Review: The Express Corset Making Course

I always love to learn how something works. When I was a child, my favorite book was ‘How Things Work’. In the sewing world itself, there is still so many things that I don’t understand and want to learn. People often says, ‘Isn’t it difficult to make this or that?’ Of course everything is difficult when you don’t understand, but there is a satisfaction when your brain is slowly figuring out how something works.

In pursue of this satisfaction, a couple of years ago I learned to make a corset. It was a very satisfying experience and I really love the result although I rarely wear the corset anymore. At that time, there was not many resources for people who want to learn corset-making. Even now, I think there the resources are still scarce.

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Pattern Compendium

So I was happy when Scarlett from Corset contacted me about her newly launched The Express Corset Making Course. It is a package of downloadable MP4 video course and a couple of PDF books. She sent me a link to download the package and it consisted of:

  • 2 hours of step-by-step corset making video
  • 36 minutes of bonus features on making the back panel and altering the mock-up
  • 51 pages of corset making manual
  • 26 pages of pattern compendium, on drafting several corset patterns

Now 2 hours seem like a long time! But I have watched it all and it is really a step-by-step video of how to construct a corset. If you have all the materials and equipments, you can basically start sewing with the video playing and finish a corset during that time. Of course it is better to read the manual and watch the video first before actually making the corset.

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I wish I found this course when I first made my corset! It has everything basic that you need to know on making corset. The PDF manuals has all the information on making the mock-ups, the types of materials and where to get them, the order of constructions, and how to finish and embellish the corset.

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If you’re interested in this course, you can watch some preview video here:

The course is $49.99 but Scarlett has offered a 30% off if you use the code PURPLE30 when you buy The Express Corset Making Course. The code will be available until the 13th so you have plenty of time to think. She also has 100% money back guarantee if you find out that the course is not for you.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 5.02.51 PMIf you’re looking for something even more simpler, you can download this free corset belt pattern!


I was offered the course for free in exchange for a review. I was not paid to for this review but the link is affiliated. However, every opinion is my own.

Shortie shorts

Shorts and white tee Shorts and white tee

Summer is coming and it means shorts season! Sometime ago I bought BurdaStyle Retro Classics Pattern Collection which have 9 patterns from the 1950s-60s, one of them is pattern for these shorts. I’m not sure what’s so retro about them but I quite like the double pleats on the front.

As usual for Burdastyle patterns, I printed them at 92% at cut size 38. They are quite short though, so I lengthened the hem about 5 cm. The fabic is cotton twill with a bit of stretch on them. Sewing the shorts was quite straightforward. The only thing that I don’t really like is the straight waistband. The shorts sit a bit lower than the waist, straight waistband on a woman’s body will usually leave quite a gap on the center back. To fix this, I took a wedge about 2 cm on the center back.

Shorts and white tee
Burdastyle shorts

The white tee was made with SJ tee by Papercut Patterns, currently my favorite tee pattern. This pattern actually has quite a wide neckline, I just made the neckband shorter and pulled them a bit while stitching.

These photos were taken with iPhone 6 and edited in Google photos. It has some basic light editing and filters, not too bad I think!

Shorts and white tee Shorts and white tee

In other news, have you ever heard about The Super Online Sewing Match (SOSM) on Sew, Mama, Sew? The first one was held about two years ago, and this year is time for the SOSM II! The Grand Prize Winner will receive both the Janome Skyline S5 Sewing Machine and the Janome 1110DX Pro Serger! I wish I could participate, but I’m one of the judges for this year.

If you’d like to become a challenger, you still have until June 21 midnight PST to send your audition!

Shorts pattern is Burdastyle Retro shorts, size 38 printed at 92%.
Tee pattern is SJ tee by Papercut Patterns, (PDF) size XXS.


