yay for old school!

"Like A Spartan God!"
I love my Spartan. I bought it for $50 for Sophie. She sews on it a little; I sew on it a bit more; Ralph sews on it! My 201 being in the shop, and my Kenmore not quite having the balls I need, my littlest guy is working just fine.

Finally - Trimming Stitches!
Do you know what this means? These pinked seam allowances mean I’ve settled on a corset fit. The corset is still slightly too large – lacing relatively tight with only 1″ of gap. However, I’m happy enough with it and besides: making it smaller or lacing it tighter makes it shorter on my torso. Right now, it’s perfect.

Waist Reinforcement
I then stitched the twill tape to the waist as reinforcement. Easy and fun! Some may not like the horizontal stitching lines on the outside of corset – but I like anything that adds texture!

"New" Needles
As long as we’re going retro; I bought needles in the thrift store in Oly yesterday. I broke the seal today (I am a believer in occasionally using useful, well-made, older goods!) and found the perfect needle for invisible-knotting through my stiff corset shell. These needles are Bell brand; ever heard of them?

consumerism at last!

Today I spent a bit of time in the morning taking my corset in – 1/8″ over eight seams. Easy and fun! I talked with my parents downstairs while taking out the erroneous seams. I am just WANTING to keep sewing on it but – I have a family and stuff that also needs me.

Then – the event of the day, a roadtrip to Olympia with my family. We hit Joann’s and then CanvasWorks, my mom stopping at Bayside Quilter’s. Despite fabric temptation that sometimes feels like a once-a-year visit to a whorehouse, I only bought one bit of yardage on impulse (seen below with the lace beading and ribbon for my corset top):

Trip to Joann's!
Will I ever grow out of poison green? Why would I want to?

I will be dyeing the lace beading to a slightly-darker rose pink, I think. I also think I’ll use Dylon but am open to suggestions.

The rest of the shopping focussed on the yardage and notions for my brother’s Portland coat.

Project Billy's Portland Coat!
I am thrilled he actually wants a coat from me; in the past the little grub has tried to talk me out of sewing for him, period. Today he turned into rather an exacting customer regarding fabrics. This was actually great for me; anything worth sewing is worth sewing the way you want it. I am glad he cares enough to participate and I hope he enjoys watching how lengths of fabric become sturdy, well-loved garments.

All that remains to start on the coat are buttons: we found some nice ones at CanvasWorks but ultimately he leaned toward cloth-covered, which I think is a great idea. I’ll have to scout online to find some along with the Dylon and an embroidered cord fabric for a friend sewing for her daughter.

I’m happiest when kept busy sewing, being with family and friends, and writing. And I’m getting enough of all, lately.

Second Fitting!

More corset today. Me happy.

Second Fitting, Here We Come!
This afternoon I assembled the shell of in order to perform a second and final fitting before sewing layers together and adding bones. In this photo you can notice the flat planes of the corset in the middle of the body: that’s where the waist is! The off-white piece in the center is a lining piece, flipped out. Once the shell is assembled and modified (if necessary), any changes are made to the lining pattern as well, the lining is sew together, then layers are basted. I hope to be moving on to basting by tomorrow.

So from here I laced (rabbit-ear style) and put the corset on – with my mom’s help. While eating a hamburger, by the way – and thinking of the scene in Gone With The Wind where Scarlet refuses to eat before putting her dress on in order to fully enjoy the upcoming barbecue at the Wilkes’.

Yeah, whatever. It’s a great book.

Sadly, my stitching lines on the wrong side did not form smooth curves; now while there are no noticeable problems from the outside it still irritates me. I have this hunch that my little Kenmore couldn’t quite drive the needle in and secure the duck well enough – that fabric is quite stiff and strong. Since my Lady 201 is in the shop { sniff! } I will have to try – my Spartan! I have a hunch it will perform better than Sears’ equipment.

OK, I owe it to my three readers to show a picture of my fitting:

Improving My Figure
I absolutely shudder to post a photo of such low quality. But aside from that – you know what? It fits quite well except – it laces shut in the back (instead of the goal 2 inch spread)! Do you know why? Because I sewed it with 1/2″ seam allowances instead of 5/8″. Do the math and you’ll discover eight seams times 1/8″ extra ease = 2″! This means I measured and designed the pattern perfectly for my shape. You know what? That feels very, very cool.

So even though this means I will have to tear out and resew all eight seams I am completely ecstatic that the math works out and I have measured and designed the pattern correctly.

I want to add a few more notes: one, fitting properly means the side seams, upper back, and lower front hem are not too long such that the bones will dig into my body. Perfect. I noticed that for my size I do not seem to have a long or short torso; good to know for future garments.

And – yes, the corset is very comfortable. In fact, it feels amazing on my back.

I’m kind of sad you can’t see my extra-long fly on my jeans, which I bought as work pants for Froghill over a year ago. Mr. Dawson would have been proud.

back to my current favorite project

Busk Before
Corsetry 101 for those unfamiliar: The back of this Victorian corset laces up. The front opens and closes with aid of a busk – sort of like a modern-day bra’s back closure. You sew the busk in, which is what I did today. The front center top of the corset is represented by the safety pins – a tip from the invaluable Laughing Moon DVD.

Stop & Go
After you trace the closure positions on the right-hand side of the corset (marking the wrong side of lining), you stitch and backstitch to leave openings in between the lining and shell. Then turn, press, and topstitch reinforce: you can see I’ve marked with pins where I need to leave an opening for the closures.

Insertion (tee hee!)
Here I’m inserting the right-hand busk side between lining and shell.

Reading For Topstitching
Topstitch busk in place. I did a pretty wonky job. Will do better next time; I need a different zipper foot for this.

"In The Light Of A Clear Blue Morning"...
Busk in place.

Insertion, Part Two
Setting post-side of busk. I’m starting to enjoy punching (or rather, awling) holes in fabric. This was easier than grommet setting (by hand, mallet, and die set) as well.

Giving It My Awl
To drive in awl: here my fingers are positioned on front center seam. Put the awl perpendicular while driving it in for the most exact placement.

Today I also applied shrink tubing to the ends of my laces (aglet and crimper will be bought at a future date) and am ready to sew the shell together for the second fitting. Fun and more fun!

(Flickr tag set on corsetry)