So here’s the trouble with tutus… They are made of many, many layers of tulle*. And tulle, these days, is made of hate. I don’t want to sound all judgey-pants, but it’s true. Your average fabric store tulle is made of nylon, a fiber which suffers from a constant string of cheap, tragic affairs with single electrons. By the time you have 6 layers of nylon tulle mounted on the basque (that’s the shaped waist-band bit), you’ve actually sewn yourself a fluffy little Van de Graaff generator. A tutu-in-progress is amazing – you can actually watch threads fly from the floor towards the tutu where they permanently bond with with tulle. Effective for cleaning, perhaps, but not so good for the tutu which should ideally not look like some sort of worm-farm. Just in case you, dear reader, ever find yourself herding tulle through a sewing machine, here are a few tricks I’ve picked up from a couple years of sewing dance concerts at the shop…
The first steel, front-fastening busk was invented in 1829. (Waugh, 79) They’re nifty little beasties, especially at the end of the day when you would really, sincerely like to be OUT of your ding-dang corset. I’ve hear rumors that they can be used to get into a pre-tightened corset, as well, but I’ve tried, and I’m clearly missing a clue or two there. :/ The clue I do have is in how to insert the little buggers. Interested?
Thank my crazy-fabulous students over at the college for this one – they’ve got a knack for asking those incredibly important, basic questions that you stop thinking about after a while. Things like, “What’s the best way to cut so I don’t get these weird edges?” or “How close to the edge of this should I sew?” I remember asking my mom forever ago: How close should I be to the edge of my bias tape?
So, I’m making up a Regency style corset and it has gussets at the bust and hip to give it shape. I’m lining the corset, but I’d like to do the gussets as single-layer pieces. If you find yourself doing something equally silly, here’s how to slam a gusset in between the two layers in one go.
This one won’t win you any points for historical accuracy or art. It’s more for those times when you need to put something decidedly ruff-like around a neck, and you need to do it in a big bad hurry. Say you’ve got a kid who needs a halloween costume, or, I dunno, a designer who needs 10 clown ruffs to put on a pack of galloping ballerinas doing a piece inspired by Pierrot and Columbine…. Ahem. Yes. Well. If you’ve hit the “Done is Beautiful” point, this is the ruff for you. If you’re looking to make a ruff The Right Way(tm), you maybe oughta take a pass…. ;)
Making bias tape is shockingly easy. Sure, it’s a little tedious, but it’s really easy. The question is, why would you make bias tape when the fabric store sells it? Maybe you want bias made out of something other than a poly-cotton blend. (Honestly, once you see real silk bias binding, there’s no going back.) Or maybe you found yourself in some sort of silly situation that requires 20 or more yards of bias tape, and payng 3.59$ for every 3 yards of the stuff just failed to look like a good idea. Whatever your reason, here’s how you do it….
Sometimes, you need to sew a chemise and you don’t really want to spend a lot of time on it. Either you’re out of time, or the thought of sewing just one more chemise in your life inspires a sense of soul-crushing despair. Anyway, I’ve worked out a couple tricks over the years to get the stupid things sewn as quickly as possible, with a bare minimum of hand work, so that they still come out looking decent.
Warning: I’m about to go through a lot of things that are simply not best practices. (That’s why it’s called cheating.)
Every now and again, bad things happen to good costumers. Usually, they happen at the worst time possible. I pulled out Ye Olde Disney Peasant dress for a Halloween party over the weekend, and being my normal timely self, I was done washing it about a half hour before my guy was supposed to pick me up. And that’s when I noticed disaster: a three inch rip up the center back bodice, through both layers, which had also loosened a few inches of skirt pleating. Oh, joy…. I love a last minute repair. Should you find yourself in the same situation, here’s how to fix it.
Sewing and hemming gored skirts is a skill needed for almost all periods of western fashion since the late 1400s. This demo shows how to make a gored skirt with a simple side-seam pocket, mounted on a waistband. We’re going to gather the fullness of this skirt to the back, making it very suitable as an underskirt to be worn over a support skirt (hoops or farthingale).
Sometimes, you just want to finish an edge really really fast – you don’t care if it looks pretty up close. (Like, say, you’re working on a show where everyone seems to wear a veil that the audience can see through, but the characters mysteriously cannot… Not that that ever happens.) The zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine is the poor man’s serger…