PDA

View Full Version : Tips For Beginners


BsWN
02-23-2011, 05:53 PM
Yeah, I'm now sorta really getting into historical costuming, or at least historically inspired dresses. ^^

So, any tips?

Tips for corsets.
Tips for skirts.
Tips for hoopskirts.
Tips on fabrics.
Tips on how to get the particular look you're going for, (whether it be a certain type of bustle, or a type of fabric, ect. that help you get that poofy or slimming look).
Tips on hand-sewn details.
Tips on how to make sure it has that historical look about it.
And finally, tips on accessories.

Just overall things that are good to know if you're a beginner. ^^"

O.O Maybe I should organize them?

Add-on= And I figure this thread can also be used for requesting tips perhaps?

Mehdia
02-23-2011, 10:13 PM
My biggest tip for ANYTHING historically based would be research. Even if you aren't doing historically accurate, research the time you are taking your direction from. That will help you figure out where you are going and what little things stand out from the era you want to portray.

As for particular items, I do a lot of corsets, and I would say that the main thing for those is to take your time, use the right kind of fabrics that will be sturdy, and use strong boning and laces. I prefer steel boning, though I'm sure there are some people out there that would prefer to use plastic boning (even if that stuff does irritate me to no end, someone out there likes it). For bustles, make sure that the underneath structure is well done. That will give you the nice silhouette you are going for. I'm sure others that do far more historical work than I can give better pointers for particulars. I just use history as a jumping off point for designing and constructing some costumes.

Kelley
02-24-2011, 01:40 AM
Seconding research. :) I know I've spent *months* doing research before even picking out fabric. If you care about historical accuracy it will save you a lot of going back and hitting yourself later !

Even if you're doing something that isn't 100% historical, having a good working knowledge of styles and constructions from the era you're drawing inspiration from is good. If you don't - you end up with the "copy of a copy" effect - you're just working off sketchy recollection and ideas that other people have sourced or ones they've taken from second-hand sources. This leads to everything looking kind of homogenous and same-y.

This is the thing about just following patterns or tutorials without doing your own research - you're leaning on someone else and your own input is stunted. Now, this might be PERFECTLY FINE (if I just want to make generic pantaloons, I might as well stand on someone's shoulders by altering a pattern rather than drafting my own from scratch), depending on what you want - but it's really nice to be able to do what *you* want and to be able to incorporate other ideas if you want to.

Having a good historical background allows you to be more creative and inject new ideas into something. :)



Once you start researching, a lot of your questions will answer themselves.

Corsets : There are TONS of kinds. I would recommend starting with Elizabethan and working your way up - not necessarily making them, but observing how they changed - in material and form and function. This will give you lots of ideas and will give you a good idea of how they work.

The one thing I see with corsets that I'm not fond of is everyone using the same generic patterns. Corsets are difficult to draft - so I understand not drafting from the ground up. However, try to inject something *new* into it. Now, making pure historical replicas can be interesting and fun - but I get the impression that you're not doing that ? That's okay, I would just suggest taking a good look at historical inspirations and taking something *new* and *interesting* away from them. You can do SO MANY interesting things with corsets, it's a shame most I see on conventions are just plain or gaudy brocade worn as outerwear without really being incorporated into the outfit as a whole. The idea of "undress" can give some ideas on how to show off a corset while not looking the same as everyone else.



With my pet peeve rant out of the way :P ... I think you need to focus in on a certain era or concept. Go from there. You mention "hoop skirts", which could refer to anything from farthingales to huge crinolines. It's hard to give advice without knowing what exactly you want to do.

Once you start to research and explore more fabrics in person, you'll get a better feel for what things "are". Once you start seeing patterns and understanding how they work, you'll be able to look at any given dress and have an idea of how it was put together. :)

I would suggest reading about the kinds of fabric used and seeking out these fabrics to see and feel in person. It will give you a good idea of how they "work".



