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Bring Back Sewing: Foundations in 2017

Image © from Victorian Evening Hairstyles article by Lynn McMasters for Your Wardrobe Unlock'd, 2010

 Image © from Victorian Evening Hairstyles article by Lynn McMasters for Your Wardrobe Unlock'd, 2010


Have you ever had that nagging feeling that you weren't quite living up to your potential? That if you could just get it together, you could be doing a much better job than this - for yourself, for your sewing, for your employer, for your customers, for your family?

That guilty feeling really sucks, but it's a good sign, because it tends to be followed, sooner or later, by a moment of decision.

Ok. That's it. This is going to change now. It's time.



In 2007, I was one jealous costume maker. I was a serial lurker trying to figure out how all those fabulous costumers out there were creating such drop dead gorgeous clothes. I wanted to learn. I wanted what they had. If they would just take me aside and show me how they really fitted those corsets, set in those sleeves, arranged those pleats - in detail, not just a few quick pictures in a blog post - I could be selecting fantastic projects without a care, flying through them with amazing making-of photos, and feeling a million dollars in the end result too. And so came the idea for Your Wardrobe Unlock'd... what if I passed a hat around, and we paid these artists to show us all how it's done?

We'd get the special sauce. We would know what they know. Our sewing skills would go through the roof and we'd feel like we could tackle any crazy idea and create a masterpiece too. We could do this together.

Little did I know that that little idea was going to sustain me as a career, support a team of four, and pay over a hundred costume and corsetry artists who would write for us for a full ten years. Almost five thousand Members have passed through the doors of Your Wardrobe Unlock'd and Foundations Revealed since November 2007, some for a month, some staying with us the entire decade.

Ten years on, I can definitely call that little idea a resounding success... but for me, it's not enough of a success.

There's still something missing.


Image © from How to Make A Bra series by Mark Garbarczyk for Foundations Revealed, 20114

Image © from How to Make A Bra series by Mark Garbarczyk for Foundations Revealed, 2011


The Truth

I wanted my websites to make us all better seamstresses. We've built a pretty awesome library and I've certainly improved a lot myself. I have a much nicer sewing room too, but the truth is...

I'm not sewing right now.

And so many others just aren't sewing either. People tell me they read the new articles with a nice cup of coffee on a Saturday morning... but are they sewing? More and more readers leave us because they're "not doing enough sewing to justify it", or they simply feel that they "can't justify the price". Read that again. They can't justify spending $14.97 on themselves? What's wrong with this picture?


Ignoring our creativity is emotional suicide



Meanwhile, anxiety and depression continue to rise, and I believe that there's a connection. When creative people don't give themselves the space and the permission to create, we gradually lose our minds. Slowly at first - we're busy, we're tired, there's so much else to do, we don't get around to it - but the decline is real. Not making art is emotional suicide.

Somewhere, I've missed the mark.


Image © from Cupped corsets series by Barbara Pesendorfer of Royal Black Couture and Corsetry for Foundations Revealed, 2015
Image © from Corsets with Cups series by Barbara Pesendorfer of
Royal Black Couture and Corsetry for Foundations Revealed, 2015



There's no denying that we have the information to help people sew better - almost a THOUSAND articles, of a breadth and depth that is available nowhere else, online or off. We've thrown eight to ten long form articles at our readers every single month, without fail, for ten years, on subjects ranging from bra making to push-up corsets, and from flowing Medieval gowns to Twenties knickers. There's an unprecedented level of detail there.

But information isn't enough.

Back in 2007, what I really wanted wasn't just a brain dump. I wanted a mentor. I wanted a cheerleader. I wanted someone to give me permission to sew with abandon, and the courage to explore and experiment and discover. And I didn't just want someone to tell me how. I wanted them to SHOW me how.

Starting on March 7th, 2017, you'll see the following features begin to roll out at Foundations and Wardrobe:



We're slowing the relentless tide of information and replacing it with interaction - namely, a closed Facebook group in which Members can connect with other costume, corsetry and fashion artists who inspire you with the same kind of passionate commitment to their sewing as you have.

