07 March 2012

Sew Along Aftermath; Intimidation and Inspiration

The sew along of the 1911 corset has had some interesting effects on me. First off it was really good for me to do something different and challenging just for the heck of it. I cannot recommend it enough. If your life is feeling a bit stale or you are stuck in a rut, go find something to do that challenges you. Better yet, find something that is different than anything that you normally do, and try it. That thing you have always wanted to do, but have been putting off; why? Make something just for the sake of making something. It is worth the time, I promise.

My fascination with corsetry of late is born out of desire for a challenge. I have to admit there is a lot to be intimidated about in the world of corsetry. So many people told me how impossible it is to make corsets, and just about every intimidating and discouraging thing about making them that could be said. You know what is impossible? Bespoke wedding gowns. I've made dozens of them. I don't know why I took it to heart that somehow corsets would be harder. They are not. They only deal with a small section of the body. They are adjustable! I haven't taken on custom clients, but I bet they won't be trying to squeeze in all the design elements of every single thing they've ever liked into it either. I have the advantage of this mysterious craft that isn't particularly mainstream or a practically familiar part of everyday existence.

Intimidation is cured by doing. If there is something you want to do, but feel intimidated by, try it! You can make it easier by not telling anyone what you are doing. Try and succeed, Yay! Try and fail, you learned something, and can try again until you get it right. It takes time to learn new skills. New skills keep your work fresh.

Most of the modern corsets out there are the same basic victorian style. It made me think that that is the only way to design them. That is until I have spent some time delving into history. Oh all of the different shapes! Different shapes, different lines, different pattern pieces. Innovation. I was reminded of my designer's mind that is constantly trying to figure out the best way to do things: the best fit, the most flattering lines, where to draw the eye. This applies to corsetry too. I am really liking the edwardian style that covers & smooths the hips. I printed out the 1905 and the 1907 Savoye patents today. Let's see where this goes. This sew along has inspired me to try some new shapes. So much of what is out there is the standard victorian style, and since I hadn't worked with anything else, I didn't stray far from it.

I am starting to feel less and less inclined to make up a line, as to feel comfortable working with a variety of designs and present them as a painter would present paintings: you have to wait for the right one to come along. I am not so sure how that will work for me, but the idea of trying to choose one style doesn't feel right to me. And a big reminder not to listen to peoples' doubts about my competency as a seamstress, or straying from tradition. What tradition? We get used to things being one way without exploring why or whether they need to be that way. So onward. As my stack of in progress corsets graduates to finished pieces, I will post some of their photos.

05 March 2012

1911 Corset Sew Along: The Finished Corset

I broke five needles flossing this corset, but it is finished. Well, almost finished. There are garters to attach to this. Garter that I had the worst time finding one piece of hardware for. But now that I have it, I am on the fence as to whether to use it or whether I want to add garters at all! Generally this type of corset doesn't have removable garters. In the sew along we were given instructions for covered garters; which I was all set to make, but now I am not so sure. Since this corset is so clean lined, I hesitate to add such a foofy thing. Plain garters are period correct too. What do you think?

Otherwise this corset is done. I decided to lace it with silver ribbon; why not? It is a little impractical, but it does the job (it holds everything in snug and sound). I invited my friend Shana over for tea, and she was kind enough to take a couple of snapshots of me in my corset in my messy turret..

I want to thank Jo at Bridges on the Body for hosting this Sew Along! It was super fun, and a bit of an escape from what I normally do. If you like to sew, this is a fun project, and all of the instructions are here in bite sized pieces. It was really fun to see what everyone else made; check them out in our flickr pool.

I haven't thought about an outfit to go over this for a Titanic reenactment. Any suggestions?

04 March 2012

1911 Corset Sew Along Final Fitting

Once I put the whole corset together, it is time to lace it up and try it on to see if I need to trim or cut off the the top and bottom edges. By the time of the Edwardian era, corsets had become longer in their lines, and had more of a focus on smoothing lines and the S curve rather than the hourglass waist. The top of this particular style of corset rises over the chest line without covering the whole bust. The bottom covers the hips. The boning ends at the top of the hip so you can sit down.

I am pretty satisfied with the lines and the fit of this corset! The top softly hits at the bottom of the bust giving a little bit of lift. The bottom curves over the hips with a bit of a curve upward in the front and the back. The flat steel boning curves nicely along my body without stabbing anywhere, and clears the chair when I sit down. As a matter of fact, it is surprisingly comfortable. The one thing with this corset as opposed to my more victorian styled corsets, is that the long line makes it more difficult to lace up by myself. I can see why one would need a lady's maid to help get dressed and undressed.

I bound the top and bottom with plain navy satin. Traditionally, you might have lace trim at the top. I decided to forgo the lace since I like clean lines, and the stripes are busy enough already.

The last part is the flossing. This the embroidery at each end of the boning to keep it from moving around in its casing. The victorians had some very elaborate flossing, but most of the corsets in the edwardian era were more plain and simple. I used this corset as the inspiration for my flossing design. I bought both silver and navy embroidery floss to see which looked best.

Navy won out. The silver looked bad (too bad to bother taking a photo).

This corset has both 1/4" and 1/2" flat steel boning in it. I made X's over the 1/2" bones.

Next: DONE.

01 March 2012

1911 Corset Sewing the Actual Corset

I know it's been a few weeks since I've posted about this. There was the week I couldn't stop dropping sharp objects on my feet, and then there is the part about how I am really bad about taking photos or writing blog posts. Really bad. But here I am to finish what I have started. Now that I have made a mock-up, and it fits, I have adjusted the paper pattern pieces to reflect my fitting changes; it is time to cut out the real thing and start sewing!

This corset is unlined, so I have to make it using flat felled seams. This method involves sewing the wrong sides of the fabric together, trimming folding and topstitching. and don't forget swearing, picking out stitches and doing it again when the seam line is crooked because my mind wandered off while I was sewing the long seam.

Once everything was pieced, I added the waist tape to reinforce the waist (got to hold that sucker IN), and inserted the busk (the long metal front closure that allows to get in and out of your corset by yourself).

The next part is to set the grommets. This involves stabbing an awl through the fabric and hammering the grommet and the washer together. I only stabbed myself three times doing this part!

Next: Trying on the corset for its final fit!