Arrrrrrrrgh!

Just finding it really hard to try and sell pants when the world is falling apart. Just so many juxtapositions of BLUSH IS THIS SEASONS NEW COLOUR vs TRUMP TO ADOPT 20% VAT TO BUILD A WALL to WHAT MODELS REALLY EAT vs MAY TO SELL OFF NHS TO THE US. I just want to scream all the time! And the number of people who are just gormless with each new announcement!

Let me clear things up for you.

  1. No one likes Trump ESPECIALLY not the GOP. Their pick for president is Pence. So they are supporting and letting Trump do whatever he wants so they can later have cause to hang him. LITERALLY as hanging is still on the books as punishment for treason. So no one is stopping or pointing out the huge hypocrisy (these are the things he had the Repblican nation shouting LOCK HER UP at Clinton) of Trump’s recent gaffs:
    • Using private email servers
    • Linking government social media accounts to non secure private email accounts. Staff publishing secure passwords online…
    • The prolific use of Executive Orders to create new policy (major argument for Obama corruption)
    • Outright and provable lying
    • Pissing off the press (notice how Pence is keeping clean in all this – being seen as the good and reasonable guy?)
  2. Pence is the GOP choice for president. They are using the antics and insanity of Trump to groom Pence in the eyes of the public. Already we are seeing papers like NYT and WP (will find refs for you later) stating they would rather see Pro-lifer Pence in office. Prime example is the Hamilton twitter battle. Trump went off the deep end while Pence issued a statement saying 1st amendment rights are a good thing. Pence is beginning to look like the voice of reason and sanity – This is the biggest gaslight of them all!
  3. Brexit. What a fucking mess and now we have the same sort of American shenanigans starting up here!
    • Tories have been hell bent on selling off the NHS before this mess and now they are using “watch what the left hand is doing to mask the real action”.
    • May only wants to be PM so she will play the Pence role whilst setting up pillocks like Boris and Farage to take the fall for Tory policies.
    • Corbyn using the 3 Line Whip to force through Article 50 so that the public will hate the Tories and blame them for the economic fail that has already started, the sale of the NHS, transportation fares skyrocketing, and infrastructure government and industry falling apart. Let’s not even start with the environment.
  4. Civil Disobedience. So you had a nice day out in Washington? Have a souvenir hat? GREAT! Because that is the same amount of effectiveness that Occupy Wall Street had will less litter!

    “Yet I’ll never forget talking with the banker in his crisp suit and air-conditioned office, looking out the window at the protesters below and just laughing, laughing, laughing. Because he knew they’d eventually be gone and nothing would change.” By Petula Dvorak, Washington Post speaking of the Occupy Wall Street movemnt.

    Protests are really missing a trick here!!!!! With all the many millions of women marching around the world there was no unified message, no unified slogan, NO UNIFIED ACTION! No the action was not the march! It was what you did after! Michael Moore attempted to give focus by creating a Phone Campaign (202-225-2031), but there is no central agenda, groups like Pant Suit Nation who created the March are doing NOTHING to move forward in any kind of a timely manner. The GOP are DEPENDING on momentum being lost and worse yet dissipated into other issues. There are burgeoning acts of civil disobedience from the State Department top brass quitting, to scientists refusing to remain gagged and opening up on twitter.

We are all screaming at every new twist and turn of policy being blasted out by our governments. But here and this is the real point. Nothing they have put out so far is an action either… It’s all hot air! This is testing the wind and public opinion. Let’s take the wall. First Trump announces Mexico will pay, but actually it’s taxes generated on goods coming from Mexico paid by the American people at 20%. Once the screaming started they judged the way the piss was falling and then announced that it was only one of many ways the money to build the wall could be generated. The hunt for the actual policy to protest is exhausting.

The GOP and the Brexiters are DEPENDING upon us all becoming jaded and losing initiative as we spend all our outrage now. Sure there is another march in April about Trump’s taxes – but numbers will be down and the next march? And the next?  We need to focus on the war not all these little battles which are actually diversionary tactics to wear us down.

We need a list and we need to check it twice. And we need to start kicking the Democratic Party.

Resolutions

I believe in resolutions. Not the superficial ones where I complain about my weight or how much I’m drinking but the things I need to work on to be in a better place and a better human. At this time of year I check on my progress and update the list. Oddly and probably tellingly I did not make resolutions last year… Previous lists have included; stop wasting my time on people I can’t stand, make something that ISN’T a costume and wear it somewhere, no more fuckwit men, what is it with the swearing?

Well. The wonderful Dave entered into my life and fixed one of those. The rest… This last year, while many have found it to be the worst year ever, have a great shock in store for themselves. 2017 is going to be BAD. Trump, Russia, Brexit leaving European Human Rights, the global shift in attitudes towards minorities (gender, race, sexual preference, religion).

Now is NOT the time to go on a diet or join a gym.

Yoga will not fix the shit storm ahead of us. For you Christians out there: Remove the mote from your own eye before you remove the mote from your brother’s. In other words, it is time to wake up and empower and educate ourselves for the battles ahead. It is time to live the change you want to be in the world.

My resolutions:

  1. READ MORE and then talk about it. Don’t just share that article on social media – discuss it first. Say why I read the article and what I found good and bad about it. Use those comment boxes on other people’s posts! Be a part of the discussion.
  2. No more fake news. If it ain’t the NYT, Washington Post or the BBC, check the facts! Trust no one! Claim back my scepticism!
  3. Don’t cast my pearls before swine. I will no longer participate in actions or organisations that are merely profit based or self serving. The NYT, in it’s article offers the advice to take the money that you would have spent on that useless diet book and instead give it to Planned Parenthood.
  4. Concentrate more on paying it forward. Even if I only ever donate the ONE hour of my time to Time Bank or Lets – it is ONE MORE hour WELL SPENT to help change the world.
  5. Focus on refining my Voice. What is it that I have to say? How do I want to be heard? I have found that working with people who are closed minded and generally unhelpful bastards, one has to smile, be polite, never swear and be so DAMNED CHEERFUL AND HELPFUL in their faces everyday until they give you what you want to shut you up and make you go away. But is that who I am? And how do I resolve who I am and the method of being heard work?

How am I going to do these? Where do I start?

  • Start posting Book of the Month and encourage discussion (possibly through rewards.)
  • Swear a whole fucking lot less. (I don’t have high hopes for this one.)
  • Less money spent on marketing and more on community projects that support my ideals.
  • Write more. A monthly think piece on the politics of the business I am in.
  • Think about how I can involve the others around me to get to a common goal (We are starting a food collective in our house. Each of us makes a “pot” enough for 5 and then we all trade – no more ready made supermarket food).
  • Don’t buy the diary – create the diary I need. Organise my a*se.

But most of all – Not achieving a goal is NOT failure. Working towards and being mindful of the work I do will bring change.

See you in 2018 to see how it went. xxx

**** You Etsy and Freolla

Etsy and I have parted ways. Actually they kicked my shop to the curb. Why? They are cowards who caved to pressure from from a large corporation over IP rights to … wait for it… the garter. A tube of lace.*

tl;dr: How the mass manufacture company who own Bandalette told Etsy to remover all pairs of lace garters from their site or they would sue them over a patent they did not have and IP they did not own and Etsy shut down listings and makers shops to comply.