(We have tried this before on an independent forum within the site and it did not work at all. We have had much better results experimenting with Facebook groups lately. With regret to those who do not like Facebook, it must nevertheless be my choice for the most effective community building platform currently available.)



A team of professional Coaches will give our Members interactive feedback and support, so that no seamstress need ever struggle alone.


Video Classes

New monthly classes and tutorials will be delivered via video, with a tighter focus than ever before on how-to information that directly helps you master your skills. One video will be in depth; another will be a quick practice project that you can do in a weekend, in an evening, in between the oh-so-urgent obligations of life. We're going to keep your creative spirit alive whether you have three small children, or a demanding job, or a surgery to recover from.


The Success Path

We'll map out a path from Beginner to Couturiere on which you can measure your progress and filter the content in our library that's most relevant to you where you're at now.


A New Site

Through 2017 we'll be working on re-branding on a new, updated, professional platform, with a fresh new look - and it looks likely that we'll be re-combining YWU and FR as a single site (with Membership levels that still offer the option of joining FR only).


Limited Class Size

We'll open registration for brief periods only, in order to give the Members' Community a stable space in which to build relationships with each other and the Coaches, without the to-ing and fro-ing of a constantly open gate.


Why am I telling you about this now, before any of it happens? Because if the Oak Leaf Dress taught me anything, it was that making a public commitment is the first step in moving Heaven and Earth, and that moving mountains is a lot more fun when you have - here comes that word again - a community who are along for the ride.

I'm re-committing myself fully to this innovative, award-winning project so that we can Bring Back Sewing in 2017. I'd love to hear what you think about this direction in the comments below. (If you get an error message saying "This is not a valid comment", keep punching "Send" - our comments feature is temperamental. Another reason for a new platform.)


Stay up to date with developments on this project by joining our mailing list (click the "corsetry in your inbox" banner at the top of this page).

Alternatively, if you're all in with me, I invite you to get "in on the ground floor" by becoming a Member now. Because those who are our loyal Members today are going to feel the love first.





  I'm not sewing a tenth of what I would like to create... I love your idea of getting people to sew more and to reach their goal. Personally, I desperately need this! I'm looking forward to what may come!!!  
  Désirée, I'm so glad this resonated with you! We'd love to have you along for the ride!  
  I'm really glad to learn about the Success Path. It so correlates with my own plans for this year. I'm looking forward to viewing the new site and participating in the classes.

Thank you so much for all you've done and are doing!


