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The Future for Foundations and Wardrobe

3 quarter view

Foundations Revealed and Your Wardrobe Unlock’d have, at present, about eight weeks left to live. We are in trouble, and we need your help to survive.

Over the next few days, I’m going to release three articles that tell the story of both sites, what they are, what they do, the effect they have and what they could still go on to do, including the behind-the-scenes details of how the sites actually work – I think you'll be surprised at how we make the magic happen every week.

And then, if I may, I’m going to ask for help from both members and non-members to get us back on our feet. I’ll leave it up to you to consider the evidence and decide whether to answer that call.


Your Wardrobe Unlock'd and Foundations Revealed are two arms of a strong, successful business. We've been around for years now, so that means we'll always be here, right? Well, not necessarily.

Let me start at the beginning and celebrate, for starters, how far we've come.


Pattern piece placement

Alexis Black showed us the secrets of achieving professional pattern matching on our corsets in January 2010.


The cause

Stumbling across the online historical costuming world in 2005 or so, I wished I could persuade all my favourite bloggers to really show me, step by step, how they do what they do. I developed a vision of a website that would support and encourage sewists to reach beyond their limitations and make better art. Perhaps, I mused, if enough people like me clubbed together and paid them for their time, our favourite bloggers would be willing to make us all better costumers, increasing both our skills and our enjoyment of our art.

I was right.

Two years later I realised that the same model, when applied to corsetmaking, could make an even bigger impact. Modern corsetry was still in its earliest stages of infancy, with multiple enthusiasts scratching around in the dark at trying to figure out how all this steel boning and coutil went together, and I considered that if we began working together formally, a new site could not only share knowledge from the leaders in the field with the rest of us – but we could also actually develop corsetmaking as a whole, moving forward together to gradually figure out how the Victorians did it, and how we can apply what they knew to today’s body.

The result has been a quantum leap in the quality and variety of corsetry being produced, in the number of people developing an interest in it, and in the number of people elevating corsetry to the status of a professional pursuit.


The back view 3 quarter view Front view

Joanne Arnett shows us how to use old patterns to make beautiful corsets that are just not possible with today's mass market sewing patterns.
She includes many photos, construction details, and of course the pattern for this design, in this article from January 2011.


The effect

Over the last six and a half years, Foundations and Wardrobe have become the go-to source for costuming and corsetry information online. Whether you’re in Tulsa or Timbuktu, Chipping Norton or Canberra, you can find all the information and instruction you could ever want by just logging on and subscribing to our sites.

We started small, but by adding an article a week on each site, there's now an enormous wealth of knowledge and practice to be found on both sites.

There are 300 articles on all aspects of corsetry, plus bra making, lingerie and a burgeoning Business section at Foundations Revealed, and there are now 500 or so articles at Wardrobe, covering Medieval times, through a rich resource on the 16th century, 17th, 18th and heaving 19th century sections, Gentlemen and Tailoring, through to Vintage and 20th century projects.

Readers have found out how to draft their own corset pattern from mere measurements, how to use steel boning, how to unlock and use Victorian corset patterns that, until now, looked incomprehensible. Curved hems are smoother, sleeves are better fitted and gowns are tackled with more confidence and gusto than ever before. We have watched members enter our competition as Beginners, win the whole thing, and then do it all again in the Experienced category. We have watched them take control of their careers and start their own businesses.

Not only that: don’t be fooled that the readers are the only ones benefitting. It has been a joy to watch our writers, and even members of the publication team, develop the confidence and self-belief to run their own courses, write books, open boutiques…. meanwhile, special mention must go to the indomitable Julia Bremble of Sew Curvy, who adopted an idea we mooted but chose not to act on, and single-handedly made it into the wildly successful Oxford Conference of Corsetry.

It’s easy to blow our own trumpet; we have so much to be proud of. But if something doesn’t change fast, we won’t be able to continue doing this work much longer.


Symington Collection Study Day

Corsets from the Symington Collection, now possibly accented with hints of readers' saliva,
from our Antique Corset Study Day in August 2011.  Image © Leicestershire County Council Museum Services. Used with permission.


We still have so much to do

You only have to look at the average corset of the 1880s and the average corset of today to see how far corsetry still has to go. And any CADD historical costumer knows that there’s always something new to discover in the history of costume.


  • We could be publishing patterns. We could be writing books. There is an unmatched collection of antique corsetry and patterns at the Symington collection that’s under-used and potentially under threat, and we’d like to take a role in bringing its rich wealth of secrets to the community at large.
  • We have made so much progress in the construction of costume and corsetry, but we still need to show you how to make it really work as a business so that sewing can actually support you financially.
  • We could support beginners better. We need to champion struggling professionals and academics who have great research and practice languishing in their noggins and on their hard drives, and help them share it (and get compensated accordingly).
  • We want to get stable enough to give a proportion of our membership fees to support the welfare of those slaving at sewing machines in the Third World to make us cheap day clothes.