Another bit of advice is that *you* matter. To look "historic", YOU have to look historic. Now, there is only so much you can do - but hairstyle and makeup choices are all under your control - so is posture. These matter quite a bit if you want to take pictures that look "historic" - and many people overlook them. I've seen lots of women in lovely Elizabethan or Victorian gowns who are wearing very modern-looking makeup and it causes you to be pulled forward in time. I don't suggest using toxic historical recipes - but there are plenty of ways that you can use modern makeups to achieve the same look. :)

These ideas can be used in quasi-historical costumes, too - taking the makeup and altering it to fit with what you've created.

BsWN
02-24-2011, 07:16 PM
Thank you so much. ^^ I'm actually in the process of making my first... corset-type-thing so I'm unhappy with myself at not thinking of researching O.O And I personally, never use a pattern, unless I draw it out myself, since those things scare and confuse the shit out of me. ^^" So research is a very good idea. O.O

Brsis
02-25-2011, 04:06 AM
These were the tips that a wardrobe mistress I was doing work experience with gave me (Sort of shortened and paraphrased but essentially the same none-the-less) and they've sort of kept me in check ever since ^.^

1. The past was not brown. Neither was it black and white except on rare occasions.

2. France is not the centre of the world.

3. Only the young and the rich follow fashion

4. Never half-ass undergarments

5. Where there's a will, someone else has done it before you go find them and copy what they did except better it'll take half the time and solve half your problems before you even start.

She was a pragmatic woman :eek:

BsWN
02-25-2011, 11:23 AM
^^ I actually have specific questions now ^^"

Where are the best places to put boning on a corset?

Is toule (I'm not sure if I spelled that right >.<) a yes or a no? O.O

What's the best stuff to make a hoopskirt/crinoline out of?

Sarcasm-hime
02-25-2011, 06:54 PM
Where to put boning really depends on what era you're doing. For modern corsets people often bone the seam allowances, but that's just one way to do it.

Toule? Do you mean toile? As in a mockup? You should always do a mockup of everything before using good fabric.

There's soaker hose, which is a cheap and easy solution, or proper hoop steel. It depends on how much money you want to spend and how important historical accuracy is to you.

You need to figure out what era you want, and then do a lot of reading and research. Every era has tons of sites, books and info out there.

Brsis
02-26-2011, 05:33 PM
What's the best stuff to make a hoopskirt/crinoline out of?

I agree with Sarcasm-hime on the corset and toile questions, btw.

Hoop steel is my personal preference, I find hoop wire (The kind that has two wires at either side of a ribbon) rather more annoying to work with and I've never tried the plastic tubing thing, although I've seen it look really excellent and really not excellent, so I think you have to pay attention.

I've found a lot of historical references to good crinolines being made of inexpensive bombazine, which no longer exists (Or at least, can no longer be found easily or for less than stupid quantities of money - I think highly formal black priest's cassocks are still made from silk-wool bombazine, which gives clues to weight and finish, although I think silk-cotton would have been the stuff they used for fine crinolines) so you've got to consider a little. You want something with a reasonably neat weave (Nothing too open!) and no stretch. If you are using well reinforced boning channels, it doesn't even have to be very heavy. I usually use pre-made channel tape, which is very solid, and then regular weight poly-cottons or whatever I can get reasonably cheap (I have a bustle made from an old damask table cloth, this is about the heaviest I have used! Most of the underpinnings are sheets, to be honest). I have to be able to store my hoops for long times, so I prefer poly-cotton because I can't iron the skirt without great hassle and cotton will set into wrinkles.

BsWN
02-27-2011, 12:26 AM
By toule/toile(?) I mean the stuff that can possibly make a skirt poofy? this? (http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://ny-image0.etsy.com/il_fullxfull.95146684.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php%3Flisting_id%3D32329396&usg=__fxc_eSVJ_v9DNqYExS2XdBMeq1g=&h=702&w=527&sz=39&hl=en&start=123&sig2=Gl-hhuBEOihanJuz_9z0uA&zoom=1&tbnid=S3y5kpPHbHwMVM:&tbnh=136&tbnw=104&ei=095pTbfUIpO4tgfQ0J3mAg&prev=/images%3Fq%3DPanina%2BTornai%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D102 0%26bih%3D585%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:10%2C2961&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=704&vpy=76&dur=1042&hovh=259&hovw=194&tx=102&ty=161&oei=Pt5pTcKzDsGC8ga2sYWmCw&page=7&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:12,s:123&biw=1020&bih=585)

