Friday, April 27, 2012

Blundering Through A Corset

Last year for World Steam Expo in Dearborn, MI, my roommate Kimmy and I had wanted to make corsets since we didn't own any at the time. (We have three between us now that we bought online at a place that shall remain nameless because I don't want to give them free advertising. Suffice to say, they're awful.) We bought the materials at JoAnn Fabrics and I got started cutting out the pieces and ironing on the backings. My cat Memphis decided to swallow one of the needles (with string) and almost died, so we put the corset materials away until we could get a sewing machine to make the process quicker and easier. and so that Memphis wouldn't try to kill himself again by swallowing things he shouldn't. (He still does this.) 

So about a year later, in a new apartment with more space and a sewing machine, I pulled out the corset materials and started to work on it again. Corsets are a huge pain in the ass. For starters, the pattern we bought is terrible at giving instructions. It took me hours to figure out that it wanted me to make an outside shell and an inside. The instructions don't actually say to make two pieces, nor do they explain how to assemble the inside piece which is slightly - and importantly - different from the outside piece. 

I haven't actually gotten as far as fully assembling the inner piece because I need to add the boning first. The instructions tell me to use the sewing machine to secure the boning, but it doesn't say how. Or, more correctly, the directions it gives aren't feasible in the real world. Thus, I have determined to hand-sew in all of the boning. This really isn't difficult, it's just very time-consuming. We chose plastic rather than steel boning because it was cheaper, but I am glad now because it is also more flexible. Not usually something you want in a corset's boning, but when assembling, it makes things go a lot more smoothly.

I also think that the back of the pattern told us we need less boning than we actually need should I follow the instructions to the letter. It says I should put boning in at the junctions of all the pieces, which is definitely a good idea for a sturdier corset, but looking at what we bought, I just don't think there is enough. I may just say screw it and use what I have, skipping over a few junctions, or I may send Kimmy back to the store for more boning since this is her corset that I am working on. (I picked hers first because I can more easily fit something on another person than on myself when I don't know what I am doing. This is the first corset, and anything like it, that I have attempted to make.) 

I'm pretty much at the point that I am going to toss the directions into the lake outside my patio. I think the ducks will find it more useful for nest construction than I am finding it for corset assemblage. Hopefully on my next free day I can finish the job, since I got a ton of it done on my previous day off with the help of the sewing machine. I think I stand a pretty good chance of having Kimmy's done before World Steam this  next Memorial weekend, so she may wear it if she chooses. (The pattern is perfect for steampunk.) 

I am undecided on whether I want to tackle another corset, the one I had planned out for myself, any time in the near future. I may give it a year so that the memories of pain and frustration fade, much like the agony of childbirth. (Hey, creation is creation.) I do want an overbust corset again, though, and the two that I have now are both underbust. I guess we'll see how Kimmy's turns out first. Maybe the second one will be easier? (That's what they say about having children, too, and my future sister-in-law has proven that wrong  to me. Argh.)

I will be sure to post pictures when it is all done. Maybe Kimmy will even consent to model it for us. I've decided this corset is both her birthday present and Christmas present this year. It's that annoying. I wish I weren't such a sucker for a challenge. Eh bien.

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