Yoga wear Yoga wear
I have started to go to a yoga class several months ago, in addition to daily exercise at home. After seeing Gingermakes’ post about her yoga leggings, I got very inspired to make my own! I considered using Fehr Trade Steeplechase Leggings pattern like her, but at the end I chose Ooh La Leggings by Papercut Patterns. The reason was because I’ve used Papercut Patterns several times before with good result.

I had no idea about what kind of fabric that I should use, so I picked this black soft ponte knit at the store.  The content is 73% polyester, 21% rayon, and 6% polyurethane. Sounds good I suppose. I read in several blogs that the waist is quite high on this pattern, so I shortened the hip about 1 cm. Other alteration is shortening the hem for my petite figure as usual. I cut the knee-length version in size XS.
Yoga wear Yoga wear

When started making it, I got the idea of inserting a red band for details on the hip seam on the side. The band is just a strip of folded red lycra fabric inserted between the seams. I think I kinda like the effect! Sorry for the pictures of my butt.
Yoga wear Yoga wear

You might recognize the fabric for the top from my previous post. This time I used another Burdastyle pattern, Chill dress that I cut as top. It is a very easy pattern with only two pattern pieces plus neck bindings. The sleeves are finished by folding the hem inside.

The armholes are quite big and I see that some people modified the pattern so the armholes are smaller. In my personal opinion, the big armholes are part of the charm. I just wear a sports bra underneath and I think they look fine. In fact I really like this pattern that I made another top in orange jersey. Next time I’ll make the dress version.

Yoga wear Yoga wear

I really, really like the leggings! I feared that they might ripped apart but they have survived several visits to my yoga class. They hug the body quite well, and the seamlines add some interesting details. The knee-length are perfect for warmer weather!

Yoga wear Yoga wear

Top pattern is Burdastyle Chill dress (cut as top), size 38 printed at 92%.
Leggings pattern is Ooh La Leggings by Papercut Patterns, size XS.

Sandra jeans and Basic tank

Sandra jeans and Basic tank Sandra jeans and Basic tank

I made a new pair of jeans! Actually they were made a couple of weeks ago, and I have been wearing them a lot ever since.

The pattern is Sandra narrow leg jeans by Style Arc, a classic narrow legs jeans with contoured waistband slightly below waist. I love this pattern since I made them last year, the first one that I made get lots of wear. The fabric is dark denim, it has less stretch than the previous jeans so the fit is a bit different.

I find it funny that you can see a dachshund in these pictures, similar to the one in my first Sandra jeans post. They are different dachshund though, the first one is Shake who has got adopted a long time ago. This one is Miggy, a 12 year old female dachshund who had to go to the shelter because her owner has a baby with allergy. Such a sad thing to happen to a senior dog.
Sandra jeans and Basic tank
Sandra jeans and Basic tank

Now, about the jeans. My alterations are the same, a bit of swayback and lots of leg shortening. I cut the waistband a bit wider because I want to use two buttons. As a result, the waist sits a bit higher. On my first Sandra jeans, I used elastic as waistband interfacing, this time I don’t use interfacing on the waistband. In fact, I didn’t use any interfacing at all on this jeans.

After installing the buttons, I realized that the placement of the buttons was a bit off. So I removed the buttons with pliers and installed a couple of new ones a bit further. The holes from the old buttons were darned closed with sewing machine. It doesn’t look too bad in my opinion, but the whole thing was such a nuisance to do. So please mark carefully before installing jeans buttons!
Sandra jeans and Basic tank Sandra jeans and Basic tank

But no worries about the buttons! They are fixed and nobody can see them anyway now.

The top that I’m wearing is also a new one that I made. The pattern is Burdastyle Basic tank, and as usual for me, in size 38 printed at 92%. Aside from the shrinking the pattern, the only alteration I made was using knit band to finish the neckline and armholes.
Sandra jeans and Basic tank Sandra jeans and Basic tank
I have begun to exercise regularly since several months ago and actually made this top to wear to my yoga class. So far, this is the only exercise that I keep doing daily for more than a month. I was a total couch potato for forty years so this is quite surprising for me. The fatigue and back pain that were always with me are slowly decreasing now. Who knows, daily exercise can make you healthier?! Duh.

