Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Being Beige

I am on my holidays so I have decided to paint the whole house, starting with the dining room (I have done one toilet and the kitchen already). The place was trashed when I moved back so EVERYTHING needs done. It is depressing and the sunshine just shows up the muck more. 
 Gone with my beloved colour, I am breaking out in chronic "greige" as I would really like to sell it before the end of the year. I blame Kelly Hoppen. *grumble*

Feel for me, not a sniff of sunshine, except through the window. 

More corset posts to follow. I am waiting for a new busk as the size that was recommended in the pattern is too long for my short waist. 

Until later peeps, I have a hot date with a brush!

Hope that you are having fun and enjoying the beautiful weather.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Sewing With Mother: The Sophia Underbust Corset - Roll Pinning & Flatlining

Hello! Well after the great start I had catching up with my corset posting things went a bit awry. Life has a terrible habit of creeping up on me at the moment and expecting me to do other things. So, finally today I am going to talk a little bit about what I did with my pattern pieces once I had cut them out.

Just to back track a bit I had adjusted the fit of my toile to take into account the fact that I needed more room. Once I had made all the changes I tried it on again and it was so big that I could have taken out the last panel. Just shows you how much bloat I can gain or lose over the course of a few days, so back it went to the original size. So now I am making this up as the same straight size as the pattern with no adjustments (for now).

Firstly, I had decided that I was going to make a double layer corset consisting of the outer shell fabric (which I interfaced but I am not counting that), the inner strength layer of cotton herringbone coutil (recycled from my toile) and an inner "floating" lining (also not counting) which I will make out of a fancy patterned quilting cotton, kind of my trademark. The cotton coutil has a smooth side and a herringbone weave side as you can see in the photo above. Not that it matters for me as I covered it but the herringbone side will be used on the outside. The stripes are handy as I lined up the grain markings with them. I pressed the coutil with lots of steam before I cut out my pieces and all pieces are cut with the grain parallel to the selvedge.

I cut the pattern pieces out of a red/cobalt blue shot silk dupion and a medium weight fusible interfacing. You should really preshrink this by soaking it in hot water until it goes cold and then hanging up to dry. Then there is no surprises. If you don't do this and you then steam your corset later on then then you take the chance that it will look a bit bubbly instead of the smooth surface that you are looking for, just don't ask me how I know this. I had also pressed the silk with a lot of steam before I cut out my pieces. There is a lot of pressing in a corset. Remember to iron your interfacing on with a dry iron and no steam.

Just to be on the safe side when you are interfacing your pieces lay them out in front of you and make sure that they are a) the right side up and b) that they are the mirror image of each other. I like to use an interfacing as it provides a subtle extra layer of strength and support to the thin silk fabric and helps with cutting out any wrinkling of my outer fabric. 

So now I had a pile of interfaced silk pieces and my coutil pieces. I joined them together in a process called flatlining where they are attached to each other then treated as one piece. I did this by laying the silk pieces over the corresponding coutil pieces and carefully sewing round the outside close to the edge inside of the seam allowance. It doesn't have to be neat as it will be hidden in the seam.

However, if you just lay them totally flat and stitch them together like that then when you put your corset on finally then you are more likely to get wrinkles as the outer fabric will be stressed as it is getting stretched more than the inner fabric. How come you ask? Well, much as we would like we are not flat and to follow the curve of your body then the outer curve will be longer than the inner curve to cover the same distance, add into this the room that your fabric takes up, the turn of cloth, further stressing your outer fabric. To combat this before I started my flatlining I lined up the pattern pieces and pinned them in the upper seam allowance in the middle over a firm curved surface. Some people use a tailor's ham for this but you don't have to buy anything special, a towel rolled into a tube does fine. Then I smoothed out my pieces over the curve from the middle to the edges. Pinning them to keep them in place in the seam allowance and then stitched. My pieces didn't overlap completely by this point. This is okay and will be hidden in the seam allowance anyway. This technique is called roll pining and it will make all the difference in the look of my final corset.

The photo above shows my pieces after they had been roll pinned. They are lying on a table and you can see that they don't lie completely flat, they have a very slight curve to them.

So at the end of this process you should be left with a big thick pile of your pattern pieces. They will feel pretty stiff with all the layers but this will be a good thing as they will need to stand up to a lot of pressure and not stretch out or tear.

