Round Peg In a Square Hole-crafts

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Starfleet Uniforms, the Easy Way!


As this year marks the 40th anniversary of the first airing of the original Star Trek series, there has been a renewed interest in costumes from the series. I’ve been hauling out the old ones, and am finally getting around to making some that I’ve had on my mind for years.

Of course, the quintessential, recognizable-at-50-yards Star Trek costume is the mini-skirted Starfleet uniform. However, you don’t often see this well-done, as it is made in several gazillion non-standard pieces and, to my knowledge, no one is currently selling a paper pattern (though the Starfleet Technical Manual has drawings of what the pieces look like). Those who know me know that I have a very accurate (for being made when I was 13 years old) Medical uniform, made of actual, period polyester double-knit. (I was once stopped at a con when I was wearing it, by someone who demanded to know WHERE I had gotten that fabric and I said “1973”. She was crushed, as this was in the late 80s.) The reason it was so accurate (besides the fact that I’m pretty anal-retentive) is that someone I knew knew someone who knew someone who….whose father had worked on the show and had managed to smuggle one of the patterns off the set. I was able to make my costume, but didn’t have the foresight to make a copy of the pattern, unfortunately, before returning it. Consequently, I hadn’t made a regular Starfleet woman’s uniform since then, despite the availability of the Technical Manual.

Anyway, we decided that we needed to make uniforms for our WorldCon Masquerade entry, and so I was face-to-face with the need to finally draft these patterns, and figured I had two options: take apart the one I had, make a pattern, then re-assemble it, or draft the patterns as shown in the Tech Manual. In the interests of avoiding the inevitable, I spent a good deal of time “doing research”: i.e., watching DVDs of the old series episodes. (This was how I determined that the Tech Manual is WRONG on MANY things, but that’s another article.) I just was not looking forward to drafting that pattern in three very different sizes.

And then, brilliance dawned, if I do say so myself. It finally occurred to me that the easiest way to do this was to make a sheath dress out of some cheap knit fabric (basically, a knit muslin), fit it to the person in question, then simply DRAW the lines where the seams should go with a Sharpie. Then, it would be simple to dismantle the dress and cut along the marked lines, and voila! Pattern pieces! I could either mark which seams needed seam allowance added, or cut new pieces with them included.

And it worked like a champ! I was able to fit three women with very different body types, put the seams, the necklines, the hemlines all in the right places with a flick of the Sharpie and we were golden. Don’t know if I could have done it without having made the one from the original pattern, or if I hadn’t had it there for reference, but I can give you the info to do it yourself.

First, make a sheath dress from some stretchy knit fabric (preferably light-colored, as it is easier to see the marks) and fit it to the body in question without any darting or additional seaming (and that includes set-in sleeves; you’re basically making a T-tunic, with no underarm gussets). Next, mark the neckline and seamlines as shown in figures 1 and 2, including how high up you want the pleat to open, and LABEL YOUR PIECES. Then disassemble the pieces of the dress, and cut along the marked lines. You will be left with a total of 8 pieces, AF-DF for the front, AB-DB for the back.

Lay out the pattern pieces on a single layer of the fabric, right side up, making sure to cut the pieces in the right orientation, i.e., the side with the markings up, and (if you are using the traditional velour) all headed the same way. Now, comes the tricky bit. To make the pleat, you will have to cut piece BF next to piece AF, all as one piece (see figure 3). You must then cut a separate piece BF. Do the same for pieces AB and BB.

The only tricky bit on the assembly is sewing BF to the hybrid AF-BF piece, so that the seam line lies where you originally put the line between AF and BF. (An easy way to do this is to lay BF on the hybrid piece, both face-up, and mark where the edge of BF comes to on the hybrid piece. Then, move over two seam allowances to the left, mark that line, and lay BF face-down with the edge of the fabric along this new line. But there are many other ways to do it; do what works for you.) Sew this seam to the point where you want it to open for the pleat. Then sew CF to BF without catching the hybrid piece into that seam. Finally, sew DF to CF.

Repeat all that for the back pieces, building the back pleat in the same way, then assembling the rest of the back. Sew the back and the front together along the sides and the tops and bottoms of the sleeves. (Note: the originals had invisible zippers under the left arm, but the new generation of velour is stretchy enough that you really don’t need it; you can just pull it on over your head. But you can put one in, if you want to go for authenticity, or your fabric doesn’t stretch that much.)

