Publisher: Cathy Hay
Cathy Hay is the creator and publisher of both Foundations Revealed and the award-winning Your Wardrobe Unlock'd, which were borne out of a grand wish to help other corsetmakers and seamstresses to stay inspired and positive, maximise their skills and realise their sewing dreams. She is a member of both the Costume Society in the UK and the Costumer's Guild West in the USA, and teaches at Costume College. Her website can be found at www.harmanhay.com.
Editor: Marion McNealy
Marion McNealy is the freelance Editor for Harman Hay Publications. She loves teaching others draft their own patterns and explore new ideas. Marion has a serious weakness for the straight front corsets and beautiful flossing designs of the late Victorian age.
Marion lives with her very patient husband and son in Rhode Island, USA.
Joanne finds the hidden structure in garments more interesting than the outer shell. Investigating the architecture required to create a desired silhouette, along with an obsessive attention to detail, naturally led to an interest in corsets. She is in the process of constructing all the Corsets in Norah Waugh’s book, Corsets and Crinolines, and is blogging about every step at Bridges on the Body.
Joanne had worked in the fashion industry for years as a stylist, but began sewing just five years ago after she won a grant to produce garments promoting a lecture by the curator of the Smithsonian Costume Collection. She has since earned a BFA from California Design College and is on her way to earning an MFA in Textiles at Kent State University.
Since her early childhood Maja was fascinated with the corseted gowns she saw in fairy tale picture books. That is why she choose her vocation - Fashion Design and Textile Engineering on a Faculty of Textile Technology in Zagreb and graduated with honor as one of the best students in her class. Her focus is on unique, custom made garments with an accent on the visual appearance and design and her unique style can be recognized in her own brand Contessa Gothique. She likes to experiment with a new patterns, fabrics and techniques and always strive to improve her skills to the next level.
Alexis Black of Electra Designs
Alexis has been making corsets since her mid teens, putting her experience at almost twenty years. She was a pioneer of online custom corsetry when she started out on Ebay in 1998, and continues to maintain an international clientele by doing most fittings remotely, over the internet, using measurements and photos.
Alexis attended FIDM for fashion design for two years where she learned the basics of pattern drafting, but otherwise has taught herself the specifics of corsetry through her own research and experimentation. Alexis lives and works in Houston, Texas, USA, where she has been making corsets full time since 2004. Working under the name Electra Designs, Alexis has built a worldwide reputation for excellence.
Sunny Buchler has been involved in historical costuming and the SCA for the last 15 years. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is a bit of a mecca for historical costuming, and moved to Cleveland, Ohio a couple of years ago. Her undergraduate degree was in costume design, after which did some graduate work at the Motley School of Design in London. She did theatre costuming semi-professionally while in college, but today costumes as a hobby, rather then a profession.
Glasgow based designer Alison Campbell of Crikey Aphrodite is a passionate advocate and user of luxury Scottish fabrics, which has meant work being recently exhibited in Moscow and is key to her current projects.
Being a trained bra fitter means a bit of an obsession with bust fitting and fit in general especially for larger sizes. A graphic artist in a previous life, she should’ve got the hint about her real vocation when she made an embroidered and appliqued poster for an early college project!
Anthony learned to sew at a young age from his mother, who made historical fashions. She shied away from corsetry, so Anthony decided to have a try and discovered that he had a natural talent for it! Since that time, he has begun to specialize in Bespoke historically inspired fashion & corsetry. Never one to shy away from color or patterns, he has also worked within the Drag industry making award winning packages for National Entertainer of the Year Bianca Nicole (2009) & NEOY Vanessa Demornay 2010.
Anthony Canney's first film credit will appear in Robert Redford's Historical Drama The Conspirator due out this Winter; for being the personal designer for Mary Lincoln Todd. He is both tailor and corsetiere at The House of Canney. Please read our case study on Anthony to learn more.
