Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Last week we had a pastie-making workshop for our apprentices and it put me in the mind of this tip:

When encrusting your pasties with rhinestones, use a metallic base fabric for extra sparkle.

I made this pastie with gold lamé under all those gold rhinestones. It’s barely noticeable between the stones, but you get more *GOLD* impact than if it were a non-metallic background.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 19 April 2019 at 3:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Costume Creation

Dear Constant Reader,

The fun part of creating my new act for The House of Knyle mentorship program was the costume. No great shock. I love making costumes. For this act I wanted to go minimal — no gown, no gloves. The picture I had in my head was a panel skirt and bra. I like the contrast of the classic costume and the rock music.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to do too much sewing. I decided to use the bra, hip belt, g-string, and pasties from a Halloween fan dance. The base for all those pieces is black-on-black sequined fabric, which I embellished with jet, hemitite, and black diamond crystals, plus a few silver night skull rhinestones, just for fun.

The bra is a Frederick’s of Hollywood Exxtreme Cleavage push-up. It’s so “exxtreme” that I had to take out the push-up pads. For the fan dance I took off the (removable) straps, but for this act, I put the straps back on and adorned them with large black diamond rhinestones. Despite all my tricks, a couple of stones decided to pop off every time I wore it. I think I finally solved the issue.

The belt is styled after a bellydance hip belt. I love the deep V-shape. I also like how wide it is, that it’s a substantial costume piece, which makes for a nice reveal when it comes off. The only problem with that shape is that the point of the V can roll up. To keep the front nice and flat, I added a piece of boning inside. That does mean if I’m not careful, the whole thing can flip up. Embarrassing!

The G-string is based on the pattern from my book. I used flat elastic instead of tubular and (with Scratch’s assistance) added some additional strappy bits. I also made a set of thigh garters, for that appealing butt definition. The pasties (not shown) are just standard round ones, encrusted with the three colors of rhinestone.

The only thing I needed to make was panels. I already have black and silver lace ones that I use with the belt, but they’re rectangles. I wanted really voluminous panels — a full circle in the back and a half circle in the front. I was thinking red to contrast with the black, but Scratch pointed out that I already had a set of red panels (though not as full and not compatible with the belt). I was hoping to find an impossibility — a fabric with some visual interest *and* a floaty drape. I settled on some wine-colored sheer fabric at 45″ wide. I was all set to buy it when Scratch found an identical fabric over in the draperies section. Same color, same hand, same price per yard, except it was 110″ wide. Score!

Cutting the panels wasn’t too bad. I’m very lucky that Albert isn’t one of those cats who needs to sprawl on fabric. It was hemming them that was going to be a problem. I wanted a tiny rolled hem and I usually do those by hand. A rolled hem is a thing of beauty, but it’s slow going. I had an awful lot of hem and not a lot of time. Fortunately I have a rolled hem foot on my sewing machine. Time to learn how to use it.

Oh my goodness, it was lovely! It made such a beautiful tiny hem! There was hardly even any cursing as I figured out how to use it. Even with the machine, it took me quite a while to get them hems done. It made such a difference rehearsing with the actual costume pieces and all that lovely yardage! I changed some of my choreography to take advantage of them.

I am so happy with how the panels came out! I used the same snap tape as the previous lace panels, so both sets are all compatible with the same belt (this trick was a Friday Tip). By the way, panel skirts are going to be one of the topics for Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming, Vol. 2.

Look how fabulous the panels are! (Photo credit: Harlan)

Here’s the tricky part. I decided I needed some bad-ass shoes for the number. My character shoes are too cute; ballroom shoes are too dainty. I really wanted to use the shoes at the right, hand-me-downs from Angie Pontani. I’ve wore them on stage before, but not when I was dancing. I was committed to those shoes, because the panels were hemmed for a 5-inch heel. Even with the shoes on, the panels still touched the floor. I really didn’t want to use a lower heel and risk tripping over them. And I was having problems with the shoes… but more about that later.