I find it's used in wedding dresses most often; I think. o.o

Ah, hoopskirts sound complicated O.O And with the corset boning, I'm more looking for places that would give support and create a basic shape. Right now, historically accurate doesn't matter, I'm just trying to get comfortable with making dresses. ^^"

Brsis
02-27-2011, 02:09 PM
By toule/toile(?) I mean the stuff that can possibly make a skirt poofy? this? (http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://ny-image0.etsy.com/il_fullxfull.95146684.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php%3Flisting_id%3D32329396&usg=__fxc_eSVJ_v9DNqYExS2XdBMeq1g=&h=702&w=527&sz=39&hl=en&start=123&sig2=Gl-hhuBEOihanJuz_9z0uA&zoom=1&tbnid=S3y5kpPHbHwMVM:&tbnh=136&tbnw=104&ei=095pTbfUIpO4tgfQ0J3mAg&prev=/images%3Fq%3DPanina%2BTornai%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D102 0%26bih%3D585%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:10%2C2961&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=704&vpy=76&dur=1042&hovh=259&hovw=194&tx=102&ty=161&oei=Pt5pTcKzDsGC8ga2sYWmCw&page=7&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:12,s:123&biw=1020&bih=585)

I find it's used in wedding dresses most often; I think. o.o

Ah, hoopskirts sound complicated O.O And with the corset boning, I'm more looking for places that would give support and create a basic shape. Right now, historically accurate doesn't matter, I'm just trying to get comfortable with making dresses. ^^"

Oh, tulle

Now, see, it's easy to get confused (As in, even fabric shops do!). 'Tulle' is very light weight, often silk or a silk substitute, expensive, soft, and it's used for bridal veils and ballerina's costumes. When it's used on wedding dresses, it's usually as an over-layer or a top-layer.

The stuff that goes under the skirts of wedding dresses, on the other hand, to make them poofy, is dress net. Which is nearly always polyester, very stiff, and gives AWESOME BODY. Cons are, it's VERY scratchy and sharp when cut. You want a soft under-layer (I like cotton) to protect your legs, and another one on top to protect your dress if it's a nice fabric that's going to snag. Binding your seams and hems also helps a lot.

BsWN
02-27-2011, 08:03 PM
Oh, tulle

Now, see, it's easy to get confused (As in, even fabric shops do!). 'Tulle' is very light weight, often silk or a silk substitute, expensive, soft, and it's used for bridal veils and ballerina's costumes. When it's used on wedding dresses, it's usually as an over-layer or a top-layer.

The stuff that goes under the skirts of wedding dresses, on the other hand, to make them poofy, is dress net. Which is nearly always polyester, very stiff, and gives AWESOME BODY. Cons are, it's VERY scratchy and sharp when cut. You want a soft under-layer (I like cotton) to protect your legs, and another one on top to protect your dress if it's a nice fabric that's going to snag. Binding your seams and hems also helps a lot.

Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooh. >.<" I see now. ^^" Thank you, that makes my life far easier.

Kelley
02-28-2011, 12:54 AM
Dress net is a rather modern invention / concept. The closest thing I can think of, historically, is crinoline or cording. Nothing stops you from "cheating", though (although you need to be careful if you're trying to achieve a specific look or are doing something where historical accuracy is very important). ;p

Hoop skirts were invented and helped "free" women from many layers of heavy petticoats. There were corded petticoats, bustles, hoops, crinoline, wires , reeds, cages - many things used to stiffen skirts and things used to give different shapes that varied from era to era.

I think all-tulle-covered skirts like that look too modern unless they're actually part of a ballet costume or something. They look very "prom dress" to me. I would be really careful using one if I were going for a historical feel - I think it would be difficult to counteract the cultural association with modern proms / weddings unless you were very careful.


Tulle was used decoratively - as an etherial layer over the fashion fabric and things like that.

