Saturday, 16 May 2009

Finished Silverado Corset

Well the Silverado corset is finished, but now i'm all dressed up and nowhere to go!  Jimmy is still in bed, and has been prescribed 2 different types of antibiotic as the infection is in both of his lungs.  It's been touch and go as to whether he goes to hospital or not, but in the end, as he is responding to the treatment, the doctors have decided that he can stay here under our watchful eye.  Today, he is sitting up reading Top Gear magazines and is eating real food again -  the chicken satay flavour pot noodle was a step too far in revoltingness I think!

I know you've all been waiting to see the finished corset, so here it is:


and back

I'm very pleased with this corset.  I think it's the best i've ever made in terms of technical fit.  It goes in at the waist, out at the hips, in at the tummy, and out at the bust ... In other words, the squish factor is right and I don't have 4 more boobs than I should have!

The silver rubbery fabric was a b*gger to get right, and in the end I just did a few panels, glued it on then zigzagged the edges.  I have a small shortfall in some places near the binding, but I don't think the 'focus' of the whole ensemble is at the edges, so I guess nobody would notice!!

Pattern:  Silverado corset by Laughing Moon

Friday, 8 May 2009

Laughing Moon Silverado corset

Today I have been mostly cutting out. It takes the best part of a day to cut out a corset pattern (edit from the future - ha!). There are 40+ pieces to this one. I have decided to make one the same as the one pictured above because i've made it before which means the pattern is right and I can just get on with it - no toile. Time is of the essence here, I need it for next Saturday!!!  

The foundation fabric is this black coutil with satin flowers. Coutil is a traditional corset material. It is very closely woven cotton, very strong so that it can cope with tight lacing. There are 14 main peices of this, plus 6 gores, 2 for each boob, and 1 for each hip.

Then there's the lining, same number of peices, plus one back placket which will rest underneath the back laces to hide the crease which will become apparent on my back when the corset is laced. I am reducing by at least 4 inches, so the finished waist size will be 23 inches.

Because the lining is made of polycotton I want to interface it for extra strength. The interfacing is a woven one and so also has to be cut on the right grain ... that's all those peices AGAIN!!

When each peice is cut, they have to be marked up. Only the lining needs to be marked with the boning lines.

The most challenging part of this project will be attaching this rubbery fabric. To give you an idea of what it's like .. it feels like that non slip matting stuff, often used to stop fabric slipping when free motion quilting. I can't sew it into the seams for 2 reasons - 1) it makes the seems too bulky and 2) it hinders insertion of the bones into the chanels. It also scrunches up when the chanel is sewn. So the only answer is to glue it into place with double sided bondaweb (yes another cutting bonanza). This poses it's own problems because the hot iron burns the silver paint off, so it has to be done under several layers of fabric protection. I won't embellish the whole corset with this because it will make other things difficult, like closures. But the back placket and 3 side panels on each side will be made with this.

Guess what i'll be doing for most of this week!?

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

V&A Stays - Reconstructing History

So I have started work on the Reconstructing History V&A Stays patter as promised. View B, shown above. The front opening Stays with Stomacher. I followed the instructions given on the pattern. Just take a moment to read this bit yourself ....

It all seemed so simple, the pattern pieces are easy to trace. There are only four of them. I had a nagging doubt about cutting the front on the fold - it has laces ... where does the fold fit in??? The instructions didn't explain. I trusted the instructions because sometimes things become apparent as you work ..

I cut an outer set and a lining set - no interlining as this is only a 'toile'. I marked all the pieces appropriately, and sewed the back to the sides as per the instrutions. So far so good ...

Then I moved on to the front .. The instructions said sew the front to the sides (in same manner as back) ... hmmm... Then they said when that is done, you can try thing thing on and that "if the stays are too tight, let the seams out"

Houston we have a problem!
Actually Houston, we have several problems!

1) exactly how much of the half centimetre seam allowance is available for letting out??
2) actually it's all sewn up .. how do you get into the thing??

But before even considering those two points .. isn't there a bit missing???? I know it's supposed to be pulled in tight ... but this is a gap too far!

And even with some improvisation ... it still didn't look like the pattern picture up top. Here, you can see that I have sewed the sides to the front, and cut up the middle to form an opening. This gap is about right - you've got to allow for the body's 'squidge' factor.


There are no more pattern peices, and the instructions were absolutely no help at all ... they say that once the front is sewn on, you can lace in a particular fashion ... Lace what?? Lace WHERE? It doesn't mention eyelets, let alone where to put them.

And another thing, the instructions don't actually tell you how to cut the pattern peices bearing in mind there are 2 versions of the stays ... ie: how does one deal with those flappy bits on the bottom?

When I cut into the flappy bits, the corset lay around the body better. But then what to do? View B, doesn't appear to have flappy bits. More improvisation required. But not yet.

I got so frustrated, reading, re-reading and reading again ... looking for missing pages which don't appear to exist, then checking that I had indeed cut all the pattern pieces. So I wrote to the company where I got the pattern from (looking at the pattern company website was even more useless than looking at the pattern). They are very nice and replied straight away. They said:

"You are not the first to be confused by this pattern ;-) The centre front piece cut on the fold is a seperate stomacher and need to be boned and finished as an entirely seperate entity followng instructions on page 4. The sides of the stays are finished then eyeletted and laced and the stomacher is popped in behind before the laces are tightened"

OK .. but there are NO SUCH INSTRUCTIONS on page 4!!!!!!! Grrr... "confused" is such an understatement that it is floating about somewhere near the 7th circle of hell!

Luckily (breathing deeply) I have my 'bible', with extremely appropriate title (in this case)

Now I see the problem ... In the chapter which covers 17/18th c stays, the patterns look like this:

Can you see the missing link? There IS a peice missing!!!

And this is what the diagrams on the pattern instructions SHOULD look more like ...

A separate stomacher which can be joined into the stays with little tabs or eyelets so that the thing doesn't ping out and hit you on the chin when you least expect it!

So dear readers ... I will finish these Stays. I will have to improvise with what I have now that I have started, and I will be able to do it. BUT I do not recommend for one minute that you ever try this pattern for yourself!! At over £10 it's an expensive mistake to make!

Edit from the future:  This incident is what prompted me to start Sew Curvy Corsetry! (3/12/14)