Thursday, October 14, 2010

Where Corsetra came from

No I am not talking about the story of my birth.

I have used the name Corsetra for almost a decade. I intend to use it for a long time for not only is it more private, but it is more recognizable than my legal name.

Back in 2002-3 I was in a pattern-making and fashion designing course at a local college. We had a few high school aged students in the class along with college aged and adults.
One day three of the high school aged girls came up with a superhero theme for themselves, basing their powers of of their physical traits. The girl with the flat belly's powers were based out of her belly button and she mesmerized with belly dance. The girl with the large derriere had the power to cause earthquakes when she shook her booty. The girl who later got a breast reduction had the power to blind with her "headlights."
Now I was feeling left out and decided to come up with my own super powers, but I wanted to be the villainess not a hero.
So I came up with the character Corsetra whose super power was in her corset strings. when the lacings are pulled, the heros contort as if being tied up.

My now husband drew this up

Of course her outfit is red and black with a corset. This is a half size costume that I made shortly after the creation of the character. The home made dress form was never truly finished and isn't very curvy at all, so the dress is not displayed to it's full advantage.
 The shoulder points are made from pleater, the bust portion is a black and silver knit, the sleeves and collar are from another stretch lacy knit. The red satin of the corset was scraps left over from my first real corset that has now passed away,
The back of the skirt features a corset applique that I made. I think it is the best part of the whole dress.
I hope you have enjoyed this little story.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why I write for Foundations Revealed and Your Wardrobe Unlock'd

I have written 1.5 articles for Foundations Revealed and one for Your Wardrobe Unlock'd. These two companion sites host a wealth of information on Corset Making and Historic Costume by subscription.

The first article I wrote was for Wardrobe about Making costumes for dolls this was spurred by my entry to the Single Pattern Project of 2009. This article was the only one that was specifically requested by the editors.

The two other articles were projects that I was planing to do anyways. Though admittedly the fact that I would be paid for the Skeleton Corset article did help me convince my husband that purchasing it was a good idea.

Why did I choose to put my work on a by subscription web-page instead of publishing it for free?
1. Payment. Yeah, lets be honest and get this one out of the way. The rate that I got for my articles was $100. Now let's put this in perspective. The price I paid for the Skeleton corset was more than twice that. I also had to purchase a few materials to make a good study of it, and reproduce the busk. I spent more than $100 on materials for the 18th century maternity and nursing stays I made. So you can see I didn't really make any money off those articles.
2. There is something about having your little research projects published (and receiving payment for it) that makes you think that you really are doing something important and thus makes you want to do your best. Or at least I have found that to be the case with me.I probably wouldn't have done as good of a job on those articles if I had intended to post them to my live journal. Also I am one of those who tends to work best towards the end of a deadline.
3. Giving back to the community. By subscribing I financially show my support, but by writing, I show I care about the content. Since I am at a point where I feel I have something that is worth sharing, I should share. A certain paper magazine I subscribe too was having a lot of subscribers write in and say "I want to see an article on X, I don't care for all the Y and Z you have been publishing" they printed these letters and replied with "If you want to see and article on X, why don't you write one? We can only print what we receive and we have been getting a lot of Y and Z submitted to us." So if you want to see it, you just might need to write it!
4. Readership levels on this blog, and my own Live Journal are quite lower than the readership levels of Foundations and Wardrobe. True I could cross-post to all sorts of LJ communities, but honestly I get tired of seeing the same post multiple times on my f-list. Now this might seem boastful that I want a larger number of readers, but honestly I always secretly hope that someone has a piece of information on the topic that I missed, or a correction, so that I can learn more. I want feedback from the community.

Now let me be clear. No one has told me to write this, not even suggested it. I am not writing it because I get "goodies" for doing so, or to raise Google ratings. I just want you to know why I choose to have my articles published where in order to read them you have to subscribe, instead of for free. I enjoyed writing for Wardrobe andFoundations and may do so again in the future.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How I make MY patterns

There are many ways that I utilize when making patterns.
1. If I am dealing with a scaled pattern from a book, I will scan it in and enlarge and alter it in CAD, If it is already in an electronic format, so much the better.
2. If I am drafting from measurements, I will often do it in CAD. Just can't beat that precision!
3. If it is a craft pattern, like my dolls and dragons, I do it by hand. Nothing beats good old paper and pencil!

My hand just knows where I want those curves, pencil is more fluid than mouse clicks. While I do have a tablet and stylus, I am not that familiar with it yet, and to top it off, my husband often takes it to work. (He is a draftsman, so deals with CAD all day and wants to minimize the mouse clicks he needs to make.) After I have made the pattern up, I will scan it in to the computer and CAD it over to give the nice accurate lines that my hand drawing lacks.

One of my dream items is a digitizing table. This would be the most useful when I take patterns off of antique garments. Yes folk I have a few that I intend to do, mainly children's clothing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why pattern testing matters

I have a clothing pattern out to pattern testers this month.
Of course after I had sent it out I found a couple of errors. Most were grading errors. Since the errors were things that the testers could correct themselves (like raising and lowering hems) I made a list of known errors and how to correct them and sent that out to the testers.
It was embarrassing, but that is what pattern testing is all about.
Once I get the reviews from the testers I will be correcting those errors and any new ones they find.

Now a lot can go wrong in grading. Grading can be a complicated process, it is not just making things smaller or bigger by scaling, nor is it just adding a set amount of difference everywhere.
It even gets a lot more complicated when you are working in historic pattern shapes that there are no modern grading rules for!

Mistakes are going to happen, and you, as pattern maker and grader, may not always catch them. This is why you get a good group of pattern testers to be the second, or third, set of eyes for you. Hopefully you catch all the errors in the testing phase, but if they don't, be good to your customers, include an addendum for errors that they can fix, or better yet have the page(s) reprinted. You do not want to be the pattern company who gets bad mouthed for having poor grading.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Revisiting old patterns

In the past month I have been going through a phase of reducing possessions. Part of this includes setting up my Etsy shop to sell them. One of the things I hope to always have in my store is my Dragonlet pattern I made the original pattern back in 2004, before Etsy existed. At that time I was not ready to sell the pattern to anyone other than friends in my local doll group. I was not ready to start a business, but I hoped to eventually. Since then I have carried the unsold copies of the patterns as I moved. I rediscovered them and decided that Etsy was the format to help me sell them. I am down to my last paper copy to sell.
When the last paper copy has sold, I hope to have an e-pattern available, so I have been redoing the pattern.
Originally the pattern was hand drawn, then I scanned it into the computer and went over the hand drawn lines in a photo editing software. It took a lot of time, but I felt it was a better looking pattern for it.
Since then I have learned how to use a CAD program called Rhino and now I am going over the pattern again, this time in CAD. I am actually surprised at how good the pattern is, I am not having to clean up much, lines are matching up and pieces that are supposed to be symmetrical, are turning out to be just that.
This makes me happy! The pattern will now be better, clearer, and I can alter it with greater ease.

Make the best pattern you can, then learn how to do better. A good patter is worth updating.