My First Corset!

I finally completed making my very first corset, and I know this will not be my last!

Laughing Moon Mercantile pattern #100 corset made in polyester jacquard with velvet and ruffle trim

Laughing Moon Mercantile pattern #100 corset made in polyester jacquard with velvet and ruffle trim.

I loved every moment of making this corset, even though it was a long and sometimes downright difficult project, it was just exciting!

I made this corset as a part of the Corset Making Class at Portland Sewing School in Portland, Oregon with instructor Jason Bray. Jason works in the costume department at Portland Opera and knows how to make a corset, or any other theatrical costume, by heart. He is amazing, and so fun to learn from!

Jason Bray fitting a student's corset

Jason Bray in Corset Class

For this class, we used Laughing Mercantile #100 Dore and Silverado Corset pattern kit.

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The kits, which were ordered in one size as needed, came with the corset, chemise and drawers patterns and sewing instructions, coutil for the inner corset construction, the busk, steel grommets, steel spiral boning, boning casing, twill tape for a waist stay 5 yards of lacing, and even an awl for setting the grommets. Everything I needed was included in the kit I ordered to make the corset besides the fashion fabric, lining and any trim I wanted to make my corset out of. I made View A, the Dore.

We made up a muslin of the pattern according to the size that we each ordered. From there, we partnered up and fitted each other’s muslin in class, taking careful consideration to fit and making markings on the muslin as needed.

After the muslin was a good fit, we transferred our newly custom fit pattern on to oak tag.

Oak Tag Pattern Pieces of Corset

This is really great because I now have a custom fit corset pattern ready to go and sew up in whatever other material I want and really to be used as a base of other designs! Love it!

After the pattern was ready, we cut out the coutil material, as well as the fashion fabric, from our 5 pattern pieces. I chose a blue and black polyester jacquard material for the corset and Ambiance bemberg rayon lining. I cut my lining later in the process.

corset cut out in coutil material

corset cut out in coutil material with boning casings placed

I serged the raw edges of my coutil, fashion fabric and lining pieces before sewing as both tended to fray easily. This step of serging the raw edges was quite helpful and made for a better interior of the corset. We carefully planned the placement of each boning (I think I used about 14 bones in all!) and then sewed the narrow boning casing to the coutil, leaving the top edge of the casing open to later insert the boning. Four of the steel bonings were used at the both sides of the grommets to support the openings here.

We then sewed a baby flannel backing to the interior of the coutil pieces to give some comfort between the boning casings and the inside of the tight fitting garment. This makes the corset look a bit more padded than I thought it would, and would not work for all fabrics I may want to make a corset out of, but it worked for this one.

Then it was time to insert the busk in the front. This step took some time as we had to carefully mark the placement and openings for the eye parts of the busk to stick out, then perfect placement of the coordinating nob part of the busk that fits into the eye parts as a front closure to the corset.

Front (busk) of corset

After the front was finished, we moved on to setting the grommets. This also was a very precise process, and sometimes downright difficult part of the constructions.Those grommets were hard to set!

Grommets and lacing

I hand-sewed the velvet cording and the grosgrain ruffled trims to the bottom and top edges of the corset before hand sewing the lining to the corset. This hand-sewing took a long time, but was necessary for control of the desired outcome of trim and fabric, and would never have worked sewing with the sewing machine. I have actually come to enjoy the process of hand sewing in most cases and can get though it relatively quickly. Close-up photos of these details will be added later.

I really enjoyed making this corset! I aspire to make more corsets such as lace, velvet, brocade, embellished and embroidered fabrics, and even incorporate them into dress construction or making really good quality costumes if the occasion arises. Corsets are beautiful!

I, of course, have inspiration photos of gorgeous corsets to share!

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So, if you know anyone who wants or needs a custom corset, call me!

Short and Sweet Wedding Dress

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Impromtu Wedding Dress!