Next, cut the ribbing for the neckline. There are several options here, as there was little consistency in the original series. You can a) cut the ribbing so it lies flat to the body; b)make the ribbing decrease to nothing at the back point and miter it at the front point; c)make it stand out from the body in the front and lay flat in the back. All of these are defendable from screenshots.

Measure the distance between the front point and the back point in both directions (they should be different lengths). For a), cut two pieces of ribbing which slant from 5” at the front to 3” at the back, one for each of the neckline measurements. Fold each in half the long way and cut the ends as in figure 4. Open them back out and sew the front edges together and the back edges together, pivoting at the point; clip the point. Refold the ribbing the long way with the seams inside (either open out the seam or serge them and lay them to opposite sides of the seam) and pin to neck opening, stretching the ribbing to fit the neckline.

For b), cut two pieces of ribbing which slant from 5” at the front to 1” at the back, one for each of the neckline measurements. Fold as for a), but only cut the front as in figure 4. Open out and sew the back as a straight seam and the front as for a); attach as for a).

For c), cut one piece of ribbing the length of the two neck measurements minus 1”, making it 3” at one end, 5” at a point one neck measurement (minus ½”) from the end, then down to 3” at the other end. Fold in half the short way, then again the long way, and cut only the back edges as in figure 4. Unfold; seam the back and attach as for a).

For all necklines, serge or overcast the seam.

Hem sleeves to be longer than ¾, shorter than full-length; call it 7/8. Hem it to be really short; that’s how they wore it in the show. (Or longer, if your modesty trumps your need to be “authentic”.) Hand hems don’t show on the velour, and there didn’t seem to be any machine hems visible on the show.

The insignia are available online (we got ours from an ebay store) as is the rank braid, or you can sometimes get the insignia at science fiction convention dealers’ rooms. Black knee-high, non-glossy leather (or leather-look) boots can be low or high heeled, zippered or pull-on; again, all those options can be documented in the original series. Buy or make trunks to match the uniform or in black, to match the tights. And make sure you wear hair and make-up from the 60’s; it is really jarring if you don’t. (And there are some classic styles that won’t remind you of childhood horrors or bad drug trips that work just fine.)

Have fun!

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Frome the Archives: The Great Pom Pom Search

This is an article I wrote 7 or so years ago, on the occassion of making the described dress. I believe it was published in Squeals at one point, or possibly the Costumer's Quarterly, when that was still around. In any case, it comes from the past.....

It started with this picture, see? A picture in a book that a friend was kind enough to bring back from Europe. It had some pictures of Victorian gowns that I had never seen before, in any other book, including


You must understand that I have this thing about silly historicals. I *DO* do normal historicals, but no one remembers them; all they remember are the warped ones: SWAT (the Strauss Waltz Assault Team) and the Computer Pirate are somehow more memorable than yet another well-done, standard Regency or Victorian gown. And it’s not like I go looking for these Hystericals--they manage to find me. And, I have to admit, they are fun. But this was a PERIOD silly dress--I mean it was actually built that way at the time, a Victorian woman being silly, going to a Masquerade. (Well, maybe she didn’t actually mean to be silly, but I find that hard to believe....)

Anyway, as best I can tell (the book I got this from has no words (wouldn’t help a lot, even if it did, as it was printed in German), which includes no captions (not even dates!) on the pictures) the gown was worn to a Victorian costume party, and was supposed to be a circus performer--you know, one of those women who train little dogs to jump through hoops. Pretty standard late Victorian /Early Edwardian lines on the skirt and bodice, but it was decorated with about a bazillion pom poms, which graded from large at the hem to small at the waist (reversed on the bodice) with huge bows on the shoulders and a small, pointy hat. Since it was a line drawing, I was free to pick what colors I liked (though it was obvious that the bodice was a darker color than the skirt), so I picked rosy pink and forest green, for two reasons: I already had a wonderful net petticoat in those colors; and they were $.88/yd and $3/yd, respectively.