But we need your support if any of that’s going to happen.

Right now we have 508 members. We need 750 to survive beyond the next eight weeks, and more to pay our taxes at the end of the year and keep moving forward comfortably. If you see value here and you want to support this project, SIGN UP HERE, and share this post on social media.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s instalment, in which I’ll go into more detail than ever before about how Foundations and Wardrobe actually work, behind the scenes. In the meantime, we want to hear your story in the comments below. How have Foundations Revealed and/or Your Wardrobe Unlock'd changed your sewing life?


  I would be so very sad to lose this wonderful resource. I have shared and made a couple of posts on my blog etc to try and encourage friends to sign up. If there is anything I can do to help please don't hesitate to ask.
Last edited on 25.04.2014 21:02 by Lucy Emke
  Hi Luthien, and thank you for your help and support. You are one of the people who has been a staunch supporter from the moment you found us, and I am enormously grateful. I know that you are one of the members who has been most dedicated to improving your corsetry; I'm not sure anyone has really squeezed so much of the juice out of your membership as you have, and really used every scrap, and it's paid off in the huge leaps and bounds you've made in the last couple of years.

And then it's come full circle as you've shared what you've learnt in your own experiments by becoming a regular writer.

Thank you for your offer of support. The thing we need right now is communication - your listeing ear, your feedback, your ideas, and your ability to spread the word among your own crowd.

Other than that, do link me to your blog (I don't see a link on your website), and write us a little something telling prospective members what the sites have done for you - we'd like to share it + photo!
  Thank you for your kind words :) I've been posting on facebook/ tumblr etc, but I have also done a blog post:

It's not amazing, but if there is anything you want to take from it in terms of words or images do feel free!

One of my updates is here:
That may be more quotable!
Jenni Hampshire  
  I'll copy part of what I wrote on my facebook page here, as I adore FR and would love for others to take a chance on this resource and see just how far that subscription fee goes :-)

Foundations Revealed is an absolutely stellar resource of corsetry technique, study, and business information. The amount of content is almost overwhelming, a steal considering the subscription fee... and my path through corsetry would have been very different if it hadn't been for their support. Cathy and the team helped my confidence to grow massively and I know that they have done the same for countless other readers and writers.

FR very much has strength in numbers, bringing together writers with disparate experiences and skills so that we may all benefit from shared knowledge. I am especially proud of the fact that it does this in a way which financially rewards the writers, ensuring that creative people are paid for their time and experience.

Jenni Hampshire  

Very often, it is one insightful paragraph from an FR article that can elevate your work to the next level. I know this having experienced it myself. To lose such a resource would be a sad thing indeed. Corsetry is growing more and more, and I am thrilled to know a few wonderful people who are each doing their part to educate on this intriguing topic. I think it is paramount that we corsetmakers in turn do our part in supporting all of these ladies (by patronising their respective businesses)... ensuring that the industry as a whole has an innovative, diverse, and interesting future.

FR started about the same time as Sparklewren and I am very much hoping they will continue indefinitely.
  Jenni, you're a rock star. Thank you, in turn, for your unstinting support these past five years. We have certainly endeavoured to do all that you say, and I'm delighted that the desired effect has been achieved for you.

I think testimonials like this may be part of what is missing on the site right now; our biggest mistake is that we are not communicating the value of what we have successfully. I'd love to use your words in a future post with a relevant photo - I'll keep in touch.
  I'd hate to see this amazing resource go away. Maybe using a site like could be an option as well?  
  Thank you for your suggestion, Laurel! We've had a number of kind suggestions, and many people have suggested crowdfunding. I'll be considering many of the most popular suggestions in my next post!  
Jennifer Thoreson  
  I can not express the sheer excitement I had the first time I stumble across the Foundations website. Making corsets had long been a dream of mine. Going back to school at this point in my life to pursue historical costuming really isn't practical. But I have over 40 years of sewing experience.
Foundations and Your Wardrobe were the perfect solution to the desires of my creative heart. I was and am more than happy to pay a monthly subscription for the tremendous wealth of knowledge that membership gives one access to.
Never did I dream that I would one day become a writer for these sites that I admire so much. I have been writing articles for Foundations for a little over a year now and that has only added to my educational experience.
I have never for one minute regretted the money I have spent in membership. My only regret is not making time to use the amazing resources more than I already have. Seeing so many other like minded individuals in one place validates my passions.
  Thank you so much, Jennifer! I'm sure the team will agree that it has been a pleasure to support your learning and your emergence as a writer. I'd love to use your testimonial and a photo in a future post, and on the site?  
  Absolutely! Anything that I can do to help. I will be linking to these Foundations posts on my blog as well.  
  Hi, Me and a group on the Learn How to Make Corsets like a Pro Facebook group are interested in doing a fundraiser or a crowd sourcing event to help keep this website going. If you need help don't hesitate to send me an email. ~JasmineSF  
  Thank you for your suggestion, Jasmine! We've had a number of kind suggestions, and many people have suggested crowdfunding. I'll be considering many of the most popular suggestions in my next post!  
  I have just begun to dip my toes into these great websites. On the strength of the freebie articles along, and mention of Wardrobe and Foundations on multiple websites convinced me to sign up last month. I plan on continuing to support you for as long as you offer these great resources (which needs to be for much, much, much longer!)  
  Thank you Jenny, I appreciate your support! Do consider writing down in more detail exactly what the sites have done for you - I'd love to share that with other people who are wondering whether to take the plunge.  
  [quote name="Jenni Hampshire"]Cont...

