Corsetry Fun :-)

Something else that I made recently which I know I should definitely have photographed but forget to, is a lovely little chemise slip I made for my friend Sophie’s birthday. It’s a lovely thigh length, v necked silk satin slip with black lace trim to the top in a beautiful muted mulberry/grape colour. Sophie had complained that she had a new dress that was short and slightly sheer that she needed a slip for. She hadn’t been able to find a suitable slip for it. And as she’s been such a good friend to me I knew I could easily make one for her. I find it really rewarding making something for somebody that really appreciates your efforts.

This brings me onto my real subject; discussing at work the other day what we were doing for Christmas presents this year. I piped up with the notion that I might make all of mine this year – not exactly a new notion amongst most sewer-bloggers out there but I’ve never really got round to it because of time and motivation. Imagine my horror, when my colleague calls me a ‘cheap skate’ for wanting to make all of my presents… Erm…. ok…. But I would just like to make this point:-

La Perla Maison Lace Trimmed Camisole as featured on Net-A-Porter £335 (Sorry I can’t get this picture much bigger).

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My camisole making abilities as featured here – for a fraction of the price…

Lingerie Collection

So, ‘cheap skate’ that I am (Can you tell how annoyed I am by this label??!!), I am making my friend Kate a corset for her Christmas present! And making corsets aren’t exactly cheap – And I’m only talking materials here and not even including labour! Bespoke corsets can cost in the region of £700 plus… (I’m not claiming that I have that ability, but I’m just stating that that is how much it can cost.) Also, whilst I would like to say how philanthropic I am for making this corset for my friend, I would be remiss if I didn;t say there wasn’t something in it for me – building up a portfolio of work for myself and developing my skills in pattern cutting and corsetry construction. So here begins the journey of Kate’s corset:-

Pattern Cutting a la Handmade by Freya – Pint of water, Catch up TV on Ipad and my trusty Frixion pen and patternmasters….

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Toile number 1: I really like the shape that the corset is giving Kate here. We decided on a sweetheart neckline for Kate. This corset is going to be more of a boudoir corset rather than one to be worn outside over clothes. The corset needed a little bit of taking in at the side seams to lose a little bit of the bagginess there and a little from the bottom front hip side seam. We’ve so far managed to avoid the dreaded over corset bra band bulge – I hope you know what I mean by this!!

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I’ve already taken off 3 to 4″ from her initial measurements for this toile but I can see that she is going to need more, the corset is nearly closed and in fact it wouldn’t have been difficult for me to close the gap when I pulled it closer. Again, a little bagginess at the top needs to be addressed, you can see this on the top right hand corner. Not bad for a first toile though, now back to the drawing board 🙂

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The Victorian Corset – Part 1

How strict are you when it comes to making things? Do you make sure that you are strict about finishing one thing off before starting another? Or do you have many different things on the go at any one time?

I would say I try to fall into the former but end up being in the latter. I really want to get into the habit of finishing things off before moving on because otherwise things tend to get forgotten in a pile and clutter up my flat! I’m trying to be strict about starting anything else before finishing off my quilt, but looking at the quilt makes my sewing motivation evaporate! So I am feeling a little guilty about starting this – but well, does a toile count? So, if you haven’t already realised, I am the queen of excuses – I should have called this blog ‘Procrastinator extraordinaire’!

So here are the finer details – Pattern:  Truly Victorian TV110 – 1880s Late Victorian Corset.

I chose this pattern because it is one of the few corset patterns out there that caters for the larger bust. This is a multi size pattern that goes up to a DD cup. I also wanted an overbust pattern.

I am completely obsessed with corsets at the moment, I cannot stop thinking about all the different designs that I want to make up. I have no real need for lots of corsets as I’m not a part time Burlesque dancer nor do I follow the underwear as outerwear trend. And being a fan of Lingerie Addict on Twitter does not help my corset obsession either! Anyway…

Corset Toiles are pretty quick to make up and are a must. I’ve been reading ‘The Basics of Corset Building” by Linda Sparks and as somebody new to corset making, I have been finding it pretty indispensible.

The book recommends that fitting a corset is a four step process:

1st Fitting: Toile with no bones or busk to check circumference/general fit

2nd Fitting: Toile with bones and no busk to check length and confirm circumference

3rd Fitting: Using your good fabric with bones and busk to confirm the fit is right

4th Fitting: Completed corset

Making up the Toile 

I made up the toile using calico and cut out 1 pair of each pattern piece.