The hitch to all this was that I first saw the picture two weeks (almost to the hour) before the Halloween ball at which I wanted to wear it, and I work full time. (There were also a few projects that needed finishing up (two Halloween costumes for my nephews, and a belated birthday present for a friend), but they only took up about 15 of the available ~50 working hours between the time I first saw the picture and the time I had to be at the ball.) Not only that, I had overtime to do one of those weeks, AND had to get my car fixed. Gaaagh. I hate it when life interferes with costuming......

So, my first stroke of luck was that they sell large bags of all white pom poms with multiple sizes in the bag. (The only reason I knew this is that the first store I went to had an empty hang rack with a label that said “all-white, mixed” and the only way I could think of for all-white pom poms to be mixed was in size....) I bought out all that one Jo-Ann’s had, and called frantically around to all the others looking for more. The bad news was that the largest pom pom in the various size assortment package wasn’t large enough, so I was on the hunt for larger pom poms.

Took me 5 days to get the fabric; built the skirt and bodice in about a day and a half after that. Now, I have a decision to make: start pomming the skirt, and limit myself to the pom pom sizes I know I can get hold of, or take a chance that I’ll find bigger, or more. Kinda took the half-way road--used the largest size I currently had as my largest on the skirt, but assumed I would be able to get more of them.

As luck would have it, I was able to find several more packages of the mixed sizes, as well as enough of the largest size to do. HOWEVER, I had gotten everyone I knew involved in searching for pom poms, and Kate had found a whole nest of an even larger size, and bought out the store. This allowed me to do the top of the bodice and the ones around the neck in these large ones, which was actually pretty correct, according to the picture.

Then, I get this idea that I needed a poodle to carry, so everyone knows what I am (and I was right; no one knew what the hell I was, unless I was carrying the poodle). Fortunately, someone in our sewing circle had just gone on a search for a lamb (she was Little Bo Peep) and so had the names and numbers of several stuffed animal stores (I didn’t even know that such stores existed.....). Only one had any poodles, and they were way more expensive than I was interested in paying (especially after cornering the local market on “albino pom poms of size”....) so, in the end, I borrowed one from another member of the sewing circle. This, of course, increased the work--I now needed a hat, ear ribbons, and a neck ribbon and pom poms for the dog as well. Pant, pant.

We’re up to the Thursday before Halloween. I need to make a hat, but can’t find my hat buckram, and the store was out. Quick call to a milliner friend (Bo Peep) to steal some buckram and extra wire. Hat was built in one evening at the sewing circle.

All this time, I’m looking for gloves and tights to match the skirt and coming up with ZIP! They just don’t *make* them in that color. (Believe me.) So, I finally give in and buy white gloves (I know I have a pair of white tights at home) and Rit dye.

Now, listen to me very carefully: Never dye something you only have one of without testing the dye first. Can we say BURGUNDY?! (I already HAD a pair of burgundy gloves, too!) That was NOT the color of the package! Gaaaggghhh! (Friday night, eep!) I remember that I have another pair of white gloves (which are getting dirty, so I don’t wear them much anymore) and one more pair of new white tights. Off to the grocery store to buy 4 different colors of pink dye. Armed with MANY strips of white fabric, I of course get the correct color on the first shot. (sheesh!) Gloves and tights are subsequently washed and dried and leetle pom poms begin marching their way up the gloves to meet the huge-bow-and-gargantuan-pom-pom-thang which clearly sits on the top of the glove in the picture. (And while the gloves were drying, I whiled away the time making pom pom earrings. I am insane.)

In the end, I (FINALLY!) got my car back on Saturday, all the pom poms on (even on my shoes!), with poms to spare! And no safety pins! The ball was lovely, with some stunning costumes (particularly some of the Comedeia del Arte-types!), but almost no one really “got” the dress. Sigh! But it is very silly---and PERIOD!

By the way, if you need white pom poms of just about any size......


Hooped Petticoats

This was a reply to someone asking a question about making a hooped Victorian petticoat, but the construction information is useful for other periods, as well.

