Sunday, January 30, 2011

18th Century Stays - Take One


Well....turns out that making this one size smaller wasn't small enough to get the cinched in look I like.  The next time will require me to make a bit of cusom alterations to whittle my waist more, at least another 1.5 inches smaller, the goal is 26", but if I cut the pattern size for that goal of a waist size the bust will be unwearable.  I hate having to do the scaling to fit, but now I wonder if I should build a dress around this corset or just give it to a friend.

I will have to make some adjustments to one armpit as well but that should involve only some hand stiching.  All in all I'm not displeased for a first attempt.  Although the next one may just have a zipper in the front (saw this today at the GBACG open house and it was BRILLIANT!).  As long as it looks period overall I'm not above some costuming tricks for comfort and easy access.

I may also use a metal busk next time, just to get the ramrod straight front piece.  I think I will do another one of these for a pirate to be worn out rather than hidden.  This could not have been possible without the grommet press...way better than hammering in all those puppies....and these projects eat up so many grommets, I thought by buying a gross (144) at a time I'd be ahead....not a chance...

I seriously need some sun on my arms....ach....
and a whole lot of tricep curls....ach again....

01/01/11 The two sides are almost done.  I misjudged the amount of bias tape I needed and ran out.  Of course nobody has any of that colour in stock so I am left with special ordering it.  Twice as expensive but it will come to the house and I can save a gallon of gas.  Now I have to decide what to do about the grommets/eyelets.  Will post photos soon.

This was a test run with the heavy duty boning and multiple layers of fabric on my super cheapie machine -- whoo hoo! seems to work.  Machine sewed through all the layers and didn't explode.

Step one -- all the pieces sewn together, you can see the poor fit/match of the pattern on the sides.....bla.  This is with the back side in the center.

Sewed and boned.

With the hand applied bias tape that I then ran out of.

This is the front which didn't turn out too badly in terms of having things match.


After spending more than two hours marking my pattern pieces with a special marker that disappears when water is spritzed on it I realized that apparently the purple markings decided to evaporate into thin air! What??!!  Only to be horrified later that when I remarked everything now the marks don't really want to come off at all.  Good thing this is a test garment and it is worn UNDER clothing because I'm ticked off now.  Not really sure why this is all happening.  Please feel free to share why my water soluble marker is evaporating into thin air then becoming somewhat permanent after I do a second application (even thought the first is gone).

I have half the corset boned.  The heavy duty zip ties are working well.  I borrowed the candle idea to sear the ends, i snip them into a "u" shape then heat them to soften any hard points.  Seems to work.  It all seems that one package (15/36" zip ties) will work out just fine. 


Day one of the project and I'm already thinking that maybe I should just save for a year or two and buy one....but I trudge on.

* Washed and dried the canvas.  Turns out it is some sort of extraterrestrial material and required some serious ironing which really didn't get all the dents out but will work well enough.
*  I completely regret my fashion fabric choice.  Spent way too much time trying to get the front and rear to look good (forget matching up). I cut the sides completely randomly.  I should have gone with a yard of cheap Dupioni.
*  The pattern seems to be missing marking s which almost doesn't matter since several reviews have stated that one should consider boning the pattern altogether differently.  The blogs also suggest cutting it one size smaller if you want it to cinch.
*  I noticed that the lacing holes are not for spiral lacings which is period correct.
*  I am (gasp) not making a mock-up this time.  I'm just going to wing it and see how it turns out.  The investment is not large at this point -- $20 worth of fabric and pattern.
*  Since this is a first run I did not spend the money on spring steel boning.  For $7.99 at Lowes I found a package of 15 - 36" heavy duty zip ties.  So that is eight bucks for fifteen yards of boning.  I'll invest in the good stuff if this is worth repeating.

The evil fabrics...

...Butterick Patterns of History.....maybe next time I'll get the J.P. Ryan pattern.

Day two of the project resulted in all the pieces being cut out and basted to the canvas.  I was worried that my cheap machine wouldn't sew through all the layers but doing a test bit found the results to be satisfactory.  I also test sewed some channels and treaded the boning through them.  Again, it looks like it will work ok for this first attempt.

I decided that I will add more bones to the pattern.  Reading various reviews it was suggested not to bone every horizontal channel because you get an odd rolling to the bodice.  I will probably add a channel or two and then do every other one.

Update: apparently I bought a two pack of marking pens -- one water disappearing ink the other air....guess which one I used and ended up with the headache above....bla!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Steampunk -- A First Attempt

01/23/11  SUCCESS!

