A kit is born…!

Finally, I have just finished putting the finishing touches to my Mini Top Hat Kit & I have to say I am enormously proud of myself!!


So, I am off to the printers in the next couple days to have them printed up & they will be available to buy (in many colours & all with decoration details included), from my Etsy store from the 1st November along with many other scrumptious goodies for Christmas!

Happy stitching!




Birthday sparkles!!

It is my birthday today!!

My gorgeous Fella has made Laura After Midnight all official & purchased my domain name… so now Laura After Midnight is a ‘dot com’!! I feel a little bit grown up!!

In other news, I have added a Custom Spats listing to my Etsy store… this means anyone can purchase any spats they like by buying this option & messaging me with their requests. How fancy is that?! I shall be adding more as necessary so remember to check back with my Etsy store… click the picture for the link!



With that I am off to make a lovely cup of Earl Grey tea & eat far too much cake!

Happy stitching!!

Lots more to discover!

I have added the last few days worth of work on to Etsy, & I have to say that despite Midnight Heights looking like a fabric bomb has hit it I am very pleased!

I have finally worked out my Bloomers pattern & have made them up in Black with striped detailing and White with black detailing. I’ve done a little bit of research & I think they have just the right amount of design over functionality. I have tried to keep them simple whilst retaining a fun ‘costume’ feel & I think I have succeeded. I have still to make the knee length and ‘Bloomie’ version- little knickers but with bloomer fun retained!

Black Cotton Bloomers with Black & White Striped covered buttons & Binding detail. Click here to buy.

White Cotton Bloomers with Black Lace and Black covered button details. Click here to buy. Alternatively buy a set of two for a reduced price here.

I think they’re rather lovely! Look out for more new products over the next few days…

Happy stitching!

Strictly (Victorian) Ballroom!

I have just finished the Victorian Ball Gown commission, in a flurry of last minute details as always! We changed a few things from the original illustration, mainly due to time constraints however; I love the final garment!

The skirt, the pattern for which was from Truly Victorian– which my client had already purchased otherwise I would have been drafting one from The Cut of Women’s Clothes by Norah Waugh- went together like a dream! It took about two hours to cut out because it has about six meters of fabric in it which I would caution anyone making something like this about… you need space! It sewed up in only a couple of hours though which is amazing to me as I am used to taking a lot longer to not only figure out what the pattern is asking me to do (historical & ‘hand made’ patterns not always having the clearest of instructions), but also to maneuver that amount of fabric through my sewing machine! Thank the stars for industrial machines!!

The corset was drafted from a pattern I already had made up from Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh. This book was a revelation to me, & I use it constantly for both reference & drafting corsets of all styles. If you haven’t come across it already here is the blurb from the jacket:

Corsets & Crinolines is a study of the changing shapes of women’s dress & how these were produced, how simple laced bodices became corsets of cane, whale-bone & steel, while padding at shoulders & hips gave way to the structures of farthingales, hoops & bustles. Added are contemporary tailors & dressmakers accounts, illustrations, index, a glossary of terms & materials, appendices on the repair & manufacture of corsets and crinolines.

Obviously some changes have to be made when drafting from the book to fit both the modern body & different body shapes & sizes however; once done nothing compares to the 1880’s corset I use from this book. The pattern is below, & I simplify it slightly for the modern form making the curves a little less severe, straightening the front top line out & shortening it slightly so as not to dig in to the wearers hips. My client didn’t want a busk, which was the biggest change from the original  & makes the curves less obvious. The fit was perfect, & the graceful curves of the corset really accentuated her curves.

We layered the fabrics for the corset, to create an interesting texture & look. Using Coutil, of course, for the base fabric, a modern crinkle Taffeta overlayed with an interesting ‘watered’ look Net. Obviously this made the sewing up more difficult but I am more than happy with the results.

Some hints when making a multi-layered corset: baste the layers together by hand once they are cut out, & write the piece name in white fabric pencil on the back at the top of each piece- I do this with every corset because the pieces are incredibly easy to confuse & I hate, just hate, to unpick things!