  Thank you for commenting, M, I'm so glad this struck a chord with you, and I look forward to helping you along with those fashion dreams of yours!  
  I'm self taught to looks ok on the outside but would love to know what I don't know!
My daughter wants to learn to sew, she lives in NYC away from me. I would like her to have access to an on line teacher. She is a visual learner like me, reading a pattern doesn't always help me. I need to see what they are asking me to do.....
  I love that Jeanny - wanting to know what you don't know - I have that nagging desire too! There is always more to learn; that's why sewing is so fascinating. I think video classes will be a huge help both for yourself and for your daughter. I know many sewers are visual learners, so I think video lessons are going to make a bigger leap possible than ever before for our Members!  
  Cathy, I love to sew. I started doing it, though badly, in like 2nd or 3rd grade. My first lessons were in 8th grade Home Ec. I took tailoring classes as a young professional, sewing my own blazer. I've sewn on and off all of my life, but never masted the skills to let me continue doing what I love most -- designing and crafting my own styles and designs. I don't care if I make it up from scratch or modify a pattern, I want it to be unique and fit. I've loved following your posts these past few years. I can't wait for more.  
  Hi Kit! Thank you so much for commenting! It's so useful to hear you crystallise the end goal you're looking for. I think that is an aspiration for many people, the ability to take the unique ideas in your head and make them real so that you can be a true individual in the world. Thank you for landing the plane for me there!  
  I've sewn for a few years but I feel I've lost my confidence ,a helping hand giving guidance would help and inspire to achieve wearable items  
  Dereth, thank you for commenting! I would love to create a nurturing environment that could help you get that confidence back!  
  Cathy, this all sounds wonderful to me. I don't need a nudge to sew. I am at it constantly and have several projects on the go at any given time including needlework. My only problem is that there are not enough hours in the day. Housework is not high on my list of priorities--I just want to create. I welcome the new format with open arms.  
  Thank you Charlene, it's wonderful to have your support. I'm sure you can offer inspiration to some of our less confident members once we give you the opportunity to share what you're working on - and you'll undoubtedly receive lots of encouragement in return!  
Anna h  
  OMG! Yes! All for  
  Glad to hear it! Thank you for commenting!  
  I love the ideas! The videos will be much appreciated and I already use a bunch of FB groups when I have questions on something I'm working on and need some quick input so I'm sure I'll use the community and coaches and I love the idea about the success path and am curious how that will work. I always do better with clear goals and stepping stones. I love the corset competition on FR because it gives me a theme to help direct my creativity and a deadline of when to have something done. It's a definite goal to strive for and I wish there were more things like that as that only takes place once a year. Maybe the projects will be good motivators as well. ;-)  
  Thank you for your input, Courtney, it's good to hear these ideas resonate with what you need! Will we see you in the Competition again this year?  
  I'm really excited about your plans!! I'm one of those who reads the articles, but rarely sews. My skills are decent, but not great. I love the idea of the FB group and the steps for mapping our skills!! I want to be able to say, "Here is where I am, here is where I want to be, here are the gaps in my knowledge, and here are the things I need to learn and practice." Very cool!!  
  Thank you for commenting Dee, I'm so glad this struck a chord, and yes, you absolutely nailed it. I would LOVE to hear "where I am, here is where I want to be, here are the gaps in my knowledge, and here are the things I need to learn and practice" - would you please email and tell me? It's very important for me to get a feel for the answers to all of those questions.  
  First, thank you Cathy! I've been a member now for some years, I've learned all my corset making skills from FR just doing what I've read before. I've sprung into the cold water and made it my buissines last April and had a really good start, with enough coustomers and all.
But currantly there are verry few comissions and I'm barly hanging on. I've followed Jefs videos, but couldn't figure out which produkt to launch, what sells it's self without doing more work, for a corsetiere? I would be highly interested in more help on the buissines-running side.
Oh,I absolutely love the Face Book comunity, that realy makes the difference between working all alone and having someone who understands what you do and love.
Last edited on 27.01.2017 16:54 by jutta burghardt
  Thank you so much for your support Jutta, it's good to have you in the family! I've so enjoyed seeing your work in the Competition and I'm glad to hear that we've helped you move forward.

I will be glad to help on the business side; I will be available as a Coach for that sort of thing, and there is one other person with a successful corsetry business who is planning to become one of our Coaches too, so lots of help on offer there.

As for your immediate issue, your corsetry itself is what you're looking to launch. You can launch yourself as an artist by giving people the behind the scenes story of who you are and how you work. If you're looking for some small product you can sell that will not involve a lot of bespoke work from you, but will keep the bills paid, think in terms of monetising your brand - merchandise, a postcard set of your best work, perhaps even a book. Does that help? Drop me a line if you want more help on that.
  Thank you Cathy, this sounds amazing! I can't wait to get stuck into sewing and corsetry again once I've graduated this spring, this is all going to help so much, thank you for working on it :)  
  You're most welcome Michelle, thank you for commenting!  
  While I like the idea of a video every now and then, I am also deeply enjoying the longer, in-depth research articles. I'm all for striking a balance between the two.
Thank you for keeping a level of membership, too, I really come here for the corsetry content mainly, and thank you for giving us this wonderful platform !
  Thank you for commenting Martha, I'm glad to hear you mostly like the ideas I have in mind!  
  I'm also a great lurker, trying to learn anything and everything I don't already know. I've been a member for a good number of years now and I'm very excited to read about all these wonderful plans! I had to put my sewing business on hold because if my study and work but I'm fighting to get back at it! This should help me do that.