Freolla LLC are the company who produce “Bandalette” also described as Thigh Bands with Anti Chaffing Properties. And in their T&Cs they state:

Patent status is “pending”. Our Products. All features, specifications, products and prices of products and services described on this Web site are subject to change at any time without notice. (16/11/16) 

Patent pending means that they don’t actually have a patent and may never be granted one. In fact ANYONE can claim that they have a patent pending if they fill out the paperwork to apply for a patent or consult a patent attorney. This means that they DO NOT actually own the IP to an idea until after the patent is granted. In cases where an idea is historical and in the popular domain for (in this case well over 100) years, it is extremely unlikely to be granted a patent. It is more likely to be granted a patent on a process. And we will get to that in a moment…

Garters, historically going back beyond the middle ages, are strips of woven cloth that tie around the leg at either just under the knee or on the thigh to hold up stockings. With the invention of elastic, tubes were made of lace with a single side or back seam to which strips of elastic were attached either via casings or zigzag stitch creating elasticated garters. These were made exceptionally popular during the 1920s onwards. When stockings became cheap(er) and more freely available post WW2, elastic started to be sewn into the tops of stockings combining both garter and stocking creating the concept of “hold ups”. This did not exclude people from continuing to use garters to hold up regular stockings. In the late 60’s and early 70’s impregnating lace with bands of latex replaced elastic. Then in the 80’s to 90’s “invisible elastic” or clear latex elastic came on the market and was used for all sorts of purposes; sewn into the edges of swim suits to keep them from riding up, as bra straps for strapless tops, and sewn into garters and stocking tops (cheaper and faster manufacture). Garters that are worn on the thigh have been around for centuries. Elasticated garters for over 100 years. Latex garters for at least 40 years. This “concept” is in the public domain, and is already in world wide use. Fact, you can still buy “stocking tops” or the lace garter portion of a stocking, pretty much everywhere. This is why “hold ups” cannot be patented as a concept. Neither can stockings, girdle shorts, anti-chaffing shorts, the lot.

While you can’t patent a concept in regular and historical use, you can patent a process. McDonalds don’t own the right to the hamburger, they own the patent on the Big Mac. On Freolla/Bandelette’s own site they define the process of what is and WHAT IS NOT a Bandelette. They even show images of products that they specifically say is not their product and NOT their IP. They call them out as fakes. Now legally, if these other products do not claim to be anti-chaffing devices, use registered trademarked names, or employ the same manufacturing process – then they are not stealing or conflicting with Freolla’s IP. Patented or not. I do not make my garters in the same way. I do not use the same materials. I do not follow the same processes. For all intended goods and purposes they are not the same product.

In order to corner the market on all similar products, Freolla LLC are trying to block and own the concept of the garter – full stop. As part of this action, Freolla’s team of researchers and lawyers have scoured Etsy (provable by Etsy’s shop tools which traces back customer referrals and ip addresses) for anything resembling a lace garter and reported the product as having stolen their IP. Despite there being no case for IP theft, Etsy complied.

Try searching on Etsy for “garter” or “thigh garter”. Results will be single wedding garters and bdsm cage garters. Not a single result for a matching pair of lace garters deeper than 2-3 inches. Freolla LLC have threatened Etsy with litigation over theft of IP and Etsy have sent letter to everyone who had a pair of deep lace garters and had them take down the listing or removed the shop permanently. No discussion.

In Etsy’s defence, I had first listed my garters as “Thigh Garters / Bandelette” which at their request I dropped “Bandelette” and left “anti-chaffing” in the property description. The second time they told me to drop the item, I removed “anti-chaffing” from the description. That should have been sufficient. But Freolla still were unhappy and demanded it be removed so Etsy shut my storefront and banned me for life. Unfortunately, when discussing this with other maker friends I was dismayed to find that this is not the first time, nor even the may tens of times that Etsy have removed listings and storefronts for unsupported IP issues.

And here is the kicker – Freolla LLC have NEVER contacted me in ANY way about selling the same product on my main website or on any other platform. Could it be because they have no grounds to do so? Could it be that their claims only extend to the US and my business is in the UK where they have no claims at all? Way to go Etsy, deciding to throw away their core principals to be a market place for and handmade and vintage goods by small businesses and independent designers, following the easier path to throw their loyal sellers and crafts persons under the bus and cave to Freolla’s legal threats.

Well, fuck you both.

Coming up in PART TWO: Make your own thigh garters at 1/4 of the price!

  • How to make the pattern to fit you!
  • Where to buy the lace and supplies
  • How to apply  silicone beading or clear elastic tape
  • Make your own custom hold up stockings!
  • Add suspender clips!
  • Add harnesses for flasks, phones and credit cards!

 

*All opinions are my own.

So, The Condom Broke…

Well, its the morning after and the condom broke and you are pretty sure your partner had a lot of undeclared STDs. Time to face reality, and no, not a colourful pre-scripted game show.

So here are my predictions for what is going to happen in the immediate future (6 months or less)… What’s my qualifications to make these judgements? Before chucking it all in for pants, I spent 18 years as a contractor analysing and helping SME and Blue Chip businesses get online and/or improve their online prescience. Summed up, this means you would have to get to know that business intimately; their product lists, distribution methods, handling of stock. Often, way more often than you think, a business would not even be able to identify what its main product was or be able to adequately describe what the purpose of the business actually was. You would have to teach them about elevator pitches, write their product descriptions, mission statements, social media, terms and conditions, privacy policies, venture capitol, funding and grant applications. Which leads onto checking IP, copyright, trademark infringement and product placement in the marketplace (I know there are some “girls” out there who will be astonished to find I actually am quite an expert on the preceding subjects to which I respond, they should really read up on libel/slander laws ;). You get really great at instantly recognising which business had products that were robust, ethics that were sustainable, were financially viable, and had a future and which didn’t.

What is going to happen right now (in no particular order)

  • The Market will go down in stages and stay there.
  • Oil and gas wins over solar and wind so pipelines will be enforced for good of the nation and profit of bug business. Fracking will expand, law suits will be deemed unconstitutional.
  • Freedom of the press and especially satirical news programs will take a huge hit with some disappearing. Trump will change the libel/slander laws against everyone who says anything bad about him/the president. From now on folks – watch what you say on social media (IMHO).
  • Every case currently or in future against Trump will disappear under the weight and scrutiny of the FBI (Look at what happened with the underage sexual assault case. Everything was good to go until the FBI flexed their muscles and destroyed Clinton’s campaign. (IMO there is no doubt that pressure was applied to “make it go away”)
  • Gun laws will be relaxed and gun crime will increase and unfortunately be blamed on mental health issues or acts of terrorism.
  • Hate crime will increase – civil unrest – police state with no checks – human rights will be violated on an ever increasing scale (see UK)
  • Field day for the hacker community ushering in a new golden age of unlimited access
  • WAR.
    • Russia will seize on this to re-annex all lost territory as Trump will not oppose their actions.
    • North Korea will see Trump as weak and begin to test US resolve
    • China will see trade negotiating new agreements as aggression from a country unwilling to back up threats with force
    • US position will leave the UN a powerless puppet and scapegoat.
    • Human rights violations will increase exponentially, unchecked and largely ignored.
  • Equal pay campaign is out the window.
    • A retreat to the 70’s of a woman’s value in the workplace
    • Appearance will now be a selling point on CVs
    • Fat women will be legitimately prejudiced against as being “unhealthy” and therefore a hire risk
    • Maternity issues such as being made redundant during maternity leave will increase
  • Same sex marriage debated for being overturned
  • Health insurance will plummet, but payouts will become impossible especially if you or your family history shows pre-existing conditions. You think it is bad now…