If you're looking to make a Victorian period hooped petticoat, poly boning will not be stiff enough. What you need is called hooping or hoop wire: two strips of spring steel wrapped in buckram. You need pretty heavy clippers to cut it, or you can do what I do: just bend it until it fatigues and breaks..... I don't know where you are, but there are several catalog/online sources for it: Amazon Drygoods, probably Greenberg and Hammer as well. (Check out Civil War recreation groups/sites for other links.) I _have_ seen coat hanger wire used, but the hooping is more flexible and makes it easier to get through doors, in and out of cars, in and out of bathroom stalls.....(I recommend using the handicapped stall....)

As far as fabric goes, I made my first one out of some cheap, ugly upholstry lining (it was actually quite nice when I washed all the sizing out of it) and it has seen quite a lot of wear. Any sturdy, mid-weight fabric (cotton, poly cotton, rayon) will do. I usually use twill tape to make the casings. To secure the hoop, thread it through the casing, poke two holes (about 3 inches apart) in each end of the strip of hooping, overlap the ends of the hooping so that the sets of holes line up, thread a short piece of shoe lace through the holes, and tie in a square knot. (This allows you to take the hoops out when you need to wash the fabric, but you need to allow for the overlap when measuring the hooping lengths.)

I would recommend a drawstring, rather than a waistband at the top, both for ease in loaning it out to others, and because you often want it to ride a little lower on your hips so that not EVERYTHING is around your waist.

And, PLEASE! put a petticoat over the hoop. It is quite sad when someone has obviously worked very hard on their gown and VHL (Visible Hoop Line) ruins the whole shape of the gown. A quick and dirty non-period solution is a net petticoat. A more historically accurate petticoat would have anywhere from two to eight fabric ruffles (and is consequently a LOT heavier).


Continuous Bias Strips: Trick from the Quilters’ Bag

Pictures will be forthcoming.....

Quilters often use a bias strip to bind the edges of their quilt. Usually, they don’t want to use the commercially available ones: either they’re the wrong color, or the wrong size, or they want something with a pattern, or they want 100% cotton, etc., so they often have to make their own. I don’t know who invented this technique, but it was a huge boon when I was making a Victorian gown with applied decorative bias strips of velvet 5” wide. I needed a whole lot of this stuff, and had to go back twice to get more velvet, but it worked like a charm, and I now use it quite often to bind the tops and bottoms of corsets when I have trouble matching the color in a purchased bias tape.

The basic technique is this: a) take a true square of fabric and cut it on the true bias (corner to corner), giving you two right triangles. b) Slide one triangle past the other so that instead of the bias edges being next to one another, the straight edges abut. c) Now, flip one triangle over, laying it on top of the other, with the straight edges still aligned and right sides together (the other edges won’t line up; they’re not supposed to). Sew the straight edges together and press open or serge and press. d) Now, open your fabric out; you now have a parallelogram, with two edges on the bias, and two edges on the straight of grain. e) Determine how wide you want your bias strip to be (including seam allowances) and call it w; draw chalk lines parallel to the bias edges and w apart. (IMPORTANT: when you measure to put on these lines, make sure you measure perpendicular to the bias edge, NOT parallel to the straight-of-grain edge. Otherwise, your bias tape will be narrower than you intended. ) It may not work out evenly and the last strip may be too narrow. If this happens, simply trim off the last partial strip.

Now comes the tricky bit. f) & g) You need to fold the fabric so the remaining straight-grain sides are together (right side to right side) BUT offset by one width of your tape. This seam will have one width of tape hanging off each end of the seam. (Make sure you line them up so that the marked lines cross on the seam line, not the edge of the seam allowance.) Sew and press (or sew, serge, and press) this seam. h) The marked lines should now describe a spiral around your tube, roughly meeting up across the seam you just sewed. Cut along the marked lines and voila! You now have a continuous piece of bias tape. (Note: you have just repeatedly cut across two seams; those short seams will separate, if treated roughly. Also, you can easily stretch the strip out of shape (it IS a bias strip, after all), so treat it gently. Wind it onto a card or roll until used and try not to manhandle it when applying.)

The remaining question is, of course, if I need L inches of w-inch-wide bias tape, how big a square do I need to start? Turns out that the answer is pretty simple. Multiply the total length you need in inches (L) by the width (including seam allowances) in inches (w), then take the square root of that product. The resulting number (a) is the length of one side of the square you should start with (also in inches). (I’ll spare you the mathematical proof I did to convince myself that this is true.)

