crystalmoon: (Default)
Ok.... where did I leave off?  Oh yes!  The top-stitching and boning channels.  This is gonna be a picture heavy post so be prepared.

Soo.. top stitching is basically used to reinforce seams and/or be decorative.  It looks like this.

That rolled-looking line is the actual seam, and the line of white stitching beside it is the top-stitching.  It looks pretty but also means that when the garment is being stretched the force of the stretch is distributed more to the fabric than the seam itself because that top-stitch goes through the seam allowance on the back side of the fabric, pinning it down.

This second set of stitches to the right of the top-stitching is the boning channel stitch.  This stitch line pins down the seam allowance even further, creating a pocket between both lines of thread that I can put the bones into.  Using the seams for placement of the bones is pretty normal (or so I am told).

This pic shows you the boning being placed into the channel.

Ok, so here's a story.  after getting all the boning channels sewn down, I wanted to check them to make certain they were big enough and that the boning would fit.  This is where I  had a minor freak out.

After getting everything sewn down, certain I had all my measurements right, I placed this one piece of boning into one of the channels.  It fit very snugly as this was the channel I had made and thought might be a bit too small.  So I get it in and boom... the boning is TOO SHORT!  Better than too long, sure, but too short is also a big problem because this means it will slide around, causing friction and end up rubbing through the fabric.  It also means that the corset won't be supported from top to bottom completely which is essential to a corset.  

I was really bummed.

So as I was taking the bone OUT of the channel, it got caught.  The channel was tight enough that the end cap of the steel bone got caught on the fabric and wouldn't come out.  I tried working it out as softly as I could and it finally came loose... that is to say, the cap came loose from the bone.  The bone slid right out with it's sharp, pointy end slicing my finger on the way and the cap was sitting stuck in the channel.

I was really not amused.

So, I left to go nurse my poor index finger and ignored it for an hour or so and drank some tea.  When I got back to the corset, I very VERY slowly worked the cap out by pushing it out the OTHER way using one of the flat steel bones, which are more rigid.  Here's a picture of all the bones and the busk.  The white ones are the flat steel bones, the grey are the spiral steel and the thing in the middle is the two-piece busk.
This story does have a happy ending however.  See how the bones are different lengths?  Ends up I used the shortest length with the longest channel.  Once I figured this out, I grabbed the longest length and tried again and was relieved to see that yes indeed, my measurements were spot on. 

I was really relieved.

So, now knowing that the boning SHOULD be ok, I Hmm'd and Haww'd for a while, trying to avoid getting to the busk.  I knew the procedure and theory but since I haven't done one before I wasn't positive of my ability to make it work.

Finally, I got up the courage and started in.

So we start here.  This is the catch side of the busk.  The vertical blue line is the final edge/seam for when the lining and outer fabrics are joined.

The small horizontal lines should be obvious, they're the outline of the catch.  The idea is that I'm going to sew down the blue vertical line but not sew between the small space of those horizontal lines so when the fabric is turned right-side out, the catch will fit snugly through the hole. 

Like this.  It's a little hard to see but if you look closely, you can see that I did not sew between the catch lines.  You can also see that I sewed just a little bit over one of them.  That happened in two areas................


But it worked!  The catches fit through very easily... kind of.  Getting it to stay in place while I sewed it down was a bit tricky but I did it.  It now sits securely in it's little spot.

The next task was to get the peg side of the busk in.  The same idea, it's going to sit at the edge seam where lining meets outer fabrics however instead of creating openings by sewing and not sewing certain spots, I instead have to make holes because the pegs sit in the middle of the steel bone they're attacked to.  Since I don't have a dressmakers awl, I instead used pins and knitting needles to stretch the fibers of the fabric out. 

Ripping or cutting holes is a really big no-no because that weakens the fabric and directly counteracts what we've been trying to do the entire time which is strengthen it.  So, you can see in the picture from top to bottom; the knitting needle pushing the fibers apart with out breaking them, the hole created by said needle, then the pegs poking through the right-side of the fabric.  I did this for all the pegs.

