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Corsetry

Purple Satin Overbust!

Purple Satin Overbust PhotoPurple Satin Overbust Photo
My purple satin overbust is finished! (I think.)

It has 28 1/4" spiral steels, two of those extra thick flat steels that corsetmaking.com sells as 1/4" but are actually 5/16", and four regular 1/4" flat steels (on the sides of the lacing.)

The fashion fabric layer is an utterly infuriating silk/rayon slipper satin interfaced with fusible tricot, the strength layer is black English coutil, and the lining is that mysterious handkerchief maybe-linen with the bizarre description about being "100% handkerchief linen" that breathes like linen and is mistaken for linen but wears better than linen.

I originally intended just to do the lace embellishment at the top and bottom, but then a rogue bit of fusible web attached itself to the outside of the satin, and in trying to get it out, a light spot developed.. so it needed more lace to cover it up.

Purple Satin Overbust BackPurple Satin Overbust Back

Jet swarovski crystals in ss6 and ss8 sizes accent the black lace and crystal AB crystals accent the silver-edged lace.

I'm still not sure what to wear with it. I'll definitely have to make some kind of bolero, probably in either purple chiffon or silver lace.
Purple Satin Overbust Embellishment FrontPurple Satin Overbust Embellishment Front
Purple Satin Overbust Embellishment Front BottomPurple Satin Overbust Embellishment Front Bottom

Aquamarine Corset

I finished my aquamarine corset!
Aquamarine CorsetAquamarine Corset
The fashion fabric layer is aquamarine dupioni from Silk Baron interfaced with fusible tricot. Strength layer is one layer of black English coutil from King and Company, and it's lined with purple couture linen from FabricMart. I used the King and Company Celine underbust pattern. It's supported by 24 quarter-inch spiral steels, 4 regular 1/4" flat steels (sandwiching the grommet panels) and two of those extra-thick flat steels that corsetmaking.com sells as 1/4" but are actually 3/8". I put the extra-thick ones in the side-back seams to improve the back support. I boned all of the seams as usual, and used black tubular bone casings between seams for the additional bones.
Aquamarine Corset Front Embellishment Close-Up.Aquamarine Corset Front Embellishment Close-Up.
I embellished it with two different types of lace; a fuchsia stretch lace and a black lace netting "shadowing" the front lace embellishment. The fuchsia lace was a bad choice, it wanted to pull and snag and unravel at every chance. I ended up applying small bits of fusible web and liquid thread with the a flat hotfix tip to stabilize the lace. Next time I'm definitely going to be much more careful about selecting the lace. I like the visual effect of this lace, it was just really not well suited to being cut out and sewn to a corset.

I used black silk threads for the flossing, which was also unnecessarily difficult. I liked the look better than using topstitching thread, but I didn't have any black dupioni so I used threads from another black silk that wasn't as thick and required more threads. Next time I'll either make sure I have the right colors to use dupioni weft or I'll get some silk embroidery thread.

I accented the lace embellishment with hotfix swarvoski crystals. I used a few ss10 AB crystals on the protruding parts of the pink lace, but the majority of the of the crystals I used were the teeny tiny ss6 crystals. I used jet ones on the black shadowing lace lace and a few different colors from a "passion" pack (which contains shades of pink, red, and purple) scattered around the fuchsia lace.
Aquamarine Neck "Corset"Aquamarine Neck "Corset"

I had just enough of the aquamarine dupioni left to make a neck "corset"/posture collar thingy to match. It's kinda cute, but next time I make one of those things, it must have a zipper! I'm not entirely sure how I'll fit a zipper in because the back felt thick and awkward to work with as it was, but it's a pain to get on and off and it really needs a zipper in addition to the lacing.
Aquamarine Corset FinishedAquamarine Corset Finished

Despite my zillion complaints about my choices on this one, I'm actually very happy with the results. This is only the second corset I've made with coutil, and the last coutil corset (the tea-dyed one) didn't have a separate fashion fabric layer, so I learned a lot with this corset.

Tea-Dyed Coutil Corset -- Pictures on Me!

My parents visited last week, so I finally have photos of my tea-dyed coutil corset on me!