The trouble comes when a is larger than the width of your fabric. You then have to either break it down into several squares, (the most you can get out of one square of fabric of width W is (WxW)/w; you can then figure out how many of these squares you’ll need) or sew several widths together to make the required width. I think the second approach could rapidly get unwieldy and out of hand, so I would recommend the first approach, even if you don’t like the math. (I suspect there are spreadsheet programs out there that can do this calculation fairly easily, and make a chart of width versus total length. I know that there are such charts in various places on the web (don’t know where, off-hand, though quilting sites would be a good place to start looking).) But this method will give you the answer. (Remember, if you use the first method and you need a square of side a, and your fabric is only half that wide, you’ll need 4 squares of side (a/2) to make the same amount of bias, not 2 squares.)

I would also recommend that you assume you will need a little more than you think, and cut accordingly. While mathematics is exact, this method loses a little in the seam allowances, and in those instances where you end up with a partial strip in figure e). It would be a shame to come up 5” short, when you could have made your square just a little bit bigger to start with, with very little effort.

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Random notes on sequins

This was a reply to an online question regarding how to add sequins to an item.

There are a few basic ways to attach sequins: glue (hot or cold), sewing from the hole over the edge (I usually take at least two stitches, so the sequins don't flop over) and sewing up through the sequin, through a bead, then back through the sequin. Given these techniques, pick your design (fairly simply designs like those in coloring books are good places to start), choose a technique, color, and size of sequin for each area, and get stitching!

A few refinements:

I usually separate or outline sequined areas by lines of beads. Looks sharper and more detailed.

Work on a piece of buckram, rather than directly on the item it is to be applied to. This allows the applique to be removed so the garment can be cleaned.

Overlapping the sequins fills the area more completely. When using the sew-over-the-edge technique, I will often come up in the center of the first sequin, go down on the left edge, come back up through the center, then through the center of the second sequin (from the top), continuing down at the right edge of the first sequin, up at the right edge of the second sequin, then through the center of the third sequin (from the bottom) and down through the center of the second sequin, back up through the center of the third, etc.... This make most stitches work for two sequins, which speeds things up a bit.

Recommend using waxed or other heavy beading thread, as sequins will cut through lighter threads.


Corset Notes

This is not a “how to” article, but some tips that I have learned in making a blurtload of corsets over the years. Some apply mostly to Victorian corsets, but most are good for any kind of corset-ish support garment.

Note: Tips for the advanced seamstress/costumer/corsetier are noted with *

General fit:

-Some corsets are designed to just come to the nipple, not fully cover the breast. Be aware which type you’re making before you fit it.

-Note that your waist may lie in a different place in the front and the back. Check this very carefully when fitting.

-Past Patterns #213 and #708 tend to both be short-waisted. Laughing Moon tends to be long waisted in the back, but normal in the front. Moral of the story--ALWAYS MAKE A MUSLIN when you use a new pattern.

Fabric considerations:

-It is easier and faster to flatline your fashion fabric layer (ffl) with muslin or kettlecloth/heavy broadcloth than it is to use bone casings. It is also less lumpy. This assumes that you are making a lining and an outer layer. If you flatline all the layers together, then you do need bone casing, though you’ll probably want to face the front and back pieces.

-If using a brocade for your ffl, choose one with a small enough pattern. Larger patterns don’t show on the small pieces, and just look funny.

-While it is possible to stabilize a very fluid piece of fabric with interfacing, and so use it for the ffl, I’ve found that flatlining with muslin or some other midweight, tightly-woven fabric works better.

-When cutting, if you don’t take the fabric off the pattern pieces in between cuts, (I know you’re supposed to, but who does?) cut the heavy inner fabric, then the interlining, then the fashion fabric. This will make the lining just a hair smaller than the other layers, so it will end up taking the strain.

General assembly:

-*When sewing, make the seam allowances just a hair over standard on the lining, and a hair under standard on the fashion fabric layer. (Note! Standard seam allowance on most historical patterns is 1/2”, not the modern 5/8”! Check your pattern to be sure you know which to use!) This will ensure that the lining will be just a tad smaller, and so will be the part that takes the strain. BUT don’t go overboard with this--a difference of 1/16” in the seam allowance on each seam adds up to a 1.5” difference in size, overall. With corsets, it pays to be consistent.