 

 

Katrina and Duncan got married! Yayyyyy!!!! They got engaged, then 6 weeks later, decided to tie the knot in a civil ceremony at the courthouse. She was pressed to find a wedding dress quickly, and thought of me and how fast I can churn out a nice dress.

She had a dress style in mind. She wanted a fit and flare short dress (this is wedding #2 for her, so this was an opportunity to wear an alternative wedding dress), nothing too fancy, but appropriate for the occasion. At first, I copied a really casual knit dress that she had in her wardrobe that she liked the fit, and traced out a new pattern, but then as we talked about materials and what she was looking for, a commercial pattern was a better choice as I knew that there was plenty of variety of patterns to choose from to make a nice little dress. We looked through pattern books and found this New Look pattern to fit the bill perfectly:

New Look 6262 pattern                         New Look 6262 line drawings

So we went shopping, but not at a bridal shop, but the fabric store. Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon is the best store in town for bridal and special occasion fabrics. She fell in love with this lovely embellished ruffled tulle fabric:

Embellished ruffled tulle fabric

This fabric was perfect for the skirt! She wanted a solid top, so we found a perfectly matching off white satin to match.

The total cost of materials, including lining and a zipper, was about $30 (I had a coupon!). Awesome!!!!!

We didn’t have a lot of time to make this dress (one week actually), so I got to work immediately to make a muslin. I was done with tracing out the pattern, the cutting out and sewing the muslin within 2 hours, so the same day that we bought the fabric, I went over to her house to fit the muslin.

done in 2 hours!

muslin done in 2 hours!

She is tiny on the top, so I did have to take a good amount on the bodice back and front darts of the dress, but nothing too crazy. After making the fit changes to the original pattern, I cut out the fashion materials and lining. The original pattern does not actually have a lining included with the instructions, just facings at the neckline and bias binding at the armholes, but we needed a lining for this dress. Not a problem, I know how to line a dress.

So, within 5 days, I had the dress nearly done and just wanted to fit her before I put in the zipper and hem.

cute, but something is not 100% right with the fit of the bodice

cute, but something is not 100% right with the fit of the bodice

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The dress looked adorable on her, although I was not really happy with how the bodice fit. It bubbled out a bit at the top of the V neckline and stuck out. I must have done something wrong with the fit changes and maybe over compensated for something without adding somewhere else.

Well, she was OK and happy with it, and we were essentially out of time to make any changes, so we went with what it was. If I had more time, I would have remade the bodice.

So here is the finished dress on my mannequin:

added a satin ribbon at the waist

added a satin ribbon at the waist

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Not too shabby for a quick dress custom made in less than a week!

I found this dress on Pinterest that is a similar look, Ted Baker London selling at Nordstrom for $675!:

'Flawra' Rosette Detail Fit & Flare Dress

‘Flawra’ Rosette Detail Fit & Flare Dress

She was so happy, pretty and cute in her new dress for her wedding, and splurged on a fabulous pair of blue shoes to wear! Success!!!!

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Congratulations Katrina and Duncan and best wishes for a long and happy marriage!

Love, Stephanie

Red Wool Crepe Simple Sheath Dress

I have no idea why I left this dress project left unfinished for a year. WHY!!!!????

made from Butterick 5211 pattern

made from Butterick 5211 pattern

 

This dress was easy to make and easy to wear. I have no idea why I waited so long to finish it!

 

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As I recall, the pattern was a pretty easy one to follow. It is out of print now, but I’m sure still easy to track down. I made View B. It is just a front and back pattern piece. unlined, has a faced neckline and a back seam. A self belt is optional as well.

I used a nice dress weight wool crepe in red bought from Mill End in Milwaukie, OR. The metal zipper is from Fabric Depot in Portland.

If I make this again, I’d probably line it, just to make a better dress, and avoid wearing a slip underneath. However, in a lighter weight material, like silk or linen, a lining would not be necessary.

This dress could be made up nicely in many fabric types, and possibly an elastic waist addition for more waist shaping.

