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Corsetry

Construction Completed!

Ivory Corset ConstructedIvory Corset ConstructedOkay, I haven't done the binding or flossing or anything, and I think I"m going to trim it down on the sides a bit.. but the actual construction part of my ivory corset is now completed! ...and it seems to fit! A few wrinkles, but not too many.. I've still got quite a bit of work to go before it's actually finished, and the gap in the back is wide enough and the lacing thin enough that I"ll definitely have to make a modesty panel for it.. but the construction itself--done! It's not perfect, but it is distinctly better than my previous corsets!

More Progress on my Ivory Corset

Ivory Corset -- More ProgressIvory Corset -- More ProgressSo, I'll babble some more about my ivory corset. I've gotten the construction on the right side finished (I think) and am now working on the left side. (That's right and left sides of my body.. looking at the sides from the front, like in the photo, it's reversed.)
It's turning out significantly smaller than my mockup. Some of that may be due to the fact that my mockup was only one layer, but I don't think that accounts for all of the difference. I'll go through and finish construction and check the fit, and then I'll decide if it's a final version or just another mockup.
I decided to try holding the layers together with something that I guess can only be described as a cross between pad-stitching and hand-basting. I'm not sure if there's a more accurate way to describe it.. I'm basically using more-or-less pad-stitching technique to hold everything in place and in shape while I sew the boning channels, then I'll remove it. The blue line of hand-stitching I used as a guide for the straight grain. The innermost layer is the striped Vera Wang canvas, so since I can't see that while doing the stitching from the outside, and stitching from the inside tends to be unpredictable, I decided to hand-sew a guide line.
I've had to re-fix my walking foot several more times, and I'm really wanting a real walking foot machine with needle feed. I've been doing some research on walking foot machines, and I'm getting somewhat confused as to what exactly I'd need. They're generally made for sewing canvas and leather, and while canvas accounts for a great deal of my corsets, there's also the silk layer to worry about. I haven't had much luck googling on what the best type of machine is for corset-making; I don't believe they make any specifically intended for the task, and I'm sure that if they did, they'd probably be crazy expensive. Somehow I doubt I'd be able to find a meant-for-corset-making machine on craigslist!

Ivory Self-Drafted Corset In-Progress

Self-Drafted Ivory Corset ProgressSelf-Drafted Ivory Corset Progress Ivory Corset In ProgressIvory Corset In Progress Herringbone Canvas-y.. stuff: The herringbone stuff I'm using as a middle layer in my newest corset.  It seems to have more give than the Vera Wang canvas, but that could be said of most things.Herringbone Canvas-y.. stuff: The herringbone stuff I'm using as a middle layer in my newest corset. It seems to have more give than the Vera Wang canvas, but that could be said of most things.
Okay, so I've started what may be a "real" version of the corset I drafted from the Foundations Revealed instructions. Since I decided I did want to use the ivory dupioni for the outer layer, I decided to nix the second layer of Vera Wang canvas and use the herringbone canvas-y stuff from a mystery bundle as the middle layer. I'm thinking that next time, I'll definitely fuse the fashion fabric layer to the next layer in, because extra layers to make it much more difficult to get everything to sit right. (I'll have to order some more iron-on bonding web. I've got some, but mostly the tape kind rather than the flat kind.)
It's not turning out bad so far, but not quite *right* either.. I'm getting some diagonal warping along and between the boning channels that bugs the heck out of me. My walking foot is also being slightly unreliable. There seems to be a pin in it that keeps slipping out of place. I can put it back, but it's kinda a pain, and there's dark grease inside that gets all over my fingers when I do, not great for working with ivory silk. I dream of an industrial walking foot machine with needle feed. Perhaps something like this. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

I did order a yard of white English coutil from King and Company on Etsy, although I may not be ready for it yet. It will be nice to see coutil up close, and be able to compare it to what I've been using. I figured there was probably no point in using domestic coutil as an intermediary, given that the canvas I've been using has very little give, and it's hard to imagine that a coutil described as having some give could really have much less than the Vera Wang canvas does. *shrug* But maybe I'll have to eventually get my paws on a bit of that anyway, just to see. I thought about ordering two yards of the English coutil, one white and one black, but despite the fact that King and Company has awesome prices on it, it's still expensive. Besides, it's not like there won't be other orders!

