Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Great British Sewing Bee

I did it, I watched it, here's a hint at my feelings:
Queen Victorian and John Brown, Balmoral, 1863

I have had never watched The Great British Sewing Bee before last night, the whole of the first couple of series always clashed with other things I wanted to watch and the general premise always came off like a half baked Project Catwalk, but this episode was about corsets and seemed to have caused quite the uproar amongst my corset making friends so I thought I had better give it a go.

The whole thing gets off to a great start when the voiceover, presenter and judges insist on calling the contestants "Sew-ers", I realise none of them are professional tailors, but sew-ers? Really? This is uncomfortably close to "sewers" and sets the tone for the corset challenge really.

I shit you not...

There's a glimpse of a "corset" in the introduction to the challenge.., Oh Singer what the hell am I looking at?
"This week's challenge is structure, we'd like you to make a boned corset." 
In four hours.
With no instruction.
I see where all the faceplanting came from now.
"Have any of you ever made a corset before?" asks one of the judges, one of the contestants blushes scarlet and mentions he once made a leather corset, there is much giggling.
I cringed.
One of the judges correctly mentions that a corset needs to be able to change the shape of a wearers body, so knowing that they know this I am utterly mystified as to why they thought it would be a good idea to challenge a group of hobbiests to make a corset in four hours, without proper instruction, without coutil, without any flat steels (yes this was my favourite part of the car crash, the only boning they were given were pre-cut spirals), and with only a single layer of a fashion fabric?

My face when (via Cyddiad)

The demonstration model (which presumably WAS made by someone claiming to be a professional) managed the impossible... It actually made Corsets UK/ Corset Story/ Punk69 look pretty damn good in comparison.
I begin to question life itself.
A couple of the contestants decided to go for some brocades that seem to be recycled curtains, I can't get over the curtain-yness but I decide they'll probably end up being the best looking bodices (I refuse to say corset) as they'll at least hold a little bit of structure.
One of the contestants ended up making something that looked eerily like that knock off of the What Katie Did corset that pops up all over ebay and Ali Baba.
The What Katie Did Corset appears in the above video from 4:07

Unsurprisingly once the bodices were finished, much like I predicted they're all pretty wrinkly, with the brocade ones being the least wrinkled. I'm really trying very hard not to be too hard on the contestants as it's not their fault that whoever set the challenge is a complete imbecile.
Highlight of the judging for me was "It's sitting nice and flat." RUNS HANDS OVER WOBBLES.
Next up... The history segment!
Presented by Rosemary Hawthorne!
Who I have since googled!
And who seems to call herself a historian but doesn't seem to actually have any history qualifications!
Well done BBC you've really pulled out all the stops there!

I know I already used this photo in this post but this is the face I made whilst googling Rosemary Hawthorne.

"The corset" begins the voiceover whilst images of 18th century stays, which whilst related to corsetry ARE NOT CORSETS, flash up on the screen, "The only garment that could kill!"
Oh Janome, here we go...
I cannot find a source for any deaths caused by corsets, not one. I have found a few reports by very biased seeming doctors of the time that theorised that corsets could cause internal damage, but I can also find various doctors reports on how masturbation caused all sorts of problems ranging from blindness to death, that women's uteruses floated around the body at will and that homosexuality was a mental illness and yet we no longer peddle these around as fact, so why exactly is a self appointed historian on my television in 2015 trying to claim corsets could kill?
I have however found several accounts of women who survived attempted stabbings because their corsets protected them:

And it is theorised that perhaps if Empress Elizabeth of Austria might have made it long enough to get to a doctor had her corset not been loosened after she was stabbed.
A scan of the Urbana Daily Courier from 1913 that features yet another woman saved from a bullet.

"They crushed ribs, they lead to problems with breathing. asphyxia, miscarriages, it became more and more difficult to move"
Up pops my favourite completely false drawing

Sweetheart, if corsets caused miscarriages then there would be way less people in the world. Do we look like an empty world to you?
She then waffled on for a while about how cycling lead to the end of corsetting because it was so hard to cycle with a corset (really because I'm thinking the skirts would have been more of a problem).
Next they moved on to a mention of The Rational Dress Society and newer underwear that "still held women in but it meant they could breathe so it meant getting out for the home, out of domestic drudgery."

Pictured: Hester Street in 1903, notice the lack of women *eyeroll*

Clearly this of course means that I have been mistaken for the last 25 years of my life. I am able to breathe and function in my corsets and my life is the very opposite of domestic drudgery. I regularly load musical equipment in and out of venues whilst corsetted.
Therefore I must not be a woman.