Over the next four years

  • All imported goods will become way more expensive to manufacture
  • Customer prices go up
  • Independent/hipster business will rise but not fill the gap although their numbers will be used into fooling the public that industry in the US is on the increase
  • Shipping goods into the US even on a small scale will be more complex, be subject to customs search and take much longer to get to the market or buyer
  • Manufacture on a “living” or even minimum wage is not cost effective even under new rules and taxes. So as is being seen in the UK right now businesses will move entirely out of the US and set up in the EU (It’s going to be good for India.)

It’s not all gloom and doom

  • Good investments providing good returns
    • Time to sell your scrap gold
    • As world wide recession verging on depression hits, any business who creates escapism will rise in profits. This is a pattern repeated in history.
      • Gaming – all forms. Tabletop and card games to MMORPG to console and PC gaming with honourable mentions to LARP and group based paper gaming like D&D
      • Re enactment suppliers (for those who participate not those who go to watch). The numbers of reenactment groups and their membership world wide has been a booming interest
      • Local band and festival scene
      • Movie services (Netflix, now, sky etc…)
      • Crafting – sewing, knitting, scrap-booking (maybe not so much – who actually wants to remember the next 4 years…)
    • Real estate, DIY for home improvement. Having a property portfolio is a mixed bag of cats, but if you are dogged you can make it work. See what I did there? But if you wish to emulate Trump, realise he is covered in bad court judgements he had to pay off.
  • Emigration will increase world wide away from the US and UK as people seek a better quality of life in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Portugal, Malta and even South Africa.
  • War on drugs will take a huge blow with marijuana becoming legal in more states. Plus it will provide an entirely new and growing (hur hur) industry from seed to final product. But the best part of legalisation is we can all get stoned until 2020 and wait this thing out.

How does this affect me, the small designer?

People like to talk about “ethical” fashion. Most Indie designers make everything themselves or support a small team. Some who branch out into full lines are exceedingly careful to check out the companies they use for mass production. With increasing costs of shipping goods (taxes) even in process between countries, although this may be small it will impact hugely on the cost of the final goods. First class tracked across Europe right now for a single pair of panties (base rate on lightest weighted item) is £6.50.  Send it to a non EU country and the buyer has custom tax (VAT) to pay. If the item crosses a taxable boarder more than once the overall cost has to either be eaten by the designer or passed onto the customer.

Materials are sourced often from countries around the world based on working conditions of those who produce the goods, what the base process is involved and its impact on the environment and the base components are made from like bamboo, cotton, dyes… In a global economy the rule is exports over imports, I.E. it is cheaper and more ethical to produce everything in country than import it. But, it’s just not practice to expect a bamboo silk producer to set up in Cambridge where there are no bamboo forests. That’s over simplifying things but material costs will rise due to sourcing from the, well, world. Another cost that has to be either eaten or passed on. The only to combat this may be to reduce the quality of the materials.

The pure facts are that plus size women, hell any customer, wants a bargain and most can’t afford to pay £125.00 for a pair of handmade knickers no matter how exquisite or ethically sourced. Even at my prices which are half that I am currently struggling in the current ecconomic storm and I’m barely even able to cope with contemplating the tsunami ahead (really thought about saying sh*t storm but thought it was too puny).

Any luxury item in the next year is going to take a hit. We will see brands go under. We will also see designers get creative and hopefully rise to some of these challenges with some truly innovate solutions. If you have any comments or suggests I’d love to hear them.

How do you feel online world wide shopping will change over the next year?

Corset Fitting Part 2: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

In Part 1: How to Measure Yourself for a Corset, I spoke briefly about what measurements to take for making a corset. In this part I will show you how to apply them to a pattern. There are several ways and methods of adjusting patterns; using a commercial pattern, online free downloadable pattern and by finally drafting the pattern yourself. But first you have to select a style of corset to make. My client, for this series, is none other than The Head of the Seamstress’ Guild and famed author of the the Young Wizards series herself, Diane Duane! [Kermit the frog happy dance] Ms Duane first saw and fell in love with an underbust by Royal Black Couture (fig 1) based upon a pattern by L.H. Foy (fig 2). For the purpose of this series, I will show you how to pattern and fit an overbust corset and then how to turn the overbust into an underbust. The Foy is one of my favourite designs for people who tend to wear corsets only on special occasions. It is incredibly comfortable in that while it is tight into the waist and supportive of the bust, the hips are softer and allow a greater freedom of movement. In the words of another client whom I made a similar corset for some years ago, “These hips flaps ROCK!”

Ok, now to start on my research. Is there a commercial pattern out there that recreates the Foy? After all, no point in recreating the wheel. If someone has been kind enough to do the hard work for me there is no shame at all in starting there. Short answer, no. Bummer. So, plan B. Is there a commercial pattern out there that is close? I found two; a simple Victorian corset that I would have to modify to include the Foy hip pieces, a free online pattern by Ralph Pink that has a slightly more stylised bust. The Ralph Pink pattern would require the minimum amount of redrafting – or so first I thought. This led me to the universally suffered ordeal of the corset maker, alter a good pattern, waste hours and even days on a bad pattern, or give up and draft my own? For me, drafting is a lot less hastle and faster as I have decades of experience under my belt (3.5 to be precise). But most sewers will start with either a commercial pattern or one they’ve downloaded from the interwebs. In the process of taking you through all three, I will hopefully show you the pros and cons of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

BUT FIRST!!!!!! Creating a pattern or any piece of art is about the drafts. With sewing, every stage is a redraw to get closer to the thing in your head. With the initial draft, it is one stage, toille and fitting another stage, cutting the fabric yet another stage and sewing the layers of a corset, each one yet more stages refining your pattern/fit. At each stage there is never enough attention to detail. Excellent fit and amazing corsets take time. SO, TAKE YOUR TIME. And remember, doing the adjustments to any pattern now is NOT the final pattern. This is the first draft.

AND! This series is for a live set of lectures I will be giving at Discworld Con in August! Also look for the #dwcon on Instagram , Twitter and Facebook for more , almost daily updates!

Negative Ease.
Ease is the space between the body and the article of clothing which allows or does not allow ease of movement. Things like trousers and oxford shirts have an ease of 2 inches between skin and cloth. Coats will have 4 to allow for other layers of clothing to be worn between. Articles of clothing like yoga pants, underwear and swimsuits will have negative ease. This is where the article is smaller than the dimensions of the body and is usually made of fabrics that stretch so the items clings and hug the body.

