October 7, 2015

Plans and free downloads

Like so often happens, making lingerie and making shape wear made me think about making more lingerie and more shape wear. And I feel like trying some new things. I am planning to try and make a power net waist cincher and a longline girdle but I am a bit sort on time lately, so it those may not be my first priorities.
So, it was nice to come across some options on other blogs. Options which are very different to what I would come up with myself.

First (and something I would think of myself) I read Emerald Erin's blog and she was making corsets. And the website where she bought her patterns offered a free download for a corset belt (link goes to the page with all the patterns, scroll down to find the corset belt). 

Basically this is just a very short underbust corset. An easy to wear (for a corset) option that might just look great over clothes with a bit of a 1950's flair. Or just over a t-shirt.
I want to make a muslin this week but I will have to wait with the real version until I have ordered new spiral steel boning. I plan on making it from suede or leather. 

Then, I read Carolyn's blog and she had been trying out a very interesting new bra pattern. Also a free download

This unusual style is, obviously, meant for small bust sizes only. It should support by suppression, there is no shaping in the pattern and not even elastic at the bottom edge. 
It looks very pretty but I am slightly worried my bust may be too large for it. I want to try and make my own this weekend.

And then, one of the ladies on We Sew Retro Sew & Tell posted her version of the Va-Voom Bullet Bra

I had seen other versions before, had visited the website when the sew-along was in progress but it didn't seem like something for me at the time. Sizes for a C and DD cup... but the lady in the Facebook group also mentioned having "trimmed" the pattern so maybe I could give it a go. 
I have just stitched up a very rough muslin and made some size alterations. I transferred the changes to the pattern and plan on making a more detailed toile before trying a real one. I'm not sure it will work. It's a very pointy shape. 

October 3, 2015

It's a cinch

My lingerie corset is finished! 

I had planned to make the main body from non-stretch lingerie net covered with lace but ended up going for sturdy woven fabric for most pieces. My toile showed me that the weak the cheap net material from my stash was a bit weak for this kind of garment. The black stuff is a bit stronger than the skintone variety, but still. That, and I didn't have enough lace to cover all the panels anyway. So, for all but the center front and back panels, I used the fabric I bought for a corset for an friend and also used for the strong inner layer of my party dress

The center front panel is made from net fabric covered with lace and the back panels are from powernet. The cups are made from cut-and-sew foam and covered with the same lace. There are underwires under those cups and spiral steel bones in channels at all those vertical seams. I thought about applying waist tape but didn't know how to make that work with the stretchy back panel. Unfortunately, it is difficult to photograph.

I made some alterations based on the toile: I made the whole thing a bit tighter and put some more waist definition in the front panels. 
While I was sewing, I grew afraid that between the change in fabric and the alterations, I had made the whole thing too tight. But of course, you can never really try on a lingerie item until it is completely finished. And then, to my relief, it fit. 

When I worked in bridal stores, I used to help brides-to-be into their lingerie corsets (like the RTW one I showed you in the previous post). Some ladies insisted on a small size and I remember pulling with all my strenght just to get the first hook and eye together. 
This thing is snug but I can still hook it up behind my back myself, without anything near that kind of effort. 

It sort of looks like a proper corset when seen straight from the front or back but that is just the combination of my natural waist-to-hip ratio and a lingerie corset tailored to fit me. It does what a lingerie corset is supposed to do: It sqeezes in just a little but mostly streamlines and supports.
I'm going to see what it feels like to wear for a longer period of time and if I'm happy with it, I may make another version. I'm thinking skin-tone lingerie net (the real, high-quality stuff. I think I have found a webshop which sells it) covered with black lace with a large-scale flower motif. 

Of course, I made this thing as a sewing and pattern making experiment but now that it's finished, it would be a shame not to put it to good use. After all, I think it is underwear like this that gave ladies in the 1950's silhouettes like these:

I won't be very practical in everyday life but I think I will try and make myself at least one dress to fit over this thing.

September 30, 2015

Corsetry light

Ok, I suppose I should start this post with a bit of an update: 
- The commissioned slopers have been fitted. At least, without sleeves. I wasn't disappointed. The shoulders on the woven one were a bit too long but not in a crazy way and the waist could be taken in a little bit at the side seams. On the knit sloper, I have to move the shoulder seam a bit forward and take out some excess fabric at center back. Oh, and Prior Patterns, your comment about flattering styles for that particular body shape was spot on.
- And those jeans... Well, I was a bit over-confident there. I may not be very tall but 1.10 meter is only enough for cropped designs for me. As a result, I suppose both real culottes and flares are out of the question. I may have to buy some more denim and I will be looking at ankle length 1940's and 50's styles for this piece of fabric.

