How to raise the value of sewing: what you can do

How to raise the value of sewing: what you can do

Sewing is undervalued. Sewing has been undervalued for centuries. We often talk amongst ourselves about why that is, and how frustrating it is, and then we start trading juicy horror stories about what the most unappreciative members of the public have said to us. But...
How to be brave

How to be brave

58 brave souls. 58 extraordinary corsets and costumes. I’m blown away all over again.

This year’s Foundations Revealed Competition is going to be our biggest ever. Makers at all skill levels, from beginners right up to highly advanced craftspeople, have submitted their work. From March 1st they will be JUDGED ON THE INTERNET FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE by both our voting members and the general public (who will be able to comment.)

What does it take to find that kind of bravery?

How to master insertion lace… in pictures

How to master insertion lace… in pictures

1. Select inspiration image. Spend 8 years looking for just the right lace.

2. Meanwhile, peer at low resolution image for 8 years, plotting.

3. Make tracing paper template for lace pattern. Cut lace pieces to fit.

4. Spray starch lace pieces so that they resemble cardboard (insert criminal mastermind laugh of doom… now this diaphanous lace will be much easier to manipulate, inviting the envy of Instagram)….

What happened to all those once-worn Worth gowns?

What happened to all those once-worn Worth gowns?

It’s hard for us nowadays to imagine just how grand the House of Worth really was.

So extravagantly rich were some of its patrons that they only wore their impossibly lavish Worth gowns once or twice…

So what happened to these clothes after they were cast off by the hoi polloi? Sure, a few ended up in museums, but you gotta wonder – what happened to the rest?

By chance, I tracked some of the Vanderbilts’ clothes down this week… and in the most appropriate, yet unlikely place. It seems that some of Worth’s work made it all the way back to the county of his birth – Lincolnshire, in the UK – under the most delightfully ridiculous circumstances!

A 1977 book on a dusty shelf in a Cotswolds hotel gives us the full story….

How to use those beautiful antique sewing patterns

How to use those beautiful antique sewing patterns

If you were here for the post I made before Christmas, you’ll remember that I’ve been hankering after a copy of these Edwardian drawers in the Metropolitan Museum. In my last post I pledged to use Agnes Walker’s draft from 1897, but as you can see,...
What to celebrate on New Year’s Eve

What to celebrate on New Year’s Eve

I think we (myself included) often give up on the old year too easily. In our haste to get done with the imperfect past, we tell this year not to let the door smack it in the behind on the way out, and launch into the hope of a fresh start… maybe too quickly. I wonder whether we’d be more effective if we took time to rest and reflect more consciously, celebrating what went well AND learning from what didn’t go so well this year? I tried this on for size in the nearest journal today…

How to release procrastination

How to release procrastination

That time of the year is coming… when a more prolific soul than you or I will post a list of the sixty-five fabulous projects she completed this year. And lo, most people will look at her edited highlights, and compare them to their backstage mess, and feel inadequate.

Ugh. Doesn’t sound like fun.

So let’s release some of our stuck creative energy right now, and release ourselves from 2018 like an arrow departs from the bow.

To begin, let’s release procrastination.

The best costume of all… clothing your true self

The best costume of all… clothing your true self

A year or two ago, I opened my closet full of fabulous historical evening gowns and felt… tired.

Inside were all those impossible confections I’ve made for countless Costume College Galas. Days, weeks, months of blood, sweat and tears are represented in that stuffed wardrobe, along with many happy memories of friends and fears overcome. Every single time, I’d figured it out and finished the dress in time.

And I had to ask… why am I doing this, anyway?

You may be concentrating on the imagined sight of those folds of taffeta and satin in front of me, but I was looking down at my jeans. What the hell is this all for, anyway? Why is all this expertise shut in a closet for 99% of its life, and why am I wearing synthetic rubbish, mass produced in sweatshops I’d rather not think about?

From time to time it’s worth remembering why we got into this, anyway. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rush to have something new to wear for this event, or that event, that we forget why we learned to sew in the first place.

Here are the matching drawers for that beautiful Edwardian chemise

Here are the matching drawers for that beautiful Edwardian chemise

Remember the Edwardian chemise I made earlier this year?

Well, if you keeping hunting around in the Metropolitan Museum archive, you’ll come across a matching pair of drawers (top of page). They’re part of a set containing an identical chemise to mine – the lace is unmistakeable. So obviously I have to make the drawers too.

What can you do if people don’t get it? Communicate.

What can you do if people don’t get it? Communicate.

So this was fun…

Last week I was delighted to have an opportunity to speak to a Muggle audience about corsets.

Well, ok, I spoke to an audience of entrepreneurs about business, using corsets to make my point. 🙂

My audience included personal trainers, accountants, healers, coaches, gardeners, herbalists, stylists, tech wizards – an extraordinarily diverse group of experts in all kinds of fields, who are all building businesses online using the same tools and principles. You can imagine the double takes the first time they hear what I’m doing online.

A membership site about making corsets and historical dress?? It’s unimaginable!