I can not explain what an amazing evening the Edwardian Ball was a feast for the eyes at every turn.  The sheer volume of creativity was astounding.  Everything was just amazing!

I added to the Steampunk feel a few things:

- very delicate silk crochet gloves
- walking stick (world market find--it was broken so I got a great deal then screwed in a draw pull as a finial)
- a glass locket with a curl of hair hung from black ribbon (home made mourning jewelery--don't worry nobody died)
- a course silver rope necklace with a keyhole locket (from Michaels)
- a single "white out" contact to give a macabre look to the whole thing.

The evening got very warm so eventually I removed my jacket.  I was very tightly laced into my Vollers corset so there was an abundance of cleavage -- but the setting was appropriate for such a display.  I would not display such cleavage at a historically correct period function.  Here are some pictures with some other of the costume goers.

Getting ready to leave this shot shows the back bustle which although draped differently than my original plan still came out well enough.  I was bothered that my hair-piece didn't look so great because I did not pomade my hair, but then again it was dark most of the evening so that was a detail that most likely wasn't too glaring.

01/22/11  Tonight is the is the website if anyone is interested:           
The outfit has come out well, right now I don't have photos of the finished project but will have those after the fact.  Historically it is a disaster....a little bit of this and a little bit of that, a mishmash of 1880s - 1910.  But Steampunk doesn't have to be correct.  Getting the bustle right was a bit of a challenge and I'm not sure I really am thrilled about the finished is different that the photos above...closer to the body with both soft and angular edges.  I did like the boned gusset at the bottom.  It definitely has a Cirque feel to it.  Photos will be updated soon. 

December 2010:
Going to the SF Edwardian Ball at the end of January, 2011, I wanted something darker to wear. I went years ago with a mock late 1890's ballgown which was just too cheery and bright.  This year I decided not to recreate anything authentic but rather do something with a Steampunk/Goth kind of feel.

I knew that I would build this around my Vollers corset.  I found a wonderful pair of lace up black "high button" looking boots, and fab stripped fabric.  Sadly the suit I thought I'd sew wasn't meant to be because the bolt of fabric only had three yards.  This was a stripped fabric with a black herringbone weave background and brown velvet stripes.  It was a bit stiff but not too much so that I couldn't get some drape out of it.

I built the skirt from a contemporary evening skirt pattern.  To get the inset to flare stiffly (and not in any way period correctly) I ran covered boning along the bottom.  I then draped the over skirt and bustle.  The pics are all in a pinned stage, we'll see what the final looks like.

The short jacket was a find on Ebay.  It had some plain see-it-everywhere trim on it which I cut off and replaced with this wonderful upholstery fringe that has a great period look.  Now all I have to do is get everything sewn in place.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Jane Austin Here I Come -- Regency Short Stays

I already loath this project with a passion.  I have screwed up so many times I'm wondering if it is an omen.  Normally I don't have so many projects going on at once but this one didn't seem so hard.  I'm using a discontinued Simplicity pattern (love Ebay).

What I have discovered is that apparently I am a bit top heavy to get that really nice Regency look.  The goal is a refined Regency look not Regency strumpet.  I fit the canvas only to realize that even with the "D" bust gussets I am spilling out all over the place -- not good.  Good if I was trying to be Pamela Anderson but not good  if one is trying to emulate a lady like character from an early 19th century romance novel.  I am going to finish this project from hell but most likely I will need to sew long stays to get the look,  line, and support I want.  The short stays will have a number of modifications:

* As suggested in other blogs I am not sewing the arm straps to the front part of the stay.  I will use grommets and tighten and loosen as necessary.
* I will add boning to the front and sides, possibly back of stay to help hold the girls up.
* I will need to shorten the straps as I'm short in the upper body/torso and at the same time probably taper them in the front.

UPDATE:  01/09 -- I truly hate this project.  This should have been a no-brainer project.  I shortened the straps, added boning...all super easy.  Then realized that like the 18th century stays I should have made these at least a size smaller.  The dry run fittings seemed to go was just after I completely finished the things (minus the grommets) did I realize that this was just too big around the ribcage.  Stays are supposed to be drawn tightly or at least snug.  This was true to my regular measurements and instead of closing with at least an inch (should be more) space between the two ends, it fit end to end.  I could have scrapped this and started again but didn't.  Instead I cut the back in half, overlapped the center canvas and stitched it on the machine then started piecing everything together.  UGLY UGLY UGLY, but then again no one will see this and I will put together a better set in the future.

On the upside it took me 25 minutes or so to put together a chemise to use.  I opted for a sleeveless version so I could also use it for the 18th century stays and just be cooler under a costume while dancing.