Tea-Dyed Coutil Corset Front PhotoTea-Dyed Coutil Corset Front Photo

The fit is really pretty good (certainly better than on my dress form!) but I am kinda wishing I'd cinched the waist a bit more. I didn't want it to be as dramatic as my denim corset, which had a pretty significant reduction, but I think I ended up giving it too little. I'm frustrated with the double-layer construction method; I think it makes me too cautious, since nothing can really be changed.

The binding isn't as smooth as I would have liked it to be, I'm not exactly sure what went wrong there. Binding seems to be too easily forgotten when researching corsetry techniques.
Tea-dyed Coutil Corset BackTea-dyed Coutil Corset Back

There's some wrinkling in the back at the waist. I think this means that I gave that back panel a bit too much curve. It might have been a discrepancy in the inner back panel vs. the outer back panel, which I guess would have given more or less the same result-- fabric being pulled where it isn't supposed to be pulled.
Tea-dyed Coutil CorsetTea-dyed Coutil Corset

Tea-dyed Coutil Corset! Finally!

Tea-dyed Coutil CorsetTea-dyed Coutil CorsetAfter much procrastinating, I've finally done an actual coutil corset! I tea-dyed the coutil because, um, it was white and my iron spit on it and left a stain. So dyeing it seemed logical, and white isn't so practical anyways. I'd originally figured on using a fashion fabric over it, but for my first coutil corset, I thought maybe it would be nice to just use the coutil.

It's a two-layer corset with sandwiched boning channels. It seems like a logical construction method, but I'm getting pretty frustrated with it. It's just so impossible to change anything once you've done much of anything at all. I was dumb enough to clip the seam allowances together instead of one side and then the other side in a different spot, which created wrinkle-looking things where there's less thickness because of the clipped seam allowances.. and then by the time I noticed it, there was really nothing I could do about it.
I'm not really liking the inside. I just couldn't really come up with any way to get the inside to look clean; the back of the flossing is just too visible. The hand embroidery isn't quite as bad but the back of the flossing just looks bad.
For my next corset I'm going to use one strength layer and just add boning channels wherever I need to. A single layer corset with a lining just looks so much nicer from the inside.
I'm wishy-washy about the shaping on the bottom edge, too. I think it turned out too not-one-thing-or-another. Not straight, but not shaped enough to look.. well, shaped.

I really am pretty happy with the corset overall! I think it looks decent and I'm excited to have completed my first coutil corset. There's just a lot that I can point to and say "next time, I'm not doing that." And assuming I listen to myself, that's good, I think.

Tea-dyed Coutil Corset Side BackTea-dyed Coutil Corset Side Back

I used a total of 32 steel bones. Twenty-four 1/4" spiral steels, four 1/2" spirals, two 1/4" spring steel bones and two extra thick spring steels. The extra-thick ones are sold as 1/4" but they're actually 3/8" wide. The extra thick ones are on the back edge and the regular spring steels are on the other side of the grommets.

I'll probably change the lacing-- either dye it purple or use more of that ribbon that I used for my denim corset.

Eyelets vs. Grommets

Eyelets and GrommetsEyelets and Grommets
The ones on the top were sold as eyelets, the ones on the bottom were sold as grommets.
A major difference when buying eyelets vs. grommets is that eyelet sizes are described just by fractions of an inch, as opposed to the grommets which usually do list the size in fractions, but also list the standard sizing. When you look at the list of the sheet metal grommets and plain washers at GrommetMart, the primary listing is the 00 through 6 size, with the size in fractions of an inch in parenthesis.
In the row of eyelets here, the first is a 1/4" Dritz eyelet from CleanerSupply, the second (the one with only one piece) is the standard 1/8" eyelet you get at any craft store and can get in all different colors, and the last one is 3/16" two-piece Dritz eyelet that I think I got at Michael's Arts and Crafts. The inner circumference of those last two seems almost the same to me, although the outer circumference on the two-part 3/16" eyelets is definitely larger. The ones from Michael's A&C have different packaging and say "The Sewing Basket," but they're still made by Dritz. I can't find them on their website; there's a Michael's next to the Lowe's around here.
The bottom row are the grommets. I don't have the tools for the first two. The first one is a 3/8" grommet from Cleaner Supply (they don't have grommets in any other size and I was having trouble picturing just how big they'd be.) The second is a size 00 grommet from corsetmaking.com and the third a size 0 from Amazon

Dfr still says that the difference is whether they're one or two piece, but if the whole row on the top is eyelets, the pieces can't be the distinguishing factor, right?
The tools are different. Grommeting tools are usually pretty expensive. The size 0 ones I got on Amazon were less than $10, but that's still more than eyelet tools usually are. The grommeting tools are bigger, and heavy. The ones for the eyelets are light and flimsy-feeling.