Recently I noticed that all my clothes, especially dresses, don’t fit me the way they used to be. It feels like they are tighter in one part and looser in another part. My body still looks the same though, it is as if that all those clothes that are changing. Maybe it is because of the exercise, or maybe I’m just aging. Either way, this is a new thing for me and I’m trying to get used to it. It also leaves me with an empty wardrobe because almost my clothes are dresses. So maybe it’s time to create a new wardrobe!

Sandra jeans and Basic tank Sandra jeans and Basic tank

Pattern is Burdastyle Basic tank, size 38 printed at 92%.
Jeans pattern is Sandra narrow leg jeans by Style Arc, size 6.

Jedediah shorts

Jedediah pants Jedediah pants

As summer is approaching, I’m reminded that my husband has been asking for a new pair of cropped pants since… several summers ago. His favorite pair were made four years ago, and were actually muslin for his jeans so it’s about time for a new pair.
Jedediah pants

Instead of using his much-tweaked jeans pattern, this time I’m using Jedediah pants pattern from Thread Theory, I got it as a part of Parkland Wardrobe Builder package that I bought sometime ago. Jedediah pants are described as “Chino-style trousers updated with a slim, casual fit, back yoke and stylish slash front pockets. These pants include two length options – knee length shorts with rolled cuff and full length trousers. They will wear well in a denim, corduroy or twill with the extra durability of flat fell seams. They could also be made in a lighter cotton or linen when sewn as summer shorts.”

When I made jeans for my husband, I made muslin and altered the pattern a lot to fit him. With this one, I just cut straigt size 32 and surprisingly they fit him quite well. I should have just used this pattern for all his pants!
Jedediah pants Jedediah pants

The pattern is drafted very well with good instructions. But I have made several pants, so I didn’t really rely on the instructions. I noticed that the slash front pockets add a bit of bulk around the hip, so next time I’m going to change them to curved jeans-style pockets. This is my personal preference though. Other than that, there is nothing to complain about this pattern and I’m very satisfied with the result.

This is the second pattern from Thread Theory that I have made with satisfying result. The first one is this Stratchcona Henley T-shirt. Looks like I have found the perfect pattern company that makes basic menswear for my husband!

Jedediah pants Jedediah pants
Making these pants was an exercise for me in making basic, wearable clothing. The fabric is black, the topstitching is black, the button and rivets are black, sooo boring. I was tempted several times to add some red label or other interesting detail but I was perseverant! So glad that I did, now my husband has a perfect basic shorts that he can wear with anything. Maybe I should make a pair of plain black pants for myself too.

Jedediah pants Jedediah pants

That’s his face asking me, ‘Are you taking a picture of me holding this poop bag?’

Pattern is Jedediah pants by Thread Theory, size 32.

Slip dress and panties

White slip dress and panties
I like to wear a slip under my unlined dress to keep them from clinging. So when I found this very soft white jersey in a sale box, I immediately got to work and turned it into a slip dress! The jersey is very soft and stretchy, very comfortable against the skin.

Merckwaerdigh E-O2
Merckwaerdigh E-O2

The pattern is Merckwaerdigh O2, described as: “Pattern O2 from Dutch design Merckwaerdigh with a lovely underwired bra-shirt and a close fitted slipdress. Comes in sizes S till XXL for the slipdress and for the bra-shirt”. I’ve used this pattern before to make this nude and black underwired bra slip dress. This time I made the close-fitted slip dress so I can wear it over my bra.

The close-fitted slip pattern has princess seam lines and gently shaped curves over the breast. I lengthened the pattern a bit so it reaches mid-thigh and omitted the lace on the hem.