Kelly Cercone is a celebrated full-time freelance costumer based in Los Angeles. Sewing and pattern drafting for TV, film, music tours and local fashion companies, Kelly has worked on a wide breadth of commercial projects. She also maintains her own clothing label Anachronism in Action. Highly specialized in ladies period costume, millinery and vintage inspired corsetry, her pieces have been featured in Vogue Italia, Auxiliary Magazine, and on the cover of Fixation Magazine. In addition to her original and bespoke custom pieces, Kelly offers expertly crafted standard sized, affordable, ready-to-wear corsets for sale on Etsy.
Kelly attended California College of the Arts and has taken pattern-drafting intensives at the San Francisco based Apparel Arts. In Los Angeles, Kelly studied Fashion Design and Theater Costume Design at FIDM, graduating with honors.
For the latest info on Kelly’s recent projects, check her out on Facebook.
C Claridge sewed from an early age, and quickly discovered that historical costumes were much more interesting than modern clothes. She is fascinated by all the textile arts, including knitting, spinning, weaving, quilting and embroidery, as well as sewing. However, she has recently found the limit of her skills when she started to learn bobbin lace.
She can be found on Ravelry.com and Livejournal as Evelyn123.
Danine Cozzens fell in love with costume history while studying English literature at UC Berkeley. For the past 25 years she's used historic costume as a window into the past, on the premise that knowing what people wore helps a modern person to understand an earlier era. Starting as a singer at Renaissance and Dickens Fairs, she moved on to create historically-inspired events. She has served on planning boards for the Bay Area English Regency Society, the Greater Bay Area Costumers' Guild and the Art Deco Society of California.
Rosie is a fan of all things vintage, pin-up and glam, and this is very much entangled with her love of fairytales and the fantastical. Her work nods its head to both of these. Having recently graduated with a (BAHons) First Class Degree in Fashion with Design for Performance and having just won ‘Young Designer to Watch 2013’ she is excited about her future. She has spent her time interning with corsetry companies and dabbling in theatre all over the UK, and throws what she considers to be cracking dinner parties.
Never seen without red hair, red nails and red lips, it takes little imagination as to why she has adopted the name ‘Rosie Red’. She is very partial to a well made gin and tonic, and even partial to a badly made one, if truth be told. Rosie can be found online on facebook.
Amanda Lerum Faulkner
Amanda Lerum Faulkner inherited a love of historical clothing from her mother, who also taught her to sew. She enjoys researching and patterning of historical and fantastical garments as well as making and wearing them. Favorite areas of research include Ventilated Corsets and Historical clothing for expectant and nursing mothers, as well as for children, as she needs to costume the whole family for events.
Amanda hopes to start her small pattern company soon, until then, you can find her posting on her blog about costuming and crafting projects.
Marianne Faulkner is the proprietress of San Francisco-based Pop Antique, which specializes in innovative corsets and sustainable design. Her interest in corsetry was first sparked as a teenager, when she surrounded herself with fantasy novels and theater buffs. In 2005, she transferred to the American Intercontinental University Los Angeles for her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design. There she tutored her fellow students in illustration, pattern drafting, and construction.
In December 2011, 24-year old Marianne completed her Master of Fine Arts in the same field at San Francisco's renowned Academy of Art University, devoting her thesis to the development of Pop Antique. Marianne plans to go into teaching as well as expanding her line, which is now Underpinned™ by Dark Garden Unique Corsetry. Pop Antique has focused on a highly comfortable and curvaceous ready-to-wear line and is perhaps best known for pioneering the "knit corset" concept. Marianne also writes a monthly column at top lingerie blog, The Lingerie Addict.
Mark started sewingin his early teens. His early sewing consisted of doing repairs and modifications to existing clothing, then making garments for friends and family from commercially bought patterns. As time went on he taught him self how to pattern draft/cut. In the early 1990’s he was going to see a stage production of the Rocky Horror Show and needed an outfit to wear, so he made a corset for himself, and thus began a passion.