Probably most of the work was done in decoration & finishing details. We added lace sections to the bottom edge of the corset, for a more decorate flossing detail, a net ruffle to the top & strings of beads. To the skirt we added a bias cut band of black velvet & meters of lace trim, instead of the original, more complicated design along the hem. I think this look is simply stunning, & I shall definitely be using it again!!

It really was a truly satisfying commission, & I now have a few more booked for the following months which is a dream. I look forward to sharing them with you.

Happy stitching!

Well, if I’d known it was this easy…

… I probably wouldn’t have needed to gain a Degree in Costume Design!

From eHow:

How to Make a Victorian Costume

Written by Melissa J. Bell

The Victorian fashion era, which includes the years between 1837 and 1901, is largely characterized by a move toward modernized sewing and dyeing techniques, and a move away from the rounded skirts of previous years. Although there was plenty of variation in style during this period, ranging from full bustled skirts to fitted sheath gowns, the most popular Victorian costumes today are the soft-bustled and straight-skirted gowns of the late Victorian period. Consisting of a separate skirt and bodice worn over a vast array of structured undergarments, the costume can be fairly complex to construct.

Skill level: Moderate


Things you need:
Sewing equipment and supplies White cotton fabric Corset outer fabric Coutil fabric Corset boning Grommets Grommet punch Gown fabric Bodice lining fabric Skirt lining fabric
  • Create a Victorian chemise out of white cotton by either following one of the patterns in the Resources below or drafting your own pattern. To make your own pattern, cut a rectangle of fabric that is your own width and would reach your knees. Take a spare T-shirt, fold back the sleeves and lay it on top of the rectangle to copy the armhole curve and shoulder seam. Curve the neckline, then cut an exact copy of your rectangle. Stitch the two together at the sides and add sleeves, then gather the top neckline. This chemise is worn under all other layers.

  • Create pantaloons out of white cotton, using a pre-made pattern or drafting your own from an existing pair of non-stretch sweatpants. Simply cut the sweatpants to the knee and take them apart at the seams to use as patterns. Stitch the pantaloons together in the same way the sweatpants were made, but run a drawstring through the waistband instead of elastic. If you want to be truly historically accurate, leave a large section of the crotch seam open. Wear the pantaloons over the chemise.

  • Make a corset, using a commercial pattern like the Laughing Moon Silverado linked in the Resources below. Corsets are difficult to construct the first time without a detailed pattern, though you can find public domain corset panel designs online to use as pattern pieces. To construct the corset, cut the panels in three layers: outer fabric, coutil and cotton. Baste the outer layer of fabric to the cotton, then stitch the front and back pieces to their lining, and insert the busk and grommets. Stitch the side panels together and attach the lining, then stitch the boning channels and insert the boning. Bind the top and bottom edges, and lace up the back.

  • Make a petticoat from a pattern or by cutting two wide rectangles of fabric and stitching them together, then gathering the top and attaching it to a drawstring waistband. The petticoat is worn over the corset.

    Create a Victorian skirt from the pattern of your choice, or make a simple circle skirt out of five pie-shaped sections of fabric. Clip the top of each piece straight, so that they match up to your waistband measurement. The waistband should rest at the natural waist, so make sure to take that into consideration for your skirt length measurements. Stitch the skirt panels together at the sides, leaving an open placket at the upper back seam, then sew the panels to the waistband. Fasten the waistband at the back with a hook and eye closure.

    Make a bodice that matches your skirt using your choice of pattern, or draft your own bodice using a plain, fitted non-stretch T-shirt. Put the T-shirt on your body and cut the neckline to your liking, then trim the bottom into a pointed curve like in your reference pictures. Cut the sleeves off completely, then mark the center front and center back with a fabric pencil or marker. Also mark the center of the sides, and a line at the center of each bust point. Take the shirt off and cut along these lines, then cut the shoulder seam open. Use the T-shirt pieces as pattern pieces, adding seam allowances, and sew together the bodice like you did the corset. Use buttons at the back instead of laces.

    I do find eHow rather amusing, don’t you?