The other two challenges seemed a lot more like it, I really liked the 80's reconstruction challenge, I thought they all did pretty well on that, and I would wear the hell out of most of the things they made if they weren't in neon colours, and I liked the kilt challenge, kilts are hard, but not impossible and you don't have to cut 6 billion corners to get something wearable, and I was very impressed with the guy that handstitched all his pleats.

I really don't think I'm going to bother with The Great British Sewing Bee again, it just seems like a weird concept expecting people who don't sew professionally to be able to make something with no instruction and even more weirded out by their choice to use a historian who doesn't seem to understand history.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Re: Corset Myths

Oh Great British Sewing Bee, what have you done? You were supposed to be helpful!
Antique corset advertising image via The Graphics Fairy

Well the British Corsetry Community has been all of a flutter since last night's episode of The Great British Sewing Bee broadcast.
I haven't seen it yet myself, I will hopefully get a chance to iplayer it at some point today or tomorrow at which point I will write a proper response piece, but from what I hear corsets were presented as a garment that could kill someone and a steel boned SINGLE LAYER corset was made, which seems like it would rip apart the second someone put it on, but we shall see.

Until then I will refer you on to the following:

An excellent post by A Damsel In This Dress from last year that I managed to miss until today.
Everything You Know About Corsets Is False a personal favourite mythbusting article.
and my own recent series on corset myths:

Do you have any favourite mythbusting articles on corsetry? Link them below.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Lolita is Expensive

Often used to try and explain purchasing from Milanoo

Don't get me wrong, I am not about to say Lolita is cheap, I feel like it's important to realise that as a niche fashion Lolita is always going to be at least a little bit more expensive than regular street clothes, however it doesn't have to break the bank, though it is worth remembering usually you get what you pay for.

Personally, the easiest and cheapest way I have managed to build a wardrobe is by making my own, I realise it's not an option for everybody but if sewing is something you're interested in I highly recommend learning to sew and sewing your own Lolita, it's also a pretty handy way to get what you want if you don't have brand proportions.

It is possible to buy premade Lolita without resorting to Milanoo (who have incredibly shitty business practices such as trolling EGL back in the day and frequently sending out items that look nothing like what was ordered).
Anna House offer a fairly limited selection, and their fabrics aren't always the best quality, but the construction is pretty solid and they're well priced.
Bodyline are a pretty controversial one, I personally wouldn't buy from them myself as I don't want to support the business of an alleged paedophile and someone who has some pretty shady business practices (such as trolling Kera recently in order to get some page hits on Facebook), and the weird sizing puts me off too, but many people seem to like Bodyline because they have low prices and you are likely at the very least to get a dress that looks like the dress in the picture and not a shower curtain.
Taobao requires a shopping service if you live outside of China, however it has two major advantages: Price and customising. A lot of shops on Taobao offer customised sizing, which is again helpful if you don't have brand proportions.


I think I prefer the horns this way around

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Antichrist Outfit

Working on my outfit to go with my horns today
I've been ever so slightly inspired by the brides of Dracula in the Francis Ford Coppola version of Dracula

Although mine will be in red.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Corset with busk

Started my corset with the leftovers of the Teaspoon and an Open Mind fabric :)

Lolitas are Supposed To Be Lovelies!

Following on from yesterday's post...
Angelic Pretty Promo Image

Perhaps a strange follow on from yesterday's post on how Lolitas are not all horrible, today I decided to explore how Lolitas aren't all nice either.
This is one that used to come up a lot more than it does now, mostly people bring up an article on "rules for Lolita" that featured in one of the early Gothic and Lolita Bibles and was mostly a piece on manners, but also featured some very strange extras such as "never drink beer, only peasants drink beer."
There are two main things I feel like I need to say in response to this:

  1. Lolita is not a hivemind.
  2. Lolita is not a costume.
Just because people dress like doesn't mean they think alike, and while it is possible to give rules and guidlines on how to dress within the fashion, it's not really possible to give rules on how to think and act.
Obviously if you want to live by a list of Victorian values by all means go ahead and do it, but you shouldn't try and enforce it onto other people and you should be exactly the same out of Lolita that you are in it because when you act differently you are making Lolita into a costume.
The clothes you wear shouldn't effect how you behave.
The bottom line really is that if someone is an awful person out of Lolita, they probably are in it too, but if someone is a decent person outside of Lolita then they will be in it.

Friday, 20 February 2015

All Lolitas Are Bitches!