In researching how to make a corset, Mark became fascinated with the history and technical side of corsetry, plus other forms of shapewear: all-in-ones, shaping slips, control pants, basques and bras. He now specialize in intimate apparel and corsets. As well as making lace up corsets, Mark is working on a range of shape wear with a retro look. One day he would like to set up myhis own garment factory, instead of just designing and making one off garments, or to work in the Intimate Apparel industry full time.
Read our Case Study on Mark to learn more about him
Lara Greene of Lara Corsets
Lara Greene is a costume and wardrobe person from New York City and a member of the Theatrical Wardrobe Union Local #764, I.A.T.S.E. She has been obsessed with and sewing historic costume since childhood. Despite her parents' claim that "no-one makes any money playing with costumes", she has been "playing" professionally with costumes for over 14 years now. Most of her work has focused around film and TV lately but she also works with theatre, opera and print media as well.
Lara has been kind enough to provide some of the photographs of her antique corset collection for use on this site.
Rachel hadn't sewn anything until it was forced upon her in junior high school... and then realized that if she loved doing something, it didn't matter if previously she thought that gender-based hobbies were the work of the dark lord...
After high school in northern Saskatchewan, Canada, she attended the Fashion Production program at Olds College in Alberta to learn more about design and pattern drafting. Life, marriage and babies filled up a few years, until a friend convinced her to make a corset for an event, and she has never looked back!
Rachel lives, loves and designs in High River, Alberta with her husband, two boys, three cats, and a dog. You can find more of her work at Ivy Rose Custom
Jenni Hampshire of Sparklewren
Self-taught corsetiere Jenni created Sparklewren in 2009 as she is happiest producing dreamy, labour-intensive, droplets of sparkling corset loveliness.
She works from her home-studio in Birmingham, UK, spending dozens of hours hand-decorating and finishing each exceptionally sleek corset.
Jenni is a strong advocate for study, effort, research and sheer hard work. She also believes in testing the received wisdom, constantly trying out new techniques and refining old ones.
Jema Hewitt of Kindred Spirits
Jema Hewitt has over twenty years' experience in the film, bridal, television, museum and theatre costuming business. A published author and regular contributor to crafts and bridal magazines, she lectures at universities around the UK and runs workshops on corsetmaking and other subjects from her studio in Nottingham, England.
Jema can also be found on her website, Kindred Spirits.
Alison Kannon is a freelance seamstress and a rabid historical fashion enthusiast. While she enjoys studying a wide variety of historical eras, her primary focus is Elizabethan England and the Early Modern English period.
Alison has been sewing and researching historical garments for the past 13 years. She is involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism and Gardiner's Company as well as the North Carolina Costuming Society. When not studying historical fashion she is a cardiovascular researcher at UNC Chapel Hill.
Learn more about Alison’s projects and research at Elizabethan Mafia.
Antje is a trained fashion designer with an additional degree in dressmaking. she lives in east Germany and is currently running the costume shop of one of the largest independent theater companies in Germany. She always had a "thing" for historical costumes, although she only started sewing when she went to fashion school.
Antje got in contact with the gothic scene and after being laced into a corset for the first time in 2004, and was instantly hooked and had to make one herself! With the help of information from the internet and books about corsetry, she learned corsetmaking on her own. she loves to explore different patterns and how small changes in a pattern can affect the silhouette, look and fit of corsets and garments in general.
You can find Antje on the web on her blog, atailortobecome.
Sannie has been sewing for 12 years, and in 2006 she started Skeletons in the Closet, where she is both owner and corsetiere. The victorian era is her main inspiration source, as she loves the crinoline, early and late bustle periods, but is also very interested in the edwardian and regency styles.
Sannie lives toghether with her husband, cat and dog in Buitenpost, the Netherlands and can also be found on Facebook.
Hallie is a historical costumer and owner of the 18th Century Sutlery "At the Sign of the Golden Scissors" and also blogging at 18th century Stays. Her work is based on personal observation and study of original 18th century artifacts.