So, a corset uses negative ease with non stretch fabrics to force the body into a shape. Now you can find out exactly how much negative ease a pattern has at the main measuring points (bust, underbust, waist, hips) by taking a tape and measuring in between the seam allowances (if there are any on the pattern) and adding them up. Then subtract that  measurement from both the pattern’s definition of what that size is via their chart and also to your measurements. The greater the negative ease, the greater the discomfort. So don’t get ridiculous on your first corset and go for a 4″/10cm overall reduction unless you are used to the effects. A good and comfortable reduction to start with is 2″/5cm on bust and waist and 0 ease or skin tight on the hips.

Seam Allowance
Seam allowance on a corset pattern (or if you add one) should be 1cm or the width of your sewing foot to the edge of the material. This becomes important later but take note if there is seam allowance on your pattern when you are redrafting and checking your reductions.

Corset Height
A too short corset is one that creates nip slip opportunities, back wings, spillover at the sides and unexpected spare tires. People often check the waist reduction on their corset measurements but forget the height and wind up with a disaster. You need a pattern with at minimum the waist line marked. You will need to either lengthen or shorten sections of the pattern according to measurements you have taken in Part 1. The most often committed mistake on patterns is that the length between underbust and bust is never high enough. It takes a lot of paper and tape, but being able to customise the height of each vertical section is what makes good fit. Be sure what you do to one pattern piece you do to all others. The first set of images shows that I have lengthened the pattern from the waist to the hip. I have also chosen a smaller size of waist to bust and to flare out the hip line to the next size up.

In this next set of photos I have cut the front panel, no#7, at the waist line. Next, shortened the waist to hip line by over lapping the cut pattern pieces. Then I bisected the pattern down the vertical parallel to the grain line. I then made the front hip area narrower and the bust fuller. To adjust waist to underbust length you will need to *find* the underbust and bust lines on the pattern. Unfortunately you often either have do this by eye or by making a mock up of the patter in paper or cloth to see how the patter lines up. I will cover this method in The Bad.

TIP: Make sure you check the waist to underarm length and make sure it goes all the way up! You can can take off the excess at the next stage, but you can’t put it back on.

Back Gap
When you are checking the reduction in a corset pattern be sure that the back gap actually does what it says on the package. If the gap is more than 4″/10cm it will not fit!!! It wont just not fit it will do bad things to you and be horribly painful. And here’s why…

Narrow placement of steel bones in the back keep the lacing from buckling and the steels parallel and is crucial to comfort. There are many who recommend a 4″/10cm gap for corsets, but this is never good. In figure 8, it shows that the muscles of the back curve towards the spine (the yellow line) and the muscle structure underneath. What you need to know is that the steels for the lacing holes must be INSIDE the curve closest to the spine (the blue line). When you have too wide of a gap as seen in figures 9 & 10 you can see the placement is on the outside of the raised muscle (the red line). There are several problems with this:

  1. The top of the steels will be rubbing against the shoulder blades and causing irritation (bruising and red sore areas) and restriction of movement.
  2. The bottom half of the steels are directly above and compressing the kidneys. This will also cause acute lower back pain as the steels are not supporting the spinal column but putting pressure on the muscles supporting the spinal column making them work harder.
  3. Not only are the steels on top of the kidneys but the end of each steel is poised to dig into and rub on top of the sciatic nerve. This expalins why some corset wearers can get “dead leg” or screaming sciatica. Thank you to Aleksandra Bromblik for adding this tip!!!
  4. Because the lacing holes are on the other side of the muscle ridge the laces will be cutting into the muscle.  See figure 10  yellow line. The red line is the edge of the corset.
  5. Because the gap is so large the foundation layer is NOT being a foundation to achieve the shape and support of the corset – the laces are doing that job. And the stress that puts on the steels that they weren’t meant to take and they warp and twist (fig 10 red line), aggravating points 2 & 3.

Now there is a point to make about size. A petite figure will require a smaller gap. It should never be more than two inches. That is also not saying that a larger frame can take a greater gap. When drafting your pattern and fitting the toille – MAKE SURE the steels are, at the very least, on top of the muscle ridge and NO FURTHER – regardless of the number of inches. Below is an example of a perfect gap showing even spacing and distribution of foundation. The corset is by Izabela Pitcher of  Prior Attire and the example is from A Damsel in this Dress.

perfect gap and load distribution by Izabela Pitcher

THE GOOD
I’m using for this example Butterick Patterns B4254 Size Misses Stays and Corsets and the Long-line pattern from Scarlet of Corset Training.net.

Top of the list of what makes a good commercial pattern, their size chart is accurate to their measurements and are clearly stated on the packaging/web info. The pattern is not scaled but shows the adjustments for each size. It’s great when they show the adjustments for each size on each piece (see fig 11 pieces #14 and #11). The next important thing about a good pattern is that the waist lines are marked clearly on the pattern. With the Butterick pattern the waist line is on the front and back pieces. Using a flexible curve you can line the patterns up by arrows, using the grain lines to ensure the pattern is in alignment, and mark in the waist line on all the pieces (fig 11). The second image (fig 12) is of the front pieces of a long-line corset by Scarlet. This is a pattern which is 1/4 or 1/2 scale. You use pattern graph paper in cm to enlarge the 1/2 scale pattern into full size pieces. Hey presto, basic pattern blocks! Not to be confused with a “scaled pattern” which is a pattern which is just enlarged all over evenly to make it larger for a larger size. Will explain why that is bad further on. Scarlet’s pattern very helpfully gives all the major measurement points on each piece.

THE BAD
What makes a pattern bad? In web design we learn good design by looking a bad sites. So here I will show you a “bad” pattern. Ralph Pink has designed a twist on the classic Foy with a lovely bust treatment. Would make a lovely pattern to work with except for the following massive headaches.

As you saw in the good pattern, waist lines were marked. This is crucial if you have an unusual pattern to have that line of reference throughout the pieces. It also means that when you lengthen the pattern, it is consistent. No waist line on the free pattern. So, I spent £15 of my own money to check the professionally made commercial version. Nope. No waist line there either. In order to place the waist line on a pattern that does not have one, line the pattern pieces together, matching arrows (matching lines drawn on pattern). As this is a Foy, the waist line is most noticeable at the hip. So, using a french curve or flexible curve, align the curve 1cm above the seam allowance. The waist is NOT a straight line around the body, it is NOT a circle, it IS an oval and will appear curved on a flat pattern. The waist at a person’s hip will be the highest point in the curve (it just is, it’s how your knickers stay on.) So if you take that point directly above the hip at the side seam and then gently curve to where  you “guess” the waist and match it toward the back. That should give you a pretty close waist line where to cut. To check for accuracy, you can make a second guess at to where the underbust line is and using your measurements from Part 1 check the accuracy of the waist line. You can see I have done this below but Charlie, insisted on helping. This makes for a lot of guessing which will not ensure success.

