Costume People:

We thought this was a pretty cool perspective, and had to share it!

Originally posted on Silver Stitches:


While I was researching corsets on the internet, I inevitably came across the practice of tight-lacing, aka corset training, aka waist training. It has occurred to me that tight-lacing could be classified in the same category as anorexia.

There isn’t any problem with using a corset to help give your waist a little bit of definition — that’s along the lines of dieting to shed a few pounds, or wearing makeup, and fits within the range of normal behavior. However, tight-lacers seem to be obsessed with the waist measurement, and forget that their waists are part of a whole. What makes bodies attractive are the hips-waist-bust ratios, and when the waists are proportionately too small, it leaves people feeling rather repulsed as they wonder if they’ve stumbled into a Cirque du Freak show.


There doesn’t seem to be any sort of “Stop” signal in their minds — they keep thinking…

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How to stay on a roll…

Costume People:

This is Leslie’s blog, so, thought we’d share it on here since we can probably all relate to this problem.

Originally posted on buggy bag® blog:

I’ve been on a roll for quite some time now.  I’m not even sure how long it’s been… since pilot season I guess.  That would be last spring.  In my estimation, I’ve had approximately 11 days off since then. Today is not supposed to be one of them and I’ll likely start working right after I’m finished writing this, but, for now, I’m calling it a day off.

What does a person who works that many hours do on a day off? Glad you asked. 

I’m one of those crazy seamstresses who likes to use a rolling office chair at the machines. That way I can roll back and forth between machines to save time. It’s all about saving time you see. So, when the rolling begins to become more like work, I know I have to take some action and do some cleaning. Don’t get me wrong… I sweep…

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My Mom…the Hooker

Originally posted on buggy bag® blog:

I think I was in grade five when I got frost bite on my toes while skiing at Monte Ste. Anne in Quebec.  What I do know is that I’ve had cold feet ever since.

Yeah, yeah you’re probably thinking, “Why does she always have to make these posts about herself? Get to the story already.”   … because it’s MY blog…and I’m getting to it…ok?

What’s the one thing in my closet I can’t live without? My sock drawer! Bet you didn’t see that one coming.  My sock drawer has the most amazing collection of hand knitted wool socks you can possibly imagine. Although I love ‘open toe’ season, I also really love my wool socks. Every time I go anywhere that I have to take my shoes off I immediately get compliments on my socks. I’m not kidding you! It happens ALL the time. And for good reason. I have memorable socks.My socks are…

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A New Custom Cashmere Coat for Alison

A lovely woman named Alison has been cutting and colouring my hair for the past 8 years.  She has seen me through the last of my brunette days.  Through the stainless steel fresh head of incredibly short hair post-chemotherapy.  She also trimmed and styled my wig during ‘that’ time.  I now sport a shoulder length sort of platinum grey blond and I like it a lot!

She’s a marvelously stylish woman and it is always a pleasure to see her.   It is fun to catch up and as we share a similar sense of humour we laugh plenty.

Just before Christmas Alison commissioned a Cashmere Coat for herself and here is a closeup of some of the details.

Alison's Custom Cashmere Coatmere Coat

We started with a conversation and a sketch.  I made two mock-ups in order to get the collar ‘just so’.  It stands nicely and frames her face.  It is 3/4 length with an inverted pleat and slit at the center back.  The sleeve tapers at the forearm and slightly flares again over the hands.  She wanted a “really wearable” coat that would last.

Alison's Cashmere Coat 2

The stats:     ‘Best Quality’ Black Cashmere, Real Corozo (Tagua) Nut Buttons, Lambskin bound buttonholes, Black Patent Leather (real leather)  pinked trims set in,  fully lined in crepe back polyester satin.  Hair canvas and assorted fusibles, tapes, and lambswool used for the tailoring.

Alison has been wearing her new coat for the past month and still loves it.  Working with a custom client can be a real pleasure.  Thank you for the patronage Alison!


Posted in Buttons, Custom Clothing, Custom Sewing, Cutting, Fashion, Patternmaking, Patternmaking, Projects, Sewing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine blog photo 2013_wm

This is my own version of a romantic heart pillow.  The red cashmere wool is a scrap left over from the Santa suit I made for a movie called The Search for Santa Paws and the buttons are all ‘real’ pearl buttons collected over the years. I have to give credit to the designer Patrick Kelly for the original inspiration of hearts and buttons. His whimsical fashion design motifs left a lasting impression.

May we all have our hearts desire come true.


Posted in Buttons, Crafts, Embellishment, Film Work, home decorating, Inspiration, Pillows, Sewing, Uncategorized, Valentine craft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Costume People:

A wonderful blog about the loss of quality tools. I miss the day when ‘investing’ in the best quality tools you could afford was part of a craftperson’s stock in their trade.

