Friday, July 27, 2012

Laughing Moon Silverado Corset #8 FINISHED!

So here it is, all flossed and looking pretty. 

Here are some close ups of the flossing details. This was my first attempt, and I have to admit that I was inspired by these images from demeasuringtape's livejournal page.

bottom edge flossing design

close up of the front, where several bones meet close together. 
top of the half length bones that run up the hip
obsessive woven flossing for the bones around the laces
These areas will see extra wear, so I'm hoping that weaving the flossing will reinforce it. 
top edge flossing. I tried very hard to keep these consistent, but is was a struggle, as not all the bones went down at the same angle. 
Overall, I am incredibly pleased with this project. Fitting a corset is a challenge because you not only need to fit your shape, but you need to fit a garment that is intended to change your shape. All of those challenges need to be addressed in the fitting process. Even with that being the case, this pattern went together very smoothly for me. I chose to spend a lot of time on picky hand sewing details, but they were not necessary to build a functional, finished corset.

Just for fun, here is an estimate of the time spent on this project:

one Craft Day in 2009
for initial pattern adjustments
4 hours
unboned fitting & pattern adjustments
6 hours
cut new muslin
partially boned fitting
6 hours
pattern adjustments
cut & construct new muslin
fully boned fitting
final pattern adjustments
cut and sew seams for 2 layers of coutil
14 hours
constructing final corset
5 hours
setting grommets
sewing boning channels
cutting & inserting boning
6 hours
binding edges
hand sewing edge trim
4 hours
complete trimming & start flossing experiments
4 hours
experiment with flossing
2 hours
3 hours
3 hours
5 hours
setting last two grommets
30 minutes
total time62.5 hours

The estimated time from Farthingales Corsets was 8 hours for construction time only. I came pretty close to that estimate if you look at the time spent to sew the final version, set the grommets, cut and place the bones, and machine sew the edge binding, but it's the rest of the process that is so time consuming. However, that's really why I sew... it's cheap entertainment, if you consider the hours I spend on it. 

Would I recommend this pattern?
Absolutely. The Silverado is a great pattern if you need extra bust support. As someone with a large different between the underbust and full bust measurements, this pattern makes it easy to accomodate with out fussing endlessly with princess seams. However, it's a tedious and complicated project. Do this one when you need a truly tailored corset, you have the time, and there's no off-the-rack version that will do. Bring your sewing skills to this project, go slow, make lots of muslins, and the pattern really does reward you. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Laughing Moon Silverado Corset #7

I have finished the edging and made a flossing sampler. I am just itching to get started on the corset itself, but the house needs cleaning and my back and shoulders need a break from being bent over sewing handwork. We'll see how long I can stay away...

In the meantime, here are pictures of the current progress.

I squish differently than my dress form. 

This ribbon acts as a drawstring to help close the top front. 

Flossing sampler prepped with left over bone tips

My practice flossing. I'm trying to find the right number of threads to use (it looks like 1 works well for most). I'm also trying to find ways to use the two colors of floss. I really like the center version, but I'm still looking around for other ideas. I may make a second sampler, but I also may just drive right in.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Laughing Moon Silverado Corset #6

Binding and edge trimming is underway!

I will use the purple and cream silk embroidery floss for the flossing. I am binding the edges with light purple extra wide double fold bias binding. Then I am creating the bust cord by threading the purple ribbon through the cream colored cluny lace.  
Bias binding, front view
Bias binding, reverse view with hand stitching. Endless hand stitching. 
First I stitch the top of the cluny lace to the top of the binding. Then I thread the ribbon through. Then I stitch down the bottom edge and secure the ends of the ribbon. 
The finished look!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Laughing Moon Silverado Corset #5

I set the grommets yesterday and cut and inserted the boning. Of course, on the first or second bone, I slipped and ripped through the lining with my seam ripper. Lesson learned: never, EVER use a seam ripper to push bones into place. Since it was on the inside of the corset, I was able to patch it and move on, but it was a tense moment. 
Awww man!
Semi-darning skills... AWAY!
I covered the darned area with a piece of twill tape. This gives the repaired area extra support and gives be a little padding so that the rough repaired area isn't right against my skin.  
I switched to a different tool for pushing the bones into their channels and pretty soon (an hour later) I was ready for a test run...!

