Tag: design

New Design: Regency Jacket

Sometimes one thing really does lead to another.  In this case a single image made Kitty think “I’d like to try something like that for myself!”  It was only meant to be for her own wardrobe, but  – after many interations and discussions and quibbles over quarter inches – the end result made us think that it had more of a future than that.

So Kitty made up a couple of samples for Amelia (our mannequin).  It looked good on her too (see the gallery)!  Since Kitty and Amelia don’t resemble each other in the slightest, we’re optimistic that this jacket will look good on most women of various shapes.

Hopefully, Kitty will be able to get a small batch of these made up for Calgary Comic Expo (April 27-30th).

Why call it the Regency Jacket?

The English Regency took place 200 years ago (1811-1820) and dresses of the period typically had a very high waistline, often referred to as an empire waist.  Given that this jacket has a waistline up to the same level, it seemed natural to name it after the period.


Amelia’s New Clothes

Kitty has been designing again!

Some ideas take a while to come to fruition.  This one has been percolating on the back burner for a while now.  Inspired in part by Steampunk harnesses, vests, and mini-corsets, Kitty finally had the  time to put these various ideas together and try making a prototype.

And then she made some corections and made another prototype…

And then she made another one…

And another…

You get the idea.  It takes a while to design something.  You go through as many iterations as it takes until you either laugh manaically and throw it on the fire, or you stand back and think “I like it.”

We like it.  Here are a few snaps:

What to call it?  Until a better name comes along, I will use the term Amelia’s Vestlet.  Amelia (our mannequin) is wearing it and it’s vesty. Vest-ish?

Regardless of what it’s called, we’re planning to have a small number of them with us at CCEE (April 27-30th).  See you then!


It’s Smaller on the Outside

(Or, Kitty makes a TARDIS-inspired corset)

As promised, here is the TARDIS corset, a la Felix & Kitty.

Felix and Kitty are newcomers to the Doctor Who phenomenon.  And Kitty is a newcomer to just about anything from the 20th century onwards, being a technophobe and general crank regarding all things Pop Culture.  But who doesn’t like the idea of a stark barking mad man in a box that can take you anywhere (and anywhen)?

There’s something about the dramatic blue-and-white-and-black lines of the TARDIS that immediately made Kitty think of corsets.  While a corset can’t transport you in space and time, at least it CAN make you smaller on the outside!

The Materials

First, you’ve got to have the right blue.  Murphy’s Law of Textiles says that the moment you start looking for a particular colour of fabric, it instantly vanishes from the universe, or at least the local fabric stores.  But Felix & Kitty’s usual flannel-backed satin in royal blue was close enough for now.

It’s a bit shiny for wood, so next time, Kitty might try a blue suede.  But it gives you the general idea of police box blue.

Next, the windows.  Any old plain white material might do, but where’s the fun in that?  Kitty has found that many character-inspired costume wearables have a tendency to look cartoonish or cheap; she thinks it’s partly due to overly graphic blocks of plain materials.  Subtly textured fabrics add depth and richness, which the brain subconsciously interprets as “real.”  So she went with this white check material with silver lines and dots.  It suggests windowpanes without being too literal about it, and adds lovely visual complexity.

Finally, the framework.  No, police boxes don’t have black trim running down their length, but this corset needed a strong vertical accent and a contrast colour to make the blue and white pop properly.  Good design sometimes means taking liberties.  Kitty chose this black velvet ribbon to add yet another layer of texture.

The Finished TARDIS corset

And here’s Amelia in the completed corset.  In the background, you see the Wall of 1001 Corsets, aka Felix & Kitty’s living room.

Kitty stuck with the usual front-laced closure, and she thinks it doesn’t interfere with the general TARDIS-ish quality of the corset.  But it could be made with a solid closed front if you didn’t mind needing minions to do up the back for you.  Or a busk, if you were willing to deal with the many fussy issues that accompanies a busk.  Or even a super-heavy-duty upholstery-weight zipper, which Kitty wouldn’t normally recommend, but which really does go well with this look (but only if you were willing to follow the rules regarding zipped corsets).

Kitty intends to make one for herself for the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, and maybe a few more in popular sizes if she can squeeze out the time.  These things are a labour of love – they’re very time-consuming to make!

This is because you can’t just slap on rectangles for the “windows” over the bust area; they need to navigate the 3-dimensional curve of the breast, so each window panel must be carefully cut and shaped differently for each cup size and shape.  Trust Kitty – if you just try the rectangle trick, you’ll look like you’re wearing placards stuck to your bosom.  She speaks with the voice of experience, having tried to cover her bountiful tracts of chest real estate with puny flat rectangles during her first attempt.  No, you don’t get to see that, unless you bribe her with puppies and kittens.

NEXT TIME: The trumpet skirt (is it worth developing, or should Kitty stick to pre-Edwardian designs?)

P.S.: If you think you might want one of these corsets for yourself, email us.  If you want one at CCEE, give Kitty as much notice as you can, because, as mentioned, these things take a bit of extra fiddling (no one wants windows that don’t fit right over the girls!). 

Kitty Designs a Steampunk Jacket

(In which Kitty photo-documents the process by which a sketch becomes a wearable garment, with many hiccups and downfalls along the way, and refers to herself in the third person)

We apologise for the lighting for the photos.  We really do make all this in the basement, and nasty fluorescent lighting is what we need to get enough brightness.

Step 1: Kitty makes a wish

Kitty wished she had a waist.  And hips, which you rather need if you want to have a waist.

