Saturday, October 18, 2008

All tied up

It is finished. The corset is done, and I couldn't be happier. My fingers are tired and exhausted and a little bloody and bruised, but it is done.

It took several days to do the handwork on the corset.

I had to finish the eyelet holes in silk buttonhole twist (which was from a stash of vintage sewing goods and was about 120 years old.

Then I had to pin in the lining, and start binding the thing at the top and bottom edges. I had originally planned to use leather for the binding, but couldn't get the needle to get through, so I fell back on cotton.

It took me four days of hand sewing and pinning to get the bindings all done. I thought that it would never be finished. But it is, and I tried it on for the first time tonight, without lacing in too tightly for fear that a bone might snap. But I was lucky, and they all seemed to hold. I laced in over my chemise, and I was pleased that the look was very authentic. It was stiffer than any other corset I had worn, and I could definitely feel the "cone" shape that it was wanting to push my body into. It also seemed to push my shoulders and upper back forwards, which was something that I was not expecting.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What I'm bound to do...

What the heck have I been doing with myself?

Honestly? I've been incredibly busy, just not with making as much stuff as I would like.

I have however been growing stuff (which I will share some images of).

Just recently I have gotten a fire in my belly again for the making, and thus I am back with posting to the blog. My latest project is a pair of 18th century stays using the JP Ryan strapless stays pattern.

I decided that it was time to have something to wear in my historical reenactment events that was a bit nicer than my leather jumps, and so wanted a pair of custom made stays, (corset) but was unwilling to pay the $300 and up to have them done. So as a challenge, I am making them myself.

I started on Saturday, October 11, and here is what I got done:

1. -Cut, sewed and fit the fitting muslin (out of muslin of course) which will then be used as the lining
2. -Cut the face and interfacing of the stays out of cotton drill which is a very heavy bodied fabric. (These are meant to be functional, not fancy)
3. -Sewed the face and interfacings together with a contrasting thread (machine stitched) so I could see the work
4. -Sewed up the body of the piece from the sandwiched face/interfacing pieces, once again in contrasting thread, and pressed open

5. -Sewed in the channels for the boning (yeah, machine stitched again, don't kill me, I only have a week to get this done) in a pale gold thread so it will be ever so slightly noticeable.

6. -Then I individual fit the bones into the channels. The channels were sewn to be 1/4 inch plus 1/16 ease to fit a 1/4 inch bone. I sewed all the channels freehand without marks, using only the presser foot as a guide, so it was a gamble if the bones would fit. I wanted to use half round basket reeding as my boning material, as this is fairly period correct. I cut each piece, shaped and sanded the ends, and in some cases, shaped the sides to fit the slightly more narrow edge channels. I ended up fitting in 88 bones to make a fully boned corset. I still have two bones to fit on the very ends outside the lacing eyelets....

The detritus of boning....

7. -I used a hammer and round punch to cut in the eyelets on one side (however after testing by sewing the eyelet, it may be too small and I may have to re-cut with a larger punch). I also turned the back edges over and hand basted the edge prior to punching the eyelets.

-WHEW~! All that in one day! What remains to be done is all the handwork...finishing punching eyelet holes, finishing them, sewing in the lining and binding all the well as checking for final fit and poky bones. I was going to bind in cotton, but I remembered some cream colored lightweight leather that I had laying around, and after consulting "What Clothes Reveal" I saw this was a very common binding material for corsets, and I think it will result in a sturdy finish.

Wish me luck!