-*I don’t bother to back up/tie off the beginning and end of any seam which will later be sewn across, e.g., the seams between pieces. The only places I do are for the right front, at each of the openings for the busk tabs (where I forward-and-back twice, for a total of 4 rows of stitching, to reinforce those openings); and in binding off the top and bottom, and sewing the trim on. All the other seams are later sewn across, and so are stabilized that way.

-I don’t serge the seams between pieces; rather, I press them open. This gives more sturdiness to the casings on the seams, and evens out the bulk.

-Before putting the lining and the ffl together, sew a band of twill tape to the inside of the fashion fabric layer, right at the waistline. This reinforces the waist, which is where most of the stress is going to be.


-If you must use a busk which is too short, put a 1/2” bone of the correct length in the casing with the busk. Thus, if you require a 13” busk and only have a 12” one, putting a 13” long, 1/2” wide bone into the casing with the busk will allow you to use it. (Doesn’t do much for those of us who are short waisted!) Thank you to Sherri Jerneka for this tip.

-*When sewing the busk seams, cheat the ffl just a little, so that the seam allowance on that piece is a little smaller (no more than a 1/16th of an inch) than on the lining. This allows for the extra distance the ffl will have to go over the busk when you sew it down.

-Busk piece with tabs goes on the wearer’s right side, tab side out.

-To mark the gaps for the tabs, lay the tab side of the busk on the wrong side of the fashion fabric layer, tab side down, then mark on either side of the tabs with a chalk pencil or air-erasable marker. Then sew that seam, leaving gaps between the chalk marks, and reinforcing on either side of the gaps. The gaps will then be slightly bigger than the tabs, allowing for easy insertion of the busk. NOTE: busks used to be made with the tabs spaced equally apart, but the lower two tabs are now often closer together than the others are. If you are having trouble inserting the busk, make sure that you are trying to put it in in the same orientation that you marked and sewed it.

-Examine your zipper foot. If the heel is wider than the toe, you might want to look for one that is a constant width. This will make insertion of the busk much easier, allowing you to get much closer to the busk to lock it in.

More general construction:

-After sewing the inside to the outside, but before turning right side out, cut two 1.5” wide strips of heavy duck the length of the back of the corset. Serge (or trim and zigzag) the center back seams, and the edges of the two duck strips. Butt the edge of one duck strip up against the seam allowance along one center back seam, and zigzag across the gap, to hold it in place. Repeat for the other side with the other duck strip. Once the corset is turned right side out, this extra piece will lie between the inner and outer layers of the corset and will reinforce the back where the grommets will go, giving the grommets something more to hang onto, without adding a lot of bulk.

-Of the 4 seams connecting the lining and the ffl, the only one you need to press open is the front seam on the (wearer’s) right side. This allows for easier insertion of the tab side of the busk. The back seams will be serged or zigzagged closed, (see above) and the (wearer’s) left front seam allowance should all be under the busk, so you only have to poke the posts of that side of the busk through the ffl.

Bones and grommets:

-To determine the length of bones required, put in the channels, then completely finish one edge of the corset, including any trim or lace that will be put on by machine. Measure from the innermost line of stitching, to the other raw edge, then subtract 1”; that will give you the length of bone you need for that channel. (This assumes that you’re using 1/2” bias tape (extra wide double fold) or 1” twill tape (folded over the edge) to finish the edge. If not, take the width of whatever edge finish you’re using, and add 1/2”, to give you some room.) If you are in-between bone sizes, choose the shorter one. If you put in a bone which is too long, it will have a much higher probability of wearing through, since there is more pressure on it.

-For larger cup sizes, you might want to put a 1/2” bone at the outer edge of the breast, and possibly additional 1/4” bones over the breast. This will provide more support for the breast without flattening the bust too much.

-There should be a bone on either side of the grommets; however, unless you are upwards of size 20 you should only need 1/4” bones there.

-Instead of cutting a hole for the grommets, cut two crossing slits, in the shape of an X. This gives the grommets more to hang onto.


