March 27, 2010

sewing basket

I'm so close to having the 1925 corselet finished. So close. And when I went to make the garters the thread has gone missing. Poof! Obviously it was me that removed it from  the machine so I could work on another project, but I have no idea where I put it. Normally I move the thread and bobbin to another post on the top of the machine. But I must not have because it is not there. In the meantime, my sewing basket.

Isn't that just beautiful? I have a variety of storage for thread and sewing necessities, but a few years ago I decided I needed a small basket to carry embroidery supplies and bought this shaker box with a handle from Cabin Crafts TinSmith. When I ordered it I asked if it could be painted like a set of boxes from Mount Lebanon Shaker village. The craftsman, William Rickard, was so helpful and said yes even though it was not a style he normally offered. Now I have a little sewing basket that would make Coco Chanel proud. Plus, it doubles as a handbag now and then.

It may be a while until I get to those garters, I'll be traveling for a bit so they'll have to wait until I return. Maybe I'll stumble across the missing thread on my travels.

March 24, 2010

attaching shoulder straps and finishing top edge

It took a bit of time to figure out the steps for attaching the shoulder straps and finishing the top edge, but I swear it's not as confusing as it sounds.

I marked the placement of the shoulder straps with twill tape when I did the fitting to test the different boning materials. Then I started by folding over the top edge of the corselet 1/2 inch. Once I had the straps made I pinned them in place. (To keep all theses steps as clear as possible I'll show only the back staps, but the process was exactly the same for the front.)

I flipped the loose end up and trimmed it level with the top edge of the corselet.

I unpinned the strap and tucked it underneath the folded top edge.

The straps were then basted in place. I sewed the folded edge along the top 1/8 inch from the fold and trimmed the excess.

I made a 2 inch wide bias strip and pinned it the front of the corselet along the top edge, face-to-face.

The bias was sewn to the corselet 3/8 inch from the top edge. After pressing the trim, I folding the it over and pinned it in place. I stitched once again from the right side 1/8 inch from where I had just sewn.

The straps were hanging down, or toward the bottom of the corselet, during all of this. Now I flipped the strap up into it's proper position and back stitched to secure it to the top of the corselet.

A view from the right side.

And a view from the front of the corsetlet.

Yea. Not so complicated, just fiddly. The last thing left to do is the garters. Opinions please, should I cover the elastic with the brocade, or just leave them plain black elastic?

March 18, 2010

elasticized shoulder strap

Figuring out how to construct the shoulder straps was more difficult than I expected. I wanted a way to keep them snug against the body yet also allow some flexibility for movement. A simple tube of fabric pressed flat may have worked, but a should strap like that would almost certainly cut into the shoulders or be too loose.  I did not want to have them tie like the 1780 stays, that just didn't seem right, and I also didn't want them to be just plain elastic. We'll know how well my solution works when the corset is finished.

I started by making a 1 inch wide tube of brocade, the same width as the elastic I am using. You can see the elastic will just fit inside.

After the seam allowance was pressed open and trimmed I turned the tube right side out and pressed it flat, so the seam allowance now ran down the center. I sewed the end of the elastic to a piece of twill tape, then pulled the twill tape through the tube of brocade.

I pulled the tape until the elastic was inside the tube under the folded under edge. Then I stitched the across the folded opening sewing the elastic and the brocade together. After flipping the strap-to-be over I stitched the length from the front side 1/16 from each side, securing the twill tape inside to the brocade.

I'll attach the elastic end of the strap to the back of the corselet so there will be two inches of elastic exposed and hopefully the strap will function as planned. 

March 11, 2010


The pin cushion is finished!

Started at an LAX, and the button in the center was sewn last night at the airport before leaving New York. Yea. 

Once I saw a little pin cushion that was the nicest shape, two squares that made a sort of circle. Research revealed that there is name for this type of cushion, a biscornu. They are very easy to make, and I found all the instructions needed here at Own Two Hands. This biscornu is made from a scrap of fabric and a swatch of leather a friend gave me. When she handed me the four leather swatches two years ago she said, "I don't know what you can do with them, but I figured you'd be able to think of something." I did.

So, the stuffing. I did use hair. I'd heard about it and had to see how it works. I've had some questions about it so here are answers. The hair was not gathered from a hair brush. I am sure that would work, but I saved the clippings when I trimmed my hair. I lined the sink with paper towels and I cut my hair dry, so I just took what fell on the the towels and put it in a Ziplock bag. It took forever to save enough. I'm sure if I was willing to save what I swept from the floor I would have had a pin cushion much sooner. My hair is straight, but it turns out short pieces of clean, straight, hair will grip enough to make a tight ball. I lined the top of the cushion with a layer of old, ratty, blanket (Thanks Dave for contributing a bit of Old Brownie!) so no hair could slip through. When I put the pins in for the picture it felt just like a regular pin cushion. You'd never know that there is human hair inside unless you were told. 

If anyone else makes a pin cushion stuffed with hair I'd love to hear how yours turns out. I feel I need to elevate the level of my work to be worthy of such a cute pin cushion.

March 8, 2010

accidental 1880's silhouette

It was a lovely day in New York city, the weather was so nice that I took my jacket off as I walked along the High Line. I wanted to take some pictures so I tied the jacket around my waist. When I looked down and saw this.

Mid 1880's without a corset.

March 7, 2010

pin cushion-to-be

I decided my road projects need to be less ambitious. A pin cushion should be something that I can complete by the time I return home. Here is everything needed packed in a Ziplock, snapped at the airport.

Actually, that's not everything. I also packed a Ziplock bag filled with clippings saved from every time I trimmed my hair. There's only one way to find out how well hair works as a pin cushion filling, right?

March 5, 2010

our little friend the thimble

A thimble is one of those things that you don't think about until one day, after continued struggle pushing a needle through heavy fabric, and several stabs to the fingertips of your other hand, a lightbulb goes off above your head and you think, "Ah, a thimble."

Small, functional, somehow cheerful, I can see why people collect them. There is even a museum dedicated to thimbles. The Fingerhut Museum. I went through a few thimbles before I found one I liked. There was an aluminum one that felt flimsy and hard at the same time. And a brass one that was a size too large so I wrapped a Band-Aid inside to keep it snug on my finger. When I pulled this one from a basket of different sized thimbles and put it on my finger it felt just right.

March 3, 2010

needle case

I'm on the road. That means it's shark week! No, sorry, it means it's time for another salute to tools! Today's handy tool is a needle case. 

I saw this at a craft fair and snapped it up. I wish I could remember who the vendor was. But I did find the same case at Thread a Bead, and also at The Bead Trail. This does exactly what it's supposed to, holds your needles in a tidy way. Enough said.