This has taken me loosely to about point 6 in the pattern instructions. Now I needed to sew in the busk and add in the grommets to the back of the corset and baste it together for yet another fitting but more on that next time. Hope that this makes some sense. 

Have you ever had a misadventure with interfacing? Or have a better way to get the wrinkles out of your corsets. I would love to hear all about it!

Have a great week, Lovelies. 

K xx

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Blocks of Boredom: Checking In

Okay here is another quick catch-up post that I am writing whilst sat with a "cowpat" of henna on my hair, smothered in face cream lest I end up looking like an Oompa Loompa, and grooving along to David Bowie.  What a vision. I have never been so glad to be a blogger and not a vlogger!

 I had a spare night a couple of weeks ago and managed to get another 4 blocks sewn up. Patchworking  is really enjoyable but it is quite time consuming and I am never going to win any prizes for matching up my corners. It's all in the design though, right?

Where I stay for work during the week doesn't really have a whole tone of space so patchwork is perfect, it is small and easy to manage, not taking up too much space.

It is great getting it done in little chunks too.

Again most of the fabrics are Amy Butler, the spotty one above is a Japanese cotton from Mandor's in Glasgow.

Well, I am catching up with myself now so hopefully will be back on blogging track next week.
Have a wonderful weekend, Lovelies! Now to wash this off my head........ :)


Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The Blunders of Modern Technology and An Accidental Purchase

Hello lovelies! I hope that you are surviving the sweltering heat here in the Northern Hemisphere (or the cold if you are down under). I have had NO INTERNET at my week-time digs for the past two weeks so am terribly behind with blogging. I did have my phone but it is so small that I can't read it easily so have been pretty cut off and although I have been keeping up with your posts I have been finding it hard to comment. Just what did we do without internet access? Not blog if I remember rightly. Oh dear. 

So, I have a confession to make, I have been really bad and may have *accidentally* come home a  couple of weekends ago with a "new" vintage sewing machine and then spent a whole Saturday cleaning and polishing her instead of taking photos of my corset progress but I am sure that you will forgive me when you see her. 

I had went to the local car boot fair with high hopes of scoring some vintage fabric or clothes, nothing doing on that score, but I found a stall selling junk and antiques that specialises in vintage sewing machines. They had loads from the 1880's right through to 1970's machines. 

I should have taken some before as she was manky but here she is in all her glory. Sprogzilla really helped me to get this clean, along with a small can of WD40, lots of cleaning rags, a load of sewing machine oil and some proper elbow grease. It was a truly filthy job and I haven't got the paint spots off the case yet but the machine is now spotless, shiny and running like a dream. Just look at the gorgeous "Lotus" decals and the lovely engraved plates.

I love this look of this machine. They really don't make them like this any more. The attention to detail is superb. This is the back of the machine.

I love the decoration. Weight wise this thing is a beast. I can hardly lift her. All her innards have been cleaned, polished to a gleam, oiled and adjusted to sew beautifully. Sorry I forgot to take a pic of the stitch quality so here are another couple of the decals. She goes through corset coutil like a bit of chiffon.

I think that she is a hand crank 66k for those of you that bother about such things. I came to this conclusion as she has the funny foot that is only found on the early models. According to all the details that I can find online, the 66k with the Lotus decals was made at Kilbowie (the "K" I think) between 1902 and 1906. This is at odds with the serial number which does not have any letters at the beginning and according to the Website this dates her to 1889. Either way she is a lovely old lady and I hope that she will be sewing in another hundred years time. 

So, if you have read this far I will be posting things this week in an effort to catch up with myself so watch this space. If you have any info about vintage Singers, or even want to share a link to your prized vintage machines or a comment then I would love to hear from you. I am building up quite a collection at MOR headquarters.

Have a great week!
K xx

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Sewing with Mother: Toile & Trouble - Fitting the Sophia Underbust Corset Toile Version 1.

Hello All! I am a bit late posting this and should have done it a few days ago. Really a bit behind schedule at the moment due to crazy work things and that fact that my back is playing up like Billy-O, whoever he is. Believe me I feel sorry for him.  Plus, I had no one to pin me or to take photos so that is not helping. I only got Sprogzilla to take these pics after much moaning and it ended up in a shouting match. Joy! In my last post I had traced out my pattern pieces, added the seam allowances, and was ready to cut out my fabric. Okay, well maybe not cut out right away as I am making a toile (pronounced Twaaaalh) first.