Here are some similar dress looks that could be easily made from this pattern:

Sheath dress in Tan with self belt             Sheath dress in burgundy with a belt and side pockets              Sheath dress with waistline in blue

 

 

I am happy with my new dress and glad that I finally finished it!

Butterick 5211

Little Red Wool Dress

 

Chambray Shirtdress McCalls 6885

I am excited to have finished this shirtdress made of 100% cotton dark wash chambray so that I can wear it for the Fall and beyond.

Chambray shirtdress

Chambray shirtdress with 1/2 front placket and button tabbed sleeves

I really like the ease of wearing denim as well as the comfort of a dress, so this light weight denim a.k.a. chambray is a perfect combination.

back of shirtdress

back of shirtdress

I plan to wear this dress with a belt, boots & tights, maybe a scarf or fun jewelry, or even flat or strappy sandals for spring.

Here are some images that I pinned on my Pinterest board Sew Love-Dresses

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I used McCalls  6885 (also labeled as MP345) to make this dress. It was a fairly easy dress to make, it just took time to cut out and mark the pattern carefully, to top stitch most of the seams as straight as I could, and make the major seams into flat felled seams which took time. I could have taken shortcuts and just serged most of the seams, but I didn’t want to do that. Instead, I made the side, shoulder and sleeve seams flat felled seams to prevent fraying and give a nice, finished look, and finished the armhole sleeve using my serger.

The pattern envelope certainly does not indicate that this is a cute, fashionable dress pattern to make by using an ugly floral printed fabric, the shapeless styling and the dorky matching old-lady hat:

Pattern envelope cover

Pattern envelope cover

I feel bad for the cute, young model who had to sport this look. Definitely not her best day in front of the camera thanks to this outfit.

Thank goodness the illustration for view D saved the pattern from being a complete frumpy disaster and gave some life and hope for this pattern:

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McCalls 6885 view D

Hence, view D is what I went with, accept that I made the hem of the dress straight, as in view C of the pattern, and I chose not to make the matching, attached tie belt as I knew I would want to wear one of my own belts with this dress.

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In my new shirtdress

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Back of dress

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Worn with a Banana Republic leather belt and scarf and Sorel boots.

 

 

I am very pleased with my new casual dress and will wear it often! I might even make this up again in other colors and fabrics.

Yay for sewing! How I love you so!

Silk Bias Drape Cowl Top in Burgundy Charmeuse

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This top incorporates a few of my favorite things in this world: silk, wine and pretty clothes.

I sewed up this top on Saturday morning into the afternoon to wear out to the fashion show at the tents of FashioNXT in Portland. Here I am with my good friend, Deborah, and also Anne, enjoying the evening of fashion and beauty:

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I wanted to wear something that I have made to this event, as I usually do like to do, but ran out of time to make a cool dress or other outfit. Even when I say to myself, “OK, next fashion show, a year from now, I want to wear something really great that I designed and sewed.” But I never seem to have the time to make something really awesome and unique. After all, this annual show features emerging and established fashion designers, including Project Runway winners and contestants.

I had this beautiful red wine colored silk charmeuse yardage in my stash, plus have made this top pattern a few times now, so I knew it would be a fast and easy, yet a beautiful and elegant, project to make.

I used McCalls 6563 pattern, modifying it by using the drape neck top of view D and the bottom and shaped hem of view A or C. I actually lower the back of the hem a tad to add a little extra coverage in the back side. So, side I changed this pattern more than 50%, can I call it my own? I kind of think YES!!!

I need to make more of this pattern, and in multiple sizes, fabrications and colors and prints. SOLD!!! I’d even like to drape this into a halter top version of this cowl neck, OOOHHHH! Pretty :)

It took about 4 hours to make, including cutting out on the bias grain, making French seams, hemming the armhole and hem with a narrow hem, and pressing the seams carefully. I skipped hemming the inside of the cowl for the sake of time.