ETA: Okay, so it wasn't dfr. Val is the one who said the difference was 1 vs. 2 pieces.

Boning Types

I've been meaning to get up pictures and an explanation of different boning types ever since I first got the spiral steel a couple weeks ago. I'm definitely liking the spiral steel, particularly for the boning channels at my sides. I haven't used any curved boning channels, so the side-to-side flexibility hasn't been too much of an issue, but with blush dupioni corset, both the duct strapping and the flat spring steel bones at the sides got permanent kinks in them after a bit of wearing. (I can iron them flat again, but it's preferable that they not to that to begin with. I'm also not sure how the bending and unbending will affect the life of the bones.) I used the regular (thinner) flat steel on either side of the grommets, and a thicker white steel bone the next seam over. I might have used the thicker ones for the sides of the boning channels, but I didn't have many of the thicker ones. The lighter weight bones do seem a bit too thin for stabilizing the lacing, but so far it hasn't caused any problems; we'll see if that changes with extensive wear. I didn't use any duct strapping in my denim corset. The duct strapping isn't bad, but is definitely softer and more flexible than steel or cable ties, and more reactive to body heat. It's significantly thinner than the cable ties, though, and also quite easy to sew through. I haven't actually used the plastic meant-to-be-boning boning at all. I got way back, before I did the duct strapping thing.
My preference for corsets is definitely a combination of flat and spiral steel. For other boned bodicies or anything else that needed a bit of extra structure, duct strapping is excellent, though. While it seems too flimsy for corsets, it's easy to cut, doesn't upset my machine to sew through it, and isn't too thick; it's actually very versatile.
Boning Types: Boning types in my possession; the four to the left are plastic, and the four to the right are steel. From left to right: --a heavy duty cable tie (duct tie? the 15" 120lb kind.) (from the hardware store) --perforated duct strapping (it only comes with the little holes, I use a revolving hole punch to cut them bigger so that I can use the duct strapping to stabilize eyelet) (from the hardware store) --duct strapping, cut lengthwise --plastic boning (I think it was from Joann) --1/4-inch spiral steel from corsetmaking.com --1/4-inch white steel boning from corsetmaking.com --"extra-thick" 1/4-inch white steel boning from corsetmaking.com (no, your eyes aren't deceiving you, it really is wider than the other1/4 inch stuff, my ruler says 5/16ths of an inch) and --1/2-inch white steel boning from voguefabricstore.comBoning Types: Boning types in my possession; the four to the left are plastic, and the four to the right are steel.
From left to right:
--a heavy duty cable tie (duct tie? the 15" 120lb kind.) (from the hardware store)
--perforated duct strapping (it only comes with the little holes, I use a revolving hole punch to cut them bigger so that I can use the duct strapping to stabilize eyelet) (from the hardware store)
--duct strapping, cut lengthwise
--plastic boning (I think it was from Joann)
--1/4-inch spiral steel from corsetmaking.com
--1/4-inch white steel boning from corsetmaking.com
--"extra-thick" 1/4-inch white steel boning from corsetmaking.com (no, your eyes aren't deceiving you, it really is wider than the other1/4 inch stuff, my ruler says 5/16ths of an inch) and
--1/2-inch white steel boning from voguefabricstore.com
Boning Types  -- Thickness: Left to right, that's the plastic duct strapping, plastic boning from Joann, extra-thick "1/4inch" (actually 5/16ths of an inch) wide white steel boning from corsetmaking.com, a cable tie, regular 1/4" white steel boning (which actually is 1/4 inch wide) from corsetmaking.com, and spiral steel boning from corsetmaking.com. Unless you count the thickness of the casing of the plastic stuff from Joann, the cable tie is definitely the thickest.  The extra-thick spring steel isn't too far behind, but is much, much sturdier.  The spring steel is actually thinner than it looks in this picture.   I had trouble getting a good side-view photo.Boning Types -- Thickness: Left to right, that's the plastic duct strapping, plastic boning from Joann, extra-thick "1/4inch" (actually 5/16ths of an inch) wide white steel boning from corsetmaking.com, a cable tie, regular 1/4" white steel boning (which actually is 1/4 inch wide) from corsetmaking.com, and spiral steel boning from corsetmaking.com. Unless you count the thickness of the casing of the plastic stuff from Joann, the cable tie is definitely the thickest. The extra-thick spring steel isn't too far behind, but is much, much sturdier. The spring steel is actually thinner than it looks in this picture. I had trouble getting a good side-view photo.

