and stalling again

I can’t seem to catch a beak this year. I am totally torn as to how to deal with my current costuming issues. 

One of the realities of corsetry is it encases flesh, muscle, bone, organs. It’s also not just a matter of reshaping a corset to measurements but some styles of corsets simply exaggerate or resist properties.

I seem to do best with a gusseted corset and I’m thinking a mix of cords and steels are actually my best bet. With this kind of corset I can also adapt it to different eras the lower slung 1860s the higher 1890s and even the higher 1810s- the gussets change shape but the stability of the body panels, the simplicity of the body panels work with my torso. I just still need to take care with the shape of the hip gore and I think in fact that cording that will help a lot with what I am trying to do- create a slightly more oval shape through the hips as generally I wind up smooshing everything into a smooth circle all around.

So the stalling is from again a lack of fabric suitable for a really good and pretty and accurate looking corset. So just ordered some. 

Another stalling issue is that my really lovely sateen princess gown has decoloured over time. I think I just need to put the whole thing through some more colour remover as opposed to bleach. Now that means a trip to spotlight. Might have to ask for help with that.

But really this is where I have been stuck with Marie Antoinette (cutting the steels for the stays and hoops) Ahsoka (it’s too cold and wet to work with latex and have it cure well) Sunburst (I have mucked up every aspect ever since I started cutting in 2007. 

Well I can at least share research- but not much as my RA is acting up so I need to get tested and that means no steroids before the test or no inflammatory markers will be present!)

So off to heat my hands… and try some more therapy as well.

lightbulb- the mina

Okay so while looking for photos for insurance I found my first photos of my new Mina bodice and had quite a revelation.

So I find it very painful to do fitting for historic gear. It’s physically painful. 

I have helped that a bit with The Mina because I shaped all panels before putting eyelets in the back so I can lace it closed even during fitting.

But I’m having trouble with boning because well it’s also painful to cut. and to handle in general.

And I realised where most of my fitting trouble is which is the bust.

I need to cord the whole thing!

I want a mid-late 1870s shape and to get that cording is often used in the hip and bust gores.

Of course!

SO this is great.

My Marie antoinette stays need a lot of topstitching before I can bone that too and I may even use a bit of cording in that to soften some of the harshness of the metal stays.

I didn’t account for cording in my pattern but I have a good seam allowance at the sides.

The cording is going to help retain the shape I carefully created in fabric as it collapses off the form.

Marie Antoinette progress

I am refreshing the courier update page hoping to see my parcel of steel boning goodness escape the airport (released by customs!) I’ve not bought steel before. But I think I have a plan on how to use both the steel and plastic boning I already have. And the excess plastic will be used for a potentially larger lobster bustle for The Mina.

Marie Antoinette petticoat- rolls of cotton bobinette cut and ready for stitching together.
Marie Antoinette petticoat- a pile of pinned strips of cotton bobinette. 
marie Antoinette petticoat- rows of cotton bobinette strips pinned and trimmed ready for edge treatments.

So far so good. The petticoat will be covered in ruffles and I decided that as the fabric is very light that I would go for a 3:1 gather/pleat so as to really ensure a soft and fluffy layer between the gown and hoops.

Marie Antoinette stays- Two layers of bobinette each panel, hip and bust gores and a narrow cotton twill tape for boning channels. The tape is on the inside.
Marie Antoinette stays- hook and eye tape being hand stitched to the centre fronts.

I really wanted a zip up the front of the stays after the practice in making stays like this for Broadway costumes. I decided on hook and eye tape to minimise any disruption to the front of the gown to be worn over the top. It is also why I am not using a busk. 

There is such a delicacy to the original gown that is enhanced by the length of the bodice and the drop from waist to hips of the panniers. So I’m trying to help that effect from the inside to outside.

The other thing about this gown is that it is very narrow front to back even by comparison to the other gowns from the same film.

