The Symington Pretty Housemaid Corset1890

The original corset is housed at the Symington museum  I found the pattern in Corsets: Historic Patterns and Techniques, by Jill Sale.  The original is made of twill, cording and lightly boned with wale bone.  I redrafted the pattern to fit myself and made it from twill, hemp cording and flat steel boning.  I used a flat busk because the spoon busk did not fit the budget and only came in silver.  The most unusual thing I did was use leather for the center front, back and binding.  I also used a Japanese cotton fabric with gold flowers.

This is the second corset I have sewn and I feel it has turned out well. I struggled with an underpowered sewing machine but now that I have a semi industrial Singer 201k I do not think I will have that problem again.

I really love the way this corset looks and I have started a gown to go with it.




The original Symington Corset


The final product


Cording is added


After cording I trimmed the panels and began sewing them together.


SAM the mouse watched me force a Featherweight to sew leather


Set the busk and neatened up the top and bottom


Here is the back of the flossing, I made a full lining so nobody would have to see it again




Here it is!

I am not completely happy with the fit.  The bust is a little too small, but it seems to be stretching a little and the bones are starting to curve.   I think he cording swelled up and took up a bit of width. It was fun to make and comfortable to wear and I will be making another one soon.


Nervous Thoughts

Walking downtown Spokane on Saturday, dressed up like a Jedi, I had some thought about how we see someone that dose not fit in to our daily tableau, as well as how it feels.


That morning I had attended the Lilac City Comicon. Being downtown I took some time to eat some ice-cream and go to the bookstore.  I received some strange looks, but most interactions were people wondering what was going on.  I was happy to direct them to the convention center, and it was good to see how excited people were about comics.

What if I was wearing an elaborate outfit without an event?

Can I go out to coffee in a kimono?  May I have lunch in a rococo gown?

Can we wear something from a time that is not ours? From a culture that is not ours?

Are you bothered by people appropriating your culture or do you encourage the experience?

What are you wearing, and why are you wearing it?

Jedi Disguise for the Infinity Geek

Chris Dorsey of Infinity Geek needs to masquerade as a Jedi by April 15, 2015. Chris is a fantastic writer who researches and explores the Geek civilization.  He specializes in their worship of the deity, Sci-Fi, particularly their rituals of Veedeeo Games, pictograph books, and religious texts.  He has introduced me to the great cannon of X-Wings.

I will be inventing a pattern based on my vastly insufficient knowledge of Jedi culture.  They lived so long ago and so far away that there is no existing artifacts form there culture.  I looked thorough pages of pictures and the outfit was a ghost of 14th century Japan and Europe.  Looking at early concept art that was the Japanese influence was verified. Here is an early concept from Ralph McQuarrie of Obi Wan Kenobi.


Here is a model from the Kyoto Custume Musem,


2a 3a

I am surprised Ralph McQuarrie did not look to the Dutch influenced fashion of the early 15th century.  Chris will agree with me on his need for a ruff, I know he will for his own good.


The drape and flow of the Jedi’s outfit is similar to medieval European clothing.

He we see Lamech, sporting a nice and flowing cotehardie  as he is tormented by his wives in this 14thc German manuscript.


The best part of the eastern and western styles?  They are both rectangular construction, meaning they are both made of simple geometric shapes.

Elements of the outfit:

The hardest part was sorting out the layers.  On Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi both display three layers of collars.  There is an outer layer that mimics a subdued Kataginu (the sleeveless, sideless vest.) that sometimes crosses in the front and sometimes has a V cut in the back.

The next layer down looks to be a robe halfway between a cotehardie and a lined kimono.  It has the flare, drape and, sleeves of the cotehardie and construction and collar of a lined kimono.  The kimono is where the ridge on the shoulder comes from. The drape is from the weight of the fabric that is most likely silk.

(The Jedi say they wear rough clothes to help them focus, but I suspect itchy underwear do more to distract.)(Confirmed that the film costume is silk

The last layer down looks to be close fitting with the same wrap front as the robe.  It is mostly hidden so I will make it for comfort and practicality (as well as minimal seams for time.)  I will make simple close fitting sleeves with my new-and-improved-for-machine gussets.

The belt looks like a simplified obi with a belt over the top.


I will be using an amalgamation of Simplicity 4080 kimono for the awesome way to line the robe, my all-purpose tunic pattern for the base layer, and Reconstructing History’s RH416 Sengoku men’s outfit.  I will be drafting most of this as I go.


For the sake of speed and budget I will be using a soft flowing cotton for the robe, some gray scrap cotton for the Kataginu and obi, and lots of natural cotton muslin for everything else.  We will look in to dying things later.

Frankenpattern: adapting simplicity 4080

This is what I found on clearance


It is a costume, but it is lined and will be an acceptable place to start seeing I have no access to a real kimono.

Here is a diagram of some things I have adapted

Scan 2

  1. I cut the body panels straight just using the width of the pattern.
  2. I added 10in so that I could belt the kimono with a fold.
  3. Cut after you cut the back of the neck, this will help them line up.
  4. Back neck mostly unchanged.  From what I have seen the space at the back of the neck is changed by how you put on the kimono and belt, not how deep it is cut.
  5. I cut the overlap off the body on the pattern and added 1 ¼ in to the overlap. Next time I will cut it rectangle and cut the neckline on the overlap at the same time as the body.
  6. I moved the collar seem from the center to the thirds.
  7. I added a bit to the width of the collar so that I can roll it in thirds like the traditional pattern rather than in half. I have read to change the iron to wool and not use steam to keep the soft fold.

The sleeves are unchanged.

I think the most amazing part of the simplicity pattern is the instructions for making the lined sleeves and body.  I have not been able to verify the authenticity, but they are amazing to do, like a magic trick.  I had to make a miniature mockup to understand the wonder.

It was 100% ta-da!!!

New Vector Plotted

I have put the stays aside for now because I have discovered that my torso is vastly longer then the pattern and I am not in a mood to fight it at this time.  Instead I have picked up a quick project.
I decided that I needed a robe.  The one I have is a penelton wool wonder that is fantastic for deep winter but unsuitable for over bare skin.  After having watched for one at stores and being unsatisfied with what I found I went to my stash of fabric and found 10 yards of a horrid plaid print in indigo.  Armed with the tacky quilting cotton I have decided to make a kimono.
I have some vague instructions on how a kimono is put together as well as a inaccurate simplicity pattern 4080.  I will use the simplicity pattern as a rough guide and modify it to better fit the traditional methods.

The first thing I did was add 8 inches to the length so that I can make a belted kimono.
Pictures to come.

18th century stays

My next project is 18th century stays using the Buterick B4254.


I love the look of all the stays and the conical shape it gives.  I also want an excuse to make some pocket hoops and were a fantastic mountainous wig.

I have a steam-punk gown in mind based on Marie Antoinette’s Coiffure à la Belle-Poule.


I wish to make an airship headdress and a court dress out of a transparent material so that all the support structure is visible like the struts on the the canvas of the airship.
The stays themselves will be indigo decorated with  sahiko stitching.  All the bone channels remind me of Japanese armor so I thought I would play with the visuals, perhaps someday it will inspire a dress all on its own.
Carry-History-SriThreads-Sashiko-Bag-2 l_a664c680-21de-11e2-ae0c-d319fac00008 mibcxfUAnN_H5MfrOKRBf6Q
I am on a mission to find good indigo cloth, it will have to be synthetic so the dye will not bleed all over. I am thinking about 6 oz denim.