And soo.....

We get a picture that I can't rotate.  Darn.  But you can see that the busk is sitting nice and straight and centered.  Yay!  The boning is not inserted in this picture.

Since these pics were taken, I've attached a bottom trim and tried it on with all the boning inserted.  I've found it to be too big around the bust and hips.  >.<  The shaping on the bust is awful and awkward and is gonna need a major re-do.  The hips should be fairly easy to take in though. 

Now, I think I've probably gone on too long and had too many pictures so this is gonna be the end of part 4.  I  hope that part 5 will be the final installment!

crystalmoon: (Default)
Ok, so we've got all the basting done.  Our four fabrics now act as only two which means it's time to put the lining together and the outer layer together to create a single piece of each.

Technically, it's two pieces of each since the corset itself is split into two sides but you know what I mean.

This is where pinning is most useful as well as those basting stitches!  Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of it but remember how loose they were?  That allows me to pull on one thread in the stitching to gather up the ease and easily sew it evenly.  For those who don't know what ease is, it's when you have two fabric pieces that go together but one is longer than the other.  You pin down each end, and you get a big bubble of fabric that looks like it shouldn't fit.  You literally "ease" that fabric down by pinning or with basting stitches so it fits against the smaller piece, then sew it together.  This is used a lot in sleeves and such.

The pictures on the left is actually a very MODERATE pinning of the garment pieces together.  On areas with more ease or more curvature, I have about twice as many pins.  They aren't necessary per say, but they do make life easier.  Remember, the black thread is the basting thread that will be taken out.  I'm sewing the actual seams in white so the stitches won't be noticeable.


And on the right we have all the pieces attached to each other.  The top is the outside of the corset and the bottom is the lining.  I used a flash on that pic because I really wanted the organza to show.  This step was fairly simple as it really is just sew along the line.  Not a lot to discuss.  Ironing out the pieces was a trial in patience however.  You can sort of see in the right picture on the lining pieces the more opaque lines down the seams.  All of the seam allowances are ironed down to one side, all facing the back for uniformity.  The same goes for the outer layer even though you can't see it.  Ironing the curves of the chest area just doesn't work so well...

The next step in this process will be top-stitching for strength and stitching down the boning channels, then putting the lining and outer layers together which also includes adding the busk and boning... in other words; The scary part!  I won't go into it now, but lets just say I'm nervous about making everything sit correctly and fit the way it needs to.  Soo...  simple post this time.  I promise the next one will be less dull!

crystalmoon: (Default)
Hello again!

So, continuing on my learning journey into the untamed wilds of corset making, we now move onto putting pieces together.  It's not hard but not as simple as it sounds.

As my last entry said, I decided to use the interlining between my lining and the strength layer because the lining is very thin.  I cut out two of each piece from each type of fabric (so technically, four of each piece from the organza since it's used to two places) and now they need to be sewn.  There's a few ways to do this. 

Several years ago, I might have put all the lining pieces together, then the interlining pieces together, then the strength and so on to give myself four layers of a full corset.  Then I'd sew them all together to make one piece. 

... I've learned better since then.

The fewer "separate" layers you have to sew through, the easier it is.  So instead I am putting the lining and interlining together, then putting the strength and the fashion layer together for each separate piece first.  This means that once they're joined they become "one layer" of fabric by virtue that they can't slip away from each other.

I could have used pins to put the pieces together but instead I decided to baste them for multiple reasons.  The biggest and most important reason being that basting stitches hold more firmly than a bunch of pokey needles.  

Here's a close up of the basting stitches.  The blue line is the outline of the pattern piece and also my final seam line.  By basting on the seam allowance, I can keep the visible side of the fabric looking clean and undisturbed.

They're loose for two reasons.  First, it was a fast sew.  I don't need the basting line to be straight or perfect by any means.  This falls into reason two, which is that it will be taken out once I've gotten all the pieces together.  Theoretically, I could leave them in and they won't do any harm... but I really wanna be thorough and professional with this.