The resultant curve “felt” wrong. There is NOTHING worse than f*cking up a project for a client you wish to impress the socks off of (as she has so often impressed the socks off of me!) And when the client is only you, you too deserve the best. One of the ways to place a waist, bust and hip line is if you assemble the pieces making a mock up and check it on a live body. Pretty bloody difficult if it is you by yourself and the pattern requires a lot of adjustment. Luckily, I have “Matilda” my live in nudist model. I cut out the pieces for one half and then “fitted” the corset to Matilda. There was a lot of blue tac involved. This showed a number of problems:

  1. The actual waistline as found on Matilda was different from the “guessed” curve. The guessed line is shown on figure 18 is the pencil line and the fitted line are the red dots. I fitted the mock up onto Matilda’s waist at the side seam. It is essential that you use the side seam as your anchor point in fitting. When laced, the side seam should match the body’s lateral (or side) line.
  2. When fitting on Matilda who has a gi-nor-mouse chest (36 G – not your average size UK 8) – the front bust line was loose and the overlapped at the front seam by at least an inch. The back was narrow, there were at least 5″/12.5cm left bare. As I had fitted the side seam to Matilda’s side seam I would expect that the front would be slightly off centre being not wide enough because of negative ease and the same with the back. In fact about an 1-2″/5-10cm each. But the back had a 5″/12.5cm gap – on a corset pattern that supposedly is a closed back, no gap pattern…
  3. The the length between the underbust and the bust lines are is very short. As you can see on Matilda, the side seam is almost a perfect length fit, considering seam allowance. But the bust line does not rise to cover the bust in a meaningful way. This is not practical as the first time the client raises her arms, the whole world will get an unexpected, if greatly appreciated, show…
  4. The sizing is very confusing. Matilida is not an ideal creature to fit as her measurements are, well, not human. They are on the other hand a size UK 16.  Being too generous in the front and nothing on the back on a 16, makes this very fishy if I am trying to fit an 8. On further research, the Ralph Pink sizing chart does not actually match any of the standard UK charts. I did some more research and made comparisons to Asos and Marks and Sparks size charts and the RP chart was off by typically on average 2 inches smaller for each measurement for the UK 8. Which begs even more confusion, if the size would be too small for a normal UK 8 then why was it so big on a UK 16?
  5. Because I had shelled out for the pattern, I decided to check how the different sizes (the pattern included sizes UK 4-20) worked. To my disappointment I discovered that they were scaled. There are some constants in body typing, for example, in most women, the hip line is 9 inches below the waist line. But, when you go up the sizes you will get wider hips, fuller busts, etc. A good commercial pattern, as we saw in figure 11, will keep the same hip to waist height or only change it a very little between sizes. A Bad pattern will scale proportionally; just get bigger evenly all over. As you can see in the image below, I laid the UK 8 pieces directly on top of the UK 18 pieces. That’s a 5 (10) size difference. The 18 is just bigger, no details of body type, size or fit considered. No consideration to the fact that in the larger sizes (16+) women’s front halves have a tendency to be fuller and their backs smaller. The only significant difference on the 18 is a higher bust line on the front centre piece. scaling in patterns

The amount of work I will have to make this pattern work is ridiculous. It would be easier and faster to hand draft the damned thing. So, onto The Ugly

THE UGLY
Why ugly? Because the artist is never satisfied with their creation. Hand drafting a pattern takes experience, guts and a big rubber.

Some prefer to use pattern paper which is a plastic coated on one side graph paper where the squares are in either inches or centimetres.  I find it overstimulating and prefer plain pattern paper or butchers paper. Just my personal preference. In the drawing below I began by using a Tsquare to draw what would become the centre front line.  Then I added, again with the Tsquare to get perfect 90 degree angles the waist, hip, underbust and bust lines. To those lines I divided each of the front measurements from Part 1 by 2 and marked the points on the corresponding lines. I then drew in the curves from one point to the next. I repeated the procedure for the back using the same lines. (fig 19 lines in red) I then stared at the original Foy patent (fig 20) for hours getting comfortable with the pattern pieces and how they fit together and then began deciding where I would take the reductions from.

If you remember from Part 1, the bust is lifted to be even with the top of the underarm putting the nipple on the SAME LINE as the top of the underarm. This means if you leave the top of the pattern on that line and don’t draw the top of the corset above that point, you will be just resting the lower half of the breast in the corset and more than likely exposing the nipple. You want to keep the top of the underarm, at this stage, as high as possible. When you come to fit the toille you will make from this first draft pattern it will be easier to tailor the bust line through the underarm and to the back. AGAIN! You can can take off the excess at the next stage, but you can’t put it back on.

Below is another reason why I like to call this state, The Ugly. There is the basic first draft that is going to allow me to create the toille. The toille, or mock up, will allow me to get the elements into the right place on the client’s body and then adjust fit, height, reduction as need be. As you can see I combined the side pieces into one as in the Foy patent. I am not entirely happy with that as I prefer, again just my preference, to have that side seam as a visual clue for corset placement and it gives me another access point to adjust the reduction/fit. So i will probably be changing that.

my first draft interpretation of the Foy

 

REMEMBER! This is not a pattern yet! This is just the first draft so that you can make the toille and then the actual pattern. What I love about the design process is that everything is fluid right up until the finished product.

Next step is to make the toille and I will cover that in Part 3 which will be a LIVE event (oh crap) held at DiscWorld Con at the end of August and hopefully recorded and uploaded to YouTube or some such after I stop drinking…

BTW! If you happen to be at #dwcon and want to ask questions, I’ll be in the bar – mine’s a dry white wine! 😉 And if I remember correctly, so’s Diane’s.

Love Abi

 

Why I wont work with UKPSFW

This was my experience as a designer attending UKPSFW last September 2015, but it starts two years earlier in January 2013.

I was contacted by, as it was then, British Plus Size Fashion Week as a new designer to pick up one of the remaining slots on the catwalk and in the market hall. I was exceptionally flattered, but having never done a show like that before I knew I had to do my research if I were to put my brand on show in an international arena. So I decided to not accept but to go to the event and see it first hand. It was a big show and did at that time really highlight a large number of plus size designers and newcomers to the market that I had not seen before. In the most part I was impressed by the variety. Yes, the high street chains were there, but their offerings were approximately 1/3 of the whole show. At the very end of the catwalk show there was some lingerie. And while the models, who were amazingly diverse and fantastic, the product on display convinced me that I could bring my designs to the show and I really did have something to offer.

Every time over the next 12 months until the next show BPSFW/UKPSFW announced that they would be posting their design packages for the next event and catwalk I inquired. During this time my business had flourished, I was selling through three distributors in boutiques throughout the US and UK. I had been covered several times in Lingerie journals and bloggers were taking notice. It wasn’t until the 2nd of January that I got the package details through. Designer 1 package with 12 catwalk looks seemed the most doable as there were only 6 weeks til the show and EVERYTHING I make is custom to fit. Excited, I tried to sign up and send them the money and asked what sizes the models would be (if they were standard). Then I heard absolutely nothing. So I asked again. And again. You know, one email may go astray right? So the date comes and goes. And there is a sheepish announcement that the event has been postponed. Well, stuff happens to the best of us. Let’s see if they can get it together next time. I’m still interested.