Currently I only have the normal type of awl, rather than the tapered kind recommended by Sydney Eileen in her tutorials on Grommeting by Hand and Inserting a Busk. I've ordered a tapered one, but haven't gotten it yet, so I'm kinda waiting on that to do any hole-poking. I'm not sure how necessary it is for the grommets currently, since I'm still using my stabilizing-the-eyelets-with-duct-strapping method that really does require punching holes, but I'd really like to have a proper corsetry awl before inserting the peg side of the busk. (I may eventually start using real grommets and not doing the duct strapping thing in the back-- grommets are actually not as deep as eyelets, and so I can't actually get grommets all the way through the duct strapping. Yes, I've tried. Although I also don't have grommet tools yet. I'd been kinda hoping that eyelet tools of the same size would work.. but eyelet and grommet sizing are different anyway. That doesn't make complete sense, since apparently the biggest difference between metal eyelets and grommets is whether or not they have washers on the back, but I've also got some eyelets with washers, and the tool to apply them, but they still don't use the same tool as the grommets. Go figure. I'm getting a serious headache on the metal eyelets vs. grommets issue.)

Self-Drafted Corset Mockup

Self-Drafted Corset MockupSelf-Drafted Corset Mockup Self-Drafted Corset Mockup FrontSelf-Drafted Corset Mockup Front Self-Drafted Corset Mockup BackSelf-Drafted Corset Mockup Back Corset Mockup On Me: Alright, fine.  Here's one of the mockup on me, taken in front of the mirror.. As I've already said, it's not as thick or as heavily boned as the finally version will be, but the fit is quite good!Corset Mockup On Me: Alright, fine. Here's one of the mockup on me, taken in front of the mirror.. As I've already said, it's not as thick or as heavily boned as the finally version will be, but the fit really isn't bad! Well, I finished a mockup of my self-drafted corset. Not a wearable mockup, just a pattern test; busks are too expensive for mockups to stay together permanently. I trimmed the busk and lacing bits off of the front and back pieces of the last mockup, so I have straight busk and lacing strips I can sew into place on mockups so I can check fit without having to go through all the inserting of the busk and hammering of eyelets and everything. It also makes it easier to do single-layer mockups which lets me actually (gasp) make adjustments, which is more or less impossible to do once you've sewn together a two-layer corset. I boned it along most of the seam allowances, and then added strips of canvas to the inside to create boning channels. (on a final two-layers-of-canvas version, I'd have just sewn the layers together to create the boning channels) It seems to have turned out the way I wanted it to. The fit is pretty good, everything seems right. The single layer version probably has a bit more give than the final two-layer corset will, but that's really not the end of the world, it's meant to have a lacing gap anyways. I've already cut out two layers of canvas for the final version. I haven't completely decided on the outer fabric yet. I'm thinking that I'll use the red silk from FabricMart. I have some ivory dupioni that's a possibility, but I don't want to have to do the extra layer in between the outside and the canvas, and the darker canvas would show through under the light dupioni. I suppose that might not be too obvious, especially as I *do* tend to wear corsets as undergarments.. and a red corset would show through an awful lot of tops. But I got the red silk for the purpose of making a corset anyways, and I still think it could be beautiful. And of course dark colors don't show dirt as much, which is a serious consideration given that corsets aren't exactly easy to wash! So.. I'm still thinking red silk for this one. I think.

