Truly Victorian TV110


Today is bright, cold and wintery – the perfect day to catch up on some photography.   Get dressed, run outside, take photos and run back inside to the warmth.

This is my first attempt at Truly Victorian’s TV110 pattern.  I really liked the shaping of the pattern – it’s perfect for a modern figure which wants a bit of shaping but not tight-lacing. I adjusted the measurements a little, but I largely followed the pattern.

I completely fell in love with the lace I used around the top of the bust line.   I found it at Hobbysew’s Top Ryde store and it just screamed out needing to be bought.

Will definitely use this pattern again.



Going space age

We were invited to a 50th birthday party recently.  The theme was “dress in what we thought we’d be wearing today back in the 1960’s”   AKA Retro Modernism.   Now, this was a theme I could really get into.    And I had to come up with outfits for both myself and my hubby.    I started out gathering ideas on my Pinterest Dress-up box board.

My outfit started with a $50 silver wetsuit dress which I found at the Red Cross (thrift shop) store.  The old lady at the counter was rather worried about my dress sense, but seemed to relax somewhat when I told her it was for fancy dress.  It was way more than I’d normally spend, but the dress was just so perfect and I had to have it.     I added a silver cage skirt, silver boot covers and a ray gun.

My hubby’s outfit consisted of some upcycled skiing skins, a quilted silver breast plate, $3 belt from the thrift store, a wig and bobbly things for his head.

Sorry about the crap images – light was low and smart phones were the only camera option.   Read on if you want to know how I made them.   Basic sewing knowledge is assumed.

silver dress space man

So, first up we have the cage skirt.    I’ve put a closeup so that you can see how I constructed it.

cage skirt

For cage I used 3/4 wide inch elastic for the waist, 1 inch wide ribbon for the verticals, 1 3/4 inch ribbon for the hoops, 1/2 inch cheap fashion boning, glue gun and silver spray paint.    I found that the cheap boning doesn’t hold it’s shape if the circle gets too big, so I kept my largest hoop to a diameter of 22 inches.

I started with sewing the elastic to fit my waist.   Then folded the wide ribbons in half and sewed along both sides to make channels for the boning.   I then fed the boning into the channels and used a glue gun to secure the ends.  Next step is to attach the vertical ribbons to the elastic and three layers of hoops.  It’s really important to measure the gaps carefully so that the cage won’t end up wonky.    I then sprayed the whole thing silver.   Only problem with the spraying is that it took the pliability away from the ribbon – resulting in the ribbon not relaxing into shape.   Next time, I’d take a bit of extra time to find the right ribbon colour to start with – or perhaps compromise on ribbon colour.   But even with the added stiffness of spray paint, I was still quite pleased with it.

The boots (pictured above) were made with cheap stretchy silver fabric.   To make a rough pattern, I wrapped my boots in cling wrap and then in duct tape.  I then sliced the duct tape off the boots and flattened it onto the fabric

boots 1 boots 2

The resulting pattern was a bit too wide, but it was close enough to work with.  I just kept reducing the width of the boot cover till I got it right.   I used Sticky Dots to secure the top of the fabric to my boots.   They give a good grip, but are removable.

My ray gun was really simple.    It’s just a $6 water pistol from a toy store.    The original gun was grey, pink, orange and green.   I like the grey and the green, but the pink and orange had to go.   I solved the problem by covering colours I liked in masking tape and plastic wrap and spray painting the rest black.  It took a few layers of paint, but worked out pretty well.    The sticker on the back is a bit of clip art which I printed onto sticker paper.   The front end is an egg beater which was inserted and stuck in place with a glue gun.

ray gun

OK, onto hubby’s outfit now.

His breast plate is made from cheap woven silver fabric which is very shiny and frays easily.    It’s constructed using a solid front and two back pieces with a hole cut for the neck.    Each piece is fabric top and bottom with cheap poly batting in the middle.  I used a heap of pins to hold my fabric and batting sandwiches together and then quilted it all down.   I guess the quilting was overkill, but I do love quilting and so quite enjoyed it. I then joined the pieces at the shoulders (with about a 25 degree slope so that it would sit well) and finished the neck hole.   Just for a bit more overkill, I bound the edges with strips of fabric cut on the bias.    The back of the neck should have velcro or a button or something to hold it together – but I got lazy and used double sided tape for the night.

breast plate

You can’t see his pants in the photo, but they are a pair of vintage skiing skins with flared bottoms.   These pants went out of fashion over 15 years ago but he would’t part with them.     Until now.  Bwhaha.     I cut wide strips of bias from the woven silver fabric, sewed them into long cylinders, flattened them with the seam hidden on the back and sewed them onto the hem.   Easy peasy.

space pants


Phew!   I think that’s it.   A lot of sewing for one night out – but it was a great catch up and we had so much fun.

