Monday, February 27, 2012

Pirate Wedding - Corset/Bodice BINDING COMPLETE!

I'm so excited! I figured out how to bind the tabs of my corset. Cathy Hay's method wasn't working for me, and I'm wondering if it's because the tabs are just slits in the fabric of the corset--there is no space built in between them, in the pattern.

Previously, I had been attaching the binding by opening it up, sewing along the outermost fold using a backstitch (or something like that), and then folding it around to the inside and stitching it down. Like this:

But I figured out that the girl who made the prototype of this corset basically made a sandwich with the binding, using the binding as the bread and the corset as the meat of the sandwich.

I was able to finish binding my corset this weekend! I've attached the two halves together and I'm so excited. I'm almost done! I still need to do shoulder straps and a modesty panel and grommets. But the bulk of the work is done!

It looks absolutely horrible from the inside. Obviously I have issues with attaching the binding at start & finish, but I'll work that out on my next corset, which will be from a proper pattern. But who cares about the inside, because the outside looks pretty decent! The top edges don't match up perfectly, but I figure I can put a bow or some other kind of embellishment to hide it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pirate Wedding - Corset/Bodice BINDING

I started feeling bad about not following through on so many projects, so I decided to pick up my pirate costume again. I WILL finish Project 3!

I was looking at examples of tabbed corsets that other costume bloggers have done, and I saw a beautiful one that American Duchess made. There is a closeup of the binding and what do you know, you can see her stitches. And it doesn't detract from the beauty of the corset at all, in my opinion. Her work is so amazing.

Here is a picture showing the binding in detail. I wonder if the tabs separate out like that because of the binding, or if she has to shape the space between them.

So I went through my embroidery thread and found one that matches the color of the fabric & binding pretty closely. I actually went with 840 for the thread. I think it's Coats & Clark embroidery thread.

Look how it turned out. If I look closely I can see a few exposed threads, but they are all but invisible. I'm so happy! Now I just need to figure out binding between the tabs. I'll study Cathy Hay's instructions again tonight.

I should have been working on it last night, but it was such a lovely evening. I wanted to enjoy the warm weather and the beautiful sunset. I wish my camera could have captured the intense orange glow below the neon pink clouds.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Half-Boned Stays

So I'm on Project 4, which is really an extension of Project 3. Yet I've only finished one whole project (Project 1). Maybe I should rename my blog "Look What I Started To Make And Then Threw Into the Garage In A Fit Of Rage." Although I did complete two skirts for Project 3, neither of which I'm going to use for my pirate wedding costume after all. But... They'll be useful for ren fests. The costume is just not coming together like I had hoped it would.

Here are my pattern pieces. This pattern is already sized up to fit a size 8-10, so I didn't have to ask my graphics friend to resize it.

I'm going to get to work on the mockup. I can't figure out where the waistline is from the pattern pieces, so I'll sew the mockup first and then work on fitting it later, skipping the slash & spread step.

Two hours later, I finished the mockup, put on the lacing strips, laced it up, tried it on, started feeling ragey, looked at the clock and wished it was later so I could start drinking vodka, took it off and resisted throwing it in the garage with the rest of my failed projects.

The lacing strips that I made for the 1911 corset that I stopped working on so I could work on my @#$%ing pirate costume are too big to attach to the back without sewing over the seam connecting the side back piece to the center back piece. Sigh. This is just so frustrating.

So I pinned the lacing strips on with giant quilting safety pins, but then had to unpin half of them to lace them up. The corset fits bizarrely, but it's really hard to tell because I think I'm really going to have to put boning in at least on the front panel, because otherwise I just can't tell at all how it needs to be taken in/let out. So I need to cut out a second piece of the front panel, pick out the seams of the two side front panels, and sew it back together with the boning channel layer.

Also, my boobs are starting to sag, which was horribly obvious in my unboned mockup. I've always had beautiful breasts and now at the great age of 39, they are starting to sag. I just feel miserable about everything right now and think I need to walk away from this project for a few hours and get out of the house.

Pirate Wedding - Corset/Bodice RAGE

Okay. Okay. I had a meltdown last Monday about the corset binding and the costume and everything.

I had the corset channels sewed and boned, and was halfway through binding the first half of the corset. It was going really well. I was backstitching the binding to the front of the corset:

And whip stitching it to the back:

I was sailing through it and feeling so confident. I didn't even care that my whip stitches looked like crap, because they were on the inside of the corset where no one would see them, and the inside of the corset looks terrible anyway.

Then I started binding the lower part of the corset. Where the bones get really close to the edge. I started having problems. I cut some of the bones shorter. I still had problems.

See, I was sewing the binding through all three layers of fabric. I wanted to keep doing that, but I realized that I was going to just have to sew it on the layer of fabric just above the bones. So I shrugged my shoulders and got on with it, but then I poked myself really hard with the needle and bled on the binding, and the @#$%ing stitches were showing on the outside of the corset where I was backstitching the binding and suddenly I was just OMG WTF WHYYYY???

