I think I mentioned recently that i've been making a corset for my friend Ms E. Its been taking a while because I discovered upon fitting her first corset toile, that she is asymmetrical! I'm quite pleased about this because sooner or later I was going to get a client with this characteristic, and so it's nice for me to work on it with a friend first.
Her left (as you look) shoulder drops down and left hip goes up - I am not sure which causes which but the whole scenario causes the corset to be squint as you can see - it leans to the left..
This means that while the left side fits perfectly at the top under the arm, it is too tight at the bottom around the hip but on the right side, it fits beautifully all over - except at the front where both sides are too big at the front bust. This is because I added ease to the bust to account for "squish" .. It was unnecessary.
When you put a grid on the picture you can see the problem clearly.
The orange lines are where the current seam lines are.
I should point out that when I wear this corset (we are the same size), it is perfectly straight on me.. This pattern is drafted from scratch and I know it's straight!
Here I have drawn how the corset should LOOK.
The purple lines are drawn agaist the grid, and are in the 'correct' place for the eye. They are not symetrical but they LOOK symmetrical to the eye.
Here are all the lines together ...
Green is the shape i'm aiming for
Orange is where the current seam lines are
Purple is where seam lines would look right
My plan was to let the left side out where it was too tight and take the right side in where it is too loose in the hope that it might straighten out. It worked to a point BUT it meant that the corset, still a bit squint, looked odd, in that the seams on one side were in a different position to the seams on the other side. However, it did fit well and looked alot straighter (notwithstanding that waist discrepancy that has now appeared).
The next step was to draw in 'eye correct' seams on the left, then chop the corset up along those fake seam lines on the kooky side, and chop the right side along it's true seamlines, and use all of those separate pieces to make a pattern for a new toile.
Here are the peices all laid out - there are 14.
And the resulting pattern which is also 14 pieces because none of the pieces match. Infact, it's quite scary to look at, but corsetry is all about maths in some ways, so I had faith that this very wonky looking pattern would work in the way I had determined.
Here you can clearly see the difference between pattern pieces. The 'wonky' pattern pieces are laid on top of the paper pattern for the 'correct side' pieces.
It worked!! Here is the new toile where the seams more or less match.
(and there is a big but)
You can see that the corset LOOKS more symmetrical, and Ms E infact looks much more symmetrical - but...
Houston, there is still a problem.
And the problem is, that for this toile, I used a very thick Cotton Duck fabric - artists canvas. I have found that it is unstable when used on it's own like this - even though I pre-shrunk it with steam. I was very pleased with the shape of Ms E's new corset toile, but look at the baggy boobs!! In this pic, she is wearing a bra. The corset is designed for no bra .. when she takes her bra off, I fear that her boobage will slip into the void around her rib cage never to be seen again in that corset!
I couldn't imagine why this bagginess had appeared, and so I measured each of my pattern peices against each of the corset pieces at 4 consecutive points - the bust line, the underbust line, the waist line and the hip line. That's allorralorra measuring!
There was a FOUR INCH discrepancy ... FOUR INCHES!! For heavens sake!! The pattern is completely correct, but the corset is 4 inches bigger. After much consternating, cross measuring, head scratching and hand wringing, I braved telling my corsetmaking friends over at Live Journal with the fear that they might laugh at me, but instead received a couple of lovely and very heartening responses the upshot of which said: Different fabrics act in different ways (well we all know this to be true), but it seems that Duck Canvas has a nasty habit of stretching when in use ...
It's back to the drawing board for me where I will have to cut one more 'final' toile but this time in corset coutil (as per the black one i'd been working with previously). It's more expensive, but what cost floppy cavities in your corset?!! For further reading on the perils of working with canvas, read this Cautionary Tale.