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Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Adventures in Corsetry

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


So I decided to try my hand at corset making. I selected the Butterick B4254. There were two reasons for this. One, I liked the look of View C, and two, Hancock Fabrics had all Butterick patterns on sale for 99 cents the Sunday after Thanksgiving. 

I wanted a garment to wear over clothing to go with the Steampunk outfit I wore at FenCon earlier this year. (I thought I had a picture in the blog archives, but I haven't. (Here is a picture Firebird Images posted to Facebook.) I wanted a corset to wear instead of (or along with, perhaps) the jacket. That outfit got hot on stage. (I also discovered I'd lost a couple of inches after I'd made the skirt, and I ended up tripping over the hem in front of everyone just a few minutes before that picture was taken. Hey, there are worse wardrobe issues to have.)

The fabric matches the overskirt, which you can barely see in that picture. So, here it is:

122311_corset.jpg

I put this one together mainly to see if I could do it. There are plenty of things I'll change for the next one, some of which are apparent from the picture. (The ties, however, are shoestrings I had on hand. We won't critique those.) When I make a pattern that's very different from anything else I've done in the past, I tend to follow the instructions carefully. Once I've sewn it I can figure out what to change the next time around:

1. The pattern called for inserting the boning inside of ribbon casing that lays on top of the lining. Next time I'll dispense with that and run the boning in between the lining and the interfacing. I think the look will be better. In addition, I'm not sure the ribbon as casing will hold up. That was a concern early on, but I wanted to follow the instructions in case Butterick knew something that I didn't. 

2. The instructions called for me to pin on the binding and sew through both layers using a zipper foot. Again, I went according to the instructions, though my experience with quilting told me otherwise. The bottom looks crappy as a result. For the top I machine stitched the binding to the front, then folded it back and whipstitched it into place as I would a quilt binding. I like the result much better. In addition. I should be able to bind one edge, insert the boning and cut it exactly to length, then bind the other edge. 

3. I will go for better grommets. I used some from the fabric store, and I think I'll go to the hardware store next time. (I did go to Home Depot to pick up an awl for punching the holes. While I was there I looked at their grommets and didn't see anything I liked for this project. I'll probably try Elliot's [a local chain] next time.)

Those were the two biggest things I'd change. If I do this again I might even go down a size. 

Other things to note:

1. I did not use a busk. Instead, I sewed the back seams together and used ties in the front. The reasons for this were twofold. One, I didn't want to order a busk for a what's essentially a test project (though I think the end result is good enough to wear). Two, I wanted to concentrate on the other aspects of making a corset and then do the busk next time around. 

2. I used zip ties for boning. There seems to be much controversy online as to whether one should use zip ties, fake whalebone, or go for the spiral steel. Well, I liked the zip ties. They were very easy to work with and far cheaper than boning, at least at retail. (Cost was another consideration for the corset.) If I were making a corset for actual support rather than costume wear, I'd consider spiral steel boning. Considering this was the first one (and the chances of screwing up were high), zip ties worked great. I ended up with 48" ties from Home Depot. They can be purchased in the electrical department. A package of ten was eight bucks. Considering that boning is $2.99 a yard retail and the corset took about nine yards of boning, it was a deal. The zip ties are also wider than the boning I would have purchased over the counter. 

For a first corset it ain't bad. I think it's good enough to wear with the outfit, though I need to take in the waistline on the skirt! As I said, there are worse problems to have.

In preparation for this project I did some work on Honoria Glossop (my dress form) and will talk about that in a separate post.
Tags: Life

Filed under: Sewing            
12/23/2011 7:44:17 PM
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