Monday, April 14, 2014

Corset Patterns List

Update: I fixed some of the links which were broken, and added a couple of new patterns.  Also I should note that while any of these may be useful to use as a starting point, most of the directions, especially from the mainstream pattern companies should be disregarded.  Use quality materials and your favorite corset construction method or follow a trusted online tutorial.

(Originally posted Nov 2011)
Right, let's get the corset patterns post out of the way. There are lots of sources for corset patterns, and the mainstream pattern companies may not be your best choice. Because they don't specialize in corsets, it seems they treat their corset patterns the same way they do all their patterns. The problem with this is that it means their corset patterns tend to run HUGE. So, if you're going to a pattern from one of the Big Four, go down a couple sizes first, and don't forget to make a mock-up first.

Laughing Moon 100: The Dore straight seam and the Silverado bust gore corsets - The Laughing Moon 100 pattern is probably the most popular corset pattern. It was my first pattern, and still the one I have used most. It's appealing first of all because for one price you get two different corset patterns, plus chemise and drawers. These are both mid-bust Victorian corsets. The Dore is a good first corset, while I would recommend the Silverado only to someone who has made a few corsets. (I probably won't make it again because I found it to be a bit of a pain in the ass.) The pattern comes with full instructions, but you may (probably will) need to seek extra help to understand them fully. Also, there is no waistline marked on the pattern, which is annoying.

Laughing Moon also makes an Underbust corset pattern. It includes a women's underbust, man's corset, and ribbon corset. I have no experience with this pattern, although I kinda like the shape of the underbust.

Truly Victorian 110 - This is a very attractive standard all-purpose Victorian corset. I've been told it is a better and easier to follow pattern than the LM Dore, but I haven't made it myself. If I didn't already have a pattern that fits me great that I modded from the LM Dore, I would buy this one. I have had very good experiences with Truly Victorian patterns.

King and Company Celine Underbust
Truly Victorian 1903 Edwardian Corset - Edwardian corsets are very different from Victorian corsets. They have a very straight front and very curved back and make you look "pigeon-breasted." It's not a style I really like, but some love it. This is a very new pattern, but if you want to try an Edwardian corset, it's probably a good bet.

King and Company Celine Underbust - This is a small indie company and this is their only pattern so far, but it's been very popular since its introduction. I've used it for my only underbust. The pattern is very well drafted. There are no instructions included, as it assumes you know your preferred method. Also you have to add your own seam allowance as how much allowance you need depends on your method.

Simplicity 9769 - This corset has a nice shape and I've seen some nice corsets made from it. But it's known to run very large and to require quite a bit of modification to get sized correctly. I was going to use it for my first corset and decided to go with the Laughing Moon 100 instead. Also keep in mind since this is a Civil War corset it is a midbust and will not give you adequate boob coverage unless you modify it. (This is true of pretty much all historical corset patterns. They were underwear, worn with a chemise.)

Simplicity 2890 -I'm honestly not sure what kind of corset this is supposed to be. I guess it's Victorian? Mostly, it looks uncomfortable to me. (All I can say is that corset DOES NOT fit that model.) I suspect, based on what I know of their other patterns, that this MIGHT eventually yield a decent corset, but it would require a lot of messing with first. CORRECTION: I've looked around and I quite like some corsets made from this pattern. The technique is advanced and different, as it has you insert bust and hip gores by slashing through pattern pieces. Anyway, I may actually try this one day, as it's a style of corset I like.

Simplicity 5006 - This is really a pattern for a bustier as written. But so long as you use proper corset techniques, it can be a nice overbust corset. I might even try it.

Butterick 5662
Butterick 5662 - This is a modern corset, with optional straps and pockets. I really like the style of this one, and I'm going to mess with it to see if I want to use it for my next corset project. I like that it's an actual overbust that has good coverage and a nice shape to the top. This is a very new pattern, so I've never seen one made before.

Butterick 4254 - 18th Century stays and corsets. I THINK this is intended to be a pattern with 18th century style stays and 19th century style corset. If it's the stays you want, this is probably an ok pattern but nothing I've seen convinces me the corset pattern is worth anything. It just seems to be proportioned all wrong.