The pattern actually has lace straps that look very sweet, but the lace showed when I tried wearing the slip under a dress. So I made a simple strap by wrapping the fabric over some elastic and triple zig-zag stitched over them.

White slip dress and panties White slip dress and panties

Although the pattern has no particular construction for the breast, the shaped seams actually gives some sort of light support. I don’t usually go bra-less, but in this slip I might be able to do it. Maybe for lounging around the house. Although why would I wear such a pretty slip just for lounging around the house?

I still have some leftover fabric for a couple of panties, using my most -used pattern Merckwaerdigh MIX30. Anyway, photographing white fabric and white lace is so difficult! I hope you can still see the details.
White slip dress and panties White slip dress and panties
White slip dress and panties White slip dress and panties

Now I need to make an unlined dress to wear over this slip!
Slip dress pattern is Merckwaerdigh O2, size S.
Panties pattern is Merckwaerdigh MIX30, size S.

Burdastyle Wide Sleeve Lapel Jacket

Burdastyle Wide Sleeve Lapel Jacket 02/2015 #122 Burdastyle Wide Sleeve Lapel Jacket 02/2015 #122
This is my favorite jacket in the last couple of months. You have probably seen me wearing it to Sidra’s elementary school graduation here.

The pattern is Wide Sleeve Lapel Jacket 02/2015 #122 from Burdastyle. The jacket has boxy shape with wide straight sleeves, wide lapel, and wide back pleats. It is an unlined jacket with no closure so it’s perfect for when the weather is not too cold. The jacket reminds me of my old jacket that I made in 2010. I lost it during a visit to IKEA! So sad.

The fabric is wool in this undescribable color. Recently I have been trying to use more fabric in solid colors instead of print so they can be mixed and matched more easily. But I’m still trying to find out which colors work best for me.

Burdastyle Wide Sleeve Lapel Jacket 02/2015 #122 Burdastyle Wide Sleeve Lapel Jacket 02/2015 #122
Burdastyle Wide Sleeve Lapel Jacket 02/2015 #122 Burdastyle Wide Sleeve Lapel Jacket 02/2015 #122
Burdastyle Wide Sleeve Lapel Jacket 02/2015 #122 Burdastyle Wide Sleeve Lapel Jacket 02/2015 #122

I also made a simple top with another Burdastyle pattern, Retro Top 07/2013 #130. It is a very simple top with bust dart and loop closure in the back. Not my favorite top though. When I wore it, the neckline was a bit too high so I decided to cut it lower. The new neckline is a bit wavy, maybe because the fabric is already stretched out. The fabric is double gauze cotton.
Burdastyle Retro Top 07/2013 #130 Burdastyle Retro Top 07/2013 #130

As usual for Burdastyle patterns, I printed them at 92% and cut size 38. This is my favorite way now because the result is quite perfect for my petite body and I don’t have to make any alterations.

Burdastyle Wide Sleeve Lapel Jacket 02/2015 #122 Burdastyle Wide Sleeve Lapel Jacket 02/2015 #122

It is getting warmer everyday so it looks like I can’t wear my favorite little jacket anymore!

Jacket pattern is Wide Sleeve Lapel Jacket 02/2015 #122, size 38 printed at 92%.
Top pattern is Retro Top 07/2013 #130, size 38 printed at 92%.

Junior high school boy!

Junior high school boy!
Junior high school boy!

Sidra has started junior high school this week! Yesterday was the entrance ceremony at his school.

The junior high school is actually right across his elementary school, and most of his friends go there, so there is not much difference than the elementary school days. But still, he looked so different and mature in uniform than he was before.

After the ceremony, we went back to a spot near the school where we took a picture 6 years ago after the elementary school entrance ceremony.

Several elementary school kids stopped by to watch us taking pictures with tripod and timer under the light rain. Everyone else took pictures in front of the school gate but we went to this spot beside the street, these kids probably thought about how weird these foreigners were.

I asked Sidra once, “Everytime Papa and I go to school, why are the kids staring at us and whispering to each other?

