Corset Kits!

Corset Kits!
A corset can be worn in any way you imagine

Friday, October 31, 2014

New Website

It's amazing how complicated the internet can be. How many "accounts" I have and how many passwords!!! I have Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and ...this blog, as well as a website and I can't seem to keep on top of it all and get anything else done.

But, there is some important news.

Farthingales has a new website and....I built it myself, despite having no web building experience and not really being that computer savy. I'd much rather handle tangible materials like coutil and corset bones! It's been almost a year since I plotted the plan for the new website using "publisher" and figured out all the links and levels AND it's bee one hell of journey - truly, it was like being in hell at times, trying to figure it all out and failing. However the new site is now live - has been for a few weeks and most kinks have been worked out. So I'm hoping you'll all go take a peak.

Same URL as before.

Keep in mind - if you had an account on the old site - you'll have one here. HOWEVER we could not move your passwords due to security, so you need to enter your e-mail address and click "Forgot Password" and a new temporary password will be sent to you. Use it to sign-in and create a new password that you'll remember or ...add Farthingales to your address book and put the new password in the "notes" section.

I hope you'll check the new website out soon and give me some feedback.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sewing Classes and Costume Classes

Farthingales is Expanding

Farthingales has taught corset making classes at many places and offered an extensive list of classes when in Los Angeles, now they're offering them in Stratford, Ontario.

Two large well lit class rooms are almost ready for use with new walls, floors, electrics, windows and sewing machines! The spaces are awesome!

Several professional costumers from one of North Americas premier theatres are offering to teach classes from basic sewing techniques (so you can get up to speed for serious fashion and costume projects) to tailoring, corset making, hat making and ruff making with many other interesting project classes and drafting! 

Weekend Workshops will be offered through out the year with several multi evening classes and many since evening or single day classes. Pattern Drafting Classes, Corset Making Classes, Elizabetha Ruff Classes and so many more.

A few of the classes are listed here:

Follow us here or on Facebook to get current information, like details for Winter Weekend Costume & Fashion Classes that offer accommodation in this beautiful city.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Corset Making Classes

Farthingales is on the move!

As of June 1st 2014 Farthingales will be in a new larger location with two classrooms and potentially six teachers to offer a wide selection of classes.

Linda, the owner of Farthingales and the author of "The Basics of Corset Building" will be teaching a corset class in August - the exact date has yet to be determined, but it will be an all weekend class.

Other classes in development are:
  • Elizabethan ruffs/cuffs
  • fashion illustration
  • pattern drafting
  • Open Sew - bring your own project
  • Hat making
  • basic sewing
and the list keeps on growing!

Follow us here or on Facebook for more information.

Monday, February 17, 2014

TuTu Tips

The Classical Tutu and How It’s Made

Several years ago I took a Tutu making workshop and this is some of what I learned.

What is a classical tutu?

A classical tutu is the skirt of a ballet costume, it appears to be a flat, stiff circle extending straight out from the hips.

What type of net should I use to make a classical tutu?

The net for a classical tutu needs to be fairly stiff and should not be inclined to drape. Holes are usually small and net is usually fairly fine.

           Farthingales offers both basic tutu net #24-5533-   and crisp tutu net #24-5534-   
Crisp tutu net is more commonly used for tutu’s that will see a lot of wear.

How much net do I need for a classical tutu?

This varies on the number of layers you want in the tutu, the depth of the layers and the width of the fabric. 5 – 6 meters is an average amount. I was amazed by this! 

How many layers of net does a classical tutu have?

This is optional and an average number is 10….yes, 10 layers all sewn into a very small area. You may want to make you first tutu with fewer layers as 10 layers is very time consuming and more than a bit monotonous.

Are all layers the same size?

No, the layers of a classical tutu are graduated, the top layers are widest and the bottom layer are quite narrow – possible as small as 1 ¼” wide! The length of each layer also varies with the uppermost layer being about 3 times as long as the bottom layer.

How do I gather the layers for a classical tutu?

Using gathering threads does not work well as the lengths are so long and the abrasion to the thread as it’s drawn through the net will break it. Zigzag stitching over a cord adds too much bulk so it’s actually best to pleat the net rather than gather it. This presents its’ own challenge as you have to work out you pleat ratio so that your pleated length of net fits the knickers/panty. It is rather remarkable what a challenge this can really be! Work out the pleat depths before you pleat. The pleat ratio will change with almost every layer as the length varies.

Does the outside edge of the classical tutu net get treated in anyway?

Tutu net like most net, does not fray or unravel but the edge is usually cut in scallops or spikes and the cutting is done before the layers are gathered or pleated, while the net can still lay flat on a table. You may want to make a template for the scallops or spikes and mark the cutting lines onto the net layers.

What do the classical tutu ruffles get attached to?

The ruffles get attached to a panty or “knickers” and the knickers are made of a light yet strong net such as our #24-5507-01 (nylon veiling). The knickers are cut from two layers of this fine net and create a panty that supports the net, has marginal stretch, breaths and is barely visible on the dancer. I had assume the ruffles got attached to some seriously supportive fabric like coutil or duck...another surprise for me.