Self-Drafted Corset Mockups

Corset Mockup: The mockup of my newest pattern.  It's still using the front and back pieces from the last version, since I'd already inserted the busk and put in the grommets.  This one extends down lower onto the hips and doesn't come up as high in the front.  It also seems to be a much better fit, although I still have to test it with it's own front and back pieces.  It's only one layer currently.  I realized after the last one that the two-layer corset was pretty impossible to adjust.. so now, one layer mockups it is.Corset Mockup: The mockup of my newest pattern. It's still using the front and back pieces from the last version, since I'd already inserted the busk and put in the grommets. This one extends down lower onto the hips and doesn't come up as high in the front. It also seems to be a much better fit, although I still have to test it with it's own front and back pieces. It's only one layer currently. I realized after the last one that the two-layer corset was pretty impossible to adjust.. so now, one layer mockups it is.
Pieces of the Last Version: The pieces of the last corset, minus front and back, of course.  It was much too flared at the hips.  And being silly and making it two layers, I couldn't adjust it at all.  Oops.Pieces of the Last Version: The pieces of the last corset, minus front and back, of course. It was much too flared at the hips. And being silly and making it two layers, I couldn't adjust it at all. Oops.I've been working on drafting a proper corset pattern according to the instructions on Foundations Revealed. I've had some trouble with the location of my waist-- the fact that my actual waist isn't the narrowest part of my torso gets confusing. So anyway, with the first one I ended up having to lower the waist a bit, and the flair to the hips ended up way too dramatic. The second one seems to be better, although of course I haven't fully tested it yet. The Vera Wang canvas holds up pretty well. There's some fraying around the edges, but not too much considering how much I've been abusing it; mostly it's just the pieces I've been reusing that have any fraying. The threads that are fraying don't pull away too badly either, which is useful.

One little gripe: while a corset certainly does make useful armor against tickling (much to Kris's frustration,) it's also armor against being able to scratch my back!

Corsets as Backbraces and/or Tightlacing

I've been wearing my corset for most of the last couple of days. Not at night, but through most of the day. I have been going for some waist reduction, although what constitutes "tightlacing" seems to be up for debate. Some say any more than 2" of the natural waist is tightlacing, others say 4", others seem to say that it's tightlacing if the intention is to alter the body over a period of time (actual physical changes that progress with extended wear, as opposed to just cinching the waist a while wearing it.) Elaina mentioned in chat one evening that she "technically" tightlaces, because she has a 5" reduction, but it sounded as though she doesn't actually feel as though she's a tightlacer. That makes sense, since she has been wearing them for a very long time, and started wearing them as an adolescent, specifically as an alternative to a back brace. Since my natural waist is quite undefined, the idea that I'd want to reduce it at least a bit seems like a foregone conclusion; if I'm going to be wearing a corset, why continue to have a waist measurement that's barely smaller than my bust measurement? Another part of that one is that wearing a corset without lacing it tightly seems like a half-measure. After all, anyone can make a fashion corset, the real test is whether you can make a functional corset. To say "this corset isn't meant for tightlacing," unless it's a corset from a time period in which corsets weren't intended for waist reduction at all, usually translates to "because it's not particularly well-made."
The last part of this particular equation is that it's gotta be fairly tight if it's going to be a back support. I have mild scoliosis that causes some back pain (I think that's what causes it, anyway, and it's not usually too much unless I sneeze while lying down, which tends to hurt a lot,) and so how would it straighten my back if it weren't tight? It actually does seem to be improving my back; I've not noticed my back hurting much during the past few days. Whether that's because of actual improvements, or because I'm distracted by soreness in my abdomen, I'm not completely sure. The soreness is mainly just in the area of my Xiphoid process, and feels quite distinctly like a sore muscle, so I'm 98% sure that it's just my body getting used to a new posture.
The fit of my corset isn't perfect, but it is pretty good. I've discovered that my actual waist isn't where I thought it was; the narrowest part of my torso is an inch or so above my actual, squishable waist. I think the front of my corset is also a tad too long. These are quite minor issues, and while I'll certainly correct for them on my next corset, they don't really cause significant discomfort with the current one.
I'd been reading about how a properly fitting corset, even tightly laced, should not restrict breathing, which became a bit confusing to me, as obviously in a corset, the abdomen can't expand as it can otherwise. However, after asking in the PR chat about how normal people breathe (granted, there aren't actually normal people in the PR chat, but being abnormal and breathing like a normal person are not mutually exclusive) it seems that most people breathe more from the chest than from the diaphragm. Having been a wind player, I was not in the habit of breathing like a normal person. As far as I can tell from online research, my corset as I've been wearing it causes no more breathing restrictions than the back braces/medical corsets that are actually designed for the treatment of scoliosis, so it's not actually problematic, it just takes a bit of getting used to.
I have had some trouble finding relevant information on modern tightlacing. Most of the information available is either Victorian or bondage-related, neither of which is overly detailed on comfort or mobility. I would really think there would be more blogs on the topic. As with most corset-related topics, it seems like almost all of the relevant information is in the CorsetMakers LiveJournal group. Perhaps this shouldn't be surprising, as it does seem to be the place where corset enthusiasts congregate. (Besides the small group of us on PR, of course.)
I still do have to admit, though, that despite the benefits as a back brace.. the real reason I want to tightlace is just because making corsets not intended for tightlacing just doesn't seem obsessive enough for me. That's kinda silly, huh?