Narnian
02-28-2011, 02:58 PM
A tip about fabric. ALWAYS buy more than you think you need. If you think you need 4 yds. get 5 and so on. Having extra fabric is so helpful and will usually prevent the unpleasant surprise of having to return to the fabric store for more fabric that doesn't exist anymore.

SinfulDesires
03-25-2011, 11:38 PM
Answering about corsets.

What kind of corset are you looking for? There are TONS. Tudor, Elizabethan, Edwardian, Regency, Victorian...

All are boned and made differently. And have different purposes. Example: Tudor corsets basically made you into a tube. Yes it gave you "cleavage" but it did so by flattening your breasts. On the other hand, Victorian corsets push your breasts up and the corset is made to squeeze you around your waist giving you that wonderful hour glass shape. ^^

It bugs the crap outta me when people go to renaissance faires in Victorian corsets. x.x Why? Because they didn't do their research! ^^

Emiko87
03-26-2011, 02:55 PM
Answering about corsets.

What kind of corset are you looking for? There are TONS. Tudor, Elizabethan, Edwardian, Regency, Victorian...

All are boned and made differently. And have different purposes. Example: Tudor corsets basically made you into a tube. Yes it gave you "cleavage" but it did so by flattening your breasts. On the other hand, Victorian corsets push your breasts up and the corset is made to squeeze you around your waist giving you that wonderful hour glass shape. ^^


So what's the difference between an Edwardian and a Victorian corset? I have an interest in making some corsets (eventually, when I get time T.T ), to wear as bodices, outerwear, though I might like to have one for underwear as well. I have a pattern for a Civil War-era corset: http://www.simplicity.com/p-1802-costumes.aspx and a friend of mine who does Civil War reenacting gave me a partly finished one which I plan to use as a construction reference when making one. Now, I want to make the top of it higher by cutting curves into it so that it has an edge kind of like this: http://artisania.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/gold-natural-silk-sophsticat-corset.jpg because I think that's prettier than the flat edge the pattern shows. I don't think that will be a problem as I plan to make mockups till I get a cut I like, but I would also like to try Victorian style corsets, and I don't know a good pattern for them, or how they differ from Edwardian ones (I didn't even know there was a difference :confused: ) Can you tell me, or show me, what the difference is, and maybe tell me what's a good pattern to use? I would be primarily looking for a pattern that can be made up to look pretty for outerwear, but also that I could potentially wear as underwear. Now I don't want to train my waist, or even to take it in too much, just the 2-4 inches that seem to be the norm, as I want to give myself a nice shape, like so: http://chicstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/corset-views.jpg (granted it's shown on a mannequin but that's the basic silhouette I'm looking for) but not take my waist in so much that it looks out of proportion, like so: http://www.kelleysstyle.com/site_admin/product_image/Brocade%20Corset.JPG and I definitely don't want the weird BAM HIPS AND/OR BOOBS effect, like so: http://www.ladywaisted.com/images/largeimages/overbust/ladywaisted_corset_ov_maids.jpg
http://www.fancylingerie.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Madame-Sher-corset.jpg
Any help for a newbie would be appreciated, thanks!

Brsis
03-26-2011, 06:48 PM
((Is Elizabethan not the same as Tudor? Not that there are many references to support Henrician styles...))

The shape of undergarments shifts from fashion to fashion and subsequently, in the 19th and 20th centuries (When fashion changed every five to ten years) they change around quite a bit!

In short, for England and France;

Prior to 16th Century; Guesswork (There is, as far as I know, no surviving items prior to the mid 1500's)

16th Century (Particularly the rein of Queen Elizabeth I); Pair of Bodies (http://www.freewebs.com/bessdarnley/real%20effigy.jpg)
These bodies are from the funeral effigy of Queen Elizabeth I and there's a good replica pattern of them in 'The Tudor Tailor' which I recommend with two caveats; the bodies in question were most likely never worn by a person, and the effigy was redressed in the 1740's and I've heard there's some argument over which pieces were replaced.

From 1620 to around 1690, under-bodices disappear. Boning is built into the dresses themselves, making the construction of one of these styles VERY challenging. They don't come back in until the later styles of mantua.

