A Tale of Two G-Strings

Dear Constant Reader,

Ever since I realized it was okay to wear G-strings (both that I was pleased with how I looked and that it was legal in our venues) I’ve been making my own.

Mostly I make what I call the “Old-school G-string”. This is the type worn by Legends in the ’60s, which I learned how to make from Dusty Summers, Las Vegas’s Only Nude Magician.

It’s a simple, but very clever, design and has minimal material requirements. You get barely-there coverage, especially in the back. Because it’s not made from stretch fabric, I always recommend taping this style of G in place. It’s easy to adjust or change out the elastic. Despite the small amount of surface area, you’ve still got a good space for decorating. The other thing I really like — I can knock one of these babies out in no time.

Here’s one in action, both sides!

     

Mina Murray Mina Murray

Photos by Kenneth Ingham at ABurlyQ 2017

You can learn how to make your very own in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming. I’m thinking of putting together a video tutorial for my Patrons. If I get four more Patrons, I will!

Last night I made an adjustable G-string as designed by Christina Manuge of Manuge et Toi. You’ve probably seen her stunning costumes on performers like Roxy Dlite and Kalani Kokonuts. Through her Patreon, she’s been producing video tutorials called Tips on Tap. They are so worth the subscription!

The videos are only available for a short time (for the Patreon tier I support), so I watch them several times and take copious notes. This tutorial was accompanied by a downloadable pattern (for personal use only) and a second video on how to adjust the pattern to fit you.

Unlike my go-to G-string above, this one required some specialty material, like rings, siders, and lingerie elastic, all of which I got from a bra supply vendor. The only item that came from my stash was the black stretch satin. It took me an evening (having previously created my pattern), and that was working slowly, so I didn’t screw up, and with frequent breaks for cat snuggles, dinner, and other important things. Stitching the elastic took the longest and required the most precision. I learned some great little tricks along the way. I’m sure next time it will go faster. I particularly like the straps and how they adjust, just like bra straps.

Here it is! (no back view because I couldn’t get a good shot of my own butt)

It fits perfectly!

It’s quite a different look from the old-school G-string, but there are certainly advantages to each one. I expect I’ll be incorporating this style into my costuming repertoire as well.

And here’s a side by side of the two styles. I think you can figure out which is which…

Do you make your own G-strings? What’s your favorite style? Do you buy them? Who’s your favorite designer?

M2These 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 3 September 2019 at 1:54 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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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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From my Closet

Dear Constant Reader,

Summer is winding down here in New England and it never got terribly summery, but I’m glad I made these shorts.

They’re 1940’s-style high-waisted chorus girl shorts in crisp linen, like these I made years ago.

The big difference is that I put in pockets. It really makes me crazy when women’s clothing lacks pockets and they’re pretty easy to add. Such a big improvement!

Also, the originals have a button closure in the back. I was too impatient to try out the buttonhole attachment for my vintage sewing machine, so I just added a flat hook & bar. I’ll replace it with a proper button and buttonhole eventually. Yeah. Eventually.

I’m particularly pleased with these because it’s been quite a while since I sewed any everyday clothes for myself. I really should change that. maybe I’ll have another Dress Me contest (although the previous two have not had the most stellar results on my part).

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 5 September 2017 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Other Pasttimes

Dear Constant Reader,

Besides making costumes, I also indulge in embroidery and other handwork. When I have time. Which, sadly, is not as often as I’d like. I have a big basket of unfinished projects, and every now and then I buckle down and complete one, as I did last night.

Ta da!
Trapunto tea cozy
A trapunto tea cozy!

A what?, you ask. Trapunto is an Italian quilting technique that involves extra stuffing in the design elements to get a dimensional effect. It’s very time consuming. This is the front, which was hand-quilted and stuffed. The back is a simpler version of this design, which was machine-quilted and has no trapunto work (it was never going to be finished if I had to do two sides by hand).

A tea cozy, for those poor unfortunate souls who have never been to a proper tea, is like a winter coat for your tea pot to keep the contents nice and warm. This is a traditional style of cozy that sits over the pot, like an over-sized hat.

cozyTo the right you can see a different style of cozy, which was knitted by my doting mother. One can pour the tea without taking the cozy off. Sometimes it’s known as a “bachelor’s cozy”, presumably because men are too busy or lazy to remove a cozy or that’s a woman’s job or some other Victorian nonsense.

One project down! Many more in progress. However, The Expo and other events loom close and I fear my embroidery time has come to an end for now.

M2

Published in: on 4 January 2017 at 1:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Costume in Search of an Act

Dear Constant Reader,

Before I was a performer, I was a costumer. Thus when I am creating an act, the first thing I think is “what will I wear?” and that often dictates the choreography.

Sometime I make or acquire costumes and I have no idea how they want to be presented on stage. Case in point, this beauty.

Untitled

When I joined the costume presentation “Victorian Secret“, I told myself I’d have to reuse the corset in a burlesque costume (I decided the chemise and drawers were exempt). Since then I’ve added a bra, garter belt, and side-tie panties. A skirt is in the works. Possibly gloves. Maybe a headpiece. It’s going to be stunning, if I do say so myself.

Except I have no idea how to use it. Nothing is coming to mind. No concept, no music, no hook. Nothing.

Alas. I shall keep working on the costume in hopes that inspiration strikes. However, soon I am going to have to set it aside in favor of costumes for Wrathskellar Tales.

M2

Published in: on 23 August 2016 at 11:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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New Hanky

Dear Constant Reader,

Last month I advised you to carry a handkerchief and shared a few from my collection. Here is the newest acquisition:
Or at least one corner of it (plus my shadow…).

It’s shadow work embroidery on fine cotton batiste. Shadow embroidery is done on the wrong side of the fabric with a herringbone stitch, so on the right side all you see is an outline and the mere shadow of the stitches underneath. It doesn’t photograph so well, so you’ll have to trust me that it’s lovely and delicate.

I’m particularly pleased because I made it myself and it’s been a long time since I finished a piece of embroidery. My Unfinished Projects drawer is fuller than I care to admit and I’m working it down. In between rehearsing and working on costumes for The Wrathskellar, of course.

M2

Published in: on 18 August 2015 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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