Vogue 2810 - This is a modern corset pattern, and I kinda like the shape. It's a nice option if you're looking for something for formal wear. Not sure how easy the pattern is to get it to fit right.
Butterick 5935 - This is an interesting modern take on a 18th century or earlier style of corset.  I quite like the look, although it's not Victorian.

King and Company Josephine Waspie - This company's second pattern is for a short, closed front waspie.  To me it doesn't look very curvy, but they say it's beginner friendly, so you might check it out.

There are other sources of patterns of varying quality. Many are taken from historical sources such as patterns straight from period magazines, or made from actual corsets. These are usually pretty difficult to work with as they may lack instructions, only come in one size, or may use older sewing techniques. But they also can look really cool. I have yet to venture into these frightening waters. (Update: I am not so much afraid anymore, as much I don't have much info about how good these patterns are. But there are some neat ones out there.)  Some sources are Ageless Patterns, Past Patterns, Mantua Maker, Atelier Sylphe and Harlots and Angels and Ralph Pink Patterns.

Ok, and I think that's all I have to say about corset patterns. I've learned just from writing this. And I have at least 4 patterns I want to try RIGHT NOW. *sigh*

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Finds: New(ish) Sewing Patterns for Steampunk

McCall's released a new pattern today and there are some I haven't yet posted to the blog, so here we go.

McCall 6975 -Spats, Fingerless Gloves, Hats, and Belts  -This is the brand new release, obviously aimed at the steampunk market.  There's nothing wrong with any of the pieces, per say, but this seems like a weak offering.  The spats are nice for low rise spats, the gloves are ok.  The belts and the hats have a fine style, but I know the construction instructions on them are going to be really shoddy, since it seems the only stiffening in them is felt.  This might be worth picking up on sale, but there are much better hat and spats patterns out there.  (Psst, like my spats pattern maybe.)

McCall 6911  -This, on the other hand, is a welcome addition to the steampunk patterns available.  Pretty much everything about it is totally cute.  The bolero is simple, but has some nice touches.  The base skirt is a nice, long full trained Victorian skirt with lovely optional trim pattern.  And the bustle skirt is really nice as well.  The corset pattern might be ok, provided you make it as an actual corset with real boning.  Otherwise it's not going to give you much support.

Simplicity 1427  - Simplicity hasn't released any steampunk patterns for a while but this one might be of interest.  Although a tulle skirt sounds simple enough, it can be hard to get just the right look and shape.  From reading the designer's blog, it seems these are more complicated than they look.   These would be an interesting item to add to a steampunk look, especially since they could double as under-skirt supports if needed.

Finally, both Simplicity and McCall's have now released their takes on some Game of Thrones costumes.  Although I wouldn't consider them steampunk as-is, they may be of interest for someone looking for something different.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Review: Balanced on the Blade's Edge by Lindsey Buroker

Balanced on the Blade's Edge is a new steampunk romance novel by Lindsey Buroker, who happens to be my personal favorite indie author.  I adore her Emperor's Edge series (you can read the first book for FREE) so when I heard she was publishing a steampunk romance, I knew I had to check it out.

Like the Emperor's Edge series, this book is set in a fantasy world with steampunk elements.  The two main characters are both well developed and the narration splits between them.  Sardelle is a mage from a dead culture who was wiped off the map 300 years before the present time.  She was saved but trapped in stasis buried under tons of rock in her people's mountain home.  The approach of miners finally revives her, and she finds everything she has known is gone, replaced by the culture of those who killed her people.  What's more, she's now trapped in a prison camp among people who will kill her if they suspect her of witchcraft.

Colonel Ridge Zirklander has just been assigned to take over command of this prison mine, as punishment for finally mouthing off to the wrong diplomat.  He's a pilot and a national hero in the ongoing war to defend Iskandia from magic using conquerors.  He's appalled at the conditions he finds in the mountain, and puzzled by the mysterious woman who appeared from nowhere right before he arrived.  He knows she isn't what she claims, but is she a dangerous spy or harmless academic?

The majority of the book centers around the interactions of these two characters who are inclined to really like one another, despite the fact that they have good reasons not to trust one another and conflicting agendas.  As a romance, I found it very enjoyable although not as compelling as some of my very favorites in the genre.  And for those who are bothered by explicit content, there isn't much here at all.