Hallie lives in Swansea, Massachusestts, USA and is currently serving as the President, Costume Society of America, Northeastern Region (I), and President of Southcoast Historical Associates 501C(3). She is also a founding member of the Ladies of Refined Taste, a group of dedicated re-enactors who sponsor the "Hive", an ongoing series of workshops and lectures at the Minuteman National Park, Lexington, Massachusetts.
Corsetry is a magnificent obsession for Laura Loft. She sews from so early in the morning until so late at night that her doctor wishes she would slow down for a moment.
London's best-kept secret, Laura has a prestigious client list that doesn't need a website. But as well as plying her art, she is committed to furthering corsetmaking as an art form and demystifying it for newcomers.
When she's not working, Laura can usually be found in a well-known high street retailer giving customers better bra fitting advice than the shop's employees.
Alisha began life training in forensics and human anatomy, focusing specifically on the skeletal system. Fascinated with textiles and museum artifacts from a young age thanks to a bohemian upbringing spent in the museums of Europe, Alisha found herself gravitating to jobs in museums. She has studied extant museum garments for years to gain a deeper knowledge and appreciation of historic construction techniques. By focusing on not only the desired shape, but the body's structure, she focuses on the maximum comfort as well as reduction.
She lives in Kentucky with her husband, and is constantly scandalizing the neighbors with talk of women's lacy underthings. You can see her work online at The Bad Button Corsets.
Isabelle is a the French corsetmaker behind the name "Eikhell Corsets". She has been making corsets full time since 2005. Through some friends she discovered the gothic aesthethic of the corset and its beauty and soon came to realise that it was inspired by many historical precedents, cultures and references. The corset soon became a cult object, and understanding its secrets became an obsession.
Isabelle is also the proud co-founder of the n°1 french sewing talking board: "Les fées tisseuses" (translate as "the weaving faeries" ), famous for its corsetry tips and advice and its friendly atmosphere. She lives in a big house in Toulouse, south of France with her dog, two cats, her boyfriend and two more roommates (hence the big house) and has now what deserves the name of "workshop" to work properly and continue making beautiful things.
Andrea Painter attended the University of British Columbia, learning in the theatre costume shop while examining and coveting the gorgeous vintage costumes, especially the corsets, bloomers and petticoats! She started creating corsets for herself in 2005, and is continually inspired by the beauty of multicultural textiles found around her in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Andrea shares her expertise with other sewers, offering workshops in and around Vancouver and Seattle, teaching corset and bloomer construction.
When not sewing, Andrea also hoops with fire, gets hit with swords and sticks, dispenses keys, re-enacts ancient Greek mysteries, and implements security policies. She can be reached through her website, Luscious Pearl Designs, and through her etsy shop.
Barbara is a costume designer and corsetiere, based in Vienna/Austria. Before she founded her own Couture and Corsetry Label "Royal Black" in 2010, she worked as costume maker at theatres and worked for some other couture labels in and around Vienna.
With a degree in graphic design and a master craftsman's diploma as ladies tailor she soon found her passion in corset-making and after gathering some experience in the industry, decided to make her hobby a profession. Ever since then Barbara has created bespoke corsets and couture for her clients, always trying to develope her skills, discover new techniques and pushing the boundaries of tailoring and corset making.
More of Barbara's work can be found on her website, Royal Black.
Charlotte Raine is a third generation seamstress who has been sewing since she was a little girl. Now her designs are sold internationally to brides, theatres, museums, burlesque dancers, re-enactors, and women everywhere who want to feel special. Her father has always taught her to put love & care into all she does and her mother has always taught her to make the inside as good as the outside. "I'm sure she didn't just mean sewing," Charlotte muses.
Nicole Rudolph began sewing at an early age, quickly becoming enraptured with the world of costuming. She attended Ball State University, where she focused on costume design. Soon after graduation she moved to Williamsburg, Virginia and began working in Colonial Williamsburg’s Costume Design Center as a tailor. Two years later, taking the knowledge and experienced gained from that position, she ventured to open up a historical sewing business. She continues to seek out research and knowledge through original texts and images, extant garments, and workshops.