My Denim Corset May Be Done

Denim Corset -- Done?Denim Corset -- Done? Denim Corset BackDenim Corset Back Denim Corset InsideDenim Corset Inside Alrighty, before dfr's head explodes, I'll put up some more pictures. I think it may be done. I haven't flossed the tops of the bones, but I'm not sure if I want to. I used the narrow flower trim at the top edge, so flossing at the top might look a bit off.
It still has a few loose threads, mostly from ripped out stitching lines. Getting rid of all the thread after undoing a seam is really time consuming! The unpicking itself is fast, and really doesn't bother me; unpicking seams and changing them a bit is just a part of sewing. But getting all the bits of thread off? Annoying!
I took dfr's advice and removed the boning from the seams that go right over my bust, moving the boning channels to either side instead. I'd actually already created an extra boning channel just to the outside of those seams, and the other one I added to what's actually the facing around the front, so that's plenty sturdy.
The corset is quite comfortable, even with the extra waist reduction! There's something disorienting about putting it on and placing it correctly-- the waist tape is placed correctly, I just put it on a bit too high up when I tried it on before-- that's also why the upper edge was too high. I've mentioned before that my natural waist isn't the part of my torso that's naturally the narrowest; corseted, the circumference around the bottom of my rib cage is actually narrower than my true waist. And once the laces are tightened, it's almost impossible to deliberately pull it up or down. So I have to fight the natural inclination to place the narrowest part of the corset (the waist) at the narrowest part of my uncorseted torso (the bottom of my rib cage.)
So, the fit is pretty good, wrinkling is minimal, it's comfortable, and manages some waist reduction! I'm pretty happy with this one. It's either done, or done-except-for-a-couple-of-details. I'm wearing it, anyways.

This was the first corset I've used real grommets for. I haven't ordered from GrommetMart yet, and grommeting tools are generally quite a bit more expensive than eyelet tools. But then I found theLord & Hodge Size 0 Grommet Kit on Amazon. They didn't have a size 00, the 0 was the smallest they had, so I went with that, since it was so much cheaper than any of the other grommet kits I'd seen. I'll have to get size 00 tools eventually, but size 0 is even what Sydney Eileen uses, so it can't be totally wrong, can it? So I've finally used two-piece roll-and-not-split grommets.

More Progress on My Denim Corset -- Bottom Edge Bound

Denim Corset -- More ProgressDenim Corset -- More Progress 25 Inches!: And I got another inch of reduction!25 Inches!: I got another inch of reduction!
I've gotten the bottom edge bound, and most of the flossing on the bottom. I think I'll have to lower the edge under my arms a bit, it feels too high. And the bottom edge pulls apart a bit. But the fit is a definate improvement, and there's not too much in the way of wrinkling. And I can get my waist down to 25 inches! I still have a bit of a gap in the back, too. It feels like I might have placed the waist tape a bit too high; it feels like it's putting pressure on my floating ribs, and I'd meant it to be just below that, I'm not sure exactly how I screwed that up.
It's using mostly 1/4" spiral steels, with flat steels on either site of the grommets in the back, and a couple of cable ties in the back, too; I'm low on flat steels. I'm pretty happy with the progress, though!
The top edge pulls apart, too. I might actually just cut a centimeter or so off the top all around, or almost all around, rather than only lowering the sides under my arms, perhaps it just comes up too high in the front.
There might even be a coutil version in the near-ish future.