Fishtail Skirt

A recent event had me a busily sewing a skirt which I could wear with my new corset.   Much deliberation with a friend had me finally decide to make something inspired by this long fishtail skirt

fishtail skirt inspiration

I started out with dress pattern Simplicity 1541 to give me the fit I required for the top of the skirt.    I made a calico mock up of the longer skirt and then extended each gore of the skirt with more fabric to add the floor length fishtail.    I also tapered in the original pattern substantially around my knees to create a figure hugging style.


It all came along rather well until I realised that the amount I’d taken the skirt in around my knees meant that I couldn’t pull my skirt up to attend calls of nature.    I remedied this by widening the black layer a little and by ending the seam of the red top layer a couple of inches higher.   It could also be fixed by sewing with stretch fabrics in the first place.

The skirt is made of two layers, the hip area of each layer being identical.     This will fit together when the skirt is complete.

The top layer is shorter than the bottom one and not flared to the same degree.  I have split it up the back and added a satin bias binding around the bottom.   Hemming flared fabric is just too difficult for me to contemplate.

The bottom layer started out with the same cut as the top, but longer.    I then added large wedge shaped fabric pieces in the lower side seams of the skirt to add volume.    The layers of ruffled lace at the back have been sewn onto another large wedge and fitted into the back seam.    I also finished the lower edge of the bottom layer with ruffled lace.   The lace I chose was 5 1/2″ wide and I gathered it using a ruffler foot.  I worked using 3:1 ratio of gathering.   I’m so in love with my ruffler foot!  Makes gathering a breeze.



Apologies for my dodgy drawings, but hopefully they make sense of how I described the construction of each layer.

Once the two layers were complete I basted them together and attached to a waistband.  I then inserted corset grommets for the lacing down the back.     There is no zip on the skirt – I have to lace myself in and out of the skirt.    The lacing is open at both the top and bottom.

IMG_4418 IMG_4411IMG_4427IMG_4432


All in all, I’m very happy with the result.   And had a fabulous night out with the girls while wearing it.

Steampunk Utility Belt

This backpack was given to me by my hubby about 20 years ago.   It had become very worn out and should probably have been retired, but the emotional attachments were strong.  I decided that rather than living all sad and unused in the bottom of my wardrobe, I would be better off giving it a new lease of life.


I started by unpicking the seams and removing the pockets from the outside.   These pockets will become the core pieces for the utility belt.   I cut leather from the back and bottom of the bag to make backs for the pockets and also wide belt loops on the back of the pockets.



Putting the leather pockets together was a bit tricky.  The sewing machine struggled, but we got through.   And I cut the pocket backs a little small by mistake, so put a few extra darts in the front sections to make them fit.

The buckle on the front pocket (see below) was cut from one of the backpack’s straps.   I sewed the top of the strap into the top of the pocket and super-glued the bottom to the pocket.   I would have preferred to sew it on, but it was an afterthought and superglue was my best remaining option.

Anyway, here is the final work.   Because of the belt loops, I can move the pockets on or off my belt or position differently as required.   Now, all I need is a Steampunk event!



Dabbling in corsetry

I think I can blame my longtime fascination with English Victoriana and the American West for my desire to make a corset.   Of course, buying a corset would be a logical approach, but why buy when I can take on such a fun project?

I started out with this corset making kit from Aussie Corset Supplies.  With hindsight, I would also have purchased a tailors awl, grommet setter and 4 x white steel bones (to support the rear lacing) at the same time.     The pattern was very easy to follow and my moderate level sewing skills were more than sufficient.

My boobs are an E cup, so I originally chose the Silverado corset with gores for a generous fit.   I cut my first toile (calico mock up) to fit an E-F cup, but found the result was HUGE on me.   Not even close!  So I picked it apart and replaced the gores with much smaller ones.   It ended up fitting at a basic level, but I just didn’t like the line it gave me

reject corset


toile #1.   Back to the drawing board.  If I’m going to put in all this work, I need a better fit on my bust.

Toile #2 was the regular corset shape which I extended a little higher to ensure that there would be no accidental nipple appearances.  After all, I do want the option of wearing this corset without something underneath.   This time, we have success.   Fits me like a glove!  I used very cheap and easy grommets for the lacing in this one.

corset  corset back


Happy with this toile – moving on to the real thing.

Next step is to unpick the toile and use the pieces as my new pattern.    The fabric for my proper corset is English Coutil exterior, drill and heavy interfacing to stabilise the inside and some leftover patchwork fabric for the lining.    And this would not be complete without a quick shout out to my hubby for helping me set the grommets. I have no idea how our technique differs, but his grommet holes were so much straighter than mine.   He will now be employed as “principal grommet setter” on any future corsets.

IMG_1154 IMG_1153 black corset


Very happy with final result.   Now – need to find somewhere to wear it!