Sidra said, “Because you are foreigners!”

“But you are a foreigner too!”

“Yeah, but they see me as a Japanese now.”

Apparently, Sidra is a Japanese kid with foreigner parents (^_^”)

Elementary school entrance ceremony 2009 Junior high school entrance ceremony day 2015

Thank you for all the replies on my previous post about Japanese school uniform. I’m happy that many people also find it interesting. Several people asked me about the care and cost of the uniform, so I will break it down here witn approximation in USD.

  • – School jacket – 50% wool, 50% polyester: ¥21,600 / USD180
  • – School pants for winter – 50% wool, 50% polyester: ¥10,150 / USD85
  • – School pants for summer – 95% polyester, 5% cotton: ¥5,620 / USD47.
  • – Long sleeved white shirt: ¥1940 / USD 16
  • – Short sleeved white shirt for summer: ¥1830 / USD15
  • – Belt: ¥1580 / USD13
  • – White socks (3 pairs): ¥1080 / USD9
  • – Inside slippers – to be used all day inside school: about ¥1080 / USD9
  • – Inside sports shoes – to be used during sports class in the hall: about ¥2,800 / USD23
  • – Sports uniform – this includes short sleeved T-shirt and shorts, long sleeved top and track pants: about ¥14,000 / USD117
  • TOTAL: ¥61,680 / USD515

The cost for uniform jacket for girls is slightly lower than the boys, but the skirt costs higher than the pants, so the total cost is more or less the same. I don’t know much about second hand uniform, although I’m sure people can find one to buy. When my husband and I went to the junior high school for the school explanation, there was a hanging rack with several second hand uniform in sale with very cheap price.

The uniform is washable, and actually they are pretty durable. I’ve asked a friend about it, and she said that she washes the uniform by putting them into laundry net bag and use the soft setting on the washing machine. She washes the uniform only on weekends. Sometimes the uniform gets too dirty on weekdays, then it can be washed at night and it will be dry in the morning. She said that she doesn’t have to be extra careful about taking care of the uniform. Her son also uses the same pair of pants for both winter and summer. I’ve seen that his son has spent the entire three years using the same uniform, so I think Sidra’s uniform will be fine.

In addition to the uniform and all the regulated items above, we still have to buy a school bag and a pair of sneakers to be worn during the walk to and from school and outside sports class. The bag and sneakers can be in any color, but we bought both in black for Sidra because well… it looks good with his uniform, isn’t it?

I guess that’s about all that a Japanese high school student needs, besides books and stationery items. Hopefully Sidra will experience a happy three years in these uniform!

Japanese junior high school uniform – with user’s manual

Japanese middle school uniform
Japanese junior high school uniform

Sidra is entering junior high school next month, and this is the uniform that he will be wearing for the next three years. No, I didn’t make this, but it is a very interesting uniform so I want to post about it.

I think every parent with a growing child understand how difficult it is to find a good fitting clothes for their child. A good fitting outfit is nice to look at, but sadly can only be worn for several months or maybe a year.

Then people usually buy or make clothes that several sizes too big to prolong the wearing life, which unfortunately don’t look too good on the child. That is why so many children are wearing either too big or too small clothes.

This set of uniform is not too cheap, so people want them to last for the three years of school life. Not many people want to buy a new set of new uniform each time the child grows up.

But uniform in several sizes too big won’t look too good, not to mention uncomfortable for daily school life. This is where the Japanese engineering comes in. The uniform is designed in such a way that they can be altered to several sizes up!

Japanese middle school uniform
User’s manual

This is the user’s manual that comes with the uniform. It says something like, “Thank you for purchasing this product. This is the manual to ensure long time wearing.”

Japanese middle school uniform
How to care

First, the usual care information.

