I’ve been avoiding writing this post for about two weeks. Why am I so anxious about it? Maybe because the end result was yet another failure. Or at least, it doesn’t fit the way I wanted it to. I seem to have some kind of magical body that changes size without changing. I can take my measurements, make the corset to those measurements that same day, and still not have it fit. I retake my measurements, they haven’t changed. I double check the measurements on the pattern. Nope, those didn’t change either. But the accursed thing does not fit. And is it a matter of being too small? Did I fudge on my measurements out of vanity? No. They are too big. How on earth can I possibly make 4 corsets in a row that are all too big? Crikeys! I have put on weight since I began my corset making adventures, and now the bigger corsets fit a little bit better, but they have other issues, too. Let’s go through each of the corsets I have made in the last two months. All selfies were taken this morning (yes, I apparently make grumpy faces when I am focusing or concentrating -- I really wasn't in a bad mood). Please forgive the mess visible in the mirror. I'm still in the process of reorganizing the room. I'm also trying out the gallery feature of this blog. I believe that if you click on a thumbnail it will open the whole picture.
Corset 1: This was my first attempt at a Victorian style corset, before I started blogging. It is made of duck canvas and brocade. I stitched the seam allowances of the duck into bone casings, except for the one set of bones on the inside of the grommet line. I think it is beautiful. This one needs more hip spring, I think. If I lace it all the way down to a comfort level on my waist, it rides up and I have to keep tugging it down. I think this is because the hips are a bit small and so they ride up in search of a bit more room, but then it starts making my ribs uncomfortable. Perhaps I am lacing it too tightly, but I am only striving for the same tightness that I tie my bathrobe. Also, at the end of the day that I wore it all day long I discovered that one of the bones in the back had popped through the fabric. And thus I learned the value of flossing (which I haven’t tried yet) and using a strength fabric for the casings rather than brocade.
Corset 2: I really like the looks of this one, too. I had fun working with the brocade, but I didn’t use it as a strength layer this time. I flat lined a second layer of duck with it, instead, and stitched the casings between the two layers of duck. This time I tried making an overbust, since I was still all new to all this and I thought that was a good idea. This one has many of the same problems as the first one, but I added more. I had wanted a nice long corset, and this ended up a bit too long, with a 14” busk. This was also my first try at a busk. The busk I used doesn’t like the bulk of the duck and can be difficult to fasten up. I thought the bust was supposed to curve back over the top of the breasts, so after finagling my saggy ex-nursing boobs into something resembling a decent position that wasn’t in my lap, I curved the pattern back up and over them. This resulted in its cutting into my armpit when I sit down. I don’t think I will try an overbust again for a while.
Corset 3: Since I can’t seem to manage to fit a corset that has anything to do with my bust, I went for an underbust. By now I had run out of my stash of duck and made this one up in a nice olive colored twill. It is the same fabric I successfully made into an Elizabethan corset for my teenager at Halloween (which she wore with a bustle skirt for a Victorian/Steampunk look and originally sent me down this rabbit hole). This corset is very lovely, but it is WAY too big. As in, I took in an entire panel on each side and it still had no gap at the back. Good grief! In the pictures you might be able to see where I just folded in an entire panel and stitched it up. This was my second try at a busk, and I like using the twill much better than the duck. Trying it on again today, I got a bit of a gap at the back, evidence that eating chocolate chips by the bagful is not that great for the waistline. Maybe once in a while I can get away with it, but not twice a week.
Corset 4: This is the one I was documenting on this blog last month. I finished it, and tried it on and was mortified that again, it is too big. No gap. Plenty of room to squish in more. It feels comfy, without digging into my armpits. The length is excellent. I just want it tighter. It gives me no tummy control at all and no shape, either. And I do not want to grow into it.
So there we go. Four corsets that don’t fit well. Time to try the next thing. Yes, I’ve already started it, but I want to dedicate a post to it rather than stuffing a work-in-progress in this post.
I have now finished binding the bottom and both sides while watching the first two episodes of Downton Abbey. I have also gotten in as many zip ties as I can. I don’t have quite enough of the good thick ones, so I ordered more and will be able to finish it when they arrive in a few days. It doesn’t sound like much, and certainly doesn’t take long to write about, but it was time consuming. Trimming up 100 or so zip ties takes time. I expect to be able to finish this week.
I preserved the wider casings for the larger ties at the edge of each tab, along the center back on either side of the grommets, and four channels down the center front. These are the locations I want the most strength. The rest got ripped out and replaced with smaller channels at ¼” wide. These channels were easier to stitch, since I could just use the edge of my presser foot for a width guide. The 3/8” channels needed to be marked out and every line drawn. There are now a total of approximately 124 channels (62 in one half, and I assume the same number on the other side), compared to the original 96. My channels are not all perfectly straight or perfectly even, with gaps between some of them where they didn't line up quite right. Also, I remembered to backstitch at the beginning and end of each line this time.
I then began to add the binding. I am using the binding itself as a casing as well whenever possible, and extending the bones down into the binding as well, and as I mentioned before, I really struggled with puzzling this process out. Now that I have my new boning channels, I have worked it out and I like the results. It is tedious, to be sure, but I think it is worth it. I am using ½” double fold bias tape and stitching the binding along the channel edge, but not along the bottom. When I reach the bottom, I pin the binding in place, encasing both layers, and stitch perpendicular to the binding, along the already stitched channel edge. For the points of the tabs, I run the binding up the edge to the point and stitch it along the channel edge. Bear in mind I am using the binding as a boning channel. I can’t stitch through the channels. When I get to the top of the point, I stop stitching and ease the tape around the point. I have to sort of stuff it up there, else the natural tendency is to have it fold outward to accommodate the width of the gap, so it looks like a little triangle set point side up at the top of the binding. Instead, I want to coax it *around* the point. I then resume stitching down the opposite side. This allows me to extend the bones all the way across the tabs. I got the first two tabs bound today.