I always love a cowl neck too, so pretty and flattering. Here are some inspiration photos of similar tops I have pinned on my Pinterest board about tops:

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So, for a quick and easy project, I am pleased with the results and want to make more of these silk beauties, in as many colors as possible:

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Carry on….

Silk Crepe Blouson Top New Look 6303

 

 

 

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I just completed this lovely purple silk crepe crossover blouson top from New Look 6303 pattern.  I just love the style of this top as I have seen on Pinterest several times and have pinned a few to my “Sew Love-Tops” board:

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This was a fast and fairly easy sewing reject, after I lengthened the sleeves 3″ and left out the neck binding. I also did not tack the center front edges, but may go back and do this to keep the top closed, or add the neck binding. as included in the pattern, or make up another version of a binding.

I made the side, shoulder, arm and armhole seams all French seams to prevent fraying and to make it pretty on the inside too.

The top features a nice center back pleat and a longer back hem:

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This top even looks nice on the dress form:

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I love my new top, especially the color!

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If I make it again, which will be likely (although it takes up a whopping 3 1/4 yards 45″ wide fabric (2 1/4 60″ wide!), I will probably also make a change to the neckline and make it just a straight angle from the shoulder, or add the binding and make a tie closure.

Either way, this is a great pattern and I even like the sleeveless version view D as well.

 

Silk Striped Fit & Flare Dress

Vogue 1348 in striped silk dupioni

Vogue 1348 in striped silk dupioni

I needed a new dress to wear to our friend’s wedding, and decided that I wanted a cute fit & flare style, so I bought Vogue 1348 Tom & Linda Platt designer pattern to make:

I found this lovely blue, grey and black striped silk dupioni (or shantung, I can never quite tell the difference) and got to work.

I chose to not make a muslin mock up and just went for it, cutting out the size that was closest to my body measurements. It turned out OK, but due to lack of time (I was literally sewing up until the very last minute!), I was not able to do more fitting in the process and the dress came out a little large on me, but certainly wearable.

I used all silk materials for this dress including the silk dupioni outer dress fabric, black silk organza for the underlining, silk habotai for the lining, and a lovely dot printed Italian silk organza material from Mood Fabrics for the petticoat ruffles.

Italian sheer dots silk blend organza from Mood Fabrics

Italian sheer dots silk blend organza from Mood Fabrics used for the petticoat

The pattern pieces for this dress are a little different from what I have ever made before, but they make sense once the construction process gets underway.

The front of the dress, bodice princess seams and all, is cut out of one piece, cut on the fold of the fabric, and the back is one piece, cutting 2 and sewing a center back invisible zipper.

Here is a photo of the basting process of adding the underlining to the bodice and making the princess seams:

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Making the pleats was the next major step. This was not too difficult to do, as long as the pattern marking are done well and the instructions are carefully followed.

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The invisible zipper is then installed in the center back seams:

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Then the pockets are sewn to the side seams:

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The tricky part with the pockets that are incorporated into the side seam and a pleat is getting the pleat just right from the back as well as the front sections of the dress. Carefully marked pattern symbols and lines really make a difference in this area. I had just done tailors tacks with thread, but really should have used tracing paper and the tracing wheel for the pleats to make the line and dot matching much easier. I managed to get through it though without too much difficulty.

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The facing and lining pieces are next:

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The, the petticoat is made from two rows of long pieces of organza gathered and sewn together, then sewn to the bottom of the lining material. I stared really running out of time at this point, so the photos had to stop and the sewing took precedence!

I made a few shortcuts as well and had no time to hand stitch the back of the lining to the zipper, nor did I add the strip of lace to the hem of the dress.

All in all, the dress came out cute, but not as fitted as I would like (I’ll go back and take in the side seams a bit for a closer fit through the waist. Plus it was a little puffier than I would have liked, but that is the nature of a pleated dress with a ruffled petticoat I suppose!

The wedding was really fun and I got a lot of compliments on my dress, so another successful dress project in my opinion!

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