Okay. So, i'm finally actually putting some instructions up here.
I went to a moulin rouge themed party a few months ago, and made myself an awesome outfit to go with it.
The corset is a victorian corset, based on pattern SIMP ????. Because it is a Victorian Corset, it stops on the nipple line. Not exactly what I will leave the house, or dance in.
So, I created a small top to go under it.
The top is based on SIMP 6242.
The top is based on SIMP 6242.
I wasn't able to get my hands on a proper corset busk before the party, so instead I put 19 hook and eyes down the front of the corset.
On the back, rather than using eyelets for the lacing, i created a series of small loops of fabric for the lacing.
Both front and back, I added 'modesty panels'. Literally, these are flaps of fabric that sit behind the lacing so that you don't see the way lacing the corset up tightly pulls the skin.
I sew the side seams first, then turn the pattern right way round and bind the top and bottom edges.
The top is based on the bodice of patter SIMP 4401. I altered it by taking only the bust panels, and cutting the back off at the same level. I then elasticised the bottom hem, so that it fitted tightly and could be taken on and off over the head, without the need for a zip.
And lastly, the skirt.
My skirt has three layers. All three are based on a circle skirt pattern.
Before you start to cut or sew, you need to figure out a few things
*Where on your hips / waist do you want the skirt to sit?
*How long do you want the skirt to be (from your hip / waist measurement)?
*How many layers of ruffles do you want in the underskirt?
*How wide do you want each layer of ruffles to be?
*How gathered do you want each layer of ruffles to be?
Working out the pattern is simple after you have answered these questions. You will need butcher or pattern paper, pens, and a calculator.
First start with the hip/waist measurement. Mine was 85cm. This is the circumference of the circle. Now, you need to figure out the radius. Thinking back to year 8 or 9 maths, remember that and grab your calculator. So, c = 85cm. to work out r, divide c by 2, then by ∏ (pi). For me, this was r = 85 / 2 / ∏. Or, r = 13.5. Remembering that you need a 1.5cm seam allowance, take this off your radius. S, my radius becomes 12cm.
I find it easiest to deal with 1/4 circle patterns. So, choose a corner of your pattern paper, and draw on your radius line. I do this by making marks every few cm, each at the radius distance from the point of the paper, then join them up. You should end up with a nice semi circle. This is your waist line.
Next, add the length of the skirt plus seam allowance to the radius. I wanted my skirt to be 50cm long, so I added 12 + 50 +3. So, the radius of the hem of my skirt became 65cm. Mark the hem circle in the same way, and then cut along these lines.
YAY! You now have a pattern. And, basically, have completed the hardest part of the project. Go You!
Now you can start cutting and sewing.
Layer 1: Top Skirt.
Decide where you want the zip to be. Because the skirt is a full circle, you only need a short zip, 12cm or 15cm are totally sufficient. I am really bad at putting in normal zips, so all my zips are invisible. This is a choice you will have to make for yourself.
If you want the zip at the side, you will need to cut TWO (2) of your pattern piece, on the fold. You will need to remember to add a 1.5cm seam allowance to the side seam.
If you want to have the zip at the back, you will need to cut ONE (1) of your pattern piece on the fold, and TWO (2) of your pattern pieces as they are, again remembering to add your 1.5cm seam allowance.
I always finish the edges of my pattern pieces with overlocking before I start sewing, and as all these seams are exposed, I highly suggest that you do too.
Now, insert the zip. If you are using a normal zip, sew the full seam for the zip, open the seam up and baste or pin the zip in place before sewing it into the skirt, and opening the seam up to expose the zip. If you are using an invisible zip, insert it before you sew the rest of the seam, then sew the seam, remembering to hand stitch the gap between the zip and your machine sewn seam.
Next, sew the other side seams. Hopefully, you have something that looks like a skirt by now :).
Lastly, you need to hem the bottom of the skirt.
Now, I wanted exposed ruffles on my skirt. I will explain how to make the ruffles when I talk about layer 3, the underskirt. You will need to create a false lining layer. The ruffles look best if they are seen on one side of your body, slightly towards the front.
I chose my left leg. Marking about a quarter of the way around the front at both the waist and hemlines, you will need to make a casing. To do this, get a strip of fabric 8cm wide, and the length of your skirt. Make sure you finish all the edges. Now, pin the strip of fabric to the wrong side of your skirt, from top to bottom. you need to sew the edges in place, along the sides, and top. Remember to keep the bottom open. Now, sew a seam down the middle of the casing, stopping about 5cm from the waistline. You can now run a ribbon up and down the casing. as you pull the ribbon tight, it should gather the skirt up for you.
Layer 2, Skirt Lining.
This layer is optional. You don't really need this layer, but I find that if I am working with clingy fabrics, a cotton or polycotton lining can help reduce the cling.
Follow the steps for creating the skirt. You don't need to insert a second zip. Instead, make sure you leave the top 15cm of the seam open.
Cool! We now have both the top skirt and the lining. Now, we just need a waistband (I like skirts, so I have not attached the underskirt to the top skirt, so that I can wear it more. If this will only ever be used as a costume, please complete the underskirt, before doing this step. If you do you join all three layers with the one waistband, remember not to put a zip into the underskirt).
To make the waistband, you will need a strip of the top layer fabric 13cm wide, and your original waist measurement plus 6cm. For me, this means a trip of fabric 13cm x 91 cm.
Fold the waistband in half length ways, with right sides together, and sew both ends closed. You have allowed the standard 1.5cm seam allowance for this. Now, turn the strip right side out, making sure to keep it folded in half length ways.