The entirety of the 18th century (More or less) is the domain of the Stays (http://sophiethepearl.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/07/18/stays.jpg). This changes slightly through the century from the robe a volante style of undress, through to the classic sack back robe a la francais and later the robe a la anglais. During these times there are also 'jumps' which are un-boned stays, worn for 'undress' or casual wear.

The very end of the century (With the chemise au reine and the robe round) which leads into the beginning of the 19th century (And the empire line dresses of the Regency period) sees women shrugging off underwear again. The Regency Corset (http://www.janeausten.co.uk/graphics/1819stay.jpg) (Right) is an obvious transition between the stays and the later corsets, but there's some debate on how widely worn they actually were. There were also short, bra-like garments (Left) worn at the same time.

I believe Reconstructing History has patterns for both Stays and Regency Corsets (SOMEONE does a decent Regency corset pattern if it isn't Reconstructing History) or you can get them from books.

(TBC - I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW MUCH I WRITE apparently it's too much for one post or something...?)

Brsis
03-26-2011, 06:51 PM
The late Regency period (When waists drop and dresses become more substantial again) moving into the crinoline skirt is the era of the Short Corset (http://treadletreasuresofebay.com/resources/BuskCorsetFront1.jpg). This is designed to nip in the waist, support the bust and the weight of petticoats or steel hoops.

The Simplicity Civil War Undergarments pattern (I think it's 9769) is actually a damn good pattern for this one, even though the instructions are a little bit inadequate and it has the usual Simplicity problem of just being Plain Too Big. Laughing Moon, Reconstructing History and Truly Victorian all have patterns, as well as some books.

The late Victorian period sees fashions that fit neatly over the hips, prompting the shift to the Long Corset (http://www.lafnmoon.com/images/silver.jpg). This smooths the line over the hips as well as putting more emphasis into the bust. As you move into the Edwardian period, it gets even longer and sometimes has attached suspenders, which gives the typical silhouette of the Edwardian Corset (http://ny-image0.etsy.com/il_fullxfull.56928864.jpg).

Also during the Victorian period is the Underbust, Swiss or Ribbon Corset (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_njxYs6YNZ_Y/SzgYa4FHy-I/AAAAAAAAA3k/cMnKCGQUSAw/s400/DSCN5472.JPG) which was largely worn for sport and riding.

The corset becomes less popular during the 1920's, comes back in briefly during the 1930's, but steel rationing in WWII and changes in fashion finally kills it, to be replaced by the bra and the girdle.

As well as the companies who make patterns, I would recommend checking out some website tutorials - I can recommend a few! - as well as books. 'Corsets and Crinolines' is the bible of foundation wear but I don't suggest you pick it up as a beginner or casual seamstress - this is HARDCORE historical costuming and the 'patterns' are barely that. Also she expects you to be able to read 200-year-old French. Jill Salen has also written a nice book of historical corset patterns that I really enjoy, but I find most of them - while a LOT easier than Norah Waugh's - need to be tweaked as you go, so for your first corset I'd still recommend people use the Simplicity pattern or the Laughing Moon Dore (A lot of people recommend the same ones) and mess around with that until you understand the forces at work, as it were.

So, er, that's corsets. In long. And it crashed four times on me, whoo!

Emiko87
03-26-2011, 08:15 PM
Thanks so much! One question though, you say the Simplicity pattern tends to be too big, how much of a problem might this be and how can I fix it if it's a substantial one?

Kelley
03-26-2011, 09:40 PM
If it's for outerwear, I would say just make whatever you'd like since it's not based on historical anything for the most part. For outerwear, I'd say look for a pattern or draw one up with the boning in a pretty configuration, if you're going to have it be seen.

For the top of a corset that goes around and over the busts, this is pretty hard to fit for (since there is *literally* no wiggle room). Take a look at bustier patterns that use darts and seams instead of "cups" for an idea how to do this.