Nicole can be found at her website, Golden Hind Millinery.
Jill Salen is a lecturer in costume, and has been producing patterns of corsets from private and museum collections for many years. She is widely employed in the theatrical costume industry and the author of Corsets: Historical Patterns and Techniques.
Jill has been a lecturer in costume at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) for 14 years. Between 1975 and 1982 she was the ladies' cutter at the Welsh National Opera (WNO), where she worked on 54 operas for designers such as Maria Bjornson and Tim Goodchild.
From 1982 she combined being a mother with the role of freelance costume maker, specialising in ladies' period costumes. She now combines her freelance career with teaching. Always interested in fashion and costume, Jill is pleased to be a member of various costume societies, particularly the Costume Society, of which she is the secretary and archivist.
Anna moderates the long-running Corsetmakers LiveJournal community. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her bicycle and her grandmother's Singer sewing machine. She has been in love with historical costuming since her very first Renaissance Faire.
Natasha was gifted her first sewing machine in 2001, but it wasn’t until 2007 that she really discovered her love of sewing and historical costuming. Originally concentrating on Italian Renaissance costumes, she now focuses primarily on mid-Victorian sewing. At her best when working on large, ambitious projects, she is currently working towards making at least 25% of her own clothing and is recreating a 1906 evening gown for her wedding in late 2013.
Natasha lives in Rodeo, CA with her fiancé and two cats, Boris and Winnie, and can be found at Brass and Lace.
Sandra has been sewing ever since she was old enough to be (responsibly) allowed to play with scissors, pins and needles. Largely self-taught, through a hilarious series of trials and errors, she may even be allergic to formal instruction.
Her love of corsets sprang from a penchant for dark Victorian-gothic style. Although her eyeliner is less dramatic these days, her passion for corsetry has never waned. She is currently working away at the near-impossible task of creating a corset based on each of the teacups in her extensive collection. Recently, she quit her job to start her own home-based sewing business. She is fueled by endless pots of strong black tea.
Sandra lives in a tiny crooked house, right next to the Vancouver International Airport in British Columbia, Canada.
Laurie Tavan of Daze of Laur
Laurie was thrust into the costuming world when asked to not only play Mary, Queen of Scots but also to design and construct a gown fit for such a queen. Having dabbled in sewing her whole life, she found her passion in historical garments. As news of her skills spread through the historical re-enactment community, more and more commissions and awards came her way. With a reputation for unrivalled attention to detail and uncompromising standards, she started a website, took commissions, and now maintains a waiting list for gowns, accessories, and corsets, her fondest specialty.
Outside the sewing studio, Laurie SCUBA dives in Monterey and worldwide, fences frequently in the classical Italian style and dances almost every night of the week. She lives in Northern California with her husband Jeremy and a parrot named Percival.
Jennifer has a masters degree in studio art, specializing in drawing, printmaking, and painting, but she has a true passion for creating historical clothing. She is an entirely self-taught and rarely uses patterns. Costuming is a hobby for her as she dones't want to screw up the fun by turning it into a job.
Jennifer currently lives in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area of Texas with her husband Mike, who she married at the Texas Renaissance Festival in 2000, and their son. She is an officer in the The Dallas/Ft. Worth Costuming Guild and also volunteers at the living history days at Chestnut Square in McKinney. She can be found on the internet at Festive Attyre.
Introduced to sewing at the tender age of 9 by her mother, Jennifer Thoreson launched herself whole heartedly into the world of sewing. Discovering the world of costume design in college, the idea that income could be generated from sewing opened a whole new world of possibilities. A few short years later the Purple Pincushion, Custom Sewing & Alterations was born and hit the ground running.
Ten years and thousands of dresses later, the time for change has come. Now Jennifer’s sewing focus has turned from her customers’ demands to the demands of her heart as she embarkes on the adventure of motherhood. You can follow her adventures and misadventures at One Stitch At A Time and Sweet Ginger Vintage.