The online Lolita communities can be fraught with backstabbing.

It may seem an odd thing for someone like myself, who has been on the receiving end of that backstabbing on multiple occasions but I don't think it's fair to tar everybody with the same brush.

On the surface it can seem a lot like everybody is pretty nasty, but in reality that is just a small, but unfortunately very loud minority.
The thing to keep in mind is that most of the outlets used to spread negativity amongst Lolitas are anonymous, ie: 4chan and Lolita Secrets/ Behind the Bows.
When you have anonymity you can make a handful of people seem like a lot more.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Lolita is for Women Only... NO MEN!

This is something I have seen an increasing number of people try to claim lately, is it true?
Bitch Please!

Lolita is for everybody who likes it, if you like it, wear it. It doesn't matter what gender, race, height, religion, weight or whatever someone can try and nit pick over, you can wear Lolita if that is what you want to do.
The thing that irritates me the most about this myth is that for many of the people who first got into Lolita fashion at around the same time as me, many of the more famous models such as Mana Sama and Aya at the time were men, and while they are not as prominent as they once were they were still a big part of forming the fashion we know today.

Most annoyingly I keep seeing people assuming that if a guy wears Lolita then it must be because he is fetishising it.
If you get annoyed at people assuming you're wearing it because of a fetish then you have no right to assume someone else is just because they're not the same gender as you.

Horns, masks and very high heels!

My horns that I are going to be part of my outfit for Club Antichrist arrived yesterday!
I bought them from Autumn Fox Creations

They're very nice and seem very sturdy

I'm looking forward to wearing them to the event :)

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Creepy Bodyline Advert from 2006

Lolita is about Peadophilia

It has often been suggested that Lolita fashion is about paedophilia based on it having the same name as the Nabakov novel and having a childlike appearance.
I think that Deerstalker Pictures covered this very well, although I do have a slight query on part of it that I will cover in a later post.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015


Left over band rider makes me feel very middle class.

Through Time And Space

Finished my Teaspoon and an Open Mind JSK
Still need to get some decent photos of it though.

Myths About Lolita

My next theme will be something I feel very close too.
Myths about Lolita fashion, so I thought I'd do things slightly differently this time, what myths would you like to see covered?

Monday, 16 February 2015

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Mythbusters of Alternative Fashions!

I had a lot of fun posting about corsets and dispelling myths lately and the posts seem to have gone down very well too.
So I have decided to make putting rumours to rest into a regular feature!
Watch this space!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Friday, 13 February 2015

Corset Questions

I've really enjoyed writing about corsetry and dispelling some myths over the past few days.
So I decided that in this last post (for now) to ask if you have any questions about corsets you'd like answered?
Comment below and I will answer in a future post, and don't worry if you find this post like a year after I first published it, I'll still happily answer questions if I know the answers for as long as I'm still writing this blog, and if I don't know the answer, I'll look it up!

Vegetable Bake

This was really good

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Corsets Distort Your Insides And Cause Damage

*rolls eyes* take a look at these MRI scans.
FYI German Plastic is what is used in a lot of reproduction 18th century stays as it has the same strength and rigidity as baleen (which obviously is a controlled material these days what with being whale bone and all). 

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Spoonflower Order is Here!

My fabric order arrived yesterday, so I have spent most of today working on my skirt!

Corsets Will Ruin Your Spine

The woman in the blue corset is Cathie Jung, the woman who holds the Guinness World Record for smallest waist on a living person.
And the irritating woman making faces and treating her like a sideshow attraction is Tyra Banks (side note, see that face she keeps making? I made that face at that thing she called a corset that made her feel faint).
Cathie Jung's husband Bob is an Orthopaedic Surgeon and claims that corsets are in fact very good for the spine, so I guess that's myth number three busted?   

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Victorian Women Wore Corsets Because Men Forced Them To

One of the myths that gets my back up the most is the idea that women only wore corsets to look attractive for men.

Yesterday I talked about Ethel Granger, and while I am sure you will agree with me that it seems a lot like it wasn't Ethel's choice to wear her corsets, I find it ridiculous and incredibly insulting when people try to insinuate that all women wore corsets just to please men.

One of the major reasons this annoys me is that nothing seems to have changed and women still have to put up with these kinds of attitudes today, no matter what we wear someone will always assume that we're wearing because that's what men want us to wear.

I'm not sure what the original source for this image is, if you do, please let me know.