-I often combine two pieces of lace for the top of the corset, one long and one short. I set them flat-edge to flat-edge and zigzag over the flat edges, producing a very nice trim, which can then be zigzagged onto the top of the corset.

-If you’re intending to wear the corset only under other things, make sure that the trim isn’t bulky.

Final notes:

-A properly fitting corset does not meet where it’s laced; there should be anywhere from 1” (for smaller sizes, e.g., size 6) to 4” (for larger sizes, e.g., size 20) open. This allows both for size variation and for movement while wearing the corset. The gap shouldn’t be much outside that range, though, even if you are significantly smaller than the small size or larger than the large size.

-Be aware that you may be BIGGER with your corset on, than without. What you are looking for is the correct historical shape, as well as support, not only for the body, but for whatever gown you are putting over it. Thus, you should not fit your bodice until you have built your corset. (Indeed, you should fit your bodice after you make your skirt, and with all appropriate underpinnings (petticoats, bustle or hoop, bum roll) as the waistbands or other masses may affect the fit of the bodice.)

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Tassle directions

Made these as Christmas gifts for my sewing circle one year, each in their own signature colors. Since I couldn't know in advance how many they might need, I made each one 5 or 7 (it's been a while; just remember that it was an odd number), but also included both these directions and the color number of the embroidery floss that I used, in case they needed to make more. One woman needed more, and her mathemetician-husband made them from these directions, and complimented me on their clarity. *blush*

1- Cut one 16” piece and one 8” piece off the skein of embroidery floss
2- Wrap remainder of skein around an audio cassette box, the short way
3- Cut the floss along one side of the cassette box
4- Tie strands together at the center with the 8” strand (use either a square knot or a slip knot)
5- Fold strands in half, moving the tie-together strand, if necessary, to get the two sets of strands even in length
6- Fold 16” strand in half, wrap it around the tassel about half an inch below the tie-together strand, slip the two ends of the 16” strand through the fold in its middle, and cinch tight
7- Wrap the two strands of the 16” strand around the tassel, making sure to cover the lump where the ends go through the loop on the wind-around strand
8- Slip the end of the two strands under the last wind-around, leaving about a 1” tail
9- Slip a large-eyed needle under the winding threads, thread the wind-around tail through the needle, and pull the tail down into the center of the tassel
10- Trim tassel so all strands are the same length


Knitted Mitts or Gloves

1 skein Cascade Yarns Fixation (98.3% cotton, 1.7% elastic) (you can make several pair out of one skein, and the white dyes beautifully)
two sets of size 6 double-pointed needles
stitch markers

gauge: 6 rows=7 stitches= 1”

Right Glove

Cast on 42 stitches, spread evenly over 3 needles, place marker to show beginning of the rnd and knit circularly in pattern A for one inch, ending with Rnd 2.


K21 sts, place stitch marker, P-K-P in next stitch, place stitch marker, K to the end of the rnd. Next rnd (and all subsequent Rnd 2s) follow pattern to last stitch before first stitch marker, K1, slip marker, P1, K1, follow Pattern A until 1 stitch before second marker, P1, slip marker, continue Pattern A to end of rnd. Next rnd (and all subsequent Rnd 1s), K to marker, slip marker, P and K in next stitch, knit to 1 stitch before second marker, K and P in next stitch, slip marker, K to end of rnd. Continue in this way until there are 15 stitches between the markers, ending with a Rnd 1.

Follow Rnd 2 of Pattern A until you reach the second marker. Stop at this point and move the last 14 stitches worked (all but one of the stitches between the markers) onto 3 new needles. Working only these 14 stitches, proceed in Pattern A, starting with Rnd 1, until the thumb is the correct length, ending with a Rnd 1. Break off yarn and thread it through the stitches and cinch them, then knot and secure the end.


Once thumb is done, remove stitch markers for thumb, re-attach yarn to the left side of thumb (leave a long tail when you attach the yarn; this will be useful in tacking up the hole that forms at the base of the thumb) and complete the Rnd 1 of Pattern A. Work 5 more rnds in Pattern A, ending with Rnd 2 at the marker showing the beginning of the rnd. Slip 5 stitches off each needle next to the marker and place them on 3 new needles (It is easiest to keep the pattern if you put the last 4 stitches worked on one needle, the next 4 to be worked on another needle, and the remaining two (one worked, one not) on the third.) Work in Pattern A until length for the pinky is reached, ending with Rnd 1; break off yarn and thread it through the stitches and cinch them, then knot and secure the end.