The book is fairly light on steampunk elements, though the universe is certainly very steampunk friendly.  There honestly isn't as much description of either the technology or the world outside the prison as I would like, so I don't feel I can really say how steampunk they really are.  There is a lot of focus on the magic of this world and how it works and that is fascinating and pretty original.  There are airships and pilots and the military, so I guess that's enough.

Overall my takeaway from this book is that I really like the characters and think there's good potential for the world with some more development.  I hope this becomes a series.  It was a quick read, but a very enjoyable one.  For $2.99, the current price, it's hard to go wrong.  But I don't think it quite equals the author's work in Emperor's Edge or the Encrypted books.  And I was hoping for more steampunk in a book called explicitly a steampunk romance.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Finds: Steampunk'd Characters

In honor of my new project, let's see some other steampunk versions of existing characters.

Steampunk Ariel

Steampunk Witch King of Angmar

Steampunk Shell from Portal

Steampunk Batgirl Cover  (19 other steampunk DC covers at the link.)

Finally, one more by Mechanique Fairy, who inspired me with her Darkwing Duck.  Steampunk Scar

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Femme Steampunk Darkwing Duck Corset

So I actually started work on patterning this corset for myself probably almost a year ago.  It went through several mock-ups and I finalized the pattern and decided on the fabrics and lace last August or so.   Only after that did I really formulated The Plan for the Darkwing outfit and realized I conveniently needed a purple corset for a base.

To be honest, not much of this corset is going to show under the coat (I am continuing to develop the very rough drape).  Just the bust area.  That's ok, because the lace doesn't really go with the rest of the costume.

I made this corset mostly to show off both my figure (cause if you got the hips...) and my improving corset skills.  I was mostly wildly successful.   The only thing I'm unhappy with is the exact fit of the bust.  I was trying to account for my LARGE asymmetry  (one of my breasts is easily a cup size bigger than the other), but the fact that I pattern many months from actually making the corset means I made a few mistakes and by the time I was putting everything together I saw what I could have done better, but it was too late to totally redo.  But that's nit-picky.  (One day I MAY make a perfect corset.  That is not this day.)

Technical stuff: The corset is made from a self-drafted pattern that I tweaked and tweaked to get the shape I wanted.  I wanted something that was full-coverage enough that I could wear it for formal events.  I also wanted to get the maximum dramatic effect on the hipspring, because I COULD and I didn't feel any of my corsets had really shown my hipspring off fully.   Also I wanted to get a good side-seam symmetrical overbust pattern.  That means that the side seam runs directly down the middle of my side, with most of the hip curve in that seam.  It makes the hip more dramatic but it's more difficult to construct smoothly.

The corset is double boned with all 1/4" spiral steel except at the grommets.  The busk is an extra wide (and extra long) busk which I've found works best with my curvy figure.  The fashion fabric is dupioni silk backed with fusible woven interfacing with appliqued lace along the entire bottom. I love how easy the silk was to work with after interfacing.  Always doing that from now on. Strength fabric is cotton duck (cause I'm broke) and the floating lining is twill.  The bones are encased in the pressed open seam allowance of the top two layers.  This is a method I don't really like because it's not as strong as a welt seam but I double stitched each seam so hopefully it holds.  The double boning is nice, but I do still generally prefer having a bone in the middle of the panel.  Some of these panels are very skinny in one place and very wide in another and that means I couldn't have a bone running down the middle.

The light purple works fabulously, but it was initially an accident because I ran out of the dark purple silk.  My pattern pieces were so weird in shape that I didn't have enough room to cut the whole corset from my 1/2 yard piece of silk remnant.  So I used a complementing color and it all worked like I planned it that way.  I'm considering using bias of the light purple around the edges of the coat to match.  That probably will come down to time.

I have no pictures of the back because those pictures mysteriously disappeared from the camera.  Which means I don't have a very good idea what the back looks like on, either.  I have no idea how much of a waist reduction this is because I NEVER remember to measure.  I should be able to close it further once it's seasoned/broken in.  But it's really comfortable even though it's a pretty good cinch.

