Corset Completed!

23 May

After two weeks of work, I’ve finally finished the corset to wear under my gown for the 1890s ball! Huzzah! Without further ado, here she is:

Man, am I glad that’s done with! I don’t think I’ve ever cussed had serious discussions with a project as much as I have had with this one! Many of these discussions were self inflicted though as I have a tendency to make things harder than they need be!

When sewing a corset, it’s very important to get the fit just right so that it doesn’t pinch one in unpleasant places and also provides the support and necessary rigging if you will to give one the proper look. I did two muslins of this dang thing and the reason I did two was that I insisted on reading The Basics of Corset Building and then disregarding what I’d read and pressing on. Therefore, the first muslin was a mess! I didn’t know which way was up, I hadn’t built in any extra room for the laces in the back (usually you add 2″ to the back piece and lap them in lieu of setting grommets and lacing it up as it’s only a muslin so who wants all that extra fuss?), like I said it was a mess.

The second muslin was labeled properly, extra room was added where it was needed and went along like a dream. As per usual, there was a lot of ease in the pattern. I cut a bust 34″ and I had to take in the bust by about 2″ just to get it to fit properly! Then it was time to cut into my coutil, which had finally arrived. I cut the pieces out and started sewing per the sewing pattern instructions only to learn that what I was making was a single layer corset! Folks, I don’t know about you, but when I’m making something like this for a historical event, I want it to be correct down to the smallest detail! From reading the book, I learned that double layer corsets were standard and provide extra strength and stability for whittling down the waistline. In the single layer corset, the bones are encased using  a special tape that is placed right on the seamlines and  spots marked for boning. In a double layer, the sewist creates the channels by stitching them between the two layers of fabric. Clearly that was the direction I needed to head.

Things were going along great by this point. I think I even uttered a cocky “Oh I think I’ll get this done in no time” to my husband, thus garnering the wrath of the sewing goddess 😉 Shortly after uttering this statement I noticed that when I fastened my busk (the heavy duty metal “hooks and eyes” at the front of the corset) the pieces were overlapping. “Huh?” I thought and consulted the book. A torrent of obscenities choice expletives ensued. See, on the “eyes” side of the busk the “eyes”  are placed closer to the edge of the busk on one side meaning that if you insert this piece incorrectly, you then place the “eyes” too far away and the busk will overlap when closed which will lead to very unpleasant pinching during wearing. I then had to unstitch three, yes three, layers of teeeeeeny tiny stitching to get to it, cut another frontspiece, sew that up and re-insert it. Ay yi yi!

After that setback, I made darn sure that I read and re-read every instruction in the book for making a double layer corset and aside from not having the right tool for the grommets ($20 for a grommet setting kit! Yipe!) the rest of putting this together went swimmingly.

In the photographs above, I’ve got my waist cinched down by 2″ but with regular wear, I’m now able to reduce by 3″ and keep it there for 4 hours which will serve me well for the length of the party. I’ve learned to put it on with an empty stomach and to drink water in little sips and not to eat in excess. All in all, I really learned a lot in making this corset and I’m actually thinking about making another one in the future!

Anyone else out there interested in making a corset now? 😉


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