A toile is just a mock up of your garment  which is usually made up in an inexpensive fabric like calico to help finesse the style and fit. This is a really good idea for just about anything that you sew but it is especially important for a corset where the fit will make or break just how comfortable (and wearable) your final garment is.

A few years ago I bought a whole roll of white herringbone corset coutil from eBay. The outer bit got a bit grubby during moving so it is no loss to sacrifice it to make a mock-up.  I used a 12-inch (30cm) strip across the width of the fabric and this was just enough to fit in all the pieces with a bit of jiggery-pokery and shuffling the pieces around.

Before I break the internet with people telling me that this is not the best way to make a mock-up, I know. I drew on this with biro so think of this as a first draft. No boning, waist tape, busk or grommets in this version. No fabric strip in the back so that I could pin out 2-inches either. I was just checking that it went around me and that the length was okay for my body shape.

I knew that this pattern would not be ideal for me straight out of the box what with me being so short-waisted (plus I cheated and measured it first), so I will take this toile apart and use the pieces as a pattern for my toile version 2.  I am fitting this using an iterative process to show the typical changes that you might have to do if you make up this pattern. When I am making a corset for someone I might need three fittings and it is a lot harder to fit yourself so if it is not right first time then don't worry.

The length was not too bad below the waist. I tried sitting down in it to make sure that I could without it digging in anywhere but will probably add an extra inch on the length to help cover up the chub and so that I can gently shape the bottom edge as I prefer this to it being straight across.

Anyway, I had enough of fitting at the weekend, even trying it on it was too sore let alone pinning. I am not sure that mine looks like the ones on the Sew Curvy website and I think that I am going to increase the centre front seam allowance and maybe let out the side seam again. Mine just looks too broad at the front, a bit like me. :) I know that the end result will be worth the effort.

Corset Toile Version 2 coming up soon!

Do you have corset fitting woes or have you found a pattern/size that fits straight out of the packet? Got a favourite pattern? I would love to hear about it.

Anyway, I hope that you are having a fabulous week.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Sewing with Mother: Sew Curvy Sophia Underbust Corset

Hi lovely people. Sometime earlier in the year I asked if anyone would be interested in a corset sew-along. Although this is labelled very loosely as a such, there is no start or finish date. If you fancy giving it a go I will be posting my construction stages in real-time and will be answering any questions as best as I can. I am by no means a corset-making expert although I have made a fair few. I don't normally follow a pattern (or make corsets for myself for that matter) but I think that it will be interesting to see how we all get along. - If anyone else wants to make one up that is.

So as to pattern choice, I have had a bit of a think and as I have heard such good things about it have chosen the "Sophia" underbust pattern from Sew Curvy. The sizing for this is based on the measurement of your natural, uncorseted body and ranges from a 23" waist right up to a 46".  I have shown the size chart below for information. It is really inclusive and plus-sized friendly and it is nice to support indie pattern makers.

Sew Curvy, might be familiar to you as suppliers of corsetry components and classes and is based in Oxfordshire, UK. It is run by Julia Bremble, who is a pretty amazing corset maker in her own right. The Sophia is one of her small but perfectly formed range of patterns. The pattern handily has a list of everything that you need on the back and is printed on sturdy paper which also serves as the instructions. I have not had a proper read through of them yet but it looks really comprehensive at first glance.

As I am advocating curvy sewing, and that includes everyone as we are ALL made of up of curves (except her),  then my thought was to start with an underbust as this is probably the easiest one to cut your teeth on if you have any sort of fitting issues.

To illustrate I have a difference of about 12 inches between my underbust measurement and my full bust (Eek!). That is hard enough to fit on myself and I have been making corsets for a lot of years so this will be ideal to learn corset making techniques (and to remind me too). Then once you have the construction basics down to pat an overbust will be a lot easier.


I traced off the pattern in a size 24, looking more closely at the size chart I should have probably made this a 22.  NB. This pattern does not include seam allowances. This is great as you can add your own in. Just because I like them I have added in 1.5cm SAs except for at the top and bottom where I have not added anything (I forgot).  I have shown a bit more detail of the pattern pieces so that you can appreciate the lovely curves. As you can see the front is pretty flat, a bit of a godsend for me as I carry all my weight in the front. Accurate measuring is pretty important here as you really want this to have negative ease in the waist and not be too big round your body.