So you can see the organza, it's a little bit sparkly.  This is a photo of the lining and interlining.  The view you see in this photo will never be seen once the corset is complete, as this is the side that will go against the strength layer to keep it slippy and happy.

This photo shows all the pieces for the lining and interlining basted together and laying out flat.  They look wrinkly because I haven't ironed them yet, that's all.  This is laid out as the corset would look if the back was unlaced and opened from there, leaving the front hooks connected.

Actually, that reminds me of something.  I have not yet cut out a modesty panel for the lacing portion.  It's just a square of fabric that sits between your skin and the back laces both for modesty (as the name suggests) as well as protection from the lacing.  I'll have to remember to do that.

As of this blog, I've also basted together the strength and fashion layers of fabric so I effectively have only two sets of fabric to work with (because remember, once they're basted together, they behave as a single fabric).  I've only just begun putting together the pieces to make a shaped garment, so I think I'll get that done and then throw up a post once I've finished that portion.  

See you later!

crystalmoon: (Default)
The Goal:  To make a functional, everyday corset for foundation wear.

The Challenge
:  To finish this before Lydia finishes her evening gown.  (Also, just making it usable is a challenge)

You guys know this already, however I'm gonna try to document as much of the process as I can, including the learning curve.  Also, if I manage to be smart, I'll add pictures!

So as previously stated, I drafted a pattern using my own custom measurements and a handy-dandy pre-made template to make a pattern that would fit my own body.  After much trial and error, and a trashed muslin mock-up or two, I think I've hit it.  The pattern making itself was tedious at best and I'm still uncertain about the cup curvature.  I'll know more about that once I get everything together.

Here's the pattern pieces, all laid out in a pretty row.
Pattern PiecesLook at that, a picture!  It even does wrap-around text.... I'm feeling accomplished already!

So anyway, the minimum type of fabrics you need to make a properly strong and functional corset is 4.  You need your lining, the strength layer, the interlining and finally, the fashion layer. 

Lining:  Pretty self explanatory, the fabric that goes against your skin.  Usually muslin is not what you use for this, but it's the only 100% natural fabric I had that was soft enough.  Also the large piece had been washed multiple times so it is quite soft.

Strength:  For a "proper" corset, a fabric called coutil, or corset coutil is used.  This fabric is made with it's ONLY function in the world being to make corsets.  It's also frigging expensive.  In a pinch, one can also use cotton duck or canvas.  I found some duck at the local Joann's for only about $5.00 a yard so I went with that.  This being my first corset and me not knowing how it's gonna turn out, I'm ok if it doesn't last for 30 years.

Interlining:  This layer is a thin, sometimes gauzy, almost always slick type fabric used as a buffer between the strength layer and the fashion layer to keep the fashion layer from getting all rubbed on and beat up by the strength layer.  I've heard tale that silk organza is a dream of an interlining, so being the budget seamstress I am, I went with white polyester organza.  The thought occurred to me that polyester won't be as breathable however, being organza, it's more than breezy enough that I am again not too worried about it.

Fashion:  Again, self explanatory.  It's the outermost layer that may or may not be seen by the public depending on what kind of corset is being made.  This could be anything from heavy brocades, to quilting design fabrics or, as I decided to do, polyester organza.  I was originally going to use a slate grey cotton I have but after seeing how the white organza looked against the beige muslin I decided I really liked the effect.  The duck is about the same color, a bit darker, so it should be very suitable for a foundation garment, as it will be similar to my own skin tone.

So, I got ALL the layers cut out... then realized on two of the fabrics I had cut in the wrong direction.  This is an important thing to know, especially with the strength layer.  Since cotton duck is not cotton coutil, there is one direction in which it has a tiny bit of stretch, and the other direction has NO stretch.  The NO stretch direction MUST fall horizontally, as the corset will be pulled in that direction by the lacing once finished.  If it were to have stretch in this direction, it defeats the purpose of the corset; to slim the waist.  So... I re-cut and started over.  I'm just glad I had bought enough fabric.