If you click on it, you can see the stitches.

So in a complete rage, I gathered up the corset pieces and the skirts I had made and threw them all in the garage.

After a few days, I calmed down enough to look for another corset pattern. I decided on the late 18th-century half-boned stays and found a free pattern on Ralph Pink's website (it's corset 5 in the package of 5 corsets). I chose this one for many reasons:

1. It's gorgeous.
2. Jo of Bridges on the Body did this corset already and has lots of good instructions.
3. It's a popular style and the free pattern is identical to the one Jo and many other costumers have used, and is very historically accurate.

So next post, the half-boned stays.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pirate Wedding - Corset/Bodice BONING CHANNELS & CABLE TIES

My corset pattern is one piece. I had decided to use my gold tapestry valance for the corset, since the skirt situation was getting so bulky. But the valance wasn't quite the right proportions to just lay the pattern out and cut. I had to fold it in half and cut two pieces. I reminded myself to add a half-inch to the center front edges so I could sew them together. Then forgot until I was halfway through trimming the first center front edge. So now I will have to figure out a way to join the pieces.

I cut out the buckram (for the interlining) and the muslin (for the outer lining) accordingly in two pieces.

Here's what the corset/bodice looks like when the outer fabric halves are put together:

So I assembled all the layers on each half, and then spent a week hemming and hawing on how I would draw the boning channels. Finally I told myself to JUST @$&!ING EYEBALL IT AND GET IT OVER WITH. I sewed a few test channels of different widths in my first muslin mockup and determined that a 7/16" channel fit the 3/8" cable ties perfect. I looked at my pre-existing corset and judged where I should make my channels on my pattern. I measured the distance between channels using the awesome UMD Measuring Disc, which I learned about from Jo's Bridges on the Body blog. (She calls it a tailor's shuriken, and I love that name).

And I think it looks okay (the channels are sewn in, in the above pic). There was some fabric wrinkling in some of the channels and some crooked stitching, but it didn't affect how the bones went in. The thread matches the fabric so well, and since the fabric is textured, you can't even see the crooked stitching from the front. At first I felt like a loser but then I just thought, "I AM DOING THIS" and I plan on doing it again and again in the future and I'm certain I'll get better.

I thought they were the biggest boning channels ever, but then I read on Leimomi Oakes' blog, The Dreamstress, that she uses the 3/8" cable ties in at least some of her corsets, and since she is amazing I felt very relieved because that's the size I bought and I was thinking they were too big.

Cutting heavy-duty cable ties (or zip ties, whatever you want to call them) is a bitch. I bought some wire cutters to cut them, and they only made a dent. Finally I had to use my precious kitchen shears, and had to apply an amazing amount of squeeze to get them to cut. I don't have a good history with sharp blades, so I was constantly worried I'd cut off the tip of my finger, for real.

I think maybe if I get some tin snips, it might go easier next time? Because I was thinking I am never using heavy duty cable ties again. I will buy steel boning and somehow make it work if my boning channels aren't quite the size of my bones. I don't know. It was a pain and I would really rather pay for the steel boning than have to deal with that every time.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pirate Wedding - Skirt 2

Skirt 2, the burgundy skirt was finally finished last weekend. And? It's too short. I should have made it two inches longer. I used tiny stitches to hem it and the thread is damn near invisible in the textured fabric of the skirt, so there is no way I can pick out the hem. And I had juuuust enough thread to finish the skirt.

But, the fabric is nice and bulky, so it would look okay on its own. Or I could use it as a petticoat. I should have remembered, when I was measuring it, that with the petticoat underneath I would need to make the skirt longer. Oh well. I was kind of upset about it when I tried it on with my corset so I didn't take pictures of it while wearing it. But a blog entry without pictures is boring, so here's a picture of my skirt draped over the ironing board. I'll try to take pictures of it being worn today.

I do have a matelasse coverlet that I bought for $6 or $7 at Savers with the idea of making it into a quilted petticoat. I could make it up and pleat it onto a yoke. It would be short enough to not show under the burgundy skirt, and with the yoke it wouldn't be as bulky around my waist as the osnaburg petticoat, and it would give just as much bulk. I might do that... 

I've been thinking about my outside corset that I want made for my costume. I keep looking at the one I bought. It's made out of one piece of fabric, in other words, it doesn't have panels. (What is the deal with my camera that using the flash makes things DARKER???)

I keep thinking, surely I could trace it and make one of my own? And then, I found what I think is the pattern she made it from. It's from the Elizabethan Corset Pattern Generator (ECG for short).

Looks pretty easy, huh?

I started to get excited. I thought, "I AM DOING THIS!" I bought buckram and matching thread for my fabric. I bought giant cable ties for the boning. I bought wire cutters to cut the giant cable ties. I bought fray check for the cut edges of my fabric because it frays like crazy. I traced my corset, cut out a muslin for the mockup, retraced the pattern based on the mockup, and cut out my fabric. Next post will be about making the corset.