Friday, February 5, 2016

Butterick (finally) has Spring Patterns

Everyone is making corset patterns these days.  Lots and lots of corset patterns.

Here's Butterick's latest B6338 Curved Hem Corset and Skirts.  So to begin with, that corset is kinda a mess.  It's very lightly and poorly boned, there isn't even any center front boning.  And the "curved hem" looks way too long to sit comfortably in.  At least on this model.  The hip obviously doesn't fit her, so it might work better on someone with a larger waist-to-hip ratio but I wouldn't expect this corset to do any actual cinching.  The cups looks ok, I guess?  Basically, this looks very flimsy to me, and like they really want a bustier.

Now the skirts look fairly nice, for pretty typical short bustle skirt thingys.  The ruffled one has LOTS of fluff, which means lots of material and gathering, but the finished product is pretty great.

There are two more skirt styles in the pattern, but there are only drawings of those.  One is a draped fall of fabric with two layers and one is a sort of spiky tutu.  I'd like to see a photo of those made up before judging whether they're worth while.

Next up is an Edwardian women's suit set.  To be honest, not much about this really excites me.  It seems to me this would be pretty similar to some other existing patterns, but I guess it's fairly historically accurate and they're going for the Downton Abbey vibe.  You could certainly use this as a base for a steampunk costume, but you'd want to jazz it up a lot.

On the other hand I ADORE this men's outfit, of roughly the same time period.  This has all the flare that the women's outfit lacks.  I love the lines of the jacket and JODHPURS!! Actual facts jodhpurs!  (This is what I exclaimed outloud to my husband on seeing this pattern.)  I've actually seen steampunks looking for a jodhpurs pattern, so this is great.  Depending on your fabric choices and accessories this could go from country gentleman to safari to dieselpunk military

Finally Butterick gives us a new drool-worthy men's historical vest pattern.   Seven different versions, single and double breasted, with a high and low-cut neckline.  Really this pattern can just about meet any Victorian to Edwardian vest need.

The bad news, of course, is that they all feature @%^$*^%# welt pockets.  Some have four of them.  So check out my tutorial before attempting, or they could drive you mad as they have many a seamstress before you.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Corset Pattern Review: Laughing Moon 100 - Ladies Victorian Underwear - Dore and Silverado Corsets

The Laughing Moon Merchantile Pattern #100 is a lot of pattern for your money.  It includes two entirely separate Victorian corset patterns, plus a chemise and drawers.  So it's a good pattern for people looking to build a reenactment wardrobe since it is complete and period accurate.

For a long time, this was THE Victorian corset pattern of choice.  It was for that reason that it was the first corset pattern I ever made, and I've made both corsets included in the package.  The corsets are both taken from historical patterns and are meant as underwear.

The Dore corset is called a "straight seam" corset, meaning there are no gores or gussets. It's got a pretty standard hourglass shape and sits high on the hips.

The Silverado is a bust gore pattern, which means there are two gores for each breast.  This makes it more complicated to construct for a beginning corset maker or anyone without experience fitting gores.

This pattern is shaped differently overall and doesn't seem quite as curvy as the Dore.  It has a lower hip line with a gentle hip and stomach curve.  The bust gores mean you can adapt the pattern for a range of cup sizes by using different size gores so it might be a good choice for someone with proportionate bust measurements.

One thing you have to keep in mind when using any Victorian era corset pattern is that it will be a mid-bust, meaning the top of the corset will sit right around the nipple line.  This is proper fitting for wearing a corset under Victorian clothing, since any higher edge would show through the dress.  But if you intend to make a corset for modern wear as outerwear, you probably will need to raise the top edge to get better bust coverage.  I added 2-4 inches to both my versions of these corsets and even then was uncomfortable wearing the Silverado version without some kind of other covering for my bust because I felt I was about to fall out of it.

My version of the Dore, my first ever corset.
The instructions given with the pattern are fairly detailed and superior to corset pattern instructions you get from mainstream pattern companies.  They use the sandwich method of corset construction, in which you assemble each layer of the corset entirely and then line those layers up and baste along the seam lines.  I personally am not much of a fan of this method because it requires very precise sewing in order to have all your layers match up perfectly.  I did use this method on my Silverado corset, due to the difficulty of fitting the bust gores.  My sewing ultimately wasn't very precise and it caused some annoying wrinkling in the finished corset, especially about the bust and gores.  I struggled with the gores, and found the pattern instructions lacking in telling you how to insert them.