Other fingers

Re-attach yarn to the left side of pinky, then work Pattern A once. Split off 5 stitches on either side of the rnd marker, as for pinky, (a total of 10 stitches) and work them to the length of ring finger, tying off as previously described. Repeat for middle finger. Index finger will have 12 stitches, worked in the same manner. Remember to leave a long tail each time you re-attach the yarn, so you can sew up the “finger crotches”.


Pick up 42 stitches from the bottom edge and spread them out on 3 needles. (Because the pattern starts over 6 stitches, it is easiest to have 12 stitches on two of the needles and 18 stitches on the third.)

Rnd 1: (K2tog, YO, K1, YO, K1, YO, K2tog) repeat to end of rnd
Rnd 2: (K3, P and K in next stitch, K3) repeat to end of rnd
Rnd 3: (K1, K2tog, YO, K1, YO, K1, YO, K2tog, K1) repeat to end of rnd
Rnd 4: (K4, P and K in next stitch, K4) repeat to end of rnd
Rnd 5: (K2, K2tog, YO, K1, YO, K1, YO, K2tog, K2) repeat to end of rnd
Rnd 6: (K5, P and K in next stitch, K5) repeat to end of rnd
Rnd 7,9, &11: P
Rnd 8&10: K
Rnd 12: cast off, knitwise

Pattern A: Rnd 1, K; Rnd 2, (YO, K2tog)* repeat to end of rnd

Pattern B: Rnd 1, K; Rnd 2, (K2tog, YO)* repeat to end of rnd

Left Glove

Using Pattern B, work as for right until ready for the thumb.


K20 sts, place stitch marker, P-K-P in next stitch, place stitch marker, K to the end of the rnd. Next rnd (and all subsequent Rnd 2s) follow pattern to first stitch marker, slip marker, P1, follow Pattern B until 2 stitches before second marker, K1, P1, slip marker, K1, continue Pattern B to end of rnd. Next rnd (and all subsequent Rnd 1s), K to marker, slip marker, P and K in next stitch, knit to 1 stitch before second marker, K and P in next stitch, slip marker, K to end of rnd. Continue in this way until there are 15 stitches between the markers, ending with a Rnd 1.

Using Pattern B, continue as directed for Right Glove


Using the long tails that you left when you re-attached the yarn after each finger was completed, sew up holes between the fingers. Knot, trim, and work these tails and those at the ends of the fingers, into the fabric of the glove.

If desired, run elastic or ribbon through at the wrist.

To make mitts instead of gloves, simply stop the fingers after about ¾”, ending with rnd 2, and cast off. For a shorter mitt, stop when ready to start Pinky, and cast off.

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Knitted Baby Blanket

size 10, 29 " circular needle
6 skeins (4 oz. skeins) of 4-ply knitting yarn

Cast on 187 stitches; knit 5 rows.

Start pattern:
Row 1&3: *K2tog,k3,yo,k1,yo,k3,k2tog; repeat from * to end of row
Row 2: knit
Row 4: purl

Repeat pattern 50 times. Finish blanket with 5 rows knitted, then cast off.

possible color patterns:

• one stripe of each of six colors (each stripe 9 repeats wide)
• stripes 5 repeats wide and run through six colors twice (takes a little more yarn, as blanket will be slightly longer)
• stripes 3 repeats wide and run through the colors three times
• 3-repeat stripes in each of three colors, then repeat that whole thing 6 times
• 5-repeat stripes, in each of six colors, then reverse the color order in the middle (don’t double middle stripe; blanket will be slightly shorter)
• 3-repeat stripes, colors A,B,C; pattern: ABC,BAC,ABC,BAC,ABC,BA (blanket will be slightly shorter)
• 3 4-repeat-stripes (A,B,C), 3 3-repeat-stripes (A,B,C), 5 2-repeat-stripes (A,B,C,B,A), 3 3-repeat-stripes (C,B,A), 3 4-repeat-stripes (C,B,A) (blanket will be slightly shorter)

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