Friday, 29 June 2012

The Corset

I don't have that much sewing experience really, I've made two skirts and a dress for myself, each a tad more complicated than the next but still very simple. Then, somehow, I decided that I needed to make a corset.

I've always been interested in historical fashion, add to that my gothic teenage years and a weakness for corsets seems inevitable. After lurking around in the livejournal community The Merry Corsetier for a while I decided that making a corset was far from impossible.

My lovely mother gave me a corset kit from Sew Curvy for Christmas, and since I'm very slow when it comes to starting projects it sat in my sewing basket for a long time. I would open the box every now and again and look at all the beautiful things, but there were two things that kept me from just getting started.

First of all, the Sew Curvy kit came with uncut spiral steel boning. I've read in a ton of places that cutting it isn't really a big deal so I didn't think a lot about it, until I found that I didn't have anything at home that would cut it. I borrowed two sturdy-looking pairs of pliers from my boyfriend's mother, neither of which did the job, and I bought something that I was sure would work, but of course it didn't. Eventually I smacked myself on the head and brought the spiral steel with me to the hardware store where a man helped me find the tool I needed in about a minute. Problem solved.

Second, I had decided that I wanted to do a proper mock-up in at least half-suitable fabric. And there are no proper fabric shops in my town (it's pretty small). There's a crafts-shop that sells overpriced fabric, and there's a seedy place where a guy who (I'm sorry to say it) smells awfully sells haberdashery things and alters clothing. None of them would do. There's a great fabric shop in a nearby town, but it's in an awkward place and with no one to take me there it turned into a huge project.

Eventually, I went to visit my mother in another town and found a great fabric in a local thrift shop, it's some kind of very densely woven cotton I think. It's not twill woven like coutil, but I pulled it in various directions and it seemed to have very little stretch to it, if any. It also had an astronaut print.

Finally, I could get started! And now I've rambled enough, here's my mock-up:

I wanted to know if I would understand the instructions in my pattern (TV110), so I made my mock-up according to the instructions instead of just sewing a one-layer thing and pinning it to test the fit. I used the busk I will use for my final corset, and cable ties for boning.

The hips are a little bit uneven, but that's because my spine is a little bit crooked. I could try to make alterations to hide this, but I think it's something I will try to tackle in future corsets. I don't think it's extreme enough to be really visible unless you look for it, and it feels like it's a bit above my current skill level to fix.

Apart from those things, I think it fits just fine. I cut a size E all the way, with a D bust. My corseted waist is 29", which is larger than the 27" that the pattern gives you for size E, it's also only one inch of reduction for me. However, I've read what I could in the Truly Victorian forums, and come to the conclusion that it's probably either fabric give or sloppy seam allowances, and that I should expect the final corset to sit tighter.

Since I started the corset project I've also made a pair of mini bloomers (and practised my seam widths), but that's a subject for another post.

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