This of course removes women's autonomy over themselves, and completely ignores queer and asexual women.
I recently had a taste of this in relation to corsets when a woman from a magazine company called me before Christmas to discuss corsetry and most of her questions involved the effects of corsets on men or shoe-horned 50 Shades of Grey in somehow,
"Does your partner worry what other men might think of you when you wear corsets?"
Well yes, but that that is because he cares about sexism and not because he sees me as some kind of object.

But wait I hear you call!
Back then women had no autonomy and had to do as they were told!
At which point I will facepalm and tell you to pick up a history book.

A letter from The Lancet in the Marysville Daily Appeal Septermber 24th 1869

One of the things I first noticed when I began to research the controversy surrounding corsets was that the vast majority of people arguing against the wearing of corsets were men, who like the one above made thinly veiled claims that women were quite stupid and vapid creatures unable to make their own minds up.
Benjamin Orange Flower wrote a whole book on the subject that seems to have expanded from his 1891 letter to The Chicago Tribune in which he likened corset wearing to slavery and said:

"It is difficult to imagine a slavery more senseless, cruel or far-reaching in its injurious consequences than that imposed by fashion on civilized womanhood during the last generation. ... the tight lacing required by the wasp waist has produced generations of invalids and bequeathed to posterity suffering that will not vanish for many decades. ... And in order to look stylish, thousands of women wear dress waist so tight that no free movement of the upper body is possible; indeed in numbers of instances, ladies are compelled to put their bonnets on before attempting the painful ordeal of getting into glove-fitting dress waists."

The responses to pieces like that are surprisingly similar to the responses corset wearers give people today.

"I myself have never felt any ill effects from nearly 30 years of the most severe tight lacing, nor have I yet found any authentic case of real harm being done by stays, even when laced to the utmost degree of tightness, both day and night.The pain caused by tight lacing really becomes a pleasure after a short time and however tightly laced, there is always a desire to be just a little tighter.People who write against the practice of tight lacing are either those who have never been laced and have never take the trouble to inquire into the pros and cons of the subject, or those who have, perhaps been once lace up very tightly in badly made, ill-fitting stays with the settled determination of finding them most awful instruments of torture.Those who have been systematically laced up in proper stays from their childhood are the only ones who are capable of forming a right judgment on this subject and I hope you will allow tight lacers the opportunity of defending themselves against the enemies of trim little waist. " - Boston Globe, January 1893

If you find the whole "nothing has changed" thing as fascinating as I do there are some other articles you can read here:

Keeping My Legs Warm

Finished my latest skirt for myself!
Not pictured are the eyes on the back as it's hard to get a photo of my own rear!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Ethel Granger

Myth 1: Corset wearers die young
Ethel Granger 1905 - 1982.
Living to 77 is nothing to sniff at. I couldn't find the statistics for 1905, but a white woman born in 1930's average life expectancy was estimated to be around 63.

Ethel Granger hold's the record for the smallest corseted waist, she was a fascinating woman, although everything I have read about her suggests that it wasn't her choice to tightlace, rather it seems that her husband William may have been quite manipulative, which is something I don't support at all.
I live by the mantra of
My body, my choice
and I would urge everybody else to as well.

You can read more about Ethel on the following sites:
Near the bottom of this article on

Sweet and Sour Veggies

All of the yummy!

Matcha and Chocolate Marble Cake

At the weekend I made Marble Cake for the very first time
I decided to swirl together layers of chocolate and matcha cake mix, I used a silicone loaf tray which was somewhat of a mistake because this happened:

Fortunatly when I sawed the sides off to tidy it up it still tasted really nice, and was very popular with the people I gave it too :)

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Everything You Know About Corsets Is False

I have seen a lot of myths peddled around, and lately I have started getting people try and "health troll" me on Instagram, so I thought I'd share a link to one of my favourite articles on corsetry and what it really does.

Over the next few days I plan on posting various articles, pictures, videos and bits of history about corsetry so as to share a look into the reasons I decided to tightlace and how it wasn't something I decided to do without researching first.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Veggie Fish and Chips!

Seriously impressed by this veggie option at The Junction in Newcastle.
It was basically crispy batter coated haloumi, and so frikking good!

Amish Scalloped Potatoes

My new years resolution this year is to be more adventurous with my cooking, and so last night I made Amish Scalloped Potatoes.
Pre-oven and looking yummy already.

Just out of the oven!

Served with cauliflower bakes.

Omg it was so good!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Skirt Commission I'm working on at the moment

I was commissioned to make a skirt similar to the dress I made for myself with the slashed sides.
I hope the lady I made it for likes it :)

Disqus for Queens Of The Wild Frontier


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