I bought a nice busk from there too.  It is a 2-part metal busk. Busks are used to close the corset front and have a little metal knob which slots into the metal loop. They are pretty strong and help to support the front of the corset. Busks are a bit tricky to insert the first time but I will walk through that in a later post.


I am choosing to make this corset up as a double layer using an outer silk dupion flat-lined to some cotton herringbone corset coutil as a strength layer. I will also line it with a floating lining in a nice quilting cotton.  Cotton is great as a lining as it is hard-wearing and can cope with wicking moisture and being worn next to the skin, plus all those amazing colours and prints. It is a bit of a signature of mine.

So anyway, this is more than enough for a first post. I do hope that you will follow me sewing this up as I think that the pattern looks great. I really hope that I can do it justice. If you would like to sew this too then the pattern can be purchased from Sew Curvy.

Disclaimer: Just as a last comment, I bought this pattern with my own money. I don't know Julia Bremble from Eve and I have absolutely no affiliation to anything or will get any gain from this except for the joy of making myself a lovely corset and of possibly using up some of my huge stash before it swamps the house (again). 

So does anyone fancy making a corset with me? Doesn't have to be the same pattern, or indeed any pattern? Got a favourite or would you like to link to a corset that you have made? Looking forward to hearing from you!

Have a great week.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Book Review: "The Great British Sewing Bee: From Stitch to Style".

You would have to be living underneath a rock to not know that the new series of TGBSB is back on the telly (or BBC iPlayer if you are like me). And as with every popular BBC series there is also an accompanying book - "From Stitch to Style".

This book follows the same format as the last, a hardback book supplemented with a separate cardboard pack containing all the pattern sheets.
After comparing the contents there is a little repetition - basic sewing kit, how to use the patterns and some fitting advice. Considering that this book would probably be used as a stand-alone then this is not really an issue.

Apart from the intro, the book is divided up into three chapters:

Chapter One: Foundation - which covers some core sewing skills (simple seams and seam finishes, interfacings, elastic casings, exposed and surface mounted zips, appliqué, sewing with sticky/slippery fabrics and fabric ties and Rouleau loops)  and includes patterns for the "Bias Cut Top" featured on Episode One of the new series, and A-line child's skirt, a pretty natty jumpsuit (as modelled by a very lovely older model), the babygrow featured on the show, a child's cape and a unisex kimono.

Chapter Two: Inspiration - Which has a load of patterns and their corresponding hacks and some additional core skills (invisible zips, blind hemming, pleats, lapped zips, bias binding, lining and darts)

Chapter Three: Exploration - Which has even more patterns, including the soft-cup bra pattern and a very nice "Drape, Drape" -style asymmetric jersey top, related hacks and more core skills (snap fasteners, sewing with stretch fabrics, sewing with lace, pin tucking and buttonholes).

The sizing is quite inclusive and goes from a size 8 to a size 20, which is about a 45 1/2-inch bust so lots of FBA-action for me! It's even got a page of style advice broken down into rectangles, pears, inverted triangles, apples and hourglasses.  Don't know if I agree with all that nonsense as I think you should be able to wear what the hell you want but it is there if you fancy a look-see.

There are a few children's patterns, a couple for men (shirt, cycle top), with the majority for women including some lingerie.

To round up, this book is really well worth the purchase price. I paid a tenner for it in our local big supermarket chain but it is available on Amazon for the cost of a Big 4 sewing pattern (unless you are in the US of course. Damn those 99 cent sales!).  You get a whole wheen of patterns, some good ideas to hack them and some simple and well-illustrated sewing techniques and advice. I was so underwhelmed by the first two books in this series but am so happy to have bought this and the last book,  "Fashion with Fabric". Between the two of them you have some great patterns and enough info to hold your hand.

In other news, Sprogzilla and I have been out and about taking advantage of the lovely weather and the festival that is on in the West End of Glasgow at the moment. I love this pic of my wee chicken, she is rocking her mermaid hair.
Hope that you are all having lovely weeks and enjoying life wherever you are!

DISCLAIMER: Just for the sake of transparency I bought this book using my own hard-earned. All comments are most definitely personal ramblings of my stitch-crazed mind.