Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Many of those in the burlesque world are off at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend. I hope you’re having fun, drinking lots of water, and maybe even getting a little sleep.

I’m so excited to share with you a tip from the brilliant Betty Blaize. It’s so simple and so clever.

When you’ve got a tear-away cup bra, it’s important to make sure you attach the cups on the correct sides. There’s a subtle, but important, difference between the left cup and the right, but they look so similar. Betty, ever the engineer, came up with this simple solution.

On one side of the bra, sew the male halves of the snaps on the cup and female halves on the frame. For the other side do the opposite.


Here’s the bra she just made for Devastasia. I know it’s hard to see the details, so there’s a close up below.

You can see the female snap on the cup and the male snap on the frame. It’s exactly the reverse on the other side. It’s impossible to snap a cup onto the wrong side!

This works for detachable panel skirts too! Sew the snaps one way for the front panel and the other way for the back.

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

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 7 June 2019 at 2:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I’ve been making pasties like crazy for all the Burly-Q Parties we have booked, so this tip came to mind.

If you make pasties frequently, make templates of your most-used shapes.

Pictured is my round pastie template, which is made it out of quilter’s template plastic. Paper templates, even cardstock, just weren’t durable enough for the number of pasties I make. Especially if you make shaped pasties or pasties in multiple sizes, a sturdy template is going to make your life so much easier.

M2Like this tip? There is more costuming information in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming, Vol 1: The Foundations.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 10 May 2019 at 3:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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 lamĂ© 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! Here’s your tip! You’re not seeing things — it’s the same photo from last week. But it’s a whole new tip!

Embellish your bra clasp.

The most functional looking part of your bra is the clasp. If you’re not going to remove it and replace it, like with a ribbon tie, you should decorate it. I like to use rhinestones and make it look like a piece of jewelry. That tactile difference also makes it easier for your fingers to find it behind your back.

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 1 March 2019 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! It’s particularly happy for me as I’m out of my sickbed for the first time in about a week. Right after Valen-Tease, I was felled with a bad cough, kind of like the one I had back in November, but mercifully not as bad. It still meant I spent my birthday sick in bed, which was no fun at all. Now I’m tentatively up and around and ready to give you your tip.

Fasten your new bra on the first set of loops.

If you start on the first set, you’ll have somewhere to go as the elastic loosens up and you can keep wearing the bra for a good long time. If you have to start on one of the other sets of loops, the bra is too big for you.

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 22 February 2019 at 2:29 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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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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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! It’s the last Friday in July and here’s your sewing tip:

Avoid sewing when you’re tired.

I know it’s tempting to work late just to get the darn thing done, but when you’re tired is exactly when sleeves get sewn inside out and gussets are inserted upside down. You’ll spend more time fixing your mistakes that you would have gained by sewing while your concentration is drifting from weariness. Do I speak from experience? Oh yes.

The rule of thumb I was taught is not to start a sewing project after 10pm. This of course only works if you keep a schedule in which 10pm is getting late…. By all means, if you’re fresh and alert at 2 am, sew away! If you get fuzzy, step away from the fabric, get some rest, and pick it up again when you’re refreshed.

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 27 July 2018 at 3:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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