When they announce the September 2015 show, I am pleasantly surprised when they also contact me about being a part. I ask for the catwalk package. This year they have changed the show from previous years. There’s a preview for the press on Friday night, the catwalks on Saturday and the market on Sunday. They offered me the market package. I really wanted the catwalk, and this is important… If my product is not on the catwalk then there are no press pictures, the journalists and stars will go to the catwalk, not the market. This is where the package I purchased was so crucial. UKPSF informed me that the Indie Designer catwalk was full. BUT the Market day package included a “flashmob” catwalk, inclusion of my promotional material in all goodie bags, full page editorial ad in the show booklet, full page advert in Evolve magazine, 4 blog posts on Evolve’s website and social media coverage before during and after the event. With at least having all that coverage and the ads and my flyers in the bags I would at least reach the press, even though I wasn’t on the big catwalk.

It take a lot of money to create a show. If you look at Chantal Thomass, they create an atmosphere of exclusivity in a booth. They have models to display the lingerie on a living body to show you how it fits. So doing a “fashion show” it is best to be an event within an event.  Just as BooHoo.com had touchscreen monitors so that you could explore their catalogue, KurvyKate sized bras for the public… For an indie designer to shine amongst the High Street retailers, you really have to focus on having a polished image – all the details. Really focus on getting the message of your brand obvious and out there. Which after buying the Gold service from UKPSFW I invested nearly 2 grand in new designs and stock, hiring a print illustrator for the flyers and ads, the print runs, models, shoes, accessories, makeup kits, travel to get everyone into place and so much more in all the small details. Because off the back of these long hours and hard work it would be publicised on twitter, social media, blogged, published in magazines, handed out to each guest, shown down the runways and in our booth. It had to be perfect. It had to reflect the quality of work and detail that is sewn into each piece of lingerie. We brought our best because we believed we had something amazing to offer.

That’s if we could get there. On the 13th, which was a Sunday and the London Landmark Cycle Circuit bike race. That would not be so bad if they had not closed off every street in the vicinity of the venue. Or if the organisers of the race and the Police hadn’t chosen the space opposite the venue to have their head quarters. So there we were with no warning from the UKPSFW team that deliveries to the venue would be impossible because they did not know what was happening outside the front door. We just had notices about what times we could deliver and where just the day before – but no warning that those instructions were useless. When we called the UKPSFW staff they were flummoxed. CLUELESS and completely useless. We asked if there was a rear entrance “don’t know”. Can you speak to the front desk and ask if they know of an alternative route or how to get onto the street – “don’t know”.  At one point, the person from UKPSFW handed her phone to one of the hotel guests (venue was a hotel) to have him explain to us how he got there. He, who was completely embarrassed to be put int that position, stated that he had snuck in just before they closed off the road. Thank god I had gone to all those lengths to arranged for models to work my stall! I had to phone them to meet us at Tottenham Court Road tube station where we had pulled up on the curb to unload the van where we carried it all on the tube and on foot to the venue. We arrived an hour and a half late having spent the morning driving around London and waiting for UKPSFW to be of any help.

Taking Matilda on a tour of London….

A post shared by Abigail Tyrrell (@abigailsdrawers) on

But once we were moving we were determined not let it ruin the day! That came later. When we finally got to the venue we had less than 30 minutes to set up, steam the lingerie, get the girls dressed… oh and battle the stall across from us who had annexed our racks. We didn’t make it. The doors opened with half naked models behind improvised screens, no hair done on the models and me still madly steaming knickers. We somehow managed to get it together despite the chaos that ensued when the opened the doors. From that moment the stall was MOBBED! The public loved us! The bloggers loved us and I have made some amazing friends from that day. There were two catwalks scheduled for the day and at the first catwalk my girls rocked it! Just look at what the foot fall did to the carpet in our stall! There was a path directly from the catwalk to OUR stall! We were a HUGE hit and I have never felt so validated as a designer. It was the right thing for my brand to be there. I had earned my place at the table. Or so I thought.

Converse crew #ukplusfw #stylehasnosize #WeAreTheThey #effyourbeautystandards

A post shared by Abigail Tyrrell (@abigailsdrawers) on

Ten minutes before the second catwalk my models were called to line up. My assistant Jess escorted them so she saw everything that happened after. In the meantime, a UKPSFW staff member delivered to me the unopened boxes of my flyers that were to have gone into all the goodie bags. I was gobsmacked. At that point I had not seen or been offered a show booklet/programme. I asked for one. They avoided every request for a copy for me to check if my ad was in there. I spoke to several bloggers who had had been to all three days of the event and had the booklet and they did not remember an ad for RavenDreams. My stall being there and my brand was a total surprise to them. The second catwalk started. My girls were lined up to go last as before. They could be seen in the wings on UPSFW’s own video. But the host ended the show before they went on stage. You can actually see one of the models being prevented from going onstage. We were told that oh, the host had thought she had finished. So there was no second catwalk. Semi-panicked at this point I went to look for the stall that was supposed to sell the magazine my brand would have a full page add in – nowhere. Asked if it was in the goodie bags – no. Could I see a goodie bag – no. I checked their sites and social media for mentions – nothing. I immediately felt devastated, we rocked that event and no one was going to know.

This was the package/service I had purchased from UKPSW (Gold):

  1. Shell Space.2 clothing rails.Table for catalogues/leaflets.2 chairs. Had to fight to get the racks back.
  2. One of your outfits included in the ‘Flash Mob’ catwalk. Sizes needed TBC. We were explicitly told that having our models on both catwalks was more than welcome. Then that was revoked last second.
  3. Inclusion of your leaflets in all goodie bags at the press event, and in the catwalk shows Were returned unopened.
  4. Full page editorial advertisement in the UKPSFW show booklet, given out over the event weekend. (this will need to be created by your business. A5 size including bleed) No evidence that this happened.
  5. Full page editorial advertisement in printed Evolve Magazine, sold over the event (this will need to be created by your business. A4 size including bleed) 4 blogposts posted on Evolve Magazine’s website www.evolve-magazine.com (keywords and content can be agreed) Evolve ceased to put out print issues in Aug ’15, so no full page ad . Zero blog posts.
  6. Social Media Promotion Prior To The Event, Over The Entire Weekend & After The Event On UKPSFW social channels and Evolve’s social channels There was a total of ONE tweet a couple of weeks prior to the event.

After realising that the service/package had not been delivered and after the absolute cock-up of not being able to the venue by car/van the UKPSFW staff member immediately, and to my great relief, promised a full refund. A promise she later repeated often via email along with a promise that the Director would issue a personal apology as well.

10 months later I am still waiting.

So imaging my surprise and outrage when UKPSFW announced that they were proud to have been nominated to Best Event at BPSA. Of course I had to say something. The comment got removed. So I repeated it. To then be told that, oh we were going to contact you privately. Two working days later, NOTHING. So I commented again. THIS TIME I got a message via Face Book from the Director herself, asking for my phone number. I replied that I prefer email and gave her my address. I was informed that she would contact me the NEXT day. NOTHING. Then another FaceBook message after business hours apology and that there would be an email waiting for me at start of business. NOTHING. It has now been a full week with messages promising to message me. This is exactly how they have behaved for 10 months.

UK Plus Size Fashion Week replies on their blog, “We are very sad that you had a bad experience at our event.” They ripped me off. They sold me a service they did not provide. They gave me their word in writing of a refund. Their word means nothing. Just like all of their promises to contact me and resolve this amicably. 10 months.

