Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The incredible growing corset

So I've been very busy making a basic portfolio for a shoot which happened back in January. I made two fully corseted wedding gown ensembles, a couple of extravagantly lacy and sparkly 'fun' corsets, a daring bridal boudoir plunge corset inspired by an original from 1910 which I saw in the Symington Collection, and an 'every day' underbust corset which can be worn day or night - the equivalent of the LBD in corsetry. 

One of the bridal ensembles took it's inspiration from the film Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn. Ever since I was small, i've absolutely loved the wedding dress in that film and Audrey has long been one of my main style and beauty idols. 

The pattern was extremely challenging to make! At first, I used a pattern from Atelier Sylphe. I was attracted to the pattern by the closely spaced and uniform boning channels where I could see a beautiful regimented flossing pattern, long before Sarah Burton ever thought of it! So I altered the pattern to size and made it up ... by the time the shell was finished it had grown by a whopping 4 inches. After much head scratching and no solutions, I made another, being extra extra careful with my measurements incase i'd missed some vital step which I thought would surely reveal itself 2nd time around. It didn't. This time the corset was only 2 inches bigger than it should have been. Annoying! 

 I had by this time wasted 2 metres of extremely beautiful silk duchess satin, luckily purchased from ebay, so not the usual exorbitant (but worth it) price and a metre or so of coutil. oyster corset I was hell bent on doing the design because of the flossing, so I tried a third time but on this attempt, made my own pattern, copied some of the styling details from the original pattern and used cheaper materials incase of disaster. When the shell was done, it measured correctly, I had removed one of the panels, so the corset was now eight panels per side, instead of nine but hurray! No unexplained growth! Now the curious incident of the extra inches isn't the fault of the pattern. It's because there are so many bone channels, and so many seams - the original corset is 9 panels on each side, even a 1mm stretch on each seam therefore, will grow the corset irretreivably. I was therefore very gentle on the third round and my patience paid off. However, by this time, I practically hated this corset!!

Nevertheless, I pressed on. it was only a week until the shoot and I had no alternative but to finish it or be without one bridal ensemble in my portfolio which I wasn't prepared to forfeit. The corset is made from my loomstate cotton backed duchess satin. This fabric is a beautiful colour, drapes well despite it's heavy nature, is quite luxurious to look at and the weave is quite 'rough' which makes it interesting. The strength layer of the corset is made from 2 layers of cotton canvas interfacing and the corset has a floating lining of cream silk. The circular skirt which goes with the corset is also made from the loomstate satin which needed only one petticoat to have the required flare.

The corset boning channels are 6mm wide and these accommodate around sixty 4mm spiral steels. The seams at the sides and back of the corset are boned with around fourteen 5mm spirals, and there are 8mm flat steels at the centre back edges and either side of the eyelets for strength. Embellishments are French couture lace and perle cotton flossing. 

The corset also features a concealed busk which is fast becoming a trademark of mine. I am very pleased with the result and will definately use that loomstate cotton again for more bridal corsetry. 

Here's the finished look:

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