Sunday, October 28, 2012

New Corset!

[Sorry for the long hiatus! I've been totally swamped with school, but now have a few posts to put up. This one's been written up in the queue for a while, but I just now finally got around to sticking the pictures in.]

Towards the end of the summer, I put on my corset to get ready to docent at my historical village, for which I dress to the Civil War era. I snapped the busk together and proceeded to pull on the lacing. Without too much tugging it stopped tightening, but wasn't nearly snug yet. I checked in the mirror, and sure enough, it had finally laced up all the way in the back with room to spare. Not good! With the Jackson reenactment approaching (the enormous crowning jewel of the summer reenacting season) I did not want to be parading around in an ill-fitted corset, which correspondingly would not support my back and hoop. So I finally got on the ball, and called up my friend to help me whip up a new one. It was a bit of a whirlwind, (hence scant/nonexistent process photos) but here is the general rundown of the project:

Stage 1: Mockup
Pretty self explanatory. I used my friend's pattern as we're a similar size (I'm a little shorter and rounder, but it worked just the same) and cut out the mockup in a fabric that doesn't stretch. I was confused as to fitting something with two closures with a projected gap in the back. Solution: sew a 2"-3" strip in the back where you want the lacing gap to be, and fit the rest as usual. Brilliant!

Many, many pins in the mockup!

Stage 2: Cut out all 34857 pieces
Seriously, there are that many. Gussets here, gussets there... and every piece needs to be cut out in all of the different fabric types. (Lining, canvas, and outer fabric, with more optional fashion fabric.) Snip away!

Stage 3: Sew all 34857 pieces together
3a. Sewed canvas and lining together
3b. Assembled attached canvas and lining
3c. Assembled fashion/outer fabric... partially.

Stage 4: Boning and Busk
Boned the lining/canvas pieces, then attached the outer fabric and stuck the busk in. Not necessarily in that order. This stage closely resembled total chaos. I wound up with a 12" busk, and I think I ended up using 26 or 28 bones total.

Stage 5: Grommets
Ahh. Something I already knew how to do, at last. I used some borrowed awls to make the holes, to avoid fraying that would come from punching holes. Then I stuck in 30 grommets with the Crop-O-Dile that I have stolen from my mom for a countless number of projects.

Stage 6: TRY IT ON NOW
For real. So important! Mine ended up getting a full couple of inches longer after it was boned. Like, I-can't-sit-down-in-this-long. A few bones also hit in uncomfortable spots. (ie. jabbing me in the armpit and causing me to permanently hunch my shoulders. Not good!) My dear brother and father cut the bones down to the proper length, and I was able to adjust things so that it fit well. Crisis averted... fortunately before there was casing to rip off!

Stage 7: Casing
I admit, I did not do this stage justice. It was the last step and was getting close to the event. (Like, "four hours" close.) So I whipped some bias-cut canvas casing on with the machine, bent two sewing machine needles by going too close to some bones, and got it together enough to wear.

Stage 8: Lace it all up
I like mine laced in three sections, so that I can easily get it on and off myself as I often have to dress without assistance. I'm not sure how accurate that system is, but hey, it's not visible anyhow! I ended up with 15 grommets per side, which neatly divided into sections of 5 pairs per lace. (I ended up using around 8 yards of lacing, but could have definitely gotten away with 7. Better safe than sorry, though... trimming is always an option!)

Stage 9: Look fabulous, in increased comfort!
I love my new corset! It was in places tricky, tedious, and a little frustrating, but all in all it was very worth it. If it comes down to it again, I'll definitely make another one over buying it.

And here, finally, are some photos!

The finished product. Off, it looks pretty shapeless.
But it's not!!

Purple stitching!

Business on the outside...

Party on the inside! I was talked into using my plaid
mockup as a colorful lining. Here, you can partially see
where I ended up putting my bones. 

EDIT: When I made the corset in August, there was a beautiful, perfect 2-inch gap down the back. I have since lost more weight, and now my new corset is lacing all the way up, too! Agh! I'm happy to have thinned down, though... I can always make adjustments. The side seams are still raw, so I'll probably start by pulling those in a bit where they're not too close to the bones.

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