Kathleen Brewster https://kathleenbrewster.com Create your day Sun, 21 Jun 2020 04:30:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Op shop Wedding Dress https://kathleenbrewster.com/op-shop-wedding-dress/ Sun, 21 Jun 2020 04:30:56 +0000 https://kathleenbrewster.com/?p=3623 For Breakfast at Tiffany’s I challenged myself to make a “Wedding dress” out of only what I could get at the local op shops. I had seen dresses made of doilies and found them to be mostly horrendous so I had set myself a difficult task.

I used a mix of tablecloths, doilies, White business shirts, lace trim from tissue box covers, bed linen and lace from the sewing supply section. These came from Op shops from Pambula to Bega and every town in between.

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Scrap Hexagon dress https://kathleenbrewster.com/scrap-hexagon-dress/ Fri, 13 Mar 2020 02:01:26 +0000 http://kathleenbrewster.com/?p=3562 Scraps of fabric take up a lot of space and I have never been sentimental enough to waste any of mine on a basket of scraps. I have however cut hexagons out of most of them and kept them for quilting.

For Breakfast at Tiffany’s this past year the theme was inspired by using recycled materials and I was inspired to see if could make them into a dress.

Hexagons like this always need to be sewn together by hand. Very time consuming but has the advantage of being portable so I can work on the couch.

I pieced the hexies together over my dress form set to the measurements of the model for the bodice. She came over for a fitting to refine the shape around the neck and arms. The skirt was one large rectangle draped into pleats at the front and joined at an angle at the back allowing the skirt to flare out more and create a little train.

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150 year celebration for Candelo School https://kathleenbrewster.com/150-year-celebration-for-candelo-school/ Thu, 12 Mar 2020 03:28:16 +0000 http://kathleenbrewster.com/?p=3578 Here is a selection of the sewing work I did for the 150th anniversary of Candelo School. It was a while ago now so I won’t write on and on about it – just photos.

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Feather mandala https://kathleenbrewster.com/feather-mandala/ Tue, 10 Mar 2020 00:11:09 +0000 http://kathleenbrewster.com/?p=3566 An embroidered feather Mandala to go into a box frame.

All found feathers – white cockatoo, various duck. pink Galah and sadly a swamp hen that had been taken by a fox.

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Corset competition 2019 https://kathleenbrewster.com/corset-competition-2019/ Sat, 02 Feb 2019 23:35:02 +0000 http://kathleenbrewster.com/?p=3532 I hadn’t really planned on the Foundations Revealed corset competition entering this year. I spent a little too much money and time last year… I didn’t think of it again until mid year when I came across a little sketch on a scrap of paper.

The idea was a corset made of crochet. It was only a seed of an idea, unlikely to be simple and less likely to work. It did seem like it could easily fit into the Architecture theme so perhaps I could give it a go and see how it ended up. The completion offered a nice excuse and I decided to challenge myself in that however it turned out I would submit it.

I have always worked in crochet and have a lot of history making complex shapes I understand a fair bit about its capabilities. The chain stitches are actually quite rigid but the double crochet stitch making the channels has a bit of stretch. If the stretchy part of the crochet was put under tension by the boning then the resulting corset should be able to give a good shape.

The pattern was one taken from an image in the Symington collection, 1890s ish. Drafted up to my measurements and then made into a toile of cheap canvas and zip ties.

The second test was in Bobbinet, another material I hadn’t used before and wanted to test out. I made a few more adjustments to the pattern after making this version.

Once the pattern was ready I could proceed with the crochet.

I did some test swatches and decided on my thread and hook. This gave me a stitch gauge which I used to make custom graph paper exactly to scale, printed from excel. I then transferred the pattern pieces onto the graph paper. With a pen and a lot of time I drew each boning channel onto the paper, 5 stitches down the length of the piece where I wanted the channels to be.  The number of stitches between these channels was the count of the chain stitches needed between.

Most rows of crochet went end to end but to create some shaping along the top and bottom edge I used short rows (turn the work over and work back before the end)

Once this was done I realised I didn’t need cumbersome paper to work off, I made another spreadsheet and simply noted the counts. I could then print off 2 copies and cross off the stitches as I did them.

