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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 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.

Silk Panel

Silk PanelSilk Panel Silk Panel Pattern CloseupSilk Panel Pattern Closeup Y'all know that "If Microsoft made cars" joke? Remember the line about accepting that every so often, it'll suddenly stop working and you'll have to close all of the windows and restart the car? The other night when I originally took the pictures of the panel, I was having trouble getting my computer to recognize when I plugged the memory-card-to-USB converter into my USB hub. Dunno what the problem was, but restarting the computer fixed it.

So anyway, here are the full panel and closeup views of the silk border print I've gotten in my last two mystery bundles. (I got a two-panel piece in each bundle. They were labeled as two yards, but each panel is actually about 42 inches, so each piece is about two and a third yards.)

It's definitely heavier than I'd think of for chiffon; I'm not totally sure what it is. Crepe de chine, maybe? Georgette? I don't have swatches of either of those in my fabric dictionary. I'll have to go through more of my old mailers to see what swatches I might have that haven't yet found their way to their respective fabric dictionary entries.

It's not too transparent, but I wouldn't call it opaque either. I do have some trouble gauging the sheerness of fabrics that are neither totally sheer nor totally opaque. Are there any guidelines so far as lighting and such for determine how sheer a fabric is? In the picture you can see the two horizontal lines from the glare off of the picture frame that's behind the panel. It recovers well from being pinned to the wall, too. At first I just pinned the selveges on the side, but it drapes too much not to add a pin in the center. The pin didn't seem to do any damage.

I don't know which way is up. Sense seems to dictate that the stripe would be at the bottom, which is certainly the most practical so far as making it into a garment; the horizontal line would be at the hem.
But it almost looks upside-down, doesn't it? Maybe that's because some of those sets of three wedge-thingies are green, yellow, and pink which gives them a traffic-light look. And the design has a kinda martini-glass shape to it. It's that stem-glass shape with a line sticking out the top. Although turn it upside down, and it looks like hanging lamps. Or suspended citrus wedges. Folding or feather fans? But then those sticks point out the top would bop the user in the face.
Why I'm turning a geometric fabric print into some kind of non-blobby Rorschach test, I'm not sure. It just seems like it needs an explanation.

Well, I'm sending one of the pieces to dfr, so maybe she'll be able to explain it. And figure out what it wants to be. She's the one with decent style/overall look visualization ability. My visualization ability is generally limited to spatial manipulations; rotating and flipping around shapes and such. Somehow things like imagining a fabric as a garment, or what a garment would look like in another fabric never come easily to me. There have been quite a few nice patterns that I never considered just because I wasn't fond of the way they looked in the fabric on the front of the envelope. I may be getting a tad better at that with practice, but my progress there is slow.

Copyright note: I watermark photos I upload because I took the photographs, and because images are so very easily swiped on the internet. I am posting these photos of the physical object (fabric) that I received in a mystery bundle, in order to better describe and comment on said bundle.
Obviously I did not design the fabric or the print, and as such, the copyright for the print does not belong to me. The selvedge identifies the copyright owner as Calamo Silk, Inc., which appears to be a custom silk manufacturing company.
(A word of caution about their site: It's a flash site. The sound can be turned off. As far as I can tell, the same is not true for the scrolling background. And by "scrolling background" I don't mean that it scrolls as you scroll down the page, I mean it continuously scrolls horizontally, right to left, underneath the text and everything. It's a grey-on-black world map, and while it's not initially as obtrusive as the sound, it actually started to make me motion sick after a little while.)

A Silk Chiffon Tunic (Finally!)

Polka-Dotted Chiffon TopPolka-Dotted Chiffon Top Chiffon Tunic NecklineChiffon Tunic Neckline After Dfr's recent success with Butterick 5355 for her silk charmeuse, I decided it would be a good pattern to use for some of my chiffon. I got this caramel-colored polka-dotted chiffon early last year in a chiffon bundle from FabricMart, and it seemed like the best choice to use for my first silk chiffon top since I'm not totally wild about the color. Don't get me wrong, it's certainly wearable, but I have a harder time cutting into fabrics in really beautiful colors.

