Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Paper Dresses

Okay here's the next thing I recently finished.
These are costumes for an important dutch literature award.

Now the organisation wanted four female book figures which would roam a catwalk and a platform planted in the middle of the theatre (audience sat on the stage for a change) thus creating an interesting backdrop. I suggested that we make all dresses out of the actual pages of the nominated books. they really liked that idea. I spent lots of hours ripping out, dying, folding and sewing approximately 3200 individual paper pages. In the end a fifth dress was made out of silk that I had printed with the covers of the six nominees. the colour red in the dresses is a direct link to the colour of the AKO brand bookstores logo. AKO is the company that created and promotes the award

The wigs aren't made of paper but wood curls.
They were created and designed by Nienke Algra

Hairspray musical

Hey Everyone,

Since I'm to busy to create some new tutorials at the moment, I'll show you some of the work completed recently. first up is the touring production of the musical Hairspray.

On Hairspray, I created and refined dozens of costumes including Edna's "Welcome to the 60's" gown.

The Costume designer for this was Arno Bremers.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Finishing the corset

Finally the corset is finished.

Notice that I added some traditional embroidery on the bottom of the corset.
These are used to lock the bones into place.
But most corsets nowadays don't use them.

And I embroidered some black sequins and beads onto the lace. (it is hard to see on the picture but it gives the corset some extra sparkle).

On to a new project!

Creating the laced closure 2

Now that I klnow the final top and bottom edge of the corset, it is time to insert the eyelets.
There isn't a special rule on how many eyelets you should have. I once made a corset that only had 8 in total (4 to each side) on the whole thing. And it worked perfectly.

I usually like to put in a lot more then 8 since it crates more and tighter crossed lacing which maximises te effect. however use your own discretion with this. On this corset I'll be inserting 30 (15 to each side).

In this case I'll us a handy device called an 'expanding sewing gauge' to quicky determine where I will place the eyelets. However a ruler is all you really need.

Mark the position of the eyelets, and make sure they match up with the eyelet position on the other side.

Then use an awl and pierce a hole into the corset (horror!).
Next insert the eyelet and with an eyelet press, or hammer, press it into place.

Work one at a time, and the next thing you'll know, all thirty of them will be in.

But if you think you're finished, think again. Sure you can put on the corset, but your back will look less appealing with flaps of skin forcing it's way through the laces.

So we need to make a back protector.
It's basically a rectangular strip of fabric that covers your back. and it is assembled sepperately but attached to the final corset.

First you need to decide how big the protector should be. Always make it shorter than the length of the laced closure. this way you can loosen or tighten the corset without the back protector peeping out somewhere at the bottom or at the top.

don't make it to narrow, since we want it to cover all visible skin. and all the eyelets. (on the iside that is.)

Once you've decided on a size cut out a rectangular pattern out of a piece of paper.
Use this to cut three pieces of fabrice. an outer layer(silk) and two pieces of the lining fabric (black coutil)

Use a serger to serge the outer layer fabric to one of the pieces of lining fabric.

Then sew the outer layer to the inner layer (sideseams only) and sew it that the inside is a little less wider then the outside layer.

Press the seams flat, thin them out.

Finally you turn the whole thing inside out, and press the whole thing flat.

Next sew 2mm (1/8t inch) along the side, like the picture below.

(Optional: it is possible to bone the back protector as well, I've seen fully boned examples myself. If you'd want that now is the time to do it.)

Okay take some leftover bias tape, and finish the top and bottom of the back protector.

Pin it to the inside of the corset. and handstitch it to the lining.

Now it's finally time to lace up the corset.

Let's continue...

Assembling the corset 3

The next few steps are totally optional and very specific to this corset.
I'm going to decorate the top half of the corset using lace.
I'll do this while the corset is pinned onto a doll.

I start with a band running from centre front to centre back under the arm. and I am going to work my way up to the top of the shoulder straps.

I pin each layer as I put it on the corset and hand sew it to the corset all along the edges.

each following layer will slightly overlap the previous.

Finally after lots of hours of small handsewn stitches I'm left with something like this.

Now It's time to finish of all the edges of the corset, I usually use a pre fabricated satin bias band for this, or you can make your own out of any fabric you want.
In this case I'll do both.
Let's start with the top. that is going to be pre fab black satin.

Remember, before you do this step it is still possible to shorten and trim the corset.

Now, it is also time to sew the front and back shouder straps together. this is very straightforward, but dont take the easy way out, make sure there is no seam allowance showing on the inside of the finished corset. so make the extra effort of seperatly sewing the outside and the lining.

Let's attach the bias tape. The reason you use bias fabric (cut at a 45' degree angle onto the fabric) is that it is far more adaptable to curves then straight cut fabric.

Lets pin the bias tape to the corset like the pictures below.

And sew it to the corset, (directly through the fold line.) and remember to leave an extra bit of tape at beginning and end.

Important! take extra care at centre front and centre back. the tape should look symmetrical and should start at exactly the same point, otherwise you'll end up with a crooked looking corset.

Armholes like this corset has, are extra tricky since they are all curve. It's trial and error with this. sooner or later you'll get the hang of it. I've done this so much but even i need to redo every now and again to get it just right.

