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Personal Projects Update

Okay, so a while back I posted a list of personal sewing projects that I wanted to complete… someday. And then, a slightly more recent while back, I posted an update. And now, here is an update to the update! So, here is the list, less the things that were completed as of the last update:

  • Jacket to wear over (completed!) corset – I have blueish purple silk dupioni for this, and superb inspiration for the style. UPDATE: Not even remotely started. Continue to think about it from time to time, mainly when I open the fabric cabinet and drool over dupioni.
  • Alterations to a dress I made a few years ago but now hate, to turn it into a simple skirt (with pockets!) to complete the above ensemble. UPDATE: I have actually spent about five minutes thinking about this one – does that count? Pretty much decided not to ever do this. Would rather start from scratch and make a new skirt because I just know so much more about all relevant sewing techniques now. However, may still do this only because I will never find this fabric again and I love it.
  • Corset for Julia that she has been begging me to make for the last two years. UPDATE: Uh uh. Not done. Reasonably certain I have not even thought about it since I posted the last update… sorry love!

20140401-091636.jpg

  • New pajama pants. Mine all have holes. (Lots of them, in unfortunate places.) I have awesome Flinstones-esque dark teal with black tiger stripe fabric. They will be so much fun to wear. UPDATE: Not at all done. But the growing number and size of holes in my pajama pants has moved this to the top of the priority list. DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE! Aren’t they amazing/terrible?? I love them. I have a whole coordinating pajama outfit now.
  • The aforementioned Great T-Shirt Project of 2010. You guys, in 2010 we bought 30 pounds of jersey so that we could both expand our sad, sad collection of ill-fitting t-shirts. (I have a long torso, so basically every t-shirt ever manufactured shows an inch or two of stomach, which I’d prefer stayed out of sight and warm.) UPDATE: Let’s jut admit there is no way this will happen before 2013 2014.
  • I have silky, stretchy, clingy, shiny teal fabric for a drape-y dress shirt. UPDATE: I still have it! It’s still folded neatly among all the other pretty things in our fabric stash… untouched.
  • I am determined to never purchase jeans again and start making my own, because there are no pants in the universe that fit me properly. (And the ones I have are dangerously close to being to worn to wear in public.) UPDATE: I still believe this firmly. It may even happen soon-ish. SO DONE! And working on a second pair! And on patterns, generally, so custom jeans can be offered to YOU! Pictures will be forthcoming when I write a whole post about them!
  • On that note, I need some dressier-than-jeans but not as fancy as wedding attire to wear to my clients’ rehearsals. As well as some more wedding attire to wear to their weddings. I know I’m getting sick of my same two outfits, and if you started looking at photos of me on fancy occasions, you’d be sick of them too. UPDATE: Zero progress. I have bought some fabrics and imagined some ideas.
  • I also have two pairs of corduroy pants in progress that need finishing. UPDATE: These remain untouched, but now that I have a functional jeans pattern, there is a decent chance of the pair I didn’t start cutting yet getting made soon.
  • And cranberry corduroy for a winter skirt. UPDATE: I thought about it last week because fall is here and this would be a great time to wear it. You know, if it had been designed/sewn already. I did this a while ago! Maybe a year? And I have been wearing it all the time. I will probably make another one or two in different fabrics.
  • Make my own swimsuit for the summer! (Long torso is a big problem in this department as well.) UPDATE: Maybe next this year.

And there you have it. I have crossed one personal project off the list since May, and that pretty much only happened because I had a really good deadline.

 

Personal Projects Update

Okay, so a while back I posted a list of personal sewing projects that I wanted to complete… someday. Since I can’t think of anything better to blog about today – I got some good ideas from my twitter pals, which I promise I’ll use, but they are more effort than I have willpower for at present – I thought I’d update you. Maybe I’ll try to do this monthly, so that there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of any of these things actually getting done.