    Just for reference, I would say the ‘skill level’ isn’t moderate! It’s most definitely advanced! If you are attempting your first Victorian outfit the best thing to do is to buy one of the miraculous Simplicity patterns, lots & lots of cheap-ish fabric & just get stuck in. Ask me any questions you may have, or any of the other excellent Bloggers out there. Do not worry too much about being historically accurate on your first attempt, that can come later when  you have mastered the ‘ready-to-wear’ patterns & are ready for more of a challenge. When that day comes there are an enormous amount of resources like Norah Waughs brilliant books, but these I’ll save for another post!


    Good luck to those of you new to this, I hope you have the sense to laugh at the above exceedingly unhelpful advice from eHow, & the good sense to tackle your dreams & not be daunted!

    Happy stitching!

    Stunning Red Silk Corset

    Made a few years ago from whatever flight of fancy I was on at the time, this gorgeous piece has been languishing in my studio for far too long now! I finally have gotten around to binding & edging the top & bottom, which took a while as I simply could not decide what I wanted to do. I think the contrasting Victorian style Lace sets the embroidery off rather beautifully.



    It is such a difficult colour to capture, & because of the bead work- which includes Swarovski Jet beads- the Corset shimmers & dances in the light. As ever I shall be wrapping this piece carefully in Acid Free Tissue Paper & slipping it in to its matching protective storage bag before shipping. This piece also comes with a matching Lavender stuffed heart so the Corset will always smell sweet!

    I adapted a late Victorian corset pattern for the style, but smoothed the severity of the lines slightly because there is no front opening busk. The shape of the front is deceptively flattering, & I am very pleased at the swoop up under the arm & across the bust. Because this fits neatly across the hip- it’s not as extended as Victorian Corsets can sometimes be- it would be gorgeous over a bustle skirt, as a wondrous Ball Gown or stunning Wedding Dress to really remember.

    I have just listed it on Etsy, & hope it goes to a happy home.

    Happy stitching!

    Victorian Ball Gown Commission.

    I have recently been in discussion with a lovely lady about designing & making a Victorian inspired Ball Gown. What a treat!

    Amidst a plethora of images and some great inspiration these are the pictures which have really caught my attention.


    I adore the lace embellishment on the first, & as my client very much likes the Vintage look, I think this is really apt. The second has a great middle section, I love the way the corset, or top, fits over the skirt. I think the over skirt looks quite mean, which leads nicely in to the Simplicity pattern, as I think the shorter bustle skirt would look beautiful over a simple under skirt. The image of Helena Bonham Carter is the best I could fine, & I really want to juxtapose this top with the first & make it in corset form. I adore the jet beading, and snippets of lace peeking from the top and bottom.

    Some more images of the Helena Bonham Carter costume, from Sweeny Todd.

    Having said that, I need to make the whole idea a little sinpler as budgetry restraints apply- which just makes things more exciting because I have to be very clever in my use of fabric & decoration, & use my imagination quite a lot!

    I am going to suggest we overlay net on the fabric of the corset, then sew on floral guipure Lace Applique Motifs, & some beading with Jet effect beads.

    At the top and bottom of the corset I’d like to have pleated net & diamond shaped lace peeking out.

    At the front I want to have strings of Jet effect beads & a Vintage Brooch, exactly like the Helena Bonham Carter costume.

    We have also discussed the possibility of small ‘cap’ sleeves around the top of the arms which I think would look lovely from pleated & matching net, with Jet effect beading & Lace Applique Motifs to finish. I think I may have some wonderful Jet effect beaded fringing squirreled away somewhere for just this sort of occasion which may look nice at the bottom edge of the sleeve.


    So, with all of this put together, this is my final design! What do you think?
    Colour has yet to be decided (which is why it is balck & white for the moment) however; I am loving the idea of purple or lilac with black details. The bustle skirt pulls up at the back, & has a small bustle pad underneath which makes it a wonderfully cost effective option.This also means my client will receive three seperate pieces which can be used separately or together for future events.
    I am sure elements will be changed & adapted however; I thought you all would enjoy seeing how I pull a costume/dress together.
    Happy stitching!