Now, grab your top and bottom layers. Arrange the layers so that you have your top skirt, right side out, then your waistband, then your lining, right side in. the right sides of BOTH skirts should now be next to the waistband. Line the zipper and the open seam up with one of the ends of the waistband. Pinning all the way round, you should be left with 3cm of the waistband over at the end. Sew this along the waistline, and make sure that you finish the hems.
Turn the skirt right side out. You should now have a skirt that is almost wearable. the only thing left to do is put a pair of hook and eyes, or trouser bars, or press studs on the waistband overlap. The choice is yours.
YAY! you have a complete top skirt! Now, you just need the ruffled underskirt.
Layer 3. Ruffled underskirt.
For this one, you need to do a bit more maths. not much, I promise.
So, remember how many layers of ruffles you wanted, and how wide you wanted them to be, and how ruffled? Good.
For my skirt, I wanted four layers of ruffles, and them to be 12cm wide, with about a 2cm overlap. And, i wanted a 2.5 gather.
We need to go back to our calculators and measurements, and pattern.
Firstly, If each of my layers is going to be 10cm apart, and I have 4 of them, this will take up the bottom 40cm of my skirt. So, the top part, the part based on our original pattern, is going to be 25cm long. So, mark you pattern at this point again, and cut it out. Insert the zip as you did in the skirt, and sew the seams together.
Next, we need to figure out the measurements for each of out ruffles. This has two parts.
1: Figure out the circumference of each ruffle backing. Each of my 4 ruffles will be backed by a piece of fabric. This will allow the skirt to hold its shape. Think of this as a tiered skirt. so the first ruffle circumference is the circumference of the top part of the pattern, so c=2∏r, or 2 x ∏ x 25. so, c = 158cm.
for each additional tier, I add 10cm to the radius
tier 2: c = 2 x ∏ x 35 = 220cm
tier 2: c = 2 x ∏ x 45 = 283cm
tier 2: c = 2 x ∏ x 55 = 345cm
tier 2: c = 2 x ∏ x 65 = 408cm
So, this means that I have my top tier (the skirt pattern). for each of the additional tiers, I will need a piece of fabric that is 13cm wide (to include seam allowances), and 220, 283, 345, and 408cm long. i know this seams really long, but I promise, it is right.
to make these, i simply tore strips of fabric 13cm wide, and sewed the short ends together. The measurements of your tiers, and how wide the fabric is will determine how many you need, but for me, my fabric was 115cm wide, so I needed 11 strips, to include seam allowances. I ended up with a strip of fabric 1256cm long, which i then cut into my lengths. after you have each of the tier lengths, sew the exposed ends together, so that you have circles.
so, once you have the tiers, you need to make the ruffles.
i wanted a 2.5 ruffle. so, i need circles two and a half times longer than the circumference of each of their positions. i know this sounds confusing, but really, it's not.
My first circumference was 158cm. so, my ruffle length will be 2.5x158, or 395cm.
Do the same thing for the rest of your ruffles.
ruffle 2: 220cm x 2.5 = 550cm
ruffle 3: 283cm x 2.5 = 708cm
ruffle 4: 345cm x 2.5 = 863cm
Again, these measurements seem really long, but don't panic!
tear strips of fabric, and sew them together like you did for the tiers. Because I wanted 12cm wide ruffles, I made my strips 15cm wide, to allow for seams. I made my ruffles out of organza, but almost any fabric will do. i don't suggest you use nylon netting, or heavy tulle. it's just too stiff. but bridal tulle would work well. once you have your completed circles, finish one edge of each of them. I used a rolled hem foot, but overlocking or zig zag stitching will work just as well. if you're feeling really dedicated, you cold even properly hem them but i honestly don't think many people have that much time on their hands.
next, you need to run a long stitch along the non hemmed edge of all of your ruffles, and along one edge of each of your backing tiers. you can do a proper double row, but i found it just as easy to use one.
Now, pick up you LARGEST ruffle, and your SECOND larges tier. on each of them, fold the fabric in eighths, or sixteenths and mark the folds.on the tiers, make sure to mark the folds on both top and bottom. Place the ruffle on the tier edge that does not have the gathering stitch, and pin to match the eighths marks, RIGTH sides together. now, carefully, gather the ruffle. Using a pin, lift the gather stitch for each eighth, taking care to evenly distribute the gathers, and pin them in place. pick up the LARGEST of your tiers. repeat the process of pinning and gathering, ensuring that the right side of the largest tier is against the wrong side of the ruffle. Sew this seam, and remove all pins.
Now, pick up the SECOND largest ruffle, and THIRD largest tier. Repeat the process, sewing it onto the second largest tier.
Repeat the process with the THIRD largest ruffle, and the FOURTH largest tier.
Repeat the process with the SKIRT and the FOURTH largest ruffle
It should, now, look like a skirt. Yay! Almost finished :).
So, you now have two things left to do. The exposed ruffles, and the waistband of the underskirt.
Exposed ruffles first.
Go back to the measurements you did for the underskirt, and divide them all by 4. This will give you the measurements for the exposed ruffles. For the top skirt section, cut a quarter circle only.
Follow the same instructions as for the underskirt, except don't sew a circle.
You should now have a complete 1/4 skirt. Turn the underskirt so that the ruffles are facing inwards (remember, you need them against your legs so that when you shake your skirts like a can can dancer, the ruffles are visible). Remember which side of your overskirt you put the casing on. Pin the exposed ruffle section, ruffles out to the underskirt, matching the side seam with one edge. pin carefully, matching the bottom edges. Sew the two pieces together along the bottom seam, taking care to ONLY sew the backing fabric, not your coloured ruffles.
Follow the directions for a waistband as above. If you want to have all of the layers on the one skirt, pin the underskirt with the exposed ruffles against the lining layer, and sew as above
You now have a can can skirt. YAY!!!