48 strips

48 strips of cotton bobbinette for my #marieantoinette petticoat. Well one of them. Really tempted to make the foundation a simple rectangle so I can use it under other gowns.

48 strips of cotton bobbinette for my #marieantoinette petticoat. Well one of them. Really tempted to make the foundation a simple rectangle so I can use it under other gowns.

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48 strips of cotton bobbinette for my #marieantoinette petticoat. Well one of them. Really tempted to make the foundation a simple rectangle so I can use it under other gowns.

Current projects

I took a day  this week to make sure all my projects are easily found and while initially it was overwhelming, I think I am not just at the inspired stage 🙂

I have a lot of current projects, but having them nicely divided into clear containers mean I can actually see them 🙂

I really want to finish my Cleves research this year. Or at least be at a point where I can say “yes, I can talk about this.” Because let me tell you, I have a heck of a lot of info for Cologne but there is very little for Cleves, Jullich and Berg. It’s a larger geographical spread and lots of archives are just gone. I have looked for donor portraits, any portraits and they are just.. not there.

Later yes.

Anyway. I now do have a pretty Cleves dress, a beautiful Cleaves dress, and a working kirtle type garment. I’m mainly working on accessories. But my red velvet gown is at the same stage my pink and black Cleves dresses were a few months ago so I can definitely work on the hand finishing of that this year.

So that least the later historic and modern media recreations.

I want Mina finally finished. That has been a struggle for fitting the bodice as my fabric has zero give. So the lining has to have zero give. I may have finally managed that but I need a bit of time to work on making it all tidy and transportable.

And I want my Elissa costume done. I should have left it alone but well… I wanted to wear it where accuracy is still prized so… but it’s okay. I think I’m just not wanting to face the rope skirt. It’s about 8m of velvet and while I have cut the pieces I have to pull and roll them and somehow make sure they don’t unroll. This is easier with velour but these are clearly velvet.

And Ahsoka. I am now happy with where Rebels has left her (in fact it’s exactly what I hoped and thought was the most logical outcome) so feel a lot happier in investing in the project again 🙂 It’s been intense and nothing is even close to finished due to just not having any luck with any material.


So that leaves Marie Antoinette as my other must finish project. It’s hard because I really do need a metal frame. Luckily the original is very short so it’s possible I can find support material for it. I am very disappointed with the plastic stuff now available. It’s not at all like the older stuff with an oval cross section. That had a fibrous property that made it really quite firm, and the oval cross section helped curves maintain shape. I get a greally nice kidney shape but that is not at all the shape of these things.

This may be a project for next year. I have all the fabrics, it’s a matter of boning for the stays and hoops. I think I have an idea for making the hoops solid and transportable though.

and follow up workshops

So, I think the bodice making workshop was too much to understand in one go. I want to do a really good dedicated follow up, I’m just having trouble figuring out a start point. I may need to do a quick and dirty corset workshop (using the gored pattern I used for my Marie Antoinette dress as it is super adaptable for all sizes and proportions.

But I will have to impart the understanding that a corset is a foundation garment. It is going to change your shape so that the outer garment can be fitted over like a glove. But it doesn’t mean restricting breathing or anything, it’s about creating a solid shape. Uplift is part of it sure, but there can be room for adjusting for comfort.

But yeah, the basic double dart bodice needs that solid shape. And if someone is not willing to wear a corset or something to support the shape then it’s not going to really work. Not unless there is a perfect mannequin already in that shape so that the lining and shell and boning can be put in place and only a little fitting needs to be done.

So as well as the Marie Antoinette stays I’ve got ready for boning and tidying, I can create a basic stays pattern from that. Or diagrams anyway.

So there may be some time spent at Canty Faire on writing up a good proposal.

marie antoinette progress

Spent the day making pleats and sewing pleats. Also got my stays cut and mostly assembled. I still need twill tape for the boning.

This is over my smaller hoops for the Robe de Style and Reinette.