So, here is the list:

  • Corset for me (to hopefully finish in the next two weeks so I can wear it to Kinzie‘s wedding!) – I have an Asian-style embroidered brocade kind of fabric for this, and it’s beautiful. Also I’m hoping to recreate/modify a Victorian-style corset with this project. UPDATE: DONE! And I even finished in time to wear it at the wedding. Because I stayed up all night finishing it in my hotel room. Haha. Here’s what it looks like:

Dancing at Kinzie & Donnie’s Wedding!
Photo by Wasabi Photography – http://wasabiphotography.com/

  • Jacket to wear over said corset in case it is cold – I have blueish purple silk dupioni for this, and superb inspiration for the style. UPDATE: Totally not done. But here’s the inspiration photo for the style I plan to try:

I love the big buttons and pleat-like details.
Anthropologie jacket; Photo and styling via Already Pretty – http://www.alreadypretty.com


  • Alterations to a dress I made a few years ago but now hate, to turn it into a simple skirt (with pockets!) to complete the above ensemble. UPDATE: I have actually spent about five minutes thinking about this one – does that count? (Especially if those thoughts make me wonder if it’s actually even possible to make this particular transformation)
  • Corset for Julia that she has been begging me to make for the last two years. UPDATE: Not even started, but Julia did find some gorgeous fabric yesterday:
  • New pajama pants. Mine all have holes. (Lots of them, in unfortunate places.) I have awesome Flinstones-esque dark teal with black tiger stripe fabric. They will be so much fun to wear. UPDATE: Not at all done. But the growing number and size of holes in my pajama pants has moved this to the top of the priority list.
  • The aforementioned Great T-Shirt Project of 2010. You guys, in 2010 we bought 30 pounds of jersey so that we could both expand our sad, sad collection of ill-fitting t-shirts. (I have a long torso, so basically every t-shirt ever manufactured shows an inch or two of stomach, which I’d prefer stayed out of sight and warm.) UPDATE: Let’s jut admit there is no way this will happen before 2013.
  • I have silky, stretchy, clingy, shiny teal fabric for a drape-y dress shirt. UPDATE: I still have it! It’s still folded neatly among all the other pretty things in our fabric stash…
  • I am determined to never purchase jeans again and start making my own, because there are no pants in the universe that fit me properly. (And the ones I have are dangerously close to being to worn to wear in public.) UPDATE: I still believe this firmly. It may even happen soon-ish.
  • On that note, I need some dressier-than-jeans but not as fancy as wedding attire to wear to my clients’ rehearsals. As well as some more wedding attire to wear to their weddings. I know I’m getting sick of my same two outfits, and if you started looking at photos of me on fancy occasions, you’d be sick of them too. UPDATE: Zero progress.
  • I also have two pairs of corduroy pants in progress that need finishing. UPDATE: Haven’t touched them.
  • And cranberry corduroy for a winter skirt. UPDATE: I thought about it last week because fall is here and this would be a great time to wear it. You know, if it had been designed/sewn already.
  • Make my own swimsuit for the summer! (Long torso is a big problem in this department as well.) UPDATE: I bought a new swimsuit. I like it, but not as much as the fantasy ones I’ve designed for myself in my head. Maybe next year.

And there you have it. I have crossed one personal project off the list since May, and that pretty much only happened because I had a really good deadline.

Jaimelyn | Custom Everyday Corset + Flirty Summer Skirt | Chicago, Illinois

Jaimelyn's Custom Everyday Corset

Today we have another corset project to show you. Jaimelyn wanted a serious corset to accentuate her curves. No frills, no fuss, just lots of function. So this one is very different from the last one we showed you. Here’s how:

Everyday Corsets are still SEXY.


Bones.
Jaimelyn’s corset has a lot more bones. This provides a much greater degree of shaping and cinching. It also takes considerably more time and requires more specific fitting, which is why most commercially made or ready-to-wear corsets don’t have too many bones.

More bones = More pattern pieces = More time


Fabric.
All four layers of this corset are made from 100% cotton, while Cory’s has an embroidered silk on the outside layer. The main reason for this is to save money, although cotton is nice and cozy for more frequent wear. The other advantage is that it’s smooth, so unlike a textured fabric, it won’t show under whatever garment she wants to wear it with. We think it’s important to make corsets (and clothing, in general) from natural fibers – that’s cotton, silk, linen, and some rayons – because they breathe easily and are much nicer to work with. You may recall we ended up purchasing silk instead of using the polyester provided for Maria’s wedding shrug for these same reasons. (Uh, and this is another thing ready-to-wear corsets often do differently. There’s a lot of polyester happening out there. Do yourself a favor and run away from those, because an ill-fitting corset that gets stickier the longer you wear it is not so pleasant. Those are the garments that have given corsets a bad reputation as instruments of torture. In that case? Yeah, they pretty much are.)

She can tighten the laces herself - yay!