Denim Corset In Progress

Denim Corset Inside -- In ProgressDenim Corset Inside -- In ProgressDenim Corset -- In ProgressDenim Corset -- In Progress Denim Corset -- In Progress -- Embellishment OptionsDenim Corset -- In Progress -- Embellishment Options
When dfr completed her denim mid-Victorian corset, I realized that that too-tightly-woven-to-make-good-jeans denim in my stash was destined to be a corset. So, I've been working on an updated version of the corset pattern I drafted using the Foundations Revealed instructions, and dfr has, of course, been complaining about my lack of in-progress pictures. So finally, here are some progress pictures! I'm using mostly spiral steels, which I like so far. Flat steels on either side of the lacing, of course, and a few cable ties in the back, probably. I am somewhat worried that the spiral steels might be less supportive for my back. This is the first corset I've made using real grommets, and not using duct strapping in the back to stabilize the lacing; just the flat steels on either side. I'm using size 0 grommets (which I found, along with size 0 grommeting tools, on amazon.com for pretty cheap. For some reason size 00 grommets and grommeting tools are harder to find, and the tools are more expensive.)
So far I'm using some double-faced satin ribbon from a mystery box as the lacing. The regular corset lacing I have seemed too narrow. The satin ribbon is too thick to be practical with eyelets, but seems to work quite well with the size 0 grommets.
I'm mostly just boning along the seam allowances, plus a few added denim inserts that function as boning channels too. And as you can see, lining it with the cherry-print broadcloth. I'm trying to do most of the flossing before actually installing the lining all the way, so that the inside will (hopefully) look neater.
I'm thinking of doing some contrasting topstitching, but I haven't decided on a color, and I might not. Of course, I also haven't decided exactly what I want to do so far as embellishments. This last picture shows most of the options I'm considering; lace, trims and appliques from mystery bundles. But of course, I haven't made up my mind. I'll probably put up a few more in-progress pictures as I experiment with the different options.
And one more thing I haven't decided on is the binding. The denim I used is really too thick to be practical as a binding, so I still have to figure out what the heck will work and not look goofy. Serging the edge and then using lace as a sort-binding may be possible. Or some kind of contrast bias binding, although I have no idea what. Maybe purple cotton.. but I'm not sure that would look right.

And on With the Gore-Talk

Gore Front CloseupGore Front Closeup
Gore Back CloseupGore Back Closeup: Please excuse the messiness, it's just a test-gore.

As I consider Gloria's small-dart suggestion in response to my last post about gores and gussets, I've realized that creating a tiny (5mm) dart is exactly what those Foundations Revealed instructions say to do; they just don't specifically say that this process creates a tiny dart. The way I'd been imagining it, that dart would have been impossible, especially with the expectation of making the edge into which I insert the gore wrinkle-free. But since nobody seems to ever really insert a gore into a panel without some decorative embroidery at the point, I'm thinking that that dart is how it's done, and it's the combination of embroidery and coercive ironing that makes it not look like there's a wrinkle.
Furthermore, look at these pictures. See how --especially at the bottom-- the fabric of the gore is being pulled outward, creating a rounded shape and putting it on level with the panel into which it's sewn? The physical impossibility of sewing the gore, right sides together, to the panel, and then having the whole of the gore completely to the inside of that panel is responsible for creating that shaping.

Further complicating the subject of gore-vs-gusset is the fact that the What is a gusset? Fashion-Incubator entry mentions two opposing opinions on the definition of gusset, and speaks as though it could be entirely possible that neither one is outright wrong. As Kathleen Fasanella is generally quite vocal about her belief that there are wrong ways of doing things, this leave me with the impression that there could be multiple, opposing definitions without one of them necessarily being wrong. Of course, I could be wrong about that, and the topic could be concluded on the F-I private forum, which I'm not a member of. (I've thought about buying her book and applying to join, as she is very knowledgeable. However, I can't imagine myself in manufacturing. Even if I were able to eventually turn sewing into a business [which I'm not sure I could do anyway,] corsetry doesn't seem to generally work in the same way as industrial sewing. She is the definitive authority on how to launch a clothing line, but I don't know if starting a ready-to-wear line and creating custom corsets overlap much. Even when industrial sewing machines are used, real [as opposed to fashion] corsetry isn't actually "industrial" in nature. When she refers to "the industry" that definition seems to fairly specifically exclude anything bespoke. The cornerstone of "industrial sewing" appears to be standardization and uniformity. [Actually, that could probably be said of almost any industry.])

Hey mom, you've been reading all this. Think you can inquire at school about the technical and definitional differences between a gore and a gusset?

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