Still needs some careful shaping.

marie antoinette progress

Well semi progress! I have the petticoat cut and partially sewn, even braved using a hemming foot! But I have run out of thread. But I do have a nice amount of cotton sateen, slightly heavy, to line my bodice with which is a huge relief! I need to wash it to soften but it’s ideal 🙂

I was also trying to remember how the bodice worked. I remembers the back, and the sleeves, but as I have been distracted for a while I forgot the neckline and front shaping.

Suffice to say I’m happy with reviewing photos again. Double darts. I love these. I can work with these for any profile. So happy.

I do still want to make a set of stays that will work for anything. And having seen Eric Winterling’s work i now I want to use my cotton bobbinette. It’s not the same method but I got really inspired seeing the care taken in making a light bretahable stage ready foundation garment!

I try to make my work as close to the original as possible. I do make substitutes, oh yes, but I always want to know how and why I am deviating.

So as per the previous post I will make a separate set of stays, they will be pretty modern. A blend of c1900 and later. But possibly with bust gussets not seams just because there is a pronounced underbust stress line in the photo above that I don’t get with a smooth seam.


I have decided on a Rococo theme for my birthday as an excuse to wear my Marie Antoinette Rocket Gown because a picnic in a pretty garden sounds perfect 🙂 So I need all the undergarments and I also need to test the pattern for the swag drapes 🙂

To do this I’m finally starting to use a stash of about 14 metres of of a shot freen and white mystery fabric. The colour it looks in warm light wis qtute silvery and in cool like quite dull aqua. It handles like cotton but feels like a bast fibre. So it may well be a mix. But it is totally perfect for a 2m wide petticoat and ruffles that I need for this frock!

So I’ll grab photos as I promised to share how I make my tubular wonder skirts (they can be used for paniers, a bell shaped rin, and even a bustle!

It’s very simple but a really good stable 🙂

These will need to be twice the size I normally make them of course..

And I also have glue to see if I can also do some more work on Ahsoka.

And then see about how to cut this lace into strips of a good size. So first, to the printer! I need a reference image or two if I’m going to work on this away from my comp 🙂


I figured I should work on projects where I already have materials for a bit 🙂 Also I do need to make a modern-ish set of stays to be able to wear the frock. And that will mean boning past the waist and controlled on the hips. So probably a gored hip with a bit of bust shaping given this is the shape of the original.


So basically this. Which is from the film 🙂 I know the plain piece on the lower back is acting more like a plackard but I’m going to make mine in two pieces, waist through control and a skirt of padded tabs to tack on. It gives me a lot of room to wear this under the Wilting Flower costume for instance and maybe even a Glinda if I decide to go that route again with my epic amount of bubble fabric.

So ideally ballet pink.

norma shearer gowns progress

I worked on both my marie Antoinette gown and Upstage gown today. For Marie I cut the silver lamé to fit the skirt. It will need to be stitched in a specific order so no pics today as it’s a bit of a mess. It will be all overlocked tomorrow though as the weave is very loose. Not too bad on the straight but the diagonal.. I’m worried.

I went a little overboard with the length. BUT I DON’T CARE!!! (Marie Antoiette is folded and hanging up on the wall behind. Not very exciting stage!)

I am totally redesigning the skirt front as I am not a fan of the short underskirt. This will overlap at mid thigh and I will maintain the stretch of the line using hand and machine stitching. Honestly, mostly hand because the long pile of the velvet had already proven it cannot walk a straight line.

The upper half was draped in pink crepe earlier so I may transfer that to the lime green and just tidy it a little, the dress will be silk velvet with a lining of either silk charmeuse or rayon charmeuse- it depends on how much I need. Probably the silk as it is already terrible pinky-beige.

I was going to make my magic Flame inspired bodice switch out with the Upstage but there may be enough velvet for both!!!

yep, I am obsessed by slinky velvet dresses from a time where slinky is not remembered! But I do have a full post on slinky dresses already!