*drum roll* And now… It’s time… For the hardest part of the costume…. The CORSET! I had been dreading and excited for this part of the costume at the same time. 😛 It’s so pretty, but, it’s a corset. So it’s a wee bit complicated. Also, it was my first corset, and I’m pleased to say it came out pretty darn good!
The first corset post will be about the research and the materials. Then there will be a post about the construction and a post that’s just about the embroidery. So let’s get started!
Firstly and most obviously, I needed fabric. I read on Padawan’s Guide and some other costuming blogs about corsets and I learned this. A corset has three layers of fabric: a soft lining layer on the inside, a tough and sturdy middle layer to give it shape, and a pretty and decorative layer on the outside. For the soft lining layer, I used some of my modal, since I had a ton of it left over from the blouse and skirt. For the tough middle layer, I picked up some cheap canvas/duck cloth at JoAnn’s. (It was in the Upholstery section or something, I’m pretty sure.) For those who don’t know what canvas is, it’s made of cotton and is really thick and stiff. It’s pretty good for corsets that aren’t under a lot of stress, like a waist-cinching Victorian corset. For those, you would use coutil, which is REALLY expensive! But, this is a decorative corset and not a waist-training corset so the canvas was plenty good enough for me. For the decorative layer, I followed Padawan’s Guide’s instructions and got doubleweave crinkle habotai silk from Thai Silks. Their picture doesn’t seem to show what the fabric really looks like… it’s INSANELY cool!
This stuff is literally made out of two layers of silk- one that’s more like chiffon and the other looks more like satin, as seen above. If you look closely at the pic above, you can see little zigzags. Those are places where the fabrics are WOVEN (NOT STITCHED) together, and are the only places where the fabrics are attached! It looks crinkled like that because the two types of silk shrink differently.
The fabric was “mortal,” as I like to call it. Because it DYED! Get it? Sorry, bad pun. XD Anyway, I used my same 2 parts tan, 1 part yellow ratio to dye this. I think I used a little more yellow though, because the corset is slightly lighter than the blouse and skirt.
Item #2 to get for the corset: boning. Stiff strips that you make pockets for in the middle of your corset “sandwich,” and these help the corset keep its shape. Hard-core corset makers, who do waist-cinching Victorian corsets and need coutil instead of canvas, typically use steel boning to support the extreme hourglass shape that it makes. But, like I said, my corset is not like that. Nor do I have a waist that needs to be cinched- mine is 24 inches so it wouldn’t be healthy to cinch it. And I just don’t have a curvy figure. I’m very small-chested, so I don’t need a whole lot of support from the boning. And the corset is supposed to be decorative anyway. So, with all that being said, I did not need steel boning! I got plastic instead- from JoAnn’s. It’s very cheap but it suited my needs just fine.
I also had to get thread for the embroidery- I followed Padawan’s Guide’s recommended colors of embroidery floss on their corset page, and luckily, JoAnn’s had them! I got 2 of each color, but I couldn’t find the stuff for the gold swirls… oh well.
The couple of random last things I needed were interfacing and hooks & eyes. Interfacing for the embroidery- so I could draw the shapes on it and use it to support the thread, since the fabric was fragile. I just got really light tear-away stabilizer for 99 cents. And lastly, I got a set of metal hooks and eyes to close the back of the corset with. (The one thing I hate about the corset is that it doesn’t have a lace-up back like period corsets do… the hooks and eyes ended up being a pain in the neck.)
See the next post for how I did the construction of the corset! And, if you were here, like the post, comment on it or follow the blog… I like to know when people were here. ^.^