I had toyed with the idea of it would be possible to work the channels in crochet but on my test swatch the coutil channels sewn on looked great and held the crochet rigid. How to get the ends closed was a problem I would wait until the crochet was done to solve.

I ended up applying the channels up one side and folded under across the top and down the other side. Leaving the bottom edge open to place the bones and close with my edge stitching foot. The texture of the crochet hid all the detail of the stitching so I could stop and start like that without any change to the outside. The busk is hidden in coutil and sewn on. The eyelets were left as small holes in the crochet but I still backed them with coutil to hold the bones and prevent too much pressure on the crochet alone.

When all was done and I finally had a chance to get the corset on a dress form I realised that the technique worked brilliantly but I had some serious fit issues with the pattern. The bottom edge is too wide so the lines of the stitching are not nice and parallel like the lines around the waist and bust.  Another toile in fabric would have been a good idea to ensure I had made enough reduction around the front bottom edge. I do wonder however if this was in fabric would the same issue be quite so obvious?

The fit problems were worse when I tried it on myself. It was overall too large and even wider around the bottom edge. My plan to submit whatever the outcome was tempered a little with vanity as I have decided to use the dress form photos for my submission. I will include some of the photos on me below as following links is mostly for friends and fellow makers not the general public.

 

When I have some time I will try again. A shorter busk and revised bottom edge along with some changed to the top edge. I like the mid bust fit through the front but perhaps don’t need to raise the back as much.

 

 

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Tutus available to purchase https://kathleenbrewster.com/tutus-available-to-purchase/ Wed, 26 Sep 2018 03:12:24 +0000 http://kathleenbrewster.com/?p=3518 In the lead up to christmas I am offering a small number of tutus to purchase in kids sizes.

These tutus are perfect for a budding dancer as well as for flower girls and dress ups.

I am offering in white and black only a ‘Romantic’ style and a ‘Plate’ style. All the measurements and prices are below.

Romantic tutu

Small (6-8 years 45cm long skirt) Medium (8-10 years 58cm long skirt) High stretch waist band with hook and loop closure with multiple rows of loops. 3 rows of gathered bridal tulle.

Price – $38.30

Plate tutu

Small (6-8 years or 68cm hip. Skirt 25cm long) Medium (8-10 years or 73cm hip. skirt 27cm long) Stretch fabric used for briefs but there is more rigidity around the hip where the tulle is applied. 7 rows of pleated tulle.

Price – $64.70

Special orders are possible, Adult sizes, Emma wiggle yellow ribbon appliqué or heavy duty construction for serious little dancers, get in touch for details.

To be ready early December I will need orders placed by Friday the 5th. Please feel free to contact me if you would like more information on sizing.

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Anatomy of a wing https://kathleenbrewster.com/anatomy-of-a-wing/ Mon, 19 Mar 2018 06:16:00 +0000 http://kathleenbrewster.com/?p=3499 Finally my entry in the Foundations revealed corset competition has been posted.

while you are over there have a good look over the rest of the amazing work.

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Before and after wedding dress https://kathleenbrewster.com/before-and-after-wedding-dress/ Sat, 17 Mar 2018 06:15:48 +0000 http://kathleenbrewster.com/?p=3494 A recent lovely project has been to take apart and re-imagine a 70’s wedding dress for a modern bride. It was her mothers dress which has great sentimental  value in the family, a lovely addition to a wedding day.

The skirt was removed and kept almost complete except for a revision at the hem where I trimmed around the lace and stiffened the edge. I also added an underscore of bridal tulle.

The bodice and over jacket was taken apart and turned into a sweetheart neckline with sheer tulle straps that closed at the upper back leaving the lower back open. Motifs from the lace were trimmed out and hand applied to the tulle straps.

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Lace hairpiece https://kathleenbrewster.com/lace-hairpiece/ Sun, 25 Feb 2018 04:50:26 +0000 http://kathleenbrewster.com/?p=3468 An overblown rose made from wired sections of lace taken from the brides mothers wedding dress. The stamens are vintage pearl, the feathers are the palest emu in my collection with their darker tips trimmed off.