One of the complications for the rest of the costume is that I wasn't thinking of making a whole matching outfit when I chose these colors/fabrics.  I won't be able to actually match this purple, since I can't afford to make the whole costume in dupioni and the dye lots wouldn't match anyway.  So I have to find the right colors of purple to go nicely with this while still playing the right role in the Darkwing costume.  I think I have the cape fabric sorted, but I'm still waiting on swatches for the coat.  Cross your fingers.  (Also notice how the one photo makes the purple look way redder.  Yes, it's retouched a bit, but the color really does shift from blue-purple to red-purple depending on the light.  Which means it will probably clash no matter what I do. )

ETA: For the curious, this is a 4 inch reduction from my natural waist.  I was surprised that at least for now the waist measurement is the same as my usual corseted waist.  My measurements in this are 45-32-48.

Monday, March 31, 2014

New Costume In Progress: Femme Steampunk Darkwing Duck

Yeah, that's right.  So here's the thing, about a year ago I saw the following drawing of Steampunk Darkwing Duck by Deviant Art user Mechanique Fairy.  (Her entire Steampunk Disney series is AMAZING.) And I thought it was about the most awesome thing I'd ever seen.  My first reaction was that I wanted to make that costume, but I didn't consider wearing it myself.

A few months later I looked at the picture again and I suddenly thought, "What would the female version of this look like?"  And I was doomed.  I knew I had to make it, and I decided I would try to make it for myself to wear to this year's Comicpalooza.  Well, I've been busy in the 9 months or so since then, but I now have about two months left and I'm really going to try.

So, in case you're not familiar, I want you all to know how awesome Darkwing Duck is as a character.  He's a bit obscure, since his only real appearance was in his early 90s Disney afternoon cartoon.  I freaking loved that show.  Darkwing Duck is the more loveable Batman, an everyduck who is a hero in his own mind, dedicated to foiling evil doers everywhere, in serious purple-caped style.   His love of gadgets and inventions fits perfectly into steampunk, too.  The show was a clever parody and satire of the superhero genre, packed with references.

Classic Darkwing

So I'm doing a Femme Steampunk Darkwing Duck and I don't care if anyone wants to give me hell about it.  I can't think of a more fun costume to do.  And at this point in my costuming I don't care about what anyone may think.  I have always been afraid to do any costumes that didn't fit my steampunk alter ego, but now I'm way more interesting in making something with impact.

So I will begin blogging about the different pieces of this costume very soon.  I have two pieces of it already finished.  Let me break down what I'm planning.

Costume Pieces:

  • Striped Bloomers - These are already complete and I posted a picture of me wearing them already.  I decided to keep the striped pants of the inspiration image, but feminize them by making bloomers with lace.  This also gives me a versatile costume piece I've been wanting anyway.  I didn't really consider making a long skirt since I think I need to keep some of the action element of the character.
  • Corset - If I make a costume for me to wear, there will be a corset.  It's actually a physical requirement to keep me going all day at a con with my back condition.  The corset for this project is also finished.  I actually started working on it about 9 months ago, and originally it wasn't intended to be part of this costume.  It was just a fancy purple corset to show off with.  But since I made it from two different colors of purple dupioni, it works as a base garment for this. I've been working on it in my spare moments and it's DONE.  I can't wait to show y'all this corset.  It's the best I've made.
  • Coat - This is the most involved piece of the costume.  It is going to be somewhat similar to the Simplicity 2172 coat in that it will close under the bust, but it will be double breasted to incorporate the gold buttons of Darkwing's coat.  I am going for a pirate-y, menswear inspired style.  I have the rough beginnings of this draped and I'm desperately looking for the right purple fabric.
  • Cape - Darkwing must have his cape with magenta lining.  I have a dark purple taffeta and a magenta taffeta ready for this.  I am planning to incorporate a shoulder cape like the inspiration pic.
  • Hat- I've seen steampunk versions of Darkwing (I've found 4 different versions, actually) that make his hat into a top hat, but I want to keep the distinctive Darkwing wide hat.  This is going to take a bit of experimenting to get the right shape, so I should maybe get started on it...
  • Accessories - Teal cravat, mask (I'm a bit nervous about the mask), maybe some spats.  I also want to make a new utility belt, although I don't know if I'll be able to make a DWD belt buckle or not.  

I also have to continue to make things for others as I sell them, and prepare stock for vending Comicpalooza. Plus I promised my husband a new vest.  Eep.