I’m incredibly pleased with how the whole outfit came out. I love the wine panels against the rhinestoned black. Now that I’ve mastered the rolled hemmer, I suspect there will be even more panel skirts in my future. Stay tuned, Dear Reader, to (eventually) see how it looked in action!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 4 March 2019 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Before we get to your tip, I just want to mention that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. One of my Little Books would be a wonderful gift for the burlesque lover in your life. Also, The Boston BeauTease are presenting Valent-Tease Day at Thunder Road that night. Not only will we be presenting our usual burlesque delights, but some of my students from B.A.B.E. will be making their burlesque debut. AND you’ll get to see the act I debuted in Los Angeles. Right now the only way to see it is to support me on Patreon.

With no further ado or commercials, here’s your tip!

If you have pets with fur, keep a lint brush in your show bag.

No matter how carefully you keep you costumes away from your fuzzy family members, somehow fur is still going to make an appearance — and of course it will contrast as highly as possible. Albert just loves to cuddle up to dark clothing…

Scratch points out that if you’ve forgotten your lint brush, there’s still hope, “you’re a burlesque dancer — you’ve got double-sided tape!”.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 8 February 2019 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Use the same attachment method on all your detachable panel skirts.

If all your belts and panels have compatible snaps (or whatever else you use), you can mix and match your belts and panels, extending your costume wardrobe! I like to use the snap tape you can see in the photo and use the same size snaps for every costume. That particular belt has the burgundy sheer circular panels and rectangular black lace panels for two very different looks.

We also use this trick in our troupe costumes. We have a bunch of different sized performers, so we have belts of different sizes so that the panels can be swapped around. The snaps are sometimes set higher or lower on the belt to accommodate performers of different heights too.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 11 January 2019 at 12:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

No ironing board? Use a folded towel.

A towel with give just a bit of padding and protect whatever surface you’re using from the heat and steam.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 21 December 2018 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Latest Book Update

Dear Constant Reader,

We’ve got about 30 hours and $100 to go to make the third (and I’m assuming final) stretch goal!

Thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered a copy of Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming, Vol. 1: The Foundations! If you haven’t yet, now’s the time!

I’m very excited and incredibly nervous. We’ve got a hard deadline to have the books by BurlyCon and there’s still much to do. I shouldn’t even be writing to you!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 22 October 2018 at 12:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Just a quick book update before your tip!


Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming, Vol. 1: The Foundations is close to the third stretch goal with 4 days remaining! If we get another $150 in pledges, everybody gets a lovely and useful bookmark!

And now for your tip! Here’s another one from my new book, illustrated by Devastasia.
For maximum movement, place fringe on your bra at the apex of the cup.

If you put the fringe at the top edge, it will split like a curtain at the fullest part of your breast. If you put it on the bottom edge, it won’t move as much when you shimmy.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 19 October 2018 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! This week’s tip comes from my new book, Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming, Vol. 1: The Foundations, now available for pre-order on Kickstarter.

Removable linings make laundering garments a snap.

If you’ve got a garment that you can’t wash because of the material or the decoration, add a lining that you can remove and clean. Just cut a second lining out of some comfortable cloth — I like cotton. Turn the raw edges under and zigzag stitch them.

Now attach it to the inside of your garment. When I first tried this I basted the lining in place, picked out the stitches, and resewed it after washing, but that got old real fast. Now I just add a snap at each corner of the garment and lining.

When the lining is soiled, remove and wash. When it’s dry, snap it back in. When it gets too worn to keep wearing, toss it and make a new one.

I use this most often on intimate garments like g-strings or in the cups of bras. You can also do a partial lining in larger garments where you just want to target a particularly grimy area, like the neckline or underarms of a gown.

Illustration by Stacey B. Rizoli (aka Devastasia), proprietress of Red Queen Crafts. You’ll see more of her charming clear illustrations in the Little Book of Burlesque Costuming.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 12 October 2018 at 12:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New Book

Dear Constant Reader,

I am delighted to announce…

Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming, vol 1: The Foundations is available for pre-order on Kickstarter!