Look for instance at the next picture, the bia tape on the left shoulder has folds/creases. this means i've sewn it on to tight, and that the bias tape has lost it's flexibily at this point. so unfortunately i need to take it off and re-attach it!

Once you are satisfied with the result, trim the edges of the coret some more, and after they are all even, flip te band over to the inside and pin. take extra care when pinning the beginning and end parts.

Now the next thing a lot of people do is to use the sewing machine to sew though the bias tape.
I personally hate doing it, since I think that sewing this bit by hand creates a lot nicer effect.
Attention is in the details, so take out your needle and thread and sew it all together.

Finally it should look something like this..

Next we're going to tackle the bottom of the corset, and for this, I'm going to make my own bias tape out of the same pink ilk the corset is made of. I've cut a couple of long strips of fabric. (assembled from various pieces) which are all cut on the bias (45' degree angle.) and I am going to use a specialist tool for turning it into bias tape.

First I cut a slight poit to one of the ends of the strip. This makes it easier to get throught the tool. and pull it along the fabric strip ironing it as I go.

finally it looks like this..

From then on it is the same process as discribed before..

And after some elbow grease. the main body of the corset is 99% finished...

Let's continue..

Assembling the corset 2

Okay now, it's time to fix the outer layer and lining layer together,
But before we do this. it might be best to try on the corset to check how it is going to fit.
since this is the last time you'll be able to make any alterations.

This step in making the corset will consist of hand sewing and is a time consuming step.
however I do recommend it, since it makes the difference between a poor and a superb corset.

take a needle and some thread in a contrasting color and hand stitch the seams of the outside to the corresponding seams of the lining. (see the picture below)

Okay once you've done this step, it's time to sew them together by machine.
There are a couple of options here, which you can use to your own discretion. The decision you'll have to make is where the bones will be placed allong the seams. would you like to have the bone to the left, right or centered under the seam. once you've decided this, you can start sewing. I've decided to make a mix of left and right of the seam, but none of my bones will be placed directly under the seam.

So in the following pictures i'm sewing a line 2mm (1/8 inch) to the side of my seams

Once you've done all this you can remove the hand sewn thread (or you can do this at a later state, but it has lost it's function now.

Now it's time to sew the first boning channel. sew the channel a slightly bit wider then the bone, but not to wide, it should be nice and snug, which will look nicer and it will make your corset less succeptable to wear and tear.
You can use a piece of boning to check the width of the channel, but do not insert it yet, that would make the corset harder to sew. insert the bones only after you've finshed with all the boning channels.

you'll end up with something like the picture below.

That was the easy part, now we'll put in some boning channels that won't run next to a seam line.
this is one of the hardest steps to do, since it is extremely difficult to get it just right.

First decide where you'll want your bones to be placed.
Once you've decided, take out your needle and thread again and baste down a line on the exact spot where you'll want the boning channel to run.
like the picture below.

And use that line as a gauge to sew the boning channel.
And you'll end up with something like..

That's starting to look okay, however i don't like those big empty spaces next to the centre front.
I think I'll put in an exta set of boning channels in to even it out..

And now I have..

Now it is finally time to insert all the boning. and take extra good care of capping your spiral bones, use two pairs of pliers to attach them securely.

After you've boned the whole corset, put it on a doll so you can admire your handywork.

Let's continue...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Assembling the corset 1

Okay, now lets put all the pieces together.

We'll start with the outer layer. Take either your front or back pieces with the respective closures already sewn in, (see previous posts) and pin the corresponding outer pattern pieces to it. I usually start with the front pieces, as you can see on the pictures below.

Take notice: Only pin the outer layers together. do not pin the lining pieces yet.
(see picture below)

Pin it so that the bottom and top of the corset line up.

Notice in the picture above that the right seam does not line up correctly, now this isn't such a huge problem on its own. But if every seam has this difference your garment will eventually come out crooked. So in this case, let's re-pin it.

Once everything is pinned right, you can sew it together.

Okay, let's see what we've got.


and out!

Let'continue, and repeat these steps for the rest of the pattern pieces.
In this case, my corset has shoulder straps. If yours has to, do not sew these together yet.
Allow the corset to lie flat while you're still working on it.

Once you've got all the outer layer pieces together, press the seams open.

Let's lay it flat, and see what we've got.

Now, let's continue with attaching the lining pieces.
You basically follow the same process as you did when assembling the outer layer.
I personally like to sew the lining seams with a allowance 2mm or 1/8 inch bigger then the outer layer. (this creates a tighter lining, and a nicer fit)

Once you've attached\closed all the seams, you'll end up with a corset turned inside out.
(see picture below.)

Before we turn the right side out. press the seams flat again.
After you've done this, take a pair of scissors and trim the seam allowance (lining only!)

Now take the same pair of scissors and make little cuts in all of the seam allowances, at the waist and breast area (see picture below).
Be carefull not to cut to close to the seam.

Notice: my cuts are never directly opposite eachother on the same seam.

Okay, let's turn this baby inside out and put it on a doll, to see what we've got.

That's already starting to look like a corset.

Okay, let's continue....