Japanese middle school uniform
Button types

Japanese middle school uniform Japanese middle school uniform

The jacket has metal buttons with metal shank on the other side, connected through small buttonhole. In this way, the buttons can be removed and installed back easily. I guess it will create much stronger buttons than the ones attached with thread. As you can see, the buttons on Sidra’s jacket are type A.

Japanese middle school uniform
Lengthening the sleeves
Japanese middle school uniform
Tiny yellow stitches

The steps for lengthening the sleeves.

  1. Remove the buttons.
  2. Unpick the stitches connecting the lining to the sleeves hem, indicated by yellow thread.
  3. Once the yellow stitches are removed, the hem can be folded out.
  4. Press to remove the fold mark.
  5. Mark the buttons placement.
  6. Attach the buttons back.

I think the sleeves have two levels of hemmed edge. The first level is attached the ordinary way at the edge of the sleeves. Then moving up several cm, the hem and lining are stitched together again using the yellow thread to shorten the sleeves. To lengthen the sleeves, the yellow thread is removed. You can see the tiny yellow stitches in the picture.

Japanese middle school uniform Japanese middle school uniform

The manual shows two types of jacket, one with partial lining and the other with full lining. Sidra’s jacket has full lining. The jacket can be lengthened the same way as the sleeves, by removing the yellow stitches thread along the hem.

The little hands on the manual points the position of the stitches that need to be removed. To keep the hem from falling open, there are several yellow bartacks on the lower part of seamlines. The bartacks are removed as well when lengthening the jacket.

Japanese middle school uniform
Enlarging the jacket

Japanese middle school uniform Japanese middle school uniform

The jacket can be enlarged simply by opening the darts on the underarm of the jacket and the pleats on the lining.

Japanese middle school uniform
Enlarging the pants

Japanese middle school uniform

The center back of the pants has two seam lines, one in blue and the other in black. The pants can be enlarged by removing the blue stitches as indicated in the manual.

And here is some more details on the uniform, if you’re interested.

Japanese middle school uniform Japanese middle school uniform

The pants has a name label attached on the lining of the back pocket. The cuffs have snap-on buttons so they can be lengthened as well. Sidra’s pants are actually too long but they have been altered by the store where we bought the uniform.

Japanese middle school uniform Japanese middle school uniform

The inside part of the jacket. The name label is on the inside of the left side upper pocket. The pocket on other side of jacket has zipper.

For me, the most impressive thing is the fact that all these alterations can be done even by someone who has no experience in sewing. No sewing machine needed, and the only hand sewing required is for attaching the buttons on the sleeves – which most people can do.

The shoulders are still a tad too long for Sidra, but I guess altering jacket shoulders with pads is quite a difficult thing to do. The jacket and pants are made with washable wool with a bit of stretch in it so they are quite comfortable to wear.

Now that I don’t have to worry about the uniform becoming too small, I hope they can withstand all the activities that a junior high school boy will do for the whole three years!

Graduation suit!

Graduation day Graduation day

Here’s Sidra in his new suit!

Graduation suit Graduation suit

Graduation suit Graduation suit

Graduation suit Graduation suit

The trousers have thigh-length partial lining. I connected the seam allowance at the inseam using chain stitched thread.

Graduation suit Graduation suit

Graduation suit Graduation suit

Sidra had a blast at the graduation day yesterday, laughing and taking pictures with his friends. Some of the girls from his class were crying as if they will never meet again, but actually most of them will go to the same junior high school.

Graduation day

Sidra's selfie stick was quite popular at the graduation day Fun with selfie stick

Graduation day
Graduation day

This is a picture of us in front of our old apartment before going to Sidra’s elementary school entrance ceremony. And the second picture is us in front of the house after the graduation ceremony. Everyone’s getting older now. How time flies by!
Entering elementary school Graduation day

All patterns from Burdastyle, size 134:
Jacket: Boy’s Classic Button-Up Blazer 02/2015 #142
Trousers: Suit Trousers 02/2012 #138
Waistcoat: Boy’s Waistcoat 02/2013 #145