I used French seams, and narrow hems both for the bottom edges and for the neckline. The pattern includes a sash as well, which I haven't made yet, although I haven't decided if I want to or not. If I feel the need to give it more definition around the waist, I might come up with some kind of belt to wear with it, but I'd go with something thinner than the sash-style belt in the pattern; maybe a chain-type belt. Loose and flowing is what I was aiming for, and shapelessness isn't so much of a worry with such sheer fabric, so that's still up in the air.

Despite being delicate silk, my purpose with this was utilitarian; I needed something good for hot weather, light enough to have plenty of air flow, so that I can have the feel of wearing a tank top or just a corset, without running around feeling like I'm half-naked.

Next time I'll probably try the front piece from the A and B views that has the V-neck, rather than the higher neckline that views C and D have.

Hot Days and Cheap Butter Knives as Pattern Weights

Metal Bar As Pattern WeightMetal Bar As Pattern Weight Cheap butter knives work very well to keep patterns and lightweight fabric from blowing around.Cheap Butter Knives As Pattern Weights It's hotter than heck out, so definitely time to start using some of that chiffon I posted about earlier to make some nice light blouses to go over tank tops and corsets.

Despite the fact that it's in the 90s and I'm melting, it's only June 1st, and I'm still stubbornly trying to avoid turning on the air conditioning.

Have you ever TRIED laying out chiffon on patterns and cutting it out in a room with multiple fans running?

It didn't take long before I was searching the house for the perfect makeshift pattern weights. I have a couple of washers I've used, but they just weren't enough. Then I found this metal bar in my desk. I think it's actually meant to be the bar that holds up hanging file folders, but it makes an excellent pattern weight--I just needed more.

And then I had an "Ah-ha!" moment. What else is flat and metal and long enough that it can hold down a line rather than just a little spot?

Cheap butter knives! Not good butter knives--you don't want the ones with nice thick handles and shaping so that they feel good in your hands--that nice ergonomic design that looks pretty and makes them comfortable will work against you.
You want the cheap kind that you get in the sets from Walmart that cost less than ten dollars for the entire table setting for eight people. The ones that are barely shaped at all and are not really any more than flat metal bars.

Yes, perfect!

Silk Baron!

Silk Baron Scrap Sale OrderSilk Baron Scrap Sale Order Vinyard Haven DupioniVinyard Haven Dupioni Dublin DupioniDublin Dupioni Coppery Violet and Aquamarine DupioniCoppery Violet and Aquamarine Dupioni
I got my order today from the Silk Baron scrap sale. OMG. If I thought I was forgetting to breathe while waiting for it to get here, that was just preparation for actually getting it!

I have never seen anything so beautiful in my life. It makes my heart flutter and my stomach do flips.

I'd never ordered from Silk Baron before, they never really have sales besides the scrap sale, and even that isn't much cheaper than their regular prices. Of course, it's also the only time you can order less than a yard, and I don't necessarily need a yard for it to be the fashion fabric for a corset. And I just never manage to find beautiful dupioni in the kind of colors I want, it just doesn't go on sale. Heck, nowhere else has colors like these! You find a pretty color here and there from other stores, Vogue Fabrics usually has a few, but they're no cheaper, so why bother? So I finally ordered from a scrap sale.

Just.. Look! And it's even better in person. It's shiny and iridescent and.. Wow!

Fine, maybe I'm biased because I have a thing for iridescence in general, it just fascinates me how a fabric can be two colors at once. But.. the sheen! and the depth! and.. and.. there just aren't words!

Some fabrics I pet. This I hold. Fold it, turn it, stare at it in awe!

