You know how people binge-watch TV? Well, I binge-sew. I can’t just spend half an hour a day doing gradual work on a projects. I spend over 6 hours on a Sunday doing a sewing marathon, and then leave a project for two weeks. Thankfully, I had lots of time yesterday to make Version 2 of the mock-up!
I decided that with the first mock-up, I couldn’t possibly let out those seams in a neat way because of my brilliant decision to clip the seams. Besides, this fabric is cheap, so I just bought some more and started over.
I couldn’t find my usual canvas at Jo-Ann’s, but I did get some drill, which is basically the same thing. There are differences between canvas, duck cloth, twill and drill, but I don’t know what they are. I do know that the drill was about a dollar more expensive than the canvas/duck cloth, and that it was all around nicer to work with. It was just as thick, but softer, with less fraying. I do know that coutil is different from all of these because it has a herringbone weave, which looks kind of like a fishtail braid. Whereas the rest of these just have normal vertical/horizontal weave. The herringbone weave makes coutil stronger than all of those, I guess.
Anyway. I realized what the fatal flaw was with the previous mock-up. I was really anxious because I double-checked and triple-checked all my measurements, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had cut the correct pattern size. Then I looked more closely at the pattern, at the seam allowance information and stuff, and it said, “Includes allowance for fabric give.” So now I just had to find out what fabric give is. Turns out, fabric give means fabric stretch.
They assumed I would be working with fabric that could stretch a little bit.
Canvas/duck cloth does NOT stretch. Maybe it does a little bit after being worn, but I didn’t think it would stretch two inches!
With that cleared up, I just calculated how much I would have to add to the pattern edges for fabric that doesn’t stretch. That turned out to be 1/8th of an inch per side. What a relief! I had thought I was going insane here! NOTE TO SELF: When I get the coutil, I’ll just add an eighth of an inch to all the sides, and if it stretches out, I can take it in.
As I stitched the pieces together, I had a hunch to not stitch the center front pieces like I did last time. My motivation was to get it in my head that we don’t stitch the center front on corsets, so I would reduce the chance of me getting my coutil and immediately stitching the center front. This way, I made two corset halves, instead of one whole corset.
I just love those bumps around the hips, it makes it feel so corset-y!
At this point, I thought that it would all fit pretty nicely, so I wanted to take the fitting to the next level- and actually do the back facing and put in some eyelets so I could see how it feels to lace it up. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with sewing, you can put facing on a piece so that the right side shows up either way you look at it. For example, shirt collars usually have facing.) This involved me stitching the back facing pieces to the regular back pieces with the right sides facing each other, and then turning it inside out.
This made the back panels look pretty nice.
Since I did it with the back panels, I figured, why not do it with the front panels? Because that way, I could make a fake busk! I was inspired by a friend showing me a corset she had made several years ago. It had no boning, but it was made of a stiff material and had lacing in the back, but hooks and eyes in the front. Hooks and eyes don’t provide the stiff boning-like support of a busk, but they open and close the same way. I thought this would be a great way to simulate the effect of a busk without actually inserting one.
Here are my front edges after I added the facing.
Now that the stitching was done, I decided to put in a couple of eyelets so I could play with the lacing. Those went on the back panels, obviously. When I got my drill from Jo-Ann’s, I was able to get a tapered awl that is wide enough to make the correct-sized eyelet holes. I already had the eyelets and eyelet punch from a random side project where I was making a corset belt… but that’s another story.
There’s my nice tapered awl!
And after the eyelets were put in. They came out pretty well- the only thing I didn’t like was the ugly little creases around each eyelet. Those came from the stress of the awl pushing a hole in the fabric without ripping the fibers. I expect these to go away in the real thing, because there will be boning channels on either side of the eyelets. Another thing to notice is that the eyelets are very far apart, because I didn’t want to use two billion of them!
FYI, you may be wondering what are the differences between eyelets and grommets. They’re basically the same thing except that grommets come with washers, and eyelets don’t. So grommets do a better job controlling the fraying, but my eyelets did the job pretty well.
It took a while to insert all of those. After that, I used some hooks and eyes left over from the Padmé corset to attach to the center front pieces.
For not being a busk, I thought it looked pretty good!
Then, after almost 6 straight hours of working on this corset, I got to lace it up and try it on!
It felt and looked AWESOME!
For those who are unfamiliar with period corsets, the center front busk (or hooks and eyes, in my case) are very helpful for a few reasons. One, they allow you to lace the corset without actually wearing it- you can just lay it flat on the ground. My senior prom dress had a corset back, but no center front opening, so I had to lace it up while wearing it- which is almost impossible. Two, they allow you to adjust the laces while wearing it, and then you don’t have to ever do the laces again. In the example of my senior prom dress, it was very annoying to have to lace it up and adjust it every time I put it on, and then undo the laces when I had to take it off! Whereas with my corset, and historical corsets in general, with a few simple snaps your corset is on or off. Very convenient. This makes sense to me, since people actually wore these every day. People today wouldn’t want to have to lace up their bras every time they put them on, right?
There are a couple of minor fitting issues with this mock-up. You can see all the creases all over it, particularly around the waist, and how the back is kind of bunched up. I expect these to go away when I make the real thing, because the real thing will have two steel bones at every seam, and a LOT more eyelets or grommets in the back. But considering that this has no bones, no busk, and very few eyelets, I think it came out fantastic.
This is not a decorative sci-fi corset- this is the real business of corsetry! I can’t wait to get some coutil and steel boning!
By the way, I’m trying to think of ways to make this blog more active, since I can’t be sewing very much, so I want to write about more things than just my personal projects.
If you are reading this, please comment! I love to have real human contact on here! XD Thanks for reading!