Thinking of doing a fashion event? I suggest Curve.

 

How to measure yourself for a corset.

I have been asked to give a lecture at DiscWorld Con in August on “Corset Fitting and Sewing Cheats”. As part of the build up to this lecture/demo I will have to prepare a veritable sh*tload of demonstration pieces to be displayed upon my CELEBRITY MODEL (Really, there is one and she said yes and everything!)As I only have 50 minutes and there is a lot of tricks and cheats to this whole business (sorry to any other pro out there who thinks I am exposing “secretes”, but with the advance of YouTube I’d rather see people getting it right than all the schlock out there atm.) that start with how and what you measure. This will be the first of a series of articles made available here, both for the general public and the congoers (who will get first look and live demos with extras).

Let’s start with a big misconception on corset fit itself. Below we have an illustration1 which shows the differences between the modern bustline wearing a modern bra and a TudorBethan or corseted bustline. The dotted line shows the top of the underarm, and as you can see the modern bust hangs a good two to three inches lower than a corseted bust. The corset compresses and lift the bust to on the same lateral line as the underarm. This holds true even for “cupped” corsets, the bust is lifted. Keep this in mind as we begin to take all the measurements.

difference between modern and Tudor bustlines

Some other things to think about as we measure.

  • Get a buddy – doing this on your own is a PAIN IN THE ARSE. 
  • Not all bodies are symmetrical so measure both sides. This will be essential to a comfortable corset.
  • If you are nervous about knowing your actual measurements, measure in centimetres. Its a funny number that is just a number. Plus they are more accurate.

Please read the Disclaimer

 Download the Workbook PDF – how to measure for a custom corset  – with handy-dany extra columns for your measurements!
how to find your waist First start by finding your Natural Waist. No – it’s not at the top of your trousers.Take a long piece of string and hold it around your middle (usually at the height of your belly button). Now move your body bending from side to side. Allow the string to move into the crease at each side. Once the string settles, tie firmly, BUT NOT TOO TIGHTLY. You want accurate measurements. Tying the string very tight can boost your self esteem by appearing to have a smaller waist but will cause fit problems later on.

IMPORTANT!

Make sure that both feet are firmly planted an even distance apart. Uneven weight distribution will alter measurements. It may be how you stand now, but it wont be how you stand in a corset. For those with hip displacement or spinal issues, stand in your most usual and comfortable position.

 

 underbust Find your Underbust. Normally when people measure for clothing the ask for the 360 full measurement. But is something this tailored we need to recognise that our front proportions are very different from our back. In corset making the underbust is a CRUCIAL anchor point for fit – you’ll see why as we progress.

The easiest way to find your underbust is to use your bra.Take the measuring tape and pull it around your underbust (like in the picture). Now turning to the side make sure it is completely level! If you bra waves or rides up in the back – get ANOTHER piece of string and tie it firmly around your underbust. Use this in the following measurements.

Find your Median lines. This is centre front and centre back.

 

 centre point between breasts For the centre front. Take the point directly between the breast and drop a straight line down to the string at your waist. Mark that point on the string with either chalk or marker/pen. If the string easily moves out of place, then tie it a bit tighter and remark.  You will want several measurements from this point.

  1. Underbust to the Waist: At the sternum from the bottom of your bra band to your waist.
  2. Neck to Underbust: For this use the hollow of your throat straight down to the point directly between your breast and the bottom of your bra band or underbust string.

Note: check that they add up correctly by measuring the from the hollow of your throat to your waist. If they don’t it may be helpful to place a pin in your bra at the underbust as a marker.

 

 find the centre back draft_3 Find your centre back. There is a part of your spine where it turns from the cervical to the thoracic vertebrae and there is a large sticky-out bit, use that as your centre point and drop a line straight to your waist string and make a mark just like you did in the front. At this point, some may find that their spine may curve a bit. That’s OK, we will get to that.

  1. Measure the length from nape of neck to waist.
  2. Measure from underbust to waist (should be from the bottom of the your bra. (We will be measuring your underbust later. If at that time you notice that you bra is sliding up you back, as it often does, you will want to redo this measurement).
 side seam
Find your side seams. Measure from the top of your armpit (really go right up in there – the rule of cloth is You Can Take It Off But You Can’t Put It Back On!) straight down to your waist string. Try not to lift your arm above shoulder height when you do this as it will distort the measurements. At this point you will begin to see that the left and right sides may be cms different. That’s just fine!

 

 waist front Measuring the waist. Normally we take waist front measurements from the front starting at one side seam to the other, then divide that number in half when drafting patterns. If your front is symmetrical, go ahead and do that. But if it is not, for instance one hip is higher than the other, then use the centre front mark on the waist string and measure from the Right side seam to the centre from and write that in the column provided (in PDF) and the same for the Left side.

Again you can check you got it correct by measuring across the entire front and doing your sums.

 waist back Waist back. Here’s where it can be a bit tricky. Again if you are symmetrical measure the back at the waist string from side seam to side seam. But if you are not it is VASTLY important to each half separately!!! (yes! Multiple exclamation marks!!!) Non tailored backs cause quite a lot of problems with comfort!

 

Sorry, I don’t have a picture for this, but at this time I want to thank my DD (dear daughter) for posing for this set of pictures 8 years ago. Yes, it has taken me that long to get proverbial together to do this… She was the soul of patience. Although she did growl throughout the entire session. Those of you who know her, knows how very off-putting it can be. Measuring the underbust. Do exactly what you did for the waist but under the bust.

 

 underbust back Underbust back. Again the same as the waist making sure to take both sides individually if you are asymmetrical.

 

 bust measurement Here comes the FUN BIT!

Measuring your bust. Please NOTICE in the picture that the “model” has grabbed both breast and lifted them skywards! In fact has made the breast height (fullest part) on the same line as her upper armpit. She is also holding the in the position she would expect the corset would hold them (i.e. together for 17th-19th century, same position for cupped corset, flattened for 20’s).

Measure from side seam to side seam directly across the fullest part.

If you are creating a cupped corset or your breasts are uneven, and this happens a LOT. Hold them in position and then measure each one individually from the side seam to the sternum BETWEEN the breasts , above the underbust. You still need a straight line here.

 back bust measurement Still hoiking your breasts to the heavens, use the same lateral line and measure the back making sure the line you are using is level/at the same height. Again, if you are asymmetrical measure each side from the side seam to the centre back individually.

(The “model” dropped them in this pic as we could not see the bust at this angle – but you need to be holding them up.)

 lots of measurements  Again I don’t have individual images for the next few measurements.

The next set you need are below the waist. Most people get confused between their waist and top hip (which is where the top of their jeans sit) and top hip and hip (widest point of bum). You will need to do for the following exactly what you did for your waist. Both front and back.

Find your top hip. It is usually where the waist band of your jeans sits. It can be almost at any point below your waist and is the widest point where your tummy bulges out (they all do so don’t be self conscious.)

Measure:

  1. Front top hip
  2. Back top hip
  3. From your waist to your top hip

 

Find your hips. Take a measuring tape and at the widest part of your bum note the lateral line all the way around the body. This is approximately 9 inches below your waist – but isn’t always.