Kitty is a rectangle somewhat over-burdened by a generous bosom.  Her hips and waist measure the same.  This is a major handicap for someone who designs Victorian-inspired clothes (the hips, not the bosom).  Lots of people have this problem, or at least also lack the requisite small-waist-and-smoothly-curved-hip thing a Victorian/Steampunk lady is supposed to possess.

She therefore wanted to come up with a garment that would create that lovely wasp-waisted, curvaceous Streampunk silhouette on ANY figure, by force if necessary.  She made a drawing of what she thought would be a good shape, rejected it, and made a few more drawings and corrections.

Step 2: Kitty makes a muslin

Meet Amelia, Kitty’s friend on a stand.  Obviously, Amelia is not Kitty’s body double.  Amelia’s bust is twelve inches larger than her waist, and she has a completely unrealistically tapered rib cage and no lumps, bumps, or fluff anywhere.  But Kitty will drape her new design on Amelia for several reasons: a) Kitty lives in the middle of nowhere with a donkey and senior citizens as neighbours and b) Amelia doesn’t complain when Kitty sticks here full of pins.

You might think that a design fitted on Amelia might just not work on a normal human body, and that’s a valid concern, which is why the first few events where Felix & Kitty take a new item, you get the drastically reduced prototype pricing – it’s how we test new ideas on lots of different body types.

But Kitty has learned over the years that with clever underpinnings and hidden engineering, she can create some really amazing visual illusions.  Her purpose with this jacket in progress is to make YOU look like you have Amelia’s proportions, whether you’re a flat-chested size 0 or a Rubenesque 28.  This is just the test pattern, though, so it looks sort of raggedy and suspiciously flopsy.  But Kitty is just checking basic girth and length and the proportions of detail.

Step 3: Fitting the Muslin

The test pattern was too big on Amelia’s waist, which is pretty normal.  It’s also too wide on her shoulders, which isn’t.  Kitty nips and tucks the muslin until it more or less fits.  She fiddles with the collar until the shape and size seems harmonious.

She also decides she needs to add loops or rings in the back later to make the waist size adjustable, so you could wear this by itself or over a corset (which could reduce your waist by up to 8 or so inches). She marks where they will go, but you won’t see them until the actual jacket is being assembled.

Step 4: Making the First Version

We’ll be using this electric-blue material with black flocking for the body of the jacket, and black satin for the collar.  The collar will be lined with something with enough stiffness so it shouldn’t require interfacing.  Kitty generally hisses at interfacing, unless it can’t be avoided (not that there’s anything wring with interfacing; she’s just lazy).

This is where Kitty tries to figure out which bits need lining, whether it’s the whole garment, or just the front, or something in between.  She tries lining only the center front panel and part of the center back for the first iteration

Step 5: A Sleeve Innovation

The sleeves on jackets always seem to short or too long.  Kitty tried to get around this in the hooded jackets from last season by making the sleeve hems pointed, but she has a different idea this time – maybe make them actually adjustable!  The same idea from the adjustable-length Victorian skirts should work here.


Look! Adjustable-length sleeves!

Step 6: Closures

Hmm.  Buttons, buckles, clasps, ties…. Which goes best with the design?  Kitty decides clasps would be too medieval and ties too fussy for the streamlined Victorian lines of this jacket.  She chooses buttonholes for this version, because buckles would mean Felix has to cut and rivet the leather strapping for them, and Kitty doesn’t want to pry him away from the hunk of plywood he’s hewing in the shop (he’s making fabric storage shelving).

Silver buttons would go best with the electric blue.

Step 7: Amelia gets a New Jacket

Finally, the jacket is finished!  Actually, it looks pretty darn good for the first version.  Quite often, at this stage, Kitty wads up the newborn item and hurls it into a corner and spends the next ten minutes banging her head against her cutting table.  But this time, she is cautiously pleased at what she sees.

Look at the back waist adjustment detail.  It needed to be pulled in a bit, because, as mentioned before, Amelia has an inhumanly small waist in proportion to the rest of her.

Step 8: Corrections

No, we won’t walk you through every last correction that needs to get made before Kitty decides this pattern is ready for mass production (don’t you love that?  Saying “mass production” for stuff turned out by one woman?).

But Kitty wants to make some changes for sure.  First, the partial lining will have to go.  Even though it will mean more time and materials and therefore a higher final price for you, she thinks a full lining is the way to go for this particular design.

The lining will hide the infrastructure that will cinch in your waist and support the beautiful flare of the skirt of the jacket, thus creating that perfect hourglass for all shapes and sizes.  Kitty is also determined to add a pocket this time, and in order not to spoil the lines, it will have to be attached to the lining.

Other than that, it’s just going to be cleaning up little issues that come up with later versions, and with different fabrics.  Kitty will also be making patterns for larger cup sizes for each dress size.  If all goes well, we’ll have this jacket ready at our next event.

Hope you enjoyed your inside look into our design process!

Next time, the TARDIS corset…

Starting a Blog

As we greet the New Year and recover from the debauches of the year-end celebrations, Kitty’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of new designs for the upcoming season.

Enough of you have asked us about who makes all our clothes, where it happens, and how, that we thought it would be fun to document the whole process from start to finish.  Yes, we do really, really make it all in our little basement at home.  No, we don’t have a factory in China or a Parisian atelier staffed with elf slaves.  And as of 2016, ALL designs originals are by Kitty!

So enjoy Kitty’s first attempt at a blog, where she shows you everything from the conception of a new idea on paper to the finished ready-to-wear garment.  We’re going to try adding other articles and blogs periodically throughout the next few months, so if you have any topics you’d like to know more about, or questions you’ve wanted answered, please let us know!