For now, I have allowed myself to get distracted.
I have wanted to make a lingerie corset for a while. I don't think I really need shape wear but I find it a rather interesting bit of sewing and pattern making.  And it would perfect some 1950's looks. 
So, I have finally started to make one. 

I used the pattern I made for my the bodice of my strapless party dress as a starting point. 

And I had a look at a RTW lingerie corset. This type of corset is often sold at bridal stores here in the Netherlands (I got mine from the store I used to do alterations for). Although I usually wear 75B in RTW bras, the low back of this style allowed me to go for the 70C instead. Which is a good thing because it is still a bit loose at the waist. It allows me to study the construction though. 

I split the front into three panels instead of two and narrowed the side back to allow for some more width in the only stretchy panel, the center back. In the real corset, the other panels with be made from non-stretch net covered with black lace, maybe alternated with panels covered with solid fabric. 
I'm going to use spiral steel boning and bra cups made from padding (cut-and-sew foam) with underwires.

I made a test version. It's not bad, just a bit too loose. And, because of those 1950's looks, I would like a bit more emphasis on the waistline. So, I think I will make a few alterations and then start cutting the real thing.

September 27, 2015

Vintage glamour

When do you think fashion was at its most glamorous? In the 1950's? Or the 1930's? Whichever era you choose, is that choice based on the clothes themselves, or on the way we've seen them in pictures? 
We don't often get the chance to inspect real couture gowns from any era but we can all look at gorgeous pictures of them. As a result, the style of those photographs becomes part of what we see as the look of a particular era. Their style is in part a result of the same spirit of the time which inspired the fashion itself. On the other hand, it is also often based on the technical possibilities at the time and on the individual skill and style of a photographer. Because of that, some fashion photographers have become stars in their own right. Fans of vintage fashion may be familiar with some names of these old masters of photography: Cecil Beaton, George Hoyningen-Huene, Horst P. Horst...   

Yesterday, the exhibition "Horst P. Horst, Photographer of Style" opened in the Nederlands Fotomuseum (= Dutch Photo museum. The link goes to the Dutch version of the site because the English version doesn't load properly) in Rotterdam. 
As a photographer for both French and American Vogue from the 1930's to the 1950's, Horst was certainly one of the people who defined the vintage glamour we know and love today. Even if you don't recognize the name, you will probably have seen this image, a 1939 advertisement for Mainbocher corsets which is the most famous example of his work today:

The exhibition shows a great overview of his work, including a huge amount of iconic fashion images and portraits of fashion designers, actors and artists. Much of it is shown in the form of original vintage prints, often not much bigger than the negative format used for the images for 1930's Vogue: 8 by 10 inches. 

Interestingly, this makes viewing these sleek, monumental images a rather intimate experience. Many of these pictures were probably printed to show the images to editors or clients and there are a few examples in the exhibition which bear pen marks which show the retoucher how to alter the image. A great look at "Photoshop" before the digital age. 

As an added treat, there were also some examples of Paris couture gowns from the 1930's. Glorious designs by the likes of Vionnet, Schiaparelli, Gres and Chanel, on loan from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. 

Oh, and the colour images were a real surprise as well. The colour negatives you may remember didn't exist yet in the first half of the 20th century but there was another process available at the time. Technically complex and expensive, it was only used for commercial photography and magazine covers. 
Horst took many such pictures and those were there too. The original magazines were in display cases but there new, large prints have been made from the original film of quite a number of them. Unlike 1970's colour negatives, the colour information on the film from this rare process doesn't degrade over time so the new images look incredibly fresh, beautiful and difficult to date. 

And that wasn't even all. 
With the Horst exhibition as its main display, the museum has decided to make a bit of a theme of "fashion". To this end, they asked fashion designer Mattijs van Bergen (I didn't know the name either but as a graduate of ArteZ in Antwerp and with a master's degree with Central st. Martin in London, he might be one to watch) to create a collection inspired by the museum's extensive archive of black-and-white photographs (which includes the work of many celebrated Dutch photographers). In turn, this collection was photographed by three different fashion photographers. 

Before seeing it, I was a bit skeptical about this project, I feared it might be a bit of a gimmick. However, the result was actually very nice. Unfortunately, the presentation (which works quite well for a visitor of the museum), on dark dummies in spotlights in a dark corridor, made it very difficult to get some pictures to share with you. 

You can visit both exhibitions until January 2016.  

September 24, 2015

1.10 m of denim...

A couple of months ago, one of my usual fabric stalls at the local market had some odd bits of extra fabric. On top of the bolt in their "1 euro a meter" sale corner, they had dumped some off-cuts which had nothing to do with the other fabric they were selling. From time to time, they added more from a big bag. 
On closer inspection, it looked like they were selling the remnants of some frugal persons stash. There were all kinds of fabrics but most of them looked a bit dated: No stretch, old-fashioned curtain-like lace, quirky prints and either cotton or particularly nasty and easy to recognize synthetics. And all of them small pieces, 1.5 m at most.
I picked up a piece of sturdy mid-blue denim, thinking I could always use that. It cost 1 m and when he packed it, the seller stuffed the bag with other small bits of fabric I had shown a bit of interest in (they are fun, actually, but so small it is hard to come up with a project for them).