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Diary of a corset https://kathleenbrewster.com/diary-of-a-corset/ Sat, 27 Jan 2018 21:44:00 +0000 http://kathleenbrewster.com/?p=3418 The decision to enter the Foundations revealed competition was a big one. Although I am an experienced dressmaker I am still new to corsetry. Here was an opportunity to test myself but could I really cut it against the talented makers who’s work I admired last year?

As is my usual approach to any project I had miltiple ideas swimming around at once. The strongest developed from a photo of an edwardian lady who was very helpfully posed in front of a mirror. I could see all of her corset in the one image. I was struck by the fact I could see the wings of insects already there in the panels. Being new to corsetry I am still exploring the possibilities of the materials, especially the spiral steel boning. I was surprised how flexible it was when I first started to use it. I wondered if I could bend it around lateral curves as part of my design.

The photo below shows one of my latest sketches before I started the pattern.

The pattern began its life as a mould in cling film and masking tape wrapped around my sister. This gave me an exact shape of her body and allowed me to cut the panels where I wanted to. I had in the past made a basic underbust from this pattern so I knew it worked and could be adapted for the wings corset.

The first toile I started made it clear that this idea was going to be more difficult than I had expected. I needed to work out construction methods as I went and the order they needed to be done in was not the usual order for corset construction. The second toile was easier and i used it to finalise boning placement, and the third I finally sorted out the more difficult boning channel construction. A close to final pattern is show below.

My original plan had sheer panels for the 6 pieces which would be wings and I stalled late in the process because of these. Getting the vein embroidery right and making sure the material could handle the stress were questions I didnt want to find the answer to when lacing the finished corset up.

When I joined Foundations revealed  I found not only resources for the kinds of complex corsetry not seen anywhere else but an amazing sense of community and encouragement. It reminded me that my idea was good and that finishing it is important even if it isn’t perfect. I left the sheer fabric behind and instead focused on the construction and was freed from the worry that had stopped my work.

The corset is made of a strength layer of dense herringbone canvas and an outer layer of a pink/beige fabric Ihave no idea the composition of. The wing panels have a layer of cream Chantilly lace to give them some lightness . The boning channels are made from black coutil.

I stuck with the line drawings of the wings as I had planned them for the sheer panels and applied them to the solid fabric. I drew them on kitchen paper and using a continuous line sewed the pattern on the machine in black thread. Embarrassingly I have to admit that one of the jobs I most enjoyed was tweezing the tiny shreds of paper out from between the stitches, it was so satisfying.

The corset still has been hard work but it has been invigorating and inspiring. The steps to put the corset together have been deceptively complicated. Usually bones are added late and edgings are done last but for this design I needed to complete whole sections including boning before I could join it to other sections.

The curved boning channels were cut on the bias and they were hand tacked down both edges before very careful and slow sewing. Below is the corset in construction.

I had always assumed I would floss the corset but when it came time to I wasnt sure how to apporach it. In the end Imade a sample. My concern that the flossing might clutter up an already conplex design waw unfounded. I decided on a small double cross in contrast cotton. I like to use a fine crochet thread for flossing, they are impossible to break.

When all the sewing was completed I arranged a fitting and there were some alterations that were needed. I knew the hip curve might be an issue but I had hoped to be able to pad my model instead of unpicking my corset. Unfortunately it had to be done and I reminded myself that knowing when to undo your work is perhaps one of the most important skills a creative person learns.  (amazing article on how the Edwardians created their shape with padding so it is totally a legit cheat!)

To add some more detail I made a pair of matching suspenders and added a pair of clips to the corset front. Sadly stockings proved difficult to source ( unless Iwanted black or ghastly red ). Although the lace tops look lovely they slightly offend my sense of functionality as the stay ups technically render the clips pointless.

Something this special I decided was worth the investment of a professional photographer. I used a local photographer SK Photography The location is actually where I live in regional NSW. My husband was very happy when I asked him to stop mowing for a little while. Flies are a constand plauge here and I am a little bit sorry I didnt choose the fly as my insect inspiration, my model would have been covered in them. The whole photo shoot went beautifully and I am pleased to have hired a professional for the job. The photos look amazing. I partictularly like the way the gumboots finish off the look ( summer in Australia = snakes)

By the end of it all my fingers look like ballerinas toes and I never want to change the thread colour on my sewing machine ever again. That aside, I am thrilled with the result and cant wait to hear the theme for next year.

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