Disregarding era, I've always thought contrasting hip gores were nice : http://multiply.com/mu/weirdosblog/image/6:muraldamodauva/photos/24/1200x120/5/1900corset001.jpg?et=Y739%2BcfCsaQQy0M7WNGl8Q&nmid=51293750 , http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs549.snc3/30073_412108149136_278078454136_3998290_7083346_n. jpg

And so is flossing : http://www.the-ardent-collection.com/Korsett/pictures/SARAH_056.jpg

Contrast boning : http://www.vam.ac.uk/images/image/11193-large.jpg



The late Victorian and Edwardian corset is sometimes referred to as the "S-curve" - it pushes the chest forward and bust out like so : http://sucheternaldelight.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/coronet_corset_co.gif?w=176&h=300

I've never worn or made one, but I've heard they're not very comfortable since they're throwing everything out of line like that (becoming a caricature of the "healthy" corset).



I'd also consider adding sleeves or partial sleeves to one (like this : http://www.kci.or.jp/archives/digital_archives/photos/1_xl_AC00224.jpg ). The whole corset-on-the-outside thing has been so overdone by certain subcultures that it's nice to see a different take on it. Stays in general ( http://bocamuseum.org/clientuploads/EXHIBITION_IMAGES/Cut/Press%20High%20Res/Underpinnings_Corset_&_Pannier_%20detail.jpg , I linked this because the bows are cute)are nice since I don't see them used very often. Heck, just adding straps is something that isn't done very often !

SinfulDesires
03-26-2011, 11:43 PM
I took a class in college that was called "Historical Costuming Through the Ages". We were assigned a reference book entitled, "Survey of Historic Costume" Fourth edition. Written by Phyllis G. Tortora and Keith Eubank.

Its a GREAT reference book. It will tell you everything you would want to know about EVERY piece of clothing from the dawn of time to present. Its awesome. Granted, it won't have any patterns in it, but it will give you a good idea of what it should look like.

I suggest buying a used copy from amazon or something. Its great to have around if you're going to keep making historical costumes. :)

Brsis
03-27-2011, 04:47 AM
Thanks so much! One question though, you say the Simplicity pattern tends to be too big, how much of a problem might this be and how can I fix it if it's a substantial one?

Generally speaking I find it's about a size, sometimes a bit less. They basically put too much ease into everything!

The easiest thing to do is to trace off (Not cut!) your pattern pieces at the size you THINK you should be, make it up in cheap fabric and put it on, bearing in mind you should have around a 2" gap at the back for the laces. If it's too loose, go down a size and try again. I think the pattern in it's 'out of the box' form also only does a 2" waist reduction, but that's also easily altered, and not a problem if you're a casual wearer. I actually use this pattern to adapt off most of my waist trainers, and the Dore (Which is longer over the hips) for work.

ETA: Flossing! Learn how to floss a corset, not only is it BEAUTIFUL but it will make such a difference.

If you're curvy, or want a rounder bust-line, pick a pattern with gussets. If you're not so shapely or you want the whole 'bust on a shelf' cleavage, pick one without.

@Kelley - The S-Curve is rarely so pronounced on real people so they're not so bad, it's just that they're cut so smooth in front (With just two suspenders at the front points as well, which gives you a really flat line) and well gusseted for extra booty at the back, and then a full cut around the bust. They're not the most comfortable but if made sensibly (Think housemaid rather than actress ^.^) they're quite wearable. I have SEEN corsets that throw your hips back and your bust forward to such an extent, but they were all very decorative versions (One in black leather!) that probably belonged to (Mostly French) women who were showing them off, and those ones definitely look like they'd put your spine out of whack!

Ironhill
03-28-2011, 12:15 AM
I took a class in college that was called "Historical Costuming Through the Ages". We were assigned a reference book entitled, "Survey of Historic Costume" Fourth edition. Written by Phyllis G. Tortora and Keith Eubank.

Its a GREAT reference book. It will tell you everything you would want to know about EVERY piece of clothing from the dawn of time to present. Its awesome. Granted, it won't have any patterns in it, but it will give you a good idea of what it should look like.

I suggest buying a used copy from amazon or something. Its great to have around if you're going to keep making historical costumes. :)

I bought this book on ebay a couple of months ago for next to nothing. I find it very useful as a reference.