Originally posted on buggy bag® blog:

It used to be that you could buy something, and, if it was designed and manufactured with thoughtfulness, it would work for a very long time.  And the great thing about it was the fact that, if it did malfunction, you could either take it to someone to get it fixed, or you could fix it yourself. I have repaired many things myself or taken them to someone to be fixed. For instance, my watch… St. Moritz, made in Canada, I have had it since 1989, it is still stylin’. I’ve had many new batteries put in it, and I’ve had it serviced a few times… It’s great quality, built on the old style mentality of quality is best. Yes, this company has never sold me another watch, but, I think that the number of watches that I’ve sold for them by boasting about the quality of mine probably…

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When Character Meets Costume – The ‘Punk’ Union Jack Corset

What’s my Motivation????? (That’s me trying to sound like the great Marlon Brando.)

It is a great job and interesting work to produce fashion. But when we’re asked to make clothing that will be worn by a story character there is an element of that story that informs all of the choices made throughout the patterning, cutting, and sewing process. The elements of character turn garment production into Costume Making. It may seem like an odd question to ask when we’re hired for costume making – but really…..”What’s my motivation?” Knowing even a little about the story line and character traits makes a significant difference. Happy pocket? vs Sad pocket? ….or… Demure bow? vs Mean, Nasty, Imperious Bow!

See? – I knew you would understand.

Making clothing for story characters ranks up there as our most beloved part of all this cutting and sewing business. This is true whether we’re working on a historically correct Edwardian piece or on a Science Fiction item.

The question of adding character takes a fashion item and turns it into a Costume.

It is an honour to be commissioned to make a special occasion gown. Even though the outfit will be worn for a real life specific event there’s a story, a plot and a vision for the client. In that way wedding and formal reception gowns sit right next door to costumes. The client has a specific event site (the set), there is a story (getting married), and character traits (you name it – it’s been done) inform the entire dressmaking process. Making gowns for movies gets even more interesting.

Real life special occasion gowns rarely go through any sort of breakdown. They are pristine and new by definition. But once it becomes a dress for Miss Havisham…..well…..that’s more fun than ever for us as costume makers. A lovely perfect breakdown of the garment to suit the character. Wedding lace and silk tattered and shredded and made to look like years of wearing and dirt. OOOooohhh….shiver…….I’m getting goosebumps.

The challenge comes in making it look that old but not actually smell that old – actors still have to wear this costume after all. I take it as a personal challenge to be able to make something that looks quite ancient on the outside but next to the skin it is smooth and fresh. Add to that the question of multiples. What appears as one costume may in fact be many versions of one item in various stages of worn in, broken down, and disaster struck. Now the costuming process becomes even more soaked in complexity and glorious character.

Many people think it must just kill us to see a lovely and new garment go-through-the-wringer of breakdown and distressing but it isn’t so. For us it brings personality to the piece. Now this otherwise ordinary item (even in the case of fabulous period gowns) really has a story to tell. And we love a good story!

That was just the preamble for what I’m really trying to show you.

We thought it would be fun to experiment with adding a ‘punk‘ element to our Union Jack Corset.

So after a little photo research here and here and here, and given that this is the year of both the Queen’s Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics there was inspiration in the air.

Here’s the result (the 360 degree review)

Here’s a list of the basic changes made from the original pattern making, cutting and making. (see previous blog posts.)

Size altered to leave a larger gap between the center back lacings – it gives the back of the garment extra texture.

Waist nipped in to push the bust/waist/hip contour lines to small fetish (but not quite full fetish) waist shaping.

small changes at center back and waist shown in coloured pencil

The exterior coutil layer has been replaced with a beat up firm plain weave cotton. It is in fact a scrap that was left from when I made the winter parkas worn by James Coburn playing the character of Thunder Jack in Snow Dogs . Those parkas were made from a thoroughly scoured cloth that started out as oiled Australian Outback Coat material. (By-The-Way – I am not a hoarder. Have I asserted that before?)

White coutil for the lining and Oiled Cloth (scoured) for the exterior panels. Flag colour chips sit on top of the exterior layer.

Almost all of the piecing seams are pieced with the seam allowance to the outside – more textural.

Piecing seams to the exterior, construction seams to the interior. Messy (but still accurate for fit) is okay for this one.

The busk is replaced with a salvaged zipper and two leather belt straps.

The edge bindings are replaced with a stabilizing twill tape triple stitched on the inside and then the top and hem edges are left raw.

Embellishments of studs, grommets, chain, graffiti of acrylic paint and ink.

Selective bleach splash and wash/tumble dry.

The exterior is pieced together and basted at center front – now is when most of the “wash down” happens.

Before bleach, TSP (tri-sodium phosphate), and detergent.

After the distressing wash, tumble dry and press. Most of the studs and graffiti embellishment were added at this stage – before putting in the lining or bones.

Ohhh la la la – It was so much fun to make – Let loose the sewing restraints and let fly! That much fun at work?…..and it’s legal!…..I have the best job ever. :) :)


Posted in Corsetry, Cutting, Embellishment, Film Work, Inspiration, Patternmaking, Projects, Sewing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments