Friday, August 18, 2017

Corset in 6 hours

It's been a while since I made myself a corset, but I really needed a new one to be able to wear a few new costumes that I have planned. Most people find a corset intimidating to make, but honestly, it's a fairly simplistic pattern -- mostly straight seams, but it is fiddly and time consuming. I took a full 8-hour day workshop to make my very first corset, and it still took