Closure.
While both corsets lace in the back, Jaimelyn’s has something that Cory’s doesn’t – a busk. This is what you see on the front of many corsets, and it allows the wearer to put it on herself. (Cory’s, which does not have a busk, requires a second person to help her get in and out.) A busk is basically two metal strips – one with little knobs and one with holes they fit into – which bring the halves together at the front. Jaimelyn can loosen the laces in the back, close the busk, and then tighten the laces herself.

Closeup on the Busk

In addition to the corset, Jaimelyn was also pining for a skirt she’d somehow lost and desperately wanted to replace. She showed us some pictures of what she was looking for, and I sewed up this airy little number for her. This is another cotton garment – it’s made from an embroidered cotton gauze and lined with super-comfy jersey.

Skirt! WIth pockets!

I added my own touch – pockets! In case you’re somehow unaware, I am a pockets girl. I hate carrying purses, and the number one reason I rarely wear a skirt or dress is because I need my pockets! I NEED THEM!! So I add them whenever I can. Including on stuff for other people. I recently made myself a dress with pockets, and it is so awesome. I am plotting to make many, many more. And some skirts. And then I will suddenly be girly and you will wonder what happened to me… speaking of which, where was I? Oh yes: I found some great wooden buttons to keep those pockets closed, too! Which I think were put on after the picture was taken, and so you can’t see them… sorry.

As long as we’re imagining what the finished project looks like… here’s my thought on styling this skirt for fall. Personally, I’d love to see Jaimelyn wear these pieces together, with a bold-colored jacket (leather?) and coordinating knee-high boots. I think that look would be killer.

Cory’s Custom Red Corset and Silk Chiffon Dress

Custom Corset and Silk Chiffon Skirt

Time for a step back. We’ve been updating you here and there about what we’re working on now, but we really should have started at the beginning. (It’s a very good place to start.) So we’re going to use the next few posts to catch you up, and we begin with a project we both really wanted to keep for ourselves (even though it wouldn’t fit either one of us…)

Cory was in need of something to wear for the Jeff Awards. She wanted something that looked somewhat period (the nominated show she starred in, Ragtime, is set in the early 1900s) in case she was asked to perform, but she also wanted it to be wearable for any fancy event.

We settled on a design of a corset with off-the-shoulder sleeves and a coordinating silk and silk chiffon skirt in a deep red hue. Since they are separate pieces, Cory can actually wear either the skirt or the corset on its own, as well as together.

Now seems like a good time to talk about the process of making custom garments and corset construction, so here goes. We start by taking a LOT of measurements so that we can create a good pattern that fits well.

Pattern for Cory's Corset

Next, we build a mockup, usually made out of muslin, so that we can test the fit and style before we cut into the more expensive fabric. For a corset, we even put in plastic boning so that our test fit is really accurate. Here’s what Cory’s looked like:

Cory's corset mockup (front)

Once we have this ready, we do the first fitting with our client. We will check various areas to see how it fits as well as get feedback from the client about the style so we can make sure we’re meeting their expectations for the garment. In this case, we needed to shorten the corset around the bottom edge, and Cory asked us to make it a little tighter in the waist. We’ll note the adjustments and then transfer them to the pattern.

Cory's corset mockup (back)

At this fitting, we will usually have a selection of fabric swatches so that our client can help us decide what to buy. Cory wanted a deep red, and we found some really beautiful options, which you’ll see in the pictures below. For the corset, she chose a red fabric embroidered with gold thread. The skirt was made from a rust-colored fabric with a cranberry silk chiffon overlay.

Lining of the Corset and Skirt

The next step is to make those adjustments to our pattern, purchase the fabric if we haven’t already, and put it all together. The skirt is fairly simple – we patterned and then cut a layer of chiffon over a layer of the lining, which are joined together at the waistband.

This is the time consuming part for a corset, because it has multiple layers which all must be cut and sewn together exactly. In the photo above, you can see the lining of the corset. It’s actually two layers – a soft cotton, which is on the inside against the skin, and stiffer canvas fabric that doesn’t stretch at all. This is critical for a corset, as the lack of stretch is what holds you in and supports you! The outer layer of the corset is another layer of the canvas with the “fashion fabric” – that’s the pretty stuff – on the outside. The boning gets sandwiched in between the layers so that it doesn’t poke through or cause any discomfort to the wearer. On the back, we install heavy-duty grommets for the lacing to go through. Finally, we’ll trim the top and bottom edges and apply a bias binding.

Et, voila! Finished corset!

Corset and Silk Chiffon Skirt (front)

Corset and Silk Chiffon Skirt (back)