Friday, February 25, 2011


Three weeks. Three weeks of hard sewing to finish all the boning channels, stuff them and bind the edges of each piece. Three weeks to completely finish my handsewn corset. On the one hand it fits me wonderfully, I can breathe with ease while still achieving the period torso from the mid to late 16th century and I can knock my fist on my side and it makes a hollow noise back! And the red velvet with black edging looks awesomely sexy. But that's what's also causing the problem. The velvet is ripping at the edges because its under strain. So far its contained to just a few little spots around the seams, especially on the back piece. Disappointing, as the plan was to make it in velvet in order to show it off. I was hoping to let it be seen in an Arts and Sciences display or even wear it as a piece of pirate garb (even though I don't believe its a proper period look - it just looks wench-like). Cue tantrums and throwing the damn thing across the room.

Lucky for me, I have a logically minded man to point out that I could create small patches out of the remaining scraps of velvet to cover the rips. Hopefully these will help contain the tearing and will not look especially hideous. If I'm careful enough.

Lessons learned for next time I make one
1. Don't make the delicate covering fabric too tight, I knew this beforehand but thought I had it under control.
2. Don't trim the straps because they seem too big in the preliminary fittings. The straps have ended up too short to touch the top of the front of the corset.
3. Make the armscye bigger. Gets me every time I make something.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Wow! I've just found out that the dress that I re-created off Alessandro Allori's 1555 portrait of one of the Medici women is going to be showcased on Realm of Venus! (the flatmates can attest to me screaming and bouncing around the house upon recieving the email) That is the pinnacle of success for me, and I'm deeply grateful to Bella for wanting to show my work off to the world. Woohoo! Here are some photos of me in my dress, but you can refer to the Showcase for more details.

The photos turned out much better than I hoped. Hopefully though, this won't be my only showcase, despite Bella deciding to end the Showcase at the end of this year. The plan is to make Venetian courtesan gowns for me and my best friend Corinna Roussin this year, mine in red/gold, Corinna's in green/gold. Here's the twist - mine will be entirely handsewn from the corset up, while hers will be made (much more quickly and efficently) on my machine. As I said in my previous blog, I've already started on the corset. One piece is almost entirely finished except for some strengthing stitches around the edges. The channels were sewn into twill and then covered with a layer of dark red velvet, while the edges have been bound with black polysuede. Very gothic and sexy. I also managed to do 17 eyelets on the one piece over the weekend. The second front piece has a few more channels to be sewn before the boning can begin.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Back to it

So I've been rather quiet lately. Mainly because I've been in Egypt for a month and then got back in time to frantically finish my creations in time for Canterbury Faire. And best of all, I'd finished my re-creation of Marie de Medici's dress by Alessandro Allori, wore it to the feast, caught the eye of every single Laurel in the room and was given the Order of the Golden Lily the next day!! So over the moon! Two days later, my awesomely speccy man Lord Diego was called up in court and given the Order of the Silver Helm for his rapier garb, the first rapier combatant to get such an award. He'd spent several weeks working on a black velvet jerkin with gold ribbon, with matching pluderhose and a goldworked shirt, with a few tantrums when it seemed he'd never get it done in time, so I am so proud of him for getting his most deserved award. Photo's to come as soon as I can get a hold of the right cord for this camera. Next project already underway. I've gone a little cuckoo and am handsewing myself a corset based on the Queen Elizabeth 1 effigy corset. Two layers of striped twill with an outer layer of red velvet. I'm using waxed linen threads to sew all the boning channels which will be stuffed with reeds. Using period methods, all three pieces will be completely finished before I whip stitch them together. I have yet to decide what the binding fabric will be around the edges. So far in 48hrs, I have sewn 17 channels in backstitch.