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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.
crystalmoon: (Default)
OVER a month!?  What in the world is wrong with me?  My poor, neglected blog..  though, I am here writing so I suppose it's not that bad.  Really, the fact that I haven't entirely forgotten about this is rather astonishing!

So, as seen on Facebook, I have gone and come home from Her Royal Majesty's Steampunk Symposium (HRMSS) which was held on The Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA.  It was a blast!  I went with a good friend, Xander.  Poor guy didn't have a costume and I'd say over 90% of the attendees were in costume (including me) so he felt a bit out of place.  For as unreactive and deadpan as he acted over the whole weekend, he appears to have thoroughly enjoyed himself as he's already making plans for NEXT year's con, or possibly a different con to come earlier in the year.  I'm glad he enjoyed himself, cause I kinda frowny-faced at him until he agreed to go with me.  I needed a date!

HRMSS was so much fun and reasonably priced that I definitely plan on going back next year, finances (or Xmas gifts) allowing.  This year it was a gift from Jeff and Nick.  Perhaps it will be such again next year, though next year I would definitely want to book a stateroom on the Mary and stay at least one night out of three.  The money issue meant we only attended the con itself, none of the ticketed events.

However, after reading blogs and FB and tweets and such, it sounds like we REALLY missed out on the events!  The Queen's Couture and Luncheon was supposedly a very enjoyable venue, of course the Masquerade Ball was a big hit, with great acts such as Jon Magnificent, Unwoman, and others that we missed (though we did get to see Unwoman perform later in the Royal Salon (aka: lunchroom)).  And I hear tale that The Cthulu Prayer Breakfast was a smashing good time!  So next year:  Save money, buy ticktes.  Another reason to stay aboard the ship would be the drive.  Only about an hour one way for me, unfortunately my date has no vehicle so I had to pick him up and drop him off both days.  He lives an hour away from me in a diagonal direction that oddly puts him an hour away from the Mary as well.  This means that both days I spent 4 hours driving. x.x  It wasn't so bad, but I really don't wanna do that again if I can avoid it. 

Aside from that, things have been quiet.  We had a quiet holiday with about the most interesting thing happening being the opening of the present my sister got us.  It's a Hallmark ornament of the leg lamp from A Christmas Story.  Really, the perfect gift, it gave me the giggles and even Jeff got a chuckle out of it.  Perhaps next year we'll have a tree to put it on...

Aaaaaand that about it!  Another day, another blog.  I really want to change this from being entirely personal diary to something more crafty.  Any ideas?  I need to get working on a new Victorian costume in the next few days, so maybe I'll catalog that process.  Yup.  I'll do that.


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February 2015



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