''Very often, it is one insightful paragraph from an FR article that can elevate your work to the next level.''

Absolutely. It is those little golden nuggets which give us those moments of clarity and ''ahhhh, that's how its done'' moments.

And I have to say, those 4 points under the 'We still have so much to do' heading sound AMAZING. ''...give a proportion of our membership fees to support the welfare of those slaving at sewing machines in the third world to make us cheap day clothes.'' I WANT to be a part of that.
  Yes!! Thank you Naomi. I will endeavour to make that happen.  
Leslie Gladney  
  I remember when this whole thing first started how much I thought this would be a useful, engaging tool for costumers, living history folks, and for historians to get involved together, working on research and supporting more knowledge from each of its participants.

I subscribed for as long as I could afford, but when times get hard, YWU and FR had to move aside. I never doubted their worth, however, nor their value to our community.

I hope that the community rallies to keep this amazing set of resources going for a long while to come. I'll be re-upping for as long as I can.
  Thank you very much, Leslie, I have been honoured and delighted to have your support from the start and before! It means the world to me.  
  I'm so glad to learn of your site through a post on Facebook by Gina-B Silkwork. I don't sew historical costumes but I'm fascinated by how t's constructed. So .... I subscribed to Wardrobe Unlockd and commit to it for at least one year. I excited to explore the site!  
  Thank you, thank you Caren! I hope you get enormous pleasure from your membership, and I look forward to hearing any feedback you might have.  
Sheri Jurnecka  
  Your site looks like a wonderful resource. Good luck!  
  Thank you, Sheri!  
  Have you thought about doing a crowd funding campaign, Kickstarter, Indie go-go? You may have already mentioned/tried that idea, but fwiw, I think it might bring good exposure and funding to the project.  
  Thank you for the suggestion! You're not the only one who's suggested it, and I'll be answering some of the most popular suggestions in a post later today.  
  Due to the resubscription thing when you changed over to US banks and the new subscription saying it expired (when I expected it to auto-renew like my previous membership had done) I resubscribed again as I thought I had to to stop it expiring and now have two active memberships on this same account.
I've been meaning to get in touch to sort out a refund (as both subscriptions auto-renewed despite clearly having an expires on date) for one of the memberships as I obviously don't need two on one account (and can't afford to pay twice for the same content). But now I feel bad since you are here trying to get more members to save the site.
I don't want you to close! This is such a wonderful resource. I'm always recommending the site to people.
  No worries Alexa, you shouldn't be paying twice, no matter how hard times are! I've cancelled the surplus subscription and refunded your money.  
  Maybe you can give more options for payment? I've always wanted to sign up, but I felt a little hesitant about paying $20 a month. As a student, I'm unsure how some months financially play out. Perhaps we can pay for the whole year upfront? I know some memberships do this.  
  Sarah, that's a great idea - and in fact, you can already get one-off memberships of both sites for three, six or twelve months. Just buy yourself a!  
The Sleeping Dragon  
  To find this post the day after I returned from Costume Con 32 really ticks me off. Again and Again the sites came up from costumers as a vital source of research and now the chance to tell those folks that the sites might close is gone. I will do everything I can to pass on the word to those I know use the sites. AND seriously the word needs to be spread on to those that need this info like cosplayers who keep reinventing the wheel to get things done.  
  I'm sorry to hear that; this was posted on Friday, so I do hope that a few attendees did see it. It has been passed around widely online, and I hope that'll be enough; meanwhile, I appreciate your efforts.

If you can help us make inroads into your crowd and into groups such as cosplayers, that would be awesome. Spreading the word is our biggest challenge!
  I have only registered here a few days ago, I am still in love with this website. It would be so sad to see this community break apart and I hope that you'll be able to manage to keep going forward. Sadly I don't know any people who'd want to sign up. I still wish you all the luck in the world.  
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