My only fear is the limited class size; I want it all! Also thought my no sewing periods I've kept my membership.
My other thought is the videos; you can learn so much from a clear picture tutorial which I can save on my computer in my research file. Will the videos still have the same close ups and can I somehow save them for late use?
  Hey Heppy, thank you for your comment! I'm glad you like the direction we're going in. That's an interesting thought re the videos. I am certainly planning to make sure they have captions and come with a transcript and summary. Whether they come with still pictures too will depend on how things pan out at this end with regard to how many hands there are on deck to make it happen, but in the meantime screenshots will work if there's anything you need to keep a record of in a single image. Keep in touch as we go about what's working and not working for you and we will adapt to your needs!
  I'm fairly new to the site and corsetry, but I have been enjoying it greatly! I have used many of the tips and I have found myself searching here first for answers to some of my corset hurdles. It's so wonderful to have this site. That said, I love what's been done and I'm excited to see more as these plans unfold. In fact it is only because I long to communicate with other corset makers described in the group that I am even considering a Facebook account. shhh.... don't tell my friends!  
  Thank you so much for commenting, Hollie, I'm so glad you're findng the site useful! Do let us know what else we can do to help - we often commission articles in response to requests from readers - and I look forward to welcoming you into the FB group. I won't tell if you don't! ;)  
Mag Linhares  
  Wow, that's amazing, I love your articles. Always when I read your content I learn more.  
  Thank you so much for commenting, Mag, I'm so glad you're getting value from FR!  
  I am brand-new to sewing, Infact I am just finishing my first set of squares for a friendship quilt group I stumbled upon. It forced me to have a timeline to begin learning. I know no-one who sews and I struggled with the basics so I began building my local network to include an awesome seamstress who taught me the very basics thus far(sewing a straight-line with my machine). At the same time I stumbled across the TV series Outlander and It brought to life my interests in historical clothing and brought me to American Duchess who mentioned you. I ordered my first pattern today for an 18th century stay!!! What you are describing is exactly what I need, instruction, motivation, community, guidance. I feel like I have just been introduced into a part of me that was always missing and I feel as though I am blooming and I don't want to lose momentum! Thank you for doing what you are doing to bring sewing into modern society!  
  Oh, how wonderful, Sirengirl! I'm so grateful that American Duchess passed you on. Lauren and Abby are wonderful people. I am SO inspired to hear that sewing is introducing you to a part of yourself you didn't know was there. This is EXACTLY my aim. There is so much value in taking the time to be creative, now more than ever. You have made my day! Would you mind if I quoted you in a future email or video about what we're trying to do? You articulated it so well!  
  I'm new to doing any kind of regular, serious sewing although I've dabbled in it for years. As a new member and someone trying to develop skills, I was floored by what your site already offers. What you have here is a study resource like nothing I've ever seen but the changes you mentioned are REALLY exciting. I can read and follow along but I'm naturally very visual and hands-on with my learning and the upcoming video series I believe will move me forward faster than I could have imagined. I can't wait to see what the future holds!  
  Thank you so much for weighing in, John, I'm glad to hear you're excited - I'm delighted that you've seen the value in our existing library, and it's good to know you think we're on the right track going forward!  
  Thank you, Kathy and all those other inspiring corsetmakers here who I've been silently following during the past 3 months, gathering, 'consuming' :-) all the free info I could find here, or on sombody's tail. During that period I started to feel emotions rekindle that I 've almost had forgotten. All the inspiring posts I've had the privilige to read, woke me, as after a long hibernation. Your words, Kathy, were so significant! Yep, I've also been one of those women who dreaded to spend 18 euro's for the memberfee.. Well, today I subscribed. You all make me feel like a child in a candystore and I can't get enough of it. :-) It feels so good to do something for myself again and reconnect with my creativity !  
  Jo, what a wonderful message! Thank you for sharing! I'm so delighted to hear that your creative muse is waking up and stretching her legs. You've hit upon the issue exactly. It is so hard to carve out time and space for something that is just for YOU. To put a fence around that ten minutes, or one hour, each day or week, can be struggle for all of us (myself included!) and that makes it a courageous step to place a little money or time aside and say, "This is for ME, and my mental, emotional and creative health". Congratulations , and welcome to the family!  
  I have benefited greatly from this site and just want to say thank you.  
Cathy Hay  
  Thank you so much for letting me know! I'm so glad we've helped you move forward! In what way has it helped specifically? (I'd love to know, so we can do more of that!)  
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