put pencil and ink to paper and got my idea in colour.

Why? The direction of boning is as important as the shape of the pieces. If the boning is vertical it tends to follow the shape of the body more closely- it scoops in at the waist and out over ribs and bust and padding. On the diagonal it acts to channel soft body tissue into the seam with the V. So this gives us the variation in the conical shape.

I think I have found the perfect set of stays to mimic for my own. I am not sure about the breadth across the upper front for me but otherwise it is close.


Date: late 17th–early 18th century
Culture: French
Medium: silk, metallic thread
Credit Line: Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1975
Accession Number: 1975.34.2a–c

early 1700s – Auction House Coutau- Bégarie – Corps à baleines, début du XVIIIe siècle,en damas ramagé rose, piqûres rectilignes soulignant les baleines. Devant en pointe arrondie à effet de corset lacé matérialisé par des dentelles aux fuseaux en sorbec argent, basques gainées de peau. Laçage à oeillets dans le dos, (quelques usures).

I am mostly happy with my stays but I’ll unpick the front panels as I want them on the straight. A whole lot of stays in museums are just labeled “18thC” which is not really helpful given how much the engineering of these stays changed.

I used my Effigy stays for fit and redrew seam lines. I used the Garsault diagram not the Diderot pattern. Garsault is slightly easier to see all the seam lines.

Compare Art du tailleur : contenant le tailleur d’habits … Garsault, François-Alexandre-Pierre de (1693-1778):

with “Tailleur d’habits et tailleur de corps,” Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, vol. 9 (plates). Paris, 1771.


I also had Leloir in mind to look for consistencies and differences.

I also used the two sets of stays from Corsets and Crinolines to again look for consistencies and differences.

And also used Hunnisett as a guide, there is a pattern scanned out there labeled as from Waugh which is actually from Hunnisett.

This 1680s set has vertical boning strategically placed at CF CB and sides. This keeps the shape very straight and in fact with a little scoop and tilt back of the front. This follows fashion.

This from the 1730s has a lot of boning on angles to allow for the front to tilt forward every so much. There is still a sweep to the waist it is the start of the very lilted forward shape we see once busks really start to take hold.

Interestingly a very similar bit of engineering goes on for the S front corsets of the 1900s. A very rigid straight busk cases the hips to tilt back and the upper tilt forward, it’s not just the rigid straight busk that is similar but also the use of very diagonal, almost horizontal seams.

I need a nearly vertical front that curves at almost the same degree from top to bottom.

Maria Luisa of Savoy (1688-1714)

This portrait neatly shows the push up effect of the stays (narrow and tall with lots of vertical bones) but the start of a bit of a tilt forward due to the start of a very straight and rigid font.

I’ve cut them so that I can use the front of each panel for vertical support while the back is tapered more or less.

I love stays with a laced open front as it can allow for a pair of stays to be adjusted a bit to mimic some later styles- eras where length becomes defining. In fact there are a few sets of stays dated to the 1780s that use so many of these features- long skinny tabs that mostly have the boning going straight through, lots of vertical boning.

I do though need some new boning. It’s difficult because no two manufacturers use the same process. My favourite was very clearly extruded and so there are parallel lines running through it. It was very rigid, and was quite oval in cross section. This is important for structure as it’s harder to bend that shape than a more flat cross section.

But I do have steels to help support, once I can cut them. So many projects on hold as I need the support structure to start patterning. I can’t use the aviation shears that came with them. So I’m trying to get creative.


It’s been a week of extreme introspection, weariness, and wariness, so before I post about costumes I’d like to use whatever platform I have to connect.

For anyone in Aotearoa the 1737 support line is there. It is there for everyone. Any time. It is free (you may get a message from your carrier that a text could not be sent- they say it will be.)

If you would like to help there are a few official charitable accounts, please, please listen to local voices on this.


https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/christchurch-shooting-victims-fund (this is also the page our national support agencies are directing people to.)

For those still trying to contact families:


There is a direct link from there for those who need to travel here- visa information etc.

I am okay, emotionally I’m not, but right now and for some time if anyone would like to reach out, please reach out to the above first. The website has and is always intended as a conduit to teach or help others. This is no different.