Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pattern (Kit) Review: Kayfig Cage

Finally finished my new 108" cage crinoline, from the Originals by Kay kit which I received for Christmas.

108" Cage crinoline made from the Originals by Kay kit.

Back view of cage crinoline from Kayfig kit.

The cage went together rather easily.  The instruction packet lays out the measurements clearly, and walks you through the appropriate marking and assembly steps.The only sewing that is required is making up the waistband and attaching the tapes to it, but you're on your own for that, so sewing experience is assumed. The buckle caused me a some confusion at first, but that was primarily the result of over-thinking it.  

I much prefer using rivets to attempting to sew through the buckram, as I had previously done; that being said, I didn't like the way these rivets went in.  They had a tendency to deform when hammered; I tried varying my setting method to ameliorate this, but without luck.  I don't have enough experience to say whether these rivets in particular are the problem, whether my technique was incorrect, or whether rivets always bend that way.  They seem secure so far.

What You Get: Instruction packet (3 pages front & back, with placement diagrams)
1.5 rolls of hoop steel (about 45 yds)
16 end caps
c. 10 yards cotton tape
77 2-piece rivets

Items needed: waistband; pliers (to attach end caps), hammer (to set rivets), bolt cutters (to cut hoop steel), punch and/or awl (to make rivet-holes in the hoop steel and tapes, respectively) 

Pattern Score: 4 stars

Difficulty: Advanced Beginner--little sewing is required, but that is unguided; for the rest, spacial reasoning and ability to follow instructions are more relevant than sewing experience

Accuracy: Citations not included, but the materials are period.  Most of the images* I've seen for uncovered cages used smaller gauge wire in large quantity, like the needle & thread kit, but I'm satisfied with the shape.  

General Impression: The main things I like about this kit is that the math and proportions are all pre-done, and the hoop steel and tapes are of good quality.  I didn't like the grommets, personally. Still, it went together fairly easily, and makes a nice shape.  The instructions were very compact, and could use a little more detail at times.  This kit is the cheapest option I've found for making a good quality '60's cage, and my only lingering concern is those annoying rivets.

*Edited to add: three of the period illustrations in Nora Wraugh's Corsets and Crinolines show cages c. 1856-58 with the wider steels like this.

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