My Silverado.
So, while this pattern gives you more guidance than many, I think it's still a good idea to do outside research on corset construction and use whatever method you are comfortable with for assembly. The Dore corset, which I made as my first ever corset, was constructed with the Folded Seam or Welt Seam method and was super successful, especially for a first corset.   I made quite a few changes to the pattern through several mock-ups, most significantly using a waist a few sizes smaller than the hips and bust, and adding several inches to the top edge for coverage.

The Silverado I made was never quite as comfortable to me as the Dore.  I think ultimately I got a decent fit out of it, but I had to modify it more.  It would probably work better for someone less curvy, at least in the hips.  And even though it's several inches higher on the bust than the pattern, I still never felt secure with this much cleavage.

One final thing to know about this pattern is that there is also a supplement for the Dore for sizes 26-40.  So plus sized ladies, this may be the best choice of corset pattern, as it goes larger than almost all others.

I have also made the chemise from this pattern, but I really didn't like the way it fit.  The yoke is fairly tight across the chest and I wasn't happy with it.  But that's a personal opinion.  The pattern went together fine.

So ultimately, this is a nice, useful pattern.  It's especially good for historical use and can be a very attractive modern corset as well, with some modifications.  It also has a wide range of sizing to fit a variety of figures.  You can definitely do a lot worse than using this pattern as a starting point for a corset project.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Ruffs, ruffs everywhere!

Simplicity has a new pattern for us!  This was released Friday and I held off from posting in the hopes that Buterick's spring patterns would go up, but not luck so far.  So we just have the one this time.

This Misses Steampunk Pattern 8075 is...interesting?  I don't think the overall look is very successful, although some of the bits would be fine in other outfits.  It is also going to depend a lot on the fabrics used.  But hey, if you needed a pattern for a ruff now there is one!  Except I'm not sure a back-waist ruff is a very good idea.  And the more I look at it, the less I like the hip poofs. But the harness looks nice and I like the vest/bodice, so it's a pattern you might get some use out of, depending on your tastes.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Corset Pattern Review: Laughing Moon 113 - Women's and Men's Underbusts

There's a lot of demand out there from people new to corsetmaking to know which patterns are good and which aren't worth wasting time with.  I have an older post about different corset patterns, but it's out of date and not really in-depth.  So I'm going to start a new thing of writing reviews of individual corset patterns.

I don't know how many patterns I'll be able to review or how frequently.  I own a lot of corset patterns, but I have actually made only a few of them.  The corsets I make for commissions are always my own patterns and are tailored for the individual.  But I DO like playing with patterns, so I'll see what I can do.

There are also a lot of indie corset patterns out there which I don't really have the money to purchase. So we'll see.

I'm starting with Laughing Moon's Historical Underbust pattern #113.  I recently used this pattern as a beginner pattern for my Corset Making 101 workshop, so I've tested it and worked with it pretty extensively.

First, there are actually three different patterns included in this package.  One is a women's underbust, one is a ribbon corset, and one a man's underbust.  I've only made the regular women's underbust.  The ribbon corset is pretty complicated to construct, but I've seen made-up versions of this pattern and it looks nice.  As far as I know this is the only published pattern for a ribbon corset, so that's worth something.

As for the man's corset, the pattern looks fine, but I can't say how it really fits.

So what is the women's underbust pattern like?  First, it's very short, edging towards being a waist cincher rather than a full underbust corset as we usually describe things in modern corsetry.  The pattern measures about 10 inches at the front busk and is much shorter on the sides.  It's also not very curvy as drawn.  But because it covers such a small portion of the body, it's a fairly easy corset to fit to a wide range of body types.

I tested this pattern, using basic modifications to make it curvier so it would fit me.  I think in this case I made the waist two sizes smaller than the ribs and hips, and the result was pretty nice!  I also made it a couple inches longer in the front because that's the length of busk I had on hand.  This has become a nice little piece for fairly casual steampunk looks for me.

To show you a couple more examples of what this pattern looks like made up, here are two finished corsets from my workshop.  They both modified the pattern to their measurements slightly.

So if you're looking for a pattern for a small waist cincher-style corset, something that isn't too difficult to fit, this is a decent one.  The other reason I used it for my workshop is that the sizing covers a very wide range, which isn't the case for some other underbust patterns I can think of that may be "better" than this one in shape.