New Busks

Busks: My three new busksBusks: My three new busks The three new busks I just received from King andCompany on Etsy. I'd heard about the shop while reading through the CorsetMakers group on LiveJournal. I'm quite happy with them. They're exactly what I expected them to be-- sturdier than the standard busks sold at places like Vogue Fabrics and Corsetmaking.com, the shape of the opening on the loop side is also altered slightly, which is supposed to help make it less likely to accidentally come unhooked, and the bottom two loops are spaced closer together than the others, which is apparently more historically accurate. And they're cheaper, too, by a couple dollars apiece, plus cheaper shipping!
I'd actually been putting off making an Etsy account for quite awhile, because the name Maggiedoll was already taken (as it is quite a few places) and I'm really bad at coming up with new names! But after finishing my last corset, I needed busks, and there was nowhere else nearly as good to get them from, so I bit the bullet and made a non-Maggiedoll account.

Silverado Corset on Me!

Silverado on Me: Picture of my Silverado corset on me.  I used the "self portrait" function on my camera, which I believe is intended to be held out in front of you and snapped blindly.  That's what I did, except that I did it in front of a mirror, so that I could see the viewfinder in the mirror and have some idea of what I was getting!  It was still quite difficult.Silverado on Me: Picture of my Silverado corset on me. I used the "self portrait" function on my camera, which I believe is intended to be held out in front of you and snapped blindly. That's what I did, except that I did it in front of a mirror, so that I could see the viewfinder in the mirror and have some idea of what I was getting! It was still quite difficult.

Here's one of my finished Silverado corset on me. Besides the puckering at the bottom (and the fact that I apparently overestimated the size of my hips.. or probably more accurately, overestimated how quickly they curve. The widest part of my hips is at a lower point than I keep thinking it is. This has really caused me a lot of fitting problems in a variety of different projects.) it actually seems to look better on me than on a pillow! I suppose that shouldn't be surprising, given that I did create it to be worn by me, and not by a pillow. I probably should have used darker thread for the flossing, I don't feel like it's quite visible enough.

My Silverado Corset is Finished!

Silverado Finished!: Finished Silverado corset, picture taken with the flash.  It looks better this way, but is difficult to see the flossing.Silverado Finished!: Finished Silverado corset, picture taken with the flash. It looks better this way, but is difficult to see the flossing.

Silverado Finished! 2: The finished Silverado corset, taken with my camera's "manor/museum" setting.  This setting makes the wrinkles look much more obvious, but it shows the colors a bit better, and makes the flossing more visible. *sigh*  It does look less glamorous like that, though.Silverado Finished! 2: The finished Silverado corset, taken with my camera's "manor/museum" setting. This setting makes the wrinkles look much more obvious, but it shows the colors a bit better, and makes the flossing more visible. *sigh* It does look less glamorous like that, though.

My LM100 Silverado corset is finally finished! While it's imperfect in about a zillion ways, and there are a ton of things I'll do differently on the next one, this if the first corset I've actually finished and considered "worthy" of a busk. I should have considered the boning more carefully, used more boning in the front panels, taken the flossing into account while cutting the plastic bones, and thought out the binding more thoroughly. I also should have thought ahead of time and used a light-colored canvas layer rather than olive-green canvas with muslin sandwiched between the canvas and dupioni. BUT, for all that, it's a finished, flossed corset that's not half bad if I do say so myself! Not only that, but all of it is stash fabric, and so with all 4 layers taken into account, it's two yards for the stash contest!

Laughing Moon 100 Bound

Laughing Moon 100 BoundLaughing Moon 100 Bound
More progress on LM100. I used foldover elastic as the binding. This may not have been ideal, but I had some in light-ish purple, and I had matching thread for the flossing, so I used it. I've only just started the flossing, but I figured I may as well put up another update, since besides the flossing, it is more or less done. Not perfect, but the fabric couldn't have handled too much more seam-ripping and re-sewing, so I'll give it some details and wear it. The flossing is actually more visible than it looks in the picture... and it matches the binding better!

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