Chiffon and a Bunny


I've been meaning to upload fabric pics and write some stash posts, in the hopes that it will encourage me to do some of the projects I've been meaning to do. Then I caught the bunny. I'd actually been trying to catch a bunny last year, I'd gotten a live trap and baited it, but didn't manage to trap that one. Then this year I started seeing another tiny bunny, this one with an adorable white spot on its forehead, living under the next-door neighbor's shed. By this time, the trap was no longer set, but had been outside for quite awhile, grown over with weeds and all and generally blended into the surroundings much better. So we set it.  I've approached and talked to this bunny a bit before, so I wasn't a complete shock to it. And I'd had time to observe it. It would never let me get too close, but wouldn't immediately run away, either. I could get close, and then it would move away a bit, and it wasn't until after doing that a few times that it would run under the shed. I was going outside to bait the trap with some bread, and the bunny was already outside. so I kinda eased closer to the bunny, approaching from angles away from the trap, so that when it moved away from me, it moved towards the entrance to the trap. So I actually got the bunny to go right into the trap without baiting it. The trap didn't actually work--probably a combination of rust and the bunny's tiny size-- but since it would have had to come closer to me to get out, I was able to just close the trap myself. I covered the trap with some fabric and talked to it ("it" being the bunny, not the fabric; I'm not sure if the bunny is male or female yet.) and we put the big animal carrier together to put the bunny into. We brought the trap inside and let the bunny out of that and into the carrier. He actually got loose in the kitchen first, but we managed to get him back into the carrier. (Yes, I realize I've started saying "he." It sounds better than "it" even if I don't know if the bunny is a he or a she. And we haven't come up with a name yet.) And so, here's a picture of the bunny in the carrier! I didn't use the flash, because I didn't want to scare him even more, so I used the manor/museum setting and then played with the picture a bit in GIMP to brighten it.



Now, onto the fabric. I've developed quite a stash of chiffon. I'm not totally sure if chiffon counts as "fabric" it almost seems like it should go more in the "trim" category. Several times I've gotten chiffon in mystery bundles, and there was one specific chiffon bundle that FabricMart had for a little while last year, and one time when I ordered it from I actually got it. I intended to use some last year, but then never got to it. I'd really like to do some chiffon over-shirts, big loose sheer tops that I can wear over camisoles or corsets. Ideally I'd like such a top to open in the front, but I'm not sure if that would be too much structure for chiffon. Not all of them are exactly the same texture, though, so perhaps I could pull that off with one of the slightly sturdier and less crepe-y ones. And of course I'd also like to use chiffon in the "normal" way, as an overlay built into a garment. I'm always just so hesitant to use silk, I don't want to ruin it! Using some of a silk that I got a bunch of cheap (like the green shantung) isn't so bad because I have more, and using some for a corset isn't so bad because corsets use so little fashion fabric. But using silk, even increadibly cheap silk, to make a blouse? That's scary!

I'm Declaring the Ivory Corset Done!

I'm Declaring it DoneI'm Declaring it DoneIvory Corset InsideIvory Corset Inside
I know, it doesn't really look different than the last one or the one before that. Or the one before that. After finishing the flowers and the blue top flossing for the boning channels, I felt like it needed something else. So I added little stars in blue and silver, and silver running stitches along the sides of the busk.
The inside doesn't look particularly polished, but it actually is lined, but the lining is Vera Wang canvas rather than something white. And the flossing is of course goes all the way through to the lining. I believe that's how it's supposed to be done, but it does look unpolished that way. Perhaps I just need to work on making the underside of the flossing look decent. Or do less flossing. The pinstripes on that canvas also make straight lines a great deal easier.
I've kept going and going with the flossing because since it's really way too small, especially around the top, I don't know what makes it done. Maybe it's not a completed project at all, but besides the size problem, I rather like it. It's not perfect, but it does look fairly decent, and the general technique is definitely an improvement on my previous corsets. It's a learning experience! Flat fabric, almost no wrinkling.. just way too small!

And So It Continues (or, The Never-Ending Tale of the Ivory Corset)

Ivory Corset -- Getting Even Closer!Ivory Corset -- Getting Even Closer!
..The corset goes ever on and on..

I've finished everything for this corset that I expected to do-- the top and bottom of each bone and of both sides of the busk are flossed, and I've made a modesty panel, although it still needs some improvement. I used a floating modesty panel with grommets at the top, but other than that, it's only attached midway down by a loop of fabric, so at the very least, it needs a few more grommets. I also think that the busk flossing needs more. Definitely a flower on top off the "grass," at least.. it looks unfinished as it is. And I'm still thinking I'd like some flossing along the boning channels, probably a blue star-like design.
And then of course there's the problem of the fact that it doesn't quite fit. Well, it does in that I can wear it, so if that means it fits, then it fits. But it is too small, and the strips of lacing warp a bit, probably because the gap in the back is bigger than it really should be. And I can't tighten it without getting a really bad muffin-top effect. Next one *definitely* gets ease added at least to the top-- I seem to displace more upward than downward. Woah, that might even give the illusion that I actually have a chest!

On a related note, I just learned from Gloria's Blog entry that "muffin top" has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

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!

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