I also can't really judge how good the instructions are that come with the pattern.  Generally I ignore (and recommend everyone else does also) pattern instructions for corsets.  I think these are pretty par for the course for historical corset pattern instructions, in other words confusing as heck.  Find a good tutorial online (like one of  mine maybe) and use that.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New costume plan for 2016: Souless Manga Floating Dress

Happy New Year, Steampunks!

With a new year ahead of me, I have some goals.  One is to make myself a new awesome steampunk outfit.   My last entirely new outfit was my Femme Steampunk Darkwing Duck and that's rapidly approaching two years ago.   The last year was really limited for my in terms of events, and I'm not sure how many I'll be able to attend in 2016, but I want to be prepared with new awesomeness in case I do.

So I'm planning to make an outfit I've wanted to make for a long time.  It's this one:

It's the cover art from the second volume of the Souless manga.  The manga is, of course, based on the Parasol Protectorate series of novels by Gail Carriger.  In fact, I've felt inspired to make a costume based on these books since I first read Changeless, the second book in the series.      In Changeless,  Alexia and companions take their first dirigible ride.  As floating is the fashionable way to travel, they have special floating dresses  for airships.  They have straps holding the skirts down, weights in the hems, and lots of flounces to flutter in the breeze.  Matching goggles are a must as well.  I loved all this detail when I first read it.  And I was super impressed with this artist's interpretation when the second manga was released.  The straps weren't what I imagined at all, but I adore them.
I recently reread the series and was reminded of how much I wanted to make a floating dress.  And I got my copy of the manga out and it's been sitting next to my bed for a month while I stare at it and imagine how to make this.  So I'm gonna go for it.  I even have a plan.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

OMG new patterns!

Early Spring patterns are here!  Ok, McCalls are.  And I'm excited enough about a couple of them to post this without waiting for the other manufacturers.

So why am I excited?

First of all, there's a pattern I've known was coming.  I shared it on the Steam Ingenious FB page even.  It's a new corset pattern from Yaya Han.  Now I know lots of people aren't fans of her, and I'm critical of certain things about her as well.  But I DO like the patterns she's released in her line so far and I'm very interested in her line of fabrics coming to Joann's.  (Including corset coutil, though I don't know if it'll be quality or domestic.)

So here is the cupped corset pattern (also underbust) she is releasing.  There isn't a decent cupped corset pattern out there really at all.  So there is a void, and honestly this one looks pretty good.  I like the way the panels look.  So I'm actually really excited to get my hands on it and try it.  (If I ever get time.  A cupped corset is something I've been meaning to make forever and commissions and other projects haven't allowed me time yet.)  Oh, and that brocade is apparently from her fabric line.  Preetty.

But here's what's got me tingling.  HATS.  ACTUAL STEAMPUNK HAT PATTERN.  A new pattern from an actual millinery line of patterns?  Yes, please.

The pattern includes 5 different styles.  I'm gonna show you all of them.  Cause, YES.  I adore the mini bowler and the mini top hat.   As someone who sells a pattern for an aviator hat, their version is nice, and that's a hard pattern to make work.  And I like the large top hat and feel meh about the larger bowler.  They both suffer from floppy brim, which is due to the fact that these hats use fusible interfacing as the sole stiffening.

But it would be simple to make them look better with some modifications like adding wire or buckram.  In fact, that would be a great idea for some posts for this blog: how to improve this pattern.  Yes....

One of the supplies listed on the pattern is "purchased goggles."  Think Joann's will start carrying those?

There's another interesting new pattern out from Simplicity.  It's not part of their normal season collections, and it's more expensive than their other patterns.  It's "Effy Sews Cosplay Couture" which may be a new line?  It's a pattern for a Playboy bunny style corset/bodysuit.  It's so new I can't even find a downloadable or linkable picture for y'all.  The pattern is here, and it could be a base for some neat cosplays or lingerie though of course it's not really a steampunk style.  (Though I'm sure SOMEONE will or has done a "steampunk playboy bunny.")

So that's what's new for now.  As for me, I've gotten super busy both with making Holiday gifts and catching up with commissions.  I've been working on some corset pattern reviews for this blog but they got a bit stalled.  And I found some photos I'd thought I'd lost on making my most recent steampunk belt, so eventually I'll get a post on that together.