Measurements have to be precise! Corset and lingerie sewing is different to general garment sewing in that there is no room for error on those seam allowances. You have to make sure all your marking are accurate. Each piece needs to be marked with the piece number and if it is the left or right side and make up each half of the corset. My advice for this part of the process is – to go slow and double check everything!! For more advice on Toile Making – check out Julia’s tutorials on Sew Curvy

Because I’m not inserting a busk into the toile, I just sew the front section sewn together using the required seam allowance. You don’t need to put a busk in just to check the fit. However, without a busk, it makes it much harder to put it on.

And if you are wondering why I’ve chosen to put eyelets into the back even though it is a toile,  my intention is to rip that section out at the end and keep it for any future toiles. As per Julia’s great tips!

I absolutely love my Prym punch pliers or whatever they are called! 

My 1st Fitting:

Good news, it fits! Although it’s sort of difficult to tell how well it fits as it is has no bones. It fits over my bust (hoorah!) but it’s quite a low cut pattern and so I will have to extend a little upwards to make it a little bit more modest. And as i’m a 5 foot 10.5 inch girl, I may have to add an extra inch at the bottom.

My 2nd Fitting

I added the bones to assess the fit – I don’t want to sew my bones into the toile but I do need to see what it fits like with the bones in, so in order to do that, I use masking tape to tape the bones to the toile. Another little tip is to cut the bones a little longer and tape the ends up just in case you think you may need to lengthen the corset. Then you can trim and put the caps on when you’re ready to do the final corset.

From the front: I’m quite happy with the front. It looks pretty smooth and it seems long enough at the top and bottom (I had actually added extra to the seam allowance when I cut the pattern pieces originally). There is a little wrinkling under the bust, but I’m hoping this will disappear when I put the busk in.

From the Back: I’m not sure if this is my rubbish self-lacing or if this is a genuine fit issue. I was having issues when I laced myself in! There should be an equal gap from top to bottom. Otherwise I think I will need to let it out at the hips and decrease at the top…

From the Side: Here you can see the side seam is pulling towards the back

I’m pretty happy with it otherwise though, it feels good making a corset…


The Monster Quilt…

And here it is, my first corset! I spent a delightful weekend learning how to make a corset. Ok I know saying ‘delightful’ is probably very old-fashioned of me but there really is no other word to describe it. Lovely surroundings, lovely teacher and lovely people. I’ve been thinking about doing corsetry for a while now as it seemed like a natural progression from my lingerie course. And as luck would have it, I found a course really close to my parent’s house whilst i’m having some time off!

So I signed up and a few weeks later I found myself on a beginner’s corsetry course in lovely Oxfordshire taught by Julia who runs Sew Curvy Corsetry and who blogs over at House of Marmalade. I’d actually bought an underbust corset kit from Sew Curvy earlier in the year but still hadn’t got around to making it up, I’ve been putting it off because I thought it was just too difficult. Well, not only can I report that it isn’t impossible but it’s actually really satisfying and extremely enjoyable. Firstly you hardly use any fabric and secondly – who doesn’t like seeing their waist disappear??

We used an underbust corset pattern that Julia had drafted for us and then we were all given our corset kits – all beautifully wrapped up in pink tissue paper and ribbon with our names on – it felt like my birthday!

I’m really pleased with the finished item – whilst I don’t really have much need for an underbust corset in my wardrobe – I do want to learn how to draft and make my own overbust corset. I already have lots of ideas in my head… My current fabric obsession is sandblasted silk and I am already imagining the possibilities!

I especially love how well the pleated fabric works with the corset design! Not so keen on some of my wonky grommets but I think with practice I’ll get better.

Snapshots of a corset…

Here are some quick pictures of what I’ve been up to recently – corset making!

For my corset, i’ve used this lovely off white pleated silk organza that I found in Goldhawk road earlier in the month

This pen is amazing! It’s a Pilot Frixion pen, goes on like a pen and rubs off with an iron! I have no idea where you find them though.

Marking the busk openings on the front panel

I love this tip – when trying on your corset or toile use masking tape to pop the bones in place!

A quick peek at the inside – with boning channels and waist stay sewn in place

And finally because I can’t resist pictures of cute cats – here’s mine doing what she does best – looking gorgeous and moody!