When I bought that fabric, it was summer and I didn't want to think about sewing jeans. Now, it time to think about it.
Since I bought it, I thought I had exactly 1 meter of this fabric. Which would be just a bit too short to myself a pair of trousers (I know I've made a lot of tapered ankle length ones but that really requires a slightly sloughy fabric). This particular denim is really a bit old-school: Mid-blue with a white weft, a dense twill weave and quite thick and sturdy. 

For a while, I've been telling myself I would use it to make culottes. The kind that has been in fashion this past year: Well past the knee and a bit more trouser-like than the vintage variety. Or plus-fours.

Then, yesterday, I got the fabric out and held it in front of me while looking in the mirror:

And suddenly I was thinking 1970's bell bottoms...

There is a little more fabric than I had thought. 1.10 meter. Just enough for full-length trousers if I pick a design without extra details and lay it out carefully. Which also means that big flares won't be possible. I will probably be more of a boot-cut.

And then, I googled "culottes" for this blog post. I'm not a huge fan of a lot of mainstream fashion but modern culottes are nice. They fit to the natural waist or just below it and most are more properly culotte-like than I had thought. They may or may not have the center pleats I used in my very skirt-like culottes years ago and the shape at the outer leg is usually straight or A-line. Many have added pleats at the front and only the most trouser-like offerings have front fly. I want to make a pair. However, all that lovely fullness means you will definitely need more fabric than "one time the length of the garment" to cut out the pieces for a style like this. So, I won't be able to make culottes like that from this fabric. 

I know I feel a bit frumpy in 'normal' jeans in this mid-blue. So it has to become something a bit more unusual. As skirts go, I think this would only fun for a full skirt which would be better with more fabric. It's too thick to think about dresses although a 1960's shift would look good. 
What do you think?   

September 22, 2015

Dutch fashion

Just a little tip if you happen to find yourself near The Hague in the months to come (between now and February 2016): The Gemeentemuseum is hosting its annual fashion exhibition! This one is called "Ode to Dutch Fashion". 

As a volunteer for Modemuze (="Fashion Muze", a website which promotes the Dutch museums which have fashion collections and makes those collections available online), I got to go to the opening of the exhibition yesterday evening. Which was fun but I will definitely go back for a better look. And because the museum allows visitors to take pictures as long as they don't use a flash nor a tripod, I will try and share that look.

For now: Don't you love the use of the stripes in this dress?

September 20, 2015

Sewing sporty stuff... again

I had planned to show you a whole outfit today. Sportswear, that is. 
However, I didn't quite manage it. 
Yesterday I was working on the last and most simple piece, a top. I thought I could finish the top with lingerie elastic but the neckline was a bit on the deep side already. Perfectly fine as it was but too deep when folded back another centimeter. The obvious solution was fold-over elastic but I didn't have enough of it for the top. I'll buy more tomorrow to finish it.

I did make another, warmer, version of this sporty cardigan. The first one was made from thin sweatshirt fabric. It is nice and comfortable and I wear it a lot before and after climbing. Now, with autumn on the way, I thought I could use a warmer option. 
This one is made from a thicker knit, a mixture of wool and synthetic fibers. The fabric is not very nice to the skin and I recently found some material on sale which was kind of like the lining material of some sports clothes. 

So, I lined it. It is nicely warm and snug.

I also made a pair of trousers to climb in. So far, I have only worn RTW sports trousers but why not make my own? I know I prefer slightly loose fitting trousers over leggings and I like a length to just below the knee (far enough below the knee so the legs don't ride up when I bend my knees). 

My RTW trousers have a similar waistband: Soft wide elastic encased in fabric, with a drawstring. They also have pockets but those are useless for climbing and can be annoying because the pocket bags get pulled out with some movements.   

To hopefully get the right fit over the knee, I added knee darts at the front leg and elastic in the hemline (this is a picture of the inside where you can see the darts more easily). 
The fabric I used is a dark brown pique knit (the same stuff which is used for polo shirts). A stretchy but stable cotton fabric.  

Today, I put the trousers to the test. Because the person taking the pictures is also the person belaying when I climb high walls, I only have a picture of me bouldering in them. So, you'll just have to believe me when I tell you the trousers also performed well under a climbing harness. 
Before I started climbing, I wondered whether the legs were just a bit too short but they were not. In fact, the trousers were very comfortable. I may just have to make a few more pairs.