Luthien Tyranea of Waisted Creations
Luthien was introduced to the world of corsetry when she was twelve, and has been hooked ever since. She loves to use traditional techniques in corsetry to create new and innovative looking corsets, and is willing to take months completing one piece if it means it is how she envisaged it.
She collects vintage dressmaking books and has over 100, with a few Victorian ones, but mostly books from the 1940s-50s. Her favourite period for corsets (and clothing) is the natural form era, and she collects women’s clothes from this period.
Kendra Van Cleave
Kendra Van Cleave has been sewing since she was a wee lass, when her mother taught her sew on her Singer machine. She studied European history as an undergrad, then received a master’s in history focusing on American social history (along with one in library science). She now works as a librarian at a university, and pursues scholarly research in the history of fashion. She has published two scholarly articles, both on fashion among students at Smith College (a Northeastern US women’s college) in the 1920s. She’s now working on a research project on the 18th century robe à la polonaise (with Brooke Welborn), and another on the robes à la turque and circassienne.
Kendra has taught numerous workshops on the history and how-to of fashion and costume, primarily for the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild and Costume College. Kendra can be found at demodecouture.com.
Lisha Vidler discovered the joy of sewing doll clothes at a young age. She didn't even own a sewing machine — until she found a number of online costume diaries and became jealous of all these people accomplishing great things. Envy propelled her to start sewing her own historic costumes.
Writing is her other obsession in life. Once she began drafting articles for Your Wardrobe Unlock'd and Foundations Revealed, she uncovered a passion for teaching others about sewing. In addition to becoming a sewing instructor, she launched a website to help others learn the tips and tricks of dressmaking: Yesterday's Thimble, which features articles, tutorials, sewing diaries, and regular blog posts.
When it was time for Katarina to chose a high school, she decided that she wanted to learn to make clothing so that she could make clothing for herself that she couldn't buy in stores in Croatia. She was in love with Lolita Fashion but when she started my education as a Clothing Technician she discovered Lolita's grandmother... Victorian Fashion. Katarina was (and still is) so fascinated with the bustle dresses that shelearned how to make them for herself and weasr them almost every day.
Katarina enjoys drafting patterns, making and wearing corsets and dresses, and hopes to open her own corsetmaking firm to share her love with the world.
Carly Weggeland has been sewing and interested in historic fashion for at least 10 years but didn't start puttingit all together until 3 years ago when she taught herself how to sew. She became interested in corsetry when finally venturing into the historic costuming world, and while still learning, enjoys the challenge of figuring out problems and construction as well as sharing that knowledge with others.
Originally from Alaska, she now lives in Boston where she works for Harvard as a Rare Book Conservator. Historic costuming and sewing is a hobby she does in her free time and she calls herself a "selfish sewer". She also enjoys reading, listening to music, eating chocolate, and learning about "old things". You can follow her sewing progress on her blog bellamissella, or on livejournal as bellamissella.
Wendy has sewn most of her clothing from a young age, and learning new techniques is a passion for her. She loves shoes enough to study and get formal qualifications in custom shoe making, and in footwear design + pattern making. She then studied fashion production to fill in the gaps in her garment pattern and construction knowledge. Despite early self taught hobbies of embroidery and needlepoint she really hates hand sewing, and avoids it if at all possible. Convinced that sewing for other people as a job would take the joy out of sewing for her, she's happy to let her day job to fund her creative life.
Wendy now lives in Sydney, Australia and wishes she had more luck keeping goldfish alive. She decided it was in the fish's best interests if she stopped buying them as pets. More of her work can be seen at Costumes from a Shoebox.
Izabela Zebrowska Pitcher
Izabela is a professional costumer hailing from Poland, but living in the UK. Under the business name Prior Attire she provides costumes for a variety of periods from the late Roman era up to the 19th century, specializing in the medieval periods, as well as wedding clothes as Prior Engagement.Every item is thoroughly researched, and all care has been taken to render it as close to the original as it is possible, using the patterns and techniques appropriate for the period.
Izabela has made costumes for re-enactors from the UK, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Germany and France.