As with my previous book, our funding goal is very modest and it’s only open for a short time. We’ve got some great stretch goals! Last time they were being hit almost faster than I could come up with them. Let’s make that happen again!

I’ve really excited that this book is finally seeing the light of day. As far as I know this is one of the first, if not *the* first book, entirely about how to make burlesque costumes. The Foundations covers pasties, g-strings, panties, and bras. I’ve got several more volumes planned! How to make all your favorite burlesque costume pieces plus tips and tricks!

I’m hoping, if all goes well, that I’ll have the book ready for BurlyCon. That’s a very short deadline! I’m confident that it will absolutely be ready in time for your favorite winter gift-giving holiday

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 10 October 2018 at 10:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sewing in July

Dear Constant Reader,

At the end of June, I decided July would be a sewing month and I was going to work on using up my stash. How did I do? Well… not so great.

July was terribly hot and it was frequently stifling in my atelier, so I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped. I only made 3 garments, all lingerie.

First was a vintage-style net bra, which I made from some black netting embellished with gold that I had recycled from a skirt I made ages ago and never wore. No photos of this one yet. Maybe you’ll see it in my new book, hopefully coming out soon. You’ll definitely learn how to make one!

Then I made a bra top and French knickers from And Sew to Bed: 20 Vintage-Inspired Projects for the Boudoir. I used some luxurious black silk and some fun red buttons from my stash for these. I think I had to buy the right width elastic for the button loops on the bra, but everything else I had already. Artsy shot by Scratch.

The bra only turned out okay. I didn’t make a muslin first, so it was in progress that I realized the back band was going to be too long and shortened it. After the whole thing was finished, the cups didn’t fit well, so I made some hasty darts, which I don’t love and that tightened up the back band as well, so there’s a gap now. Lesson learned. Anything involving boobs really should get a test fit, but I was feeling lazy.

The French kickers (aka tap pants), however, are lovely. They’re cute and comfortable and I love the little red buttons on the side. They should have been much quicker, but I was a total perfectionist here. The waist and leg openings are bound with bias tape and even though the tape is turned to the inside, I just couldn’t bear to use commercial cotton-poly tape. Instead, I made bias tape from the silk. Making your own bias tape isn’t hard with the right tool — a widget that you pull the bias strip through and iron as it comes out with the edges folded under. My problem was that I couldn’t cut a nice, neat bias strip to run through my widget because the silk was so slippery. Scratch, because he’s clever this way, got me a yard-long, inch-wide piece of flat steel and painted one side with grip paint. It held the devilish fabric in place and gave me a nice edge against which to draw a chalk line for cutting.

The big win the whole month has that I can finally make buttonholes on my sewing machine. I have an amazing 1958 Singer Slant-O-Matic 403 Special that does everything I need — except buttonholes.

I mean I could make buttonholes, but it involved a lot of fuss, constantly changing the needle positions and the stitch width and they never seemed to come out evenly. I often resorted to making buttonholes by hand and once to hiring Vixens Ahoy to take care of the many, many buttonholes on a blouse I made.

A friend tipped me off that Singer made a buttonhole attachment back in the ’50s and I easily acquired one on eBay and it sat in a drawer for a long time. Now I had to learn to use it. It’s really clever! There are little cog-wheel templates that move the needle in the shape of whatever buttonhole you want. And the set I bought not only had all the original parts and the instructions, but extra templates and even a sample strip the previous owner had made of all the sizes. I’ll admit my buttonholes weren’t perfectly positioned, but they looked great and work just like they are supposed to. My next goal is to learn to use all the other sewing machine feet and attachments that I’ve never tried, like the ruffler.

Not a great month in terms of churning out stuff and winnowing down my stash, but I do have some really decadent French knickers. I still have some of that black silk and I want to make a camisole to go with them instead of the less-than-lovely bra top. More importantly I have some new tools and new skills.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 15 August 2018 at 7:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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