Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sew Historical Fortnightly #4

For this fortnightly challenge, I made a corset. Like a real, actual, using a Victorian pattern and corset fabric and metal bones corset.

Dude, you guys, I made a corset.

Technically, it is not yet finished as I still need to floss it, but my back has been hurting me for weeks so I was in a hurry to finish it on the thought that maybe the extra back support would help. It does, a little. The compression and trapped body heat stopped the muscle spasms, but I think it's more a situation of it giving me new sensations to concentrate on rather than an actual lessening of pain.

The pattern that I used was this one, from Waugh's "Corsets and Crinolines":

I resized it to fit my measurements, made a mock-up of duck canvas, made alterations, and then made my final corset. It is in no way perfect, my stitches are wonky and there's little frayed bits where the pretty fabric frayed too much (the coutil was all sewn through, though, so there's no structural instability.) However, what my corset lacks in a clean finish it more than makes up for by being so very pretty.

The corset is a lovely silver/grey stitched with teal thread and bound in teal ribbon and white lace.

I bought some matching teal cord to use as lacing, but I was apparently unable to brain this morning as I bought a laughably insufficient length. Right now I have it laced with this black shoelace-style cord that came with a store bought corset.

It gives a nice nipped waist without being too restrictive. It also has great bust support, though if I were to make it again I would make the sides of the breast section higher, so I don't have so much side spill.

Close-up. You can see the grey has different shades depending on the lighting.

And the back. You can see I still have a gap, so I could lace it tighter if I so wished. Also, the things in my hair are beads.

Lastly, a close-up of the bust. The diagonal lines at the bottom of the picture are the stitching lines of the cording. Hey bro, I heard you like lace, so I got you some lace to go with your lace.

These colors aren't really Dean, but I figured that since I'll no doubt be using this corset for other costuming adventures I should make in 'me' colors, not character colors.

As this was my first true corsetry adventure, things I thought would be hard (exterior boning channels, installing the spoon busk, sewing the binding once the boning was in) really wasn't. It took me a while to figure out exactly how to put the damn thing together since I wanted a single layer instead of an easier to sew sandwich. I went slow (hand turning the drive wheel on my machine to make each stitch as I did the binding instead of using the petal so I wouldn't hit a steel and damage Edith (Yes, I named my sewing machine. Edith is a classy lady and deserved a proper name.)), took the easier path when able (such as removing a few bones that weren't necessary to the fit), and generally enjoyed the experience. The worst part is that SoCal is currently experiencing weather, which messed with my Wifi and made it hard to re-watch Ripper Street while hand-stitching the inside of the binding. I learned a lot, and I think each consecutive corset I make will be that much better. Until then, the breakdown:

The Challenge:  #4, Under it All

Fabric:  Undyed coutil, flatlined with silk dupioni and treated as a single layer.

Pattern: Norah Waugh's Corsets and Crinolines


Notions:  Spiral and spring steel, spoon busk, grommets, silk thread for sewing, and cotton yarn for cording.

How historically accurate is it?  Pretty dang. The pattern is accurate, and while I haven't seen this color combination in a corset before, the 1880s did have some pretty wild color schemes. The spoon busk is right for the time period, as are the fabrics and thread. Same with metal grommets and steel boning, though I personally don't know whether spring steels were in use then. The major issues are that the ribbon for binding is polyester, and the lace is rayon.

Hours to complete: About 18-20, broken up over three days.

First worn:  Right now.

Total cost:  $80-100. I didn't own any of the bits for making corsets, but since I'm going to be making so many I bought what I could in gross so it was cheaper per corset than if I had just bought enough supplies for one.

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