Measure:

  1. Front hip
  2. Back hip
  3. From your waist to your hip
  4. from your side waist to your hip
This next one determines the dip of the corset, how long the point should be. There is nothing like a too short corset creating the “spare tire” syndrome.

Mark where the top of your mons or pubic bone is. (See chart, or Google, or talk to your mum.) Measure from your waist to your pubic bone.

Optional measurements or for those doing over the shoulder corsets.

 

 shoulder  Shoulder measurements.

Obviously these are necessary for TudorBethan, 17c and other over the shoulder corsets. These next measurements are also helpful when drafting corsets if you are asymmetrical.

Shoulder from neck to the pointy bit of bone at the end of the shoulder. Do NOT use sleeve seam lines as the straps will need to be ON your shoulder or it will give you no support. trust me those straps are not meant to slide off as the do in the movies.

 top shoulder to waist draft_5  There are two shoulder to back waist measurements you absolutely need. You can use the back to front shoulder seam on a t-shirt as a guide to where to put the tape on the top of the shoulder.

Top of shoulder slope to waist. This is always necessary to do both sides as individual measurements.

 

Lower shoulder slope (by arm joint) to waist.

These are straight drops – NOT to centre back.

 front shoulder to waist measurement Front shoulder drop. Now you will usually drape this for fit but this will give you a guide of how much fabric you need. Use the same top seam where you did the back measurements. Don’t worry that the top will be in the middle of where yo measured in the back. You will address this in the toille stage.

Lift and position the breasts to the final desired corset position. From the top(ish) shoulder slope, do a straight drop measurement to the waist directly over the centre of the breast. Be sure not to raise your shoulder or shift you weight. Do both sides.

Note: some patterns show the strap tying in or sitting almost under the armpit – this for any kind of corset you want to be able to eat, drink or dance in is WRONG. But it does give you an insight into social culture where you never lift a finger (because the clothes are so constricting you can’t) which explains the need for servants. To put the strap placement there is to become what we term “Gentry TRex”.

 

Download the PFD – how to measure for a custom corset – for your records.

You now have a metric f*ckton of measurements that you will really need in Part 2: Drafting Patterns. Coming Soon! (But not today, or this week, or next, but before August or I’m in BIG trouble.)

 

 

Disclaimer: This is not for the faint of heart! Or for the ready to wear corset trade. This is for those who wish to have a custom made corset, made by themselves or to provide accurate measurements long distance to a seamstress.

1Shamefully nicked from Period Costume for Stage and Screen: 1500-1800: Patterns for Women’s Dress by Jean Hunnisett

post

What’s Wrong with Plus Size Fashion TODAY!

Women are talking about having more choice and greater range of plus size fashion.
Can you tell the difference between these three skirts?

Can you tell the difference in pattern between these three skirts?

No? Neither can I. Although one has been recently hailed as “fashion innovation”, one designed by a recent Project Runway winner and worn by an award winning actress and the other is a FREE PATTERN for the very first garment you learn to make at GCSE. I look at this and despair! How can anyone think that THIS is choice? That THIS is fashion innovation or new or even exciting? It’s a gathered skirt FFS! It is literally two rectangular pieces of fabric and a waistband. Just because someone decided to wear it over their boobs does not make it suddenly amazing! We laugh at photos of people in Walmart who do that! We can do better. WE NEED TO DO BETTER!

By taking the easiest route we are STILL training women to not believe that they are good enough for really good design. Instead, we have named stars jumping on the Fatshon band wagon and bringing out totally boring, predictable lines with no new shapes that are already in the high stores and have been for years. Can you pick out Melissa McCarthy’s pieces in the next three photo sets?mellissaskirt

melissatopmelissajeans

I did not even have to look hard to find the alternatives which were available from Simpylbe, Evans and Pin Up Girl. In fact, they had more choice of designs that were far more exciting! I know that it has only been recently that we have had access to normal fashion in larger sizes. But that can’t be all there is to plus size design. Are we saying to plus size women that it is all the same out there and there is nothing new? That the only way forward is to embrace pin up retro?

Thank GODDESS for Beth Ditto! Someone who is looking at shape in a NEW way. Designing cut for plus, that works for plus and not necessarily normal ranges.bethdittoI have a friend and costume blogger who was desperate to try out Ms. Ditto’s new line. At a size 10 she tried the smallest at a UK 14 and it just did not work for her. She is an expert seamstress and hoped to be able to take it in, but the designs, while they look very simple aren’t. The lines are for fuller figures and just wont scale down. So refreshing after the decades of all the badly scaled up clothing we have had to endure! AND POCKETS!

My message here is complacency and coasting is NOT good enough. We need to look at plus bodies and create new never been tried shapes and ideas. I have been doing that with lingerie. I am now fired to try outerwear.

 

 

Bad Reviews

I can always tell when I am going to get a bad review… Thankfully there have not been that many, but they do really hurt when I get them. Maybe this article will lose me clients or get me more bad reviews. Invariably bad reviews are for a handful of the same reasons.

  • Bad attitude. Client comes in with a bad attitude, they leave with one no matter how far backwards you bend over for them. No matter what you do it will never be enough.
  • Unhappy with the Fit. Plus size women will not measure themselves. A measuring tape is a thing of ultimate fear and humiliation. If you do not measure yourself accurately or worse yet get creative with the numbers – it wont fit and there is nothing I can do about it. This is happening more and more often and I have recently had to add a size chart to every listing on every platform because a link to the size chart is not enough. Now while I can deal with the 10cm problem (4 inches between sizes), having incorrectly measured by 3 sizes is not helpful. And then to complain publicly that the fit is wrong, or the material is not stretchy enough… In each case I have offered to remake the item – that’s money out of my pocket for their mistake – and they still give me a mediocre review. See above.
  • Time wasters. These are the ones who never buy. They are the most populated group and it happens about twice a week. They ask a million questions and want alterations to the design and materials. What they really want is the attention they are getting from a professional that makes them feel special and listened to. The fantasy of owning the item is another big part of the dream. But they don’t have the money. They just really want to be your friend. Which is fine and nice – but I work to pay my bills and having these discussions is a huge time suck. Doing the research on alterations to designs, finding fabrics in different colours, new laces, etc. it takes hours that wont be recouped in the sale of a single item. Where the break even is in the sale of a second or third item in the same pattern, colour or materials. I do a lot of custom work but the only people who complain are the ones who when you draw the line and ask them politely to order, get angry that I am not grateful for their patronage and then blacken my name and brand to everyone within the reach of their social media accounts.

What makes this so frustrating is the some of the eCommerce platforms don’t allow you to respond to the criticism. The bad crit stands unanswered. I want to make my clients happy – no – ecstatic, but I have to realise that that wont always happen for reasons I have no ability to fix or fight. It really does hurt me personally every-time there is a biased comment about my work. If I have screwed up and made a bad garment, then I deserve it. But to be lambasted for doing my best for people who aren’t doing theirs… I can’t stop the unreasoned bad reviews. Maybe I should start being more firm and stern with the clients who don’t hold up their end of the conversation/transaction.

What do you think?
Should I remake items when I have been given the wrong measurements?
Should I entertain the time wasters?
Should I continue to bear the bad attitude with silence or call them out here?