All in all, I am ridiculously pleased with these results. This is a complicated project, but one that has proceeded smoothly.

Here are some thoughts on the current fit.

  • it is very tight in the low hip, but I think this can be adjusted with some more careful lacing
  • The bust fit is great! I can bend forward and lift my arms without becoming... indecent :) This is great for shared hotel rooms and, if I wanted to make this as a fashion corset, I would wear it in public. 
  • I may still need to smooth out the top line at the back. 
  • I will need to add an additional lacing hole at the top. I intentionally left it off until I put in the top binding because they will be close together. 
Here are some thoughts on construction. 
  • I purchased this Freestanding Grommet Setting tool years ago. It was expensive, but nothing sets grommets as well as this. If you are planning on making things that require grommets as a regular part of your sewing life, it's worth the investment. 
  • I also purchased the tipping die for 1/4" bones... so worth it. I don't know how many hours I've spent fussing with two sets of needle nose pliers and still not getting the tip to stay on. This is how the tip the pre-cut lengths. If you've already sprung for the grommet setter listed above, this is absolutely worth the $25. 
  • Corset coutil has almost NO stretch to it, so I found that I got a radically different gap at the back opening with the coutil than I did with my other muslins. In the future, I'm going to make muslins with a 1" gap at the back. I think that  the lack of stretch in coutil and the added bulk of two layers of coutil seam allowances ate up at least that much. For this corset, it's not a deal breaker and I am still very happy with the results, but it's worth noting for next time. 
  • I found that even though I carefully chose the size of my corset kit boning package, the adjustments that I made to the pattern meant that I could only use about 4 of the pre-sized bones unaltered. If you have most of your materials and a bone tipper, it's probably easier and cheaper to buy the 1/4" spiral boning in bulk and cut to fit as needed. 
Next up: binding the top and bottom edges, then flossing!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Laughing Moon Silverado Corset #4

Yesterday, I spent about 5 hours constructing the final corset. It's slow and tedious going, but it's necessary. I spent a lot of time double and triple checking that all the layers were completely aligned. I basted the seams together by hand before I created the boning channels. I was going to push for setting the grommets, but I could tell that I was getting too tired, so I stopped. 

An important construction note: I followed Linda Sparks's recommendation and pressed all the lining seams to the center front and all the outer seams to the center back. This allows me to use the seam allowances as boning channels. However, in order to make that work, I had to carefully "hop over" every seam allowance when I sewed the waist stay to the outside of the lining. I had to be sure to leave the future boning channel open. This is not mentioned in the instructions in either the original pattern or the book. 

I also did clip the seams on the most pronounced curves, but I used only one clip per curve so that can still use the seam allowances for boning channels. 

Here are pictures of yesterday's progress:
Close up of waist stay. If you look closely, you can see where I skipped over the seam allowances. 
Detail of the boning channels
Inside of corset
Outside... so close!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Laughing Moon Silverado Corset #3

Yesterday, I was worried about something that was completely outside of my control (it turned out fine). By design, I set aside all day yesterday for intensive corset sewing because is requires so much concentration that it crowds out worry. My mother says that my grandmother used to use sewing as a distraction from worry, so I'm carrying on a long tradition.

Yesterday I made some adjustments to the pattern and constructed a fully boned, single layer mock up for a final fitting. That was an astonishing success, so I was able to make final pattern adjustments and cut out and stitch together two layers of coutil for the final version. Whew!

I have also discovered two really excellent corset resources that I wanted to share. The first is the Foundations Revealed website. They have an incredible corset workshop pamphlet available for download that looks to be an insightful approach to drafting your own pattern or adjusting an existing one.

The second resource is Sidney Eileen's website, which is a good resource for costumers generally. More specifically, I'm really enjoying her tutorial on corset flossing.

Here are pictures from yesterday's marathon session:

raising the bust line

reducing 2" at the waist by taking in 1/8th" on four seams

TA DA!!! This is looking pretty good. The only non-seam boning I used can been seen in green (one bone over the hip and the second lacing support). There are a few last minor adjustments. I want to raise the bust line even higher (it's marked on the salmon scrap piece) and I needed to shorten the length in the front for comfort when seated (you can see the chalk line in this photo). 

