Saturday, February 23, 2013

Making a Hair Switch

I have become a little obsessed with recreating Victorian hair styles. There is a terrific tutorial over at that relied on hair switches, a ponytail extension that you must pin into your hairstyle. 

I purchased switches from Wilshire Wigs, but I was disappointed by the color match. I realized that I was fighting an uphill battle trying to guess at the right color, so I decided to make my own. I was able to use the switches I bought as a guideline. I went to my local wig and braiding store to find weaving hair that would be a better blend. 

Update 2/25/13: Lynn McMasters has an alternate version of how to do this that involves using a sewing machine. The article, "The Makings of a Natural Form Era Hairstyle" can be found under the "Articles" section of her website:

Here is my attempt at step-by-step documentation of my process. Enjoy!

Start with a sturdy, non-stretch cord. I used boot laces. I used a piece about 10 - 11" long.  Create a loop about 1" long, then sew the loop closed by running the thread through both laces. 
Wrap the thread around the laces 5 or 6 times. Then, tie it off securely. 
I wanted to make a long switch, so I bought the longest hair I could find in my color (30"). 

Get ready to start attaching the hair to the cord.

You are going to roll the hair around the cord and sew through the cord to attach the hair. 

The sew at regular intervals. 

Keep the spirals close together, overlapping a little. 

I used the back of the chair to keep the developing switch from getting tangled with the loose hair. 

I moved 2" sections of hair over the back of the chair at a time. This seemed to be a good amount to keep things somewhat tidy. 
As you get about 2" from the loop closure, start spreading the spiral out so that the  end of the switch won't be too bulky. 
One half done! Brush this out before doing the same thing to the second cord. 

2nd cord done! Brush these halves out separately. 

At this point, I think you could probably sew in a third cord, if you want a thicker switch. 
In fact, you could probably loop another piece of cord through the first loop and secure it like the original loop.  
Once all the pieces are done,  brush all the cords together. 

Start sewing hair around both cords just above the existing hair. 

Occasionally, sew through both cords. 

Sew the hair up to the beginning of the loop. 

If you have extra hair, start wrapping hair again around both cords. 
Make sure everything is secure. Then wrap the thread around the hair about 1/4" below the top level of the hair. (I forgot to take a picture of this last step.)
You can kind of see the thread wrapping around the outside of the switch in this shot. I created a second switch, then twisted both of them into rope braids. 

Then, with a little help from my talented friends, BOOM! instant hair!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Only 5 hours in and...

I'm ready to either a) slice open the sides of the Laughing Moon corset or b) make a new one entirely. OK, I'm probably not going to cut into the LM corset. It was too much work and it looks pretty. I will save it and find excuses to wear it as an external costume garment, loosely laced. 

The following images outline the changes I would make to this corset to make it more comfortable. The red areas indicate things I would remove entirely. The green areas are additions or position changes. 

The whole thing is too long at the back. It's binding the muscles in my low back and squishing my "backside" in an unsightly manor. I want to cut off the length and give the condensed flesh some where to go. Also, hip gores, or possibly just wider panels are needed to encourage a more comfortable shape. 
It's too long in the front, although not by nearly as much. Cutting off the bottom means moving the busk up. I just invested in a tapered busk that will hopefully make this more comfortable. I also need to add a little more room to accommodate my lower ribs. They are being pressured. It might be the half bones, or I might need to just adjust the amount of fabric in the panel. 

The position of the hip gores is up for debate. On the seam or in the panel, I'm not sure. 

Inspired by this project, I just purchased two new corset patterns from (#1034 & #1036) both of which seem to reflect these desired changes.

So... more sewing should be happening soon.

A corset reconsidered

I am currently following Lauren, of American Duchess, and her adventures in corset training. It has inspired me to reconsider the corset I made over the summer. I found that some of her observations were real revelations to me. For example, it had never occurred to me that a corset should be comfortable. I like her suggestions for changes to her own corsets. I don't think that I will end up ripping my Laughing Moon corset apart, but I might make up another version.

I am wearing the LM corset today, and I hope to wear it for few hours a day for the next several days. Right off the bat, I can tell that it's probably too long from the waist down. While standing is fine (which is how I did my fittings), sitting or walking any distance means that my hips and low back are uncomfortable. Really, I think that all the work I did removing the hip gores was a mistake. As Lauren pointed out, one must leave room for the squished parts to go somewhere.