I feel like this is really long.  Due to this feeling, I'm going to cut these posts into multiples and update... oh... every couple days maybe?  I am definitely further than just the fabric portion but I really don't want to bore whoever is reading this.  So, see you next post!

crystalmoon: (Default)
So, after my last post I was perusing other blog sites and such and thought "Gee, these people went pretty far to customize their blogs.  Maybe I should to?"  Of course, most of these were on blogspot but still, there must be a way to add a personalized banner at the top of my Dreamwidth account.  So, maybe that will happen.

Also, as may have been seen on my Facebook account, I am making a corset.  That is, a custom pattern draft for a corset.

As of last night I managed to get the whole pattern drafted.  It's intent is that of any corset; to make me smaller in the middle.  No no, not that extreme corseting like those crazy ladies with the 12 inch waists do.  Just a moderate tightening, no further than 26-28 inches, which will give my height and build of body a much more balanced looking figure.  Also, it'll make me look hot in dresses.  I hope.

Before I went on this particular mission I'd been browsing about historical garments.  I thought I was going to get to play a well-to-do Victorian investor in a web-series but, as my luck would prove, they told me last minute that nevermind, they only need zombies in a few months.

I'm happy to play a member of the unliving but hot-damn, I REALLY wanted to make that Victorian dress...  Oh well, life goes on.

So in reading up on Polonaise and cuirasse bodices and bustle pillows and skirts I came across many fonts of information concerning the era and it's fashions.  One of the most prominent things I read over and over again on these sites was "underwear is everything!"  Because no respectable Victorian lady would dare leave her house, or even remain in her house, without a corset during daylight hours it stands to reason that to make the costume (or as a wonderful speaker at HRMSS said "Not costumes, clothing.  You'll be in them for 16 hours a day for multiple days.") you need to start from the inside and work out.  This means:

Bustle pillow

The bustle pillow looked easy enough so I chose to do that one later.  Besides, if I was in a real bind I could use my obi makura (obi pillow) to substitute, since it's essentially the same thing with only a bit different shape and placement when in kimono.

((To be continued...))

Sorry, had to move buildings at work.  I do relief reception for a big company with many buildings.  Anywho, with the bustle pillow essentially not a worry I moved immediately into researching corset construction and fitting.

My first stop:  Simplicity and Burda's Historical collections.


Ok, so they would work beautifully for costumes but as mentioned previously, I'm not making a costume, I'm making clothing that is to be worn upwards of 16-18 hours a day depending on just how much fun I'm having at the event that requires such clothing. 

To start, tho they have the basic shapes of what you need, these are intended for occasional use at best.  The best corset pattern I found out of all these big-name brands was Simplicity's Historical Collection.  The model is standing demurely in a drab grey corset wihch looks both loose and padded with the ties tied in front.  It just looks wrong for Victoriana, especially after viewing all the "correct" corsets that have been made by corsetiers world wide.  Not to mention the bodice I planned to make is a historical recreation, thus, it's likely to be REALLY thin-waisted.  So this costume pattern wasn't going to work, especially with the plastic boning.

But I realize that I'm going on and on about things I could be talking about later, back to the pattern itself.

I found two really great sites: and 

Both of these sites have free articles for those of us who feel paying for membership is more than we can handle on our unsecure paychecks.  One of these, which both sites have the same, is a 'How to Draft your own Corset' tutorial.

There's lots of math.  Although these days I have little trouble understanding math and it's principles or doing calculations, I still abhor the subject.  But you know what?  It's worth it.

So after spending almost an hour in the bathroom carefully taking my own measurements (which is advised against) I had all the numbers I needed.  I did the calculations, measured the points and now I have an uncut pattern sitting on my bedroom floor.  I'll see if I can get a picture and post it in the next portion.  I should probably shut up for now, I think this is probably really long.


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February 2015



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