Does a classical tutu require any wire?

Some people do wire their classical tutus and some only wire a classical tutu that is being used in partner work. The wire helps maintain the shape of the tutu and this is particularly important when the ballerina is constantly bumping against a partner. It keeps the tutu net from getting crushed. It is not used to keep the tutu up.

Where does the wire go and what kind of wire is used?

Only a single wire is used and it is called “tutu wire” we sell it in both black and white 55-8504-01 & 55-8504-90 This wire is only about ¼” wide and is covered with a thread braid. It is sewn into one of the middle layers closer to the top and it is not sewn in the perimeter but a few inches in from the edge or 3-5 inches out from the body. The wire will not be visible.

About how long does it take to make a tutu?

An experienced tutu maker can make a tutu in about 16 – 24 hours. And that is just the tutu! That does not include the bodice or the decorative plate that goes over the tutu!

I have been sewing for over 20 years and some of those years were as a professional costumer, I have built dozens of corsets but the tutu workshop I attended to learn the above information taught me that the tutu maker has a level a patience that I cannot even imagine. I am not ashamed to admit that I did not finish my tutu in class nor have I attempted to finish it since! I got tired  - sick to death - of pleating ruffles and having the tutu net scraping my neck, my hands and catching in my hair and on itself. It was not a fun experience – except for the people in the class. Thankfully I was sitting with someone who appreciated my humor and commiserated with my complaints! She did not get her tutu finished either but we did have some good laughs. Give me a corset rather than a tutu any day! I concluded a tutu is worth whatever the asking price.

Are there any patterns available for making a classical tutu?

“Yes” and “No”

There is at least one commercial pattern on the market but it is in no way a professional tutu. It is likely designed for a Halloween costume and would likely not work for dancers, although it may be acceptable for young girls. Always check with the dance school first.
I was originally a pattern drafter and wondered about the lack of patterns for this garment. Having taken the workshop I better understand that a commercial pattern would be a challenge to create. The ruffles are the key and they vary in both length and width and are apparently relative in size to the woman wearing them

 Looking for Tutu Making Supplies?

 Tutu net and veiling for the panty (knickers)
Tutu steel

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hook and Eye Tape Application.

Why sew on a bunch of hooks and eyes by hand if you can use hook and eye tape which does not require you to measure for every piece applied. This is faster and saves your hands.
It's best to first explain what hook and eye tape is.  Typically, you can buy hook tape and eye tape at most fabric stores.  One of the tapes has hooks on it and the other tape has eyes on it, usually these hooks and eyes are sewn into the tapes.  With alternating hook and eye tape.  The hooks and the eyes are riveted to a single tape and they alternate in placement of hook followed by an eye followed by a hook followed by an eye and so on.
The advantage of alternating hook and eye tape is that once the hook and eye tape is done up it is very difficult for it to come undone without effort.  Standard hook and eye tapes come undone fairly easily.  Alternating hook &eye tape are an advantage in the back of dance costumes, because no matter what motion the dancer does, there is limited to no risk of the hooks and eyes coming undone. 
The image below shows two rows of alternating hook and eye tape.
The hooks and eyes are fairly substantial corset hooks and corset eyes that are riveted on to a stiff twill tape.
Notice how each twill tape has a hook and then an eye in alternating sequences.
Be sure to confirm how the hooks and eyes line up before you cut the tape! A hook needs to be opposite an eye. If you’re not careful you can end up with the problem below.
 Keep in mind it's also very difficult to undo a garment you're wearing yourself if you have used alternating hook and eye tape.  It's also very difficult to get it done up yourself!
When using hook and eye tape it is important that the hooks and eyes close in a manner that does not allow the skin to be visible between the two edges of fabric.  If the tapes were sewn to the edge of the fabric you would get a gap between the edges of the fabric as indicated in the image below.
  “right side”                                                   “wrong side”

  1. Fold and press your fabrics along the “center front” line (or the “center back” if you are applying to hook and eye tape to the backs).  It is important to press this fold.  Once the hook and eye tapes are sewn on it will not be possible to press this edge.
2.  Using a narrow foot on your machine (likely a zipper foot), check that the foot will fit in between the hook and the eye on the tape.
3. Open the pressed fabric edge up and align the hooks and eyes of the tape, with the fold line that indicates “center front”.  Using a pencil or pen mark the center point between each hook and eye both on the tape and on the fabric.  You’ll use these lines to confirm placement of the tape so mark carefully and be sure the tape does not cover the marks you make on the fabric.
4. Stitch each of these short lines between every hook and every eye. Sewing only through the tape and the single layer of fabric. Stitch from the raw edge to the fold mark and back so that each row is double stitched.
Fold the raw ends of the tape under and stitch in the same way unless the tape will go all the way to the end of the fabric and will get bound off with it.
5.  Refold the fabric along the “center front” (or “center back”) line.  Pin along the fold to make sure the fabrics stay in place.  Stitch close to the riveted edge of the hooks and eyes, stitching through the tape and both layers of fabric. This will create a bone casing that allows you to slide a bone behind the hooks and eyes for further support…it does increase the challenge of getting the hooks and eyes done-up and un-done.
If you have no need or interest in creating a bone casing stitch the tape to only one layer of fabric at this point by not folding the fabric along the “center front” line.
The following steps do not include a bone casing.
6. The fabric was not folded back into place and the long row of stitching to secure the tape to the fabric was sewn through the tape and one layer of fabric only.
7.  Now fold the fabric into place along the “center front” line, pin along the fold and stitch a second row of stitching along the edge of the tape. Stitching through the tape and both layers of fabric.
8. Attach the hook and eye tape for the other side onto the “sewn on” hook and eye tape.  This will determine the placement of the second tape on the other piece of fabric.  Slide the other piece of fabric into place so that the folded edges fo “center front” or “center back” butt snuggly against each other. Mark the tape and the fabric as outlined previously.
hookandeye11markingsecondside800x600.jpg                              hookandeye12thesecondsidemarked800x600.jpg                                                          
9. Stitch the tape to the fabric in the same way as outlined previously. BUT, notice that the placement of the hook and eye tape on the fabric may not be the same.  I prefer the opening not to be centered over the bar of the eyes.
  View from the inside
  View from the outside

             hookandeye15rightsidefinished600x800.jpg        hookandeye9rightside800x600.jpg

 Want to order alternating hook and eye tape?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Corset Making Class

Corset Making Class in December 2013

Taught by Linda Sparks

Author of “The Basics of Corset Building” 

Two day workshop will see you make a mock-up from a commercial pattern, fit it to your body, make alterations to the pattern for future use and make the mock-up into a real corset with bones and busk etc. All supplies are included in the class fee and machines are supplied. You must at least have basic sewing skills – be familiar with operating a sewing machine and bring your own tools (see through ruler, scissors for paper and fabric, pins, measuring tape, note taking materials, tracing wheel and paper, tape etc.)
The corset to the right is NOT the corset we will make in class...but it's something to aspire to!
Depending on your abilities you may not finish the corset in class time but you will know how to finish it. Depending on your abilities you may not have a corset you want to wear by the end of class but you'll have the skills to make a better one. Come and learn how to make your own corset!

When: December 7th & 8th   

Time: 9:30 – 4:30

Where: Montreal  at  École de couture Céline Ross

 4230 Décarie Blvd. Montreal, QC H4A 3K3


Fee: $270.00 plus tax for a total of $305.00


To register e-mail with your phone number and she will call you to register you and get credit card payment. You can also opt to pay via PayPal.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Wire Mask or Head Piece

I've been experimenting with some products we have; it's a great escape from paperwork sometimes! We sell "millinery wire" a.k.a. "hat wire" in 3 different gauges but I must admit I've always found it a challenge to work with. I seem to have heavy hands and can never get a nice look as my wire ends up all wobbly. So I decided to try one of our more stable products: German Plastic Boning in the 5mm width (product number 50-8125-05). It's a narrow flat boning that can be sew to it's self or to anything else that can be sewn and it can be shaped a bit with heat from a warm iron. German Plastic boning is white to start and since I wanted black I threaded the 5mm German Plastic boning into a length of our black nylon braided lacing (the white is dyeable so I could to this in any colour) Product # 03-7176N-90. I took 2 meters of the boing and 2.5 meters of the lacing because I wanted to be able to cut lengths and close the lacing over the ends of each bone. The lacing melts with the heat of a "lighter" so I was able to seal each section of lacing over the bone which meant that the bone could not slide out and melting the ends was a lot faster than sewing would have been.
I did use a Styrofoam head to help me and I just played with the boning to create a simple shape but there seems to be limitless possibilities. The German Plastic boning does not kink like my wire did, so I found it easy to work with and the ability to pin through it into the Styrofoam head made working with it easy. I pinned all the joined sections first and then hand stitched the join. I hand stitched through the nylon braided lacing that covered the plastic boning as it was easier than sewing through the bone and it still created a secure join.



 After the shape was completed I wrapped some fine net; a soufle type net, over the section that would be in front of the eyes. Hand stitching it to the nylon braid lacing. The net is very sheer but very strong and is product number 24-5510-90 (the white version of this net is dyeable).

This head piece does not fit the Styrofoam head well but it did fit the human head that it was created for.

This was my first attempt at this type of thing and while I would do a few things differently (like not have one of the connections under the chin as it's too obvious), I'm generally happy with how easy the product were to work with and how little time it took...once I figured out what I wanted where it was only about an hour to put it together.

I've included a close-up so you can see the mesh detail

Product can be found at where they sell more than just corset making supplies.

German Plastic Boning specifically can be found at:
Nylon Braided Lacing specifically can be found at:
and the Fine Soufle Type Net can be found at: