Harness Your Creativity | Haute Macabre

Harness Your Creativity

harness fashion leather elastic chest  belt

Fleet Ilya Harness †  Lola Harness from All Saints
Elastic Harness from I Heart Norwegian WoodSkin Graft Harness Custom Harness from Garbage Dress

Let’s talk about harnesses. They rock. Not only do they make anything you wear them with more form-fitting and show off your boobs in a season of relatively conservative necklines, but I love the ambiguity- light bondage gear with clear echoes of a shoulder holster; dominant and submissive all at once. Plus, I’m all for accessories that let you make more use out of the clothes you have.

However. Leather harnesses are pricey- the ones here are couple hundred bucks each or more, with the possible exception of the Garbage Dress ones (I’m not sure what she charges). The I Heart Norwegian Wood elastic harness is quite affordable at $45, but if you are crafty you can pull one together for under $10 from Joanne’s.

Here is me in one I made using 1/2 inch elastic, an O-ring (in the back between the shoulders, and some super-cute fasteners I found at Joanne’s that rotate to close securely. Please ignore the Troll Doll hair. This was taken back stage at the Bay City Hookers fashion show, and I had hair and makeup on for the show but was still in street clothes! I meant to go as press, but ended up on the runway due to a last-minute model cancellation.


Here is the basic layout on the harness if you want to try your hand at it.  It is very similar to the Norwegian Wood one, except that I off-centered the clasps instead of putting them all in a line. The whole thing is constructed of 1/2″ elastic. Sew it like this first, making sure you leave enough elastic for the shoulder pieces to come all the way over and meet the bottom belt.  Next make sure everything fits- each belt will probably be a little different, as your ribcage varies in size right there. Then sew the shoulder straps to all three bottom belts and add closures. I got stuck in the fastener aisle for a half hour- so many cute choices!  Also make sure you are trying it on as you go over the sort of clothing you plan to wear it over.



25 Comment

  1. hehe, i love that people are up in arms about ripping off designers. I think it’s one thing if big businesses are stealing designs from the smaller guy (in which case they don’t need to get the design off your amazing site, they already have staff that steal for them), but the few skids that copy other people’s designs for their own pleasure? No big deal in my book.

  2. Hmm, its not an exactly a knock off because its made out of completely different material.
    However I do think some effort should have been made to alter the design a little. Maybe cross the rows or add a few more, because that exact layout is the designer’s original idea.

    I don’t see anything wrong with making your own version. How do you know she won’t go and buy an actual leather harness once she’s more financially able? Projects like this are kind of like placeholders until you can buy the real thing.

    Besides, she made one harness. For the five or so people who will actually go out and make their own harness, there will be 10 more people who will see that link and buy the real thing. The blogger actually did that designer a favor by putting a link to her design in a very public place. So, in fact she’s probably more than made up for the one harness by generating revenue for the designer.

    Besides, there will always be copies in the fashion world, its up to the designer to create something so beautiful that people would rather pay the extra money to just to have it then to buy a replica.

    Anyway to the blogger, thanks so much for the tutorial. Or rather just for the idea. I’d never thought of a harness being a fashion accessory. I’d add grommets to mine though. And maybe some lacing between the rows!

    Oh, and to those going on about getting permission to use the photo, I’m almost certain that it is legal to use a copyrighted photo for the purpose of review or commentary. Which is what this blog is.

  3. Stylecunt,

    you’re ridiculous! You lash out at 90% of the people on here with insults of no validity and contradict yourself from paragraph to paragraph. If you buy from etsy you ARE supporting artists; and Norwegian Wood is always referring to items she’s picked up at H&M so do your homework!

    Most everyone is upset that this “fashionista” didn’t get permission to use the photo. Yes, for those out there who can make their own they probably can/will but $45.00 is not a price that send you to miss a rent payment. If you can’t afford the $45.00 to get the real deal than you probably shouldn’t be buying the elastic from Joanne’s and should reconsider balancing your budget. Or perhaps doing one of those crazy things people have forgotten about… SAVING for the real deal!


    Using anyone’s photos for mass publication is wrong; even if they’ve used it already on their own website you can’t just turn around and use it yourself!

    I agree with most of the people out there. First time on this site and it will definitely be my last!

  4. Curses! The secrets of elastic revealed! Whatever is Catherine Coatney to do now!

    What a bunch of whiney fuckers.

    No matter how many DIY things HM posts, there’s only maybe five people out there who will actually whip out ye olde sewing machine and make it.

    The rest of you pale lazy snots will just continue to whine from behind your computer screen about the travesties befalling independent designers, but never support them yourselves.

    I bet your closets are full of couture etsy gems, and absolutely nothing from labels like H&M and Lip Service (which, if you didn’t know, are labels based on the trickle down theory of fashion).

  5. Just post your DIY on Craftster or similar, Nixon, some of us still want to see your ideas and read your tutorials.

    There are tons of awesome and talented crafters and artists out there, and many of them come up with fresh ideas. And some of us, like I said, stand on the shoulders of giants — many “original” ideas are actually reconceptions or reconstructions of someone else’s brilliant moments of genius, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. It astounds me when I see people all full of themselves, thinking their ideas cannot and should not be duplicated because of some overblown sense of worth. You know ideas can’t be copyrighted, yeah? Think about the reason behind that. You learnt your skills from somewhere, didn’t you, hypothetical person? What would the world come to if no one shared their knowledge and ideas?

    And finally, let’s just reiterate this key point: NixonSixx linked to the original artisans, complimented their designs and gave tons of credit, acknowledging that their designs are superior to her on-a-shoestring homage. That is the important part that sets this creative indulgence apart from so many out there — it’s a tribute, not a travesty.

  6. OK, guys, I wrote the article, and here is what I think.

    -a- Not only did I point out the the original harness was affordable to start with, and include her in the ‘awesome harness’ group, but I have linked to the designer previously because I like her work (one of her harnesses was in a Haute List recently, in fact.)

    -b- Yes, I posted instructions to make a similar harness. I didn’t give away any trade secrets here, people. It was a pretty easy project, and most of you could have figured it out on your own. And no, it ISN”T as good as hers. Most DIY projects aren’t. That’s why you pay people to make you stuff when you can.

    -c- We support independent designers ALL THE TIME. We love them. BUT, we also know that not everyone has the $ in the middle of a recession to spend on even an affordable harness!

    However, the people have spoken. I shall keep my DIY to myself unless I figure out how to knock off Balenciaga. The crafty out there will figure it out anyhow, and the rest of you can support your independent designers in peace.

  7. i am sad that someones work was copied. most bloggers who find something cool, first ask permission to feature the product, and then do an actual product feature….promoting them as the artist they are….NOT how to knock them out of work with a poor rendition of something they are passionate about. so not cool.

  8. I am very disappointed. I love this blog, but this is completely inappropriate, especially the pictures taken without permission and used for the purpose of encouraging people to copy an independent designer’s ideas. I know HauteMacabre usually supports independent artists, so I hope this is just an error of judgement this time 🙁

  9. This is shameful. I get that you want to save a few bucks, but asking permission from the seller to us her design and photos would be the right thing to do since you are publishing this all for the world to see. Hell plug in her link for those that value her design, craftsmanship and want to support the little guy. Come on, do the right thing. Don’t justify what is blatantly wrong.

  10. Hi there.

    I just wanted to share my thoughts. Maybe I’m sensitive about this topic because I’m an independent designer…and I would be pretty bummed if somebody made a DIY tutorial on my stuff.

    When you buy something from a designer, you’re paying for their unique idea, not just for the cost of materials and labor. Also, you’re helping someone make a living doing what they love….and in these times it’s really important to support each other.

    I can TOTALLY understand the urge to DIY this if it was way overpriced, like $300, but Norwegian Wood’s price is more than fair. Most people don’t realize what other factors go into the final price, i.e. it has to be high enough so that when you wholesale it for 50%, you can still make a profit, all of the time you spend on the product other than actually sewing it, such as answering emails, packaging, going to post office.

    Honestly, anyone who is crafty can make one of Norwegian Wood harnesses just by looking at her photos, so it’s not that your actual tutorial is so risque. I just don’t agree with the idea behind it- the idea that you can just copy somebody’s work and it’s the same exact thing. Fashion isn’t just about the actual object, it goes much deeper. Without sounding too pretentious, it’s about the concept, an idea, a feeling that is behind it. And you would be feigning all of that by wearing a copy.

    Maybe it’s different for everyone, but that’s just the way I feel. Sorry! No offense.

  11. I agree with the others – stealing a designer’s pictures and using them to promote homemade knockoffs of their item is so not cool. I couldn’t believe when I went to I Love Norwegian Wood’s shop and saw the same pictures you posted above. Shame on you, for not only violating their intellectual property rights, but for being so tacky as to do an exact copy. 🙁

  12. first time reader, last time reader.

    shame, shame for knocking off norwegian wood and offering instructions for others to do the same. promote independent designers and if you want to copy it, do so in the privacy of your own sewing room, you troll.

  13. What is wrong with it, is that it taks away the small independants income/livelyhood as much would if someone showed up to your workplace, and showed your boss how he can eliminate your job.

    DIY is good. I encourage it. However, 100% of reputable DIY’s Blogs and Magazines DO NOT SHOW A FINISHED PRODUCT ALREADY IN THE MARKETPLACE!, but the author of the DIY article makes his/her own vision of a product, and can either give permission to copy for resale or for personal use only. That is standard policy, and anything else is in bad form.

  14. What the eff? what happened to diy, people? The web is full of this spirit, and it’s a healthy one, one that probably inspired all of us at one time or another and leads to new designs and inspirations every day. Ever visit craftster? Part of why it exists is dedicated to this type of standing on the shoulders of giants!! Maybe instead of whipping yourselves up into a frenzy, we should all relax a little and see that she gave credit, linked and created her own version for personal use and posted proudly about it — what the heck is wrong with that? The post is called “harness your creativity” for god’s sake!

  15. wow, talk about offensive! you are blatantly knocking off the [small, independent] designer, and talking about it like it’s a rad thing to be doing. you’ve just lost yourself a long-time blog reader.

  16. While Nixon & I totally agree that independent designers SHOULD be supported, not everyone right now has the means to shell out the dough for accessories lately, which is exactly why Nixon provided a “here! do it yourself cheaply!” alternative.

    If you’ve got the $35 to send to the designer, by all means, do it. But if you don’t, go to JoAnne’s fabric and DIY.

  17. i agree with Elle.
    Lame-O dude. L-a-m-e — O.

    Plus, no offence,
    I have seen a few of these other (designer) harnesses up-close,
    they fit well and look to be much better quality than your photo.
    Sorry dear.

  18. I agree with Elle, too. Where is the sense in talking about how a designer’s creation really rocks, and then disrespecting it by making a blatant knockoff? And posting her picture and instructions on how to make it without permission, too? It’s one thing with big name brands (which is still plagiarism to me,) but with an independent designer it’s even more unfair.

  19. Orrr… you could spend the extra $35 to support the independent designer who’s doing her thing and trying to build a name instead of posting up instructions on how to knockoff her exact design without getting her permission first.

  20. OK, probably a silly question, but….

    What sort of material is the harness you created made of? Is it entirely elastic-y, or…?