One side flipped up due to the lacing arrangement, but that can be easily fixed. The only back adjustment I plan on making a smoothing out the little points at my shoulder blades. 

Further bust adjustments and marks for shortening the front. 

More TA DA!!! Two layers of coutil cut and sewn from the new pattern. I'm ready to add the waist stay and get this finished!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Laughing Moon Silverado Corset #2

Yesterday, I created a corset with partial boning out of some sturdier craft fabric. I also took the opportunity to insert the busk. That was both for practice and for fitting. The fabric I used is stretching some, but overall the fit was pretty good. I will
  • make a minor bust adjustment
  • take in the waist by 2" for waist reduction ( 1/8" decrease at the waist on all seams except sideback-to-back seam)
  • take in seams to adjust the fit at the center back
The next version will be a single layer, but fully boned, version in some heavy canvas. It's thicker than my coutil, so I'm hoping that it will approximate the feel of two layers of coutil fairly well.

Here are some photos of my progress:

tracing off pattern adjustments from the most recent round of fittings

Inserting the busk clasps into the gaps. I was afraid of this step, but it's really straightforward. 
I threaded some yarn trough the clasps so that I could keep them poking out through the gaps. It also gave me something to hang onto when I sewed around the outside of the busk. 
Not bad for my first time. 

The fit on the dress form was body glove perfect, but I squish a little bit more than my dress form,  so I added a few more alterations after I tried it on. 

I don't think I will actually place bone right over the bust point, but I needed to leave all the seams free incase I needed to make an adjustment. 

It stand away from my body somewhat at the center front. I fixed this somewhat with the bust adjustment, but this problem may persist due to the placement of the top of the busk. It holds the corset away from my body somewhat and I don't know how much I can correct for that. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Laughing Moon Silverado Corset #1

Whelp... this corset ain't gonna build itself.

Several years ago, I started a muslin for Laughing Moon's Silverado Corset Pattern. I got as far as tracing off the pattern, shortening the waist, cutting and sewing a muslin with no bones, and getting a first fitting. I have a vague memory of doing this on a craft day of long ago. Since then, the luslin has sat on a shelf waiting for me to order the corset hardware. Although I did not cut a size 8, I ordered the size 8 kit to get the shortest possible bones and busk.

I "borrowed" the following images from because it shows the difference between the two corsets offered in this pattern:

The black corset is the Dore pattern and the pink corset is the Silverado pattern. The scuttlebutt on Victorian costuming site seems to be that the Dore version gives a more historically accurate "rounded bust line". I can see that, but I am interested in trying the Silverado for a few reasons.

  1. A stroll through Ageless Patterns' selection of period corset patterns shows an almost even split between patterns with and without bust gores. 
  2. Being so short waisted, I want to emphasize the distance between the bust point and my waist. The Silverado pattern does this well, using the bust gores to define and support the bust, instead of making a slow, smooth transition into the waist. 
  3. I'm hoping for more control over the fit in the bust. 
Yesterday, I did a second round of fitting on the muslin with no bones. I've traced off a new pattern with the changes. The next step will be to make another muslin out of sturdier fabric and try it with the busk, laces, and non-seam boning. This is likely to be the step where I will work on getting some waist reduction adjustments into the pattern. Right now the pattern is merely form fitting, but frankly, why bother with all the trouble of a corset if all you are going to get is one's same silhouette?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Finished Projects from Stempunk World's Faire (AP 1016 & TV 216, TV 428 & TV 221 & TV 326)

I had a wonderful time at the Steampunk World's Faire. The two new costumes went over well, as did the bat costume that I wore to Trundle Manor back in November. Here are some shots of the finished outfits.

AP 1016 & TV 216

My train did get stepped on many times, but it seems to have held up. 

Pictured here with fellow seamstresses & partners in costuming crime Tracy V. (left) and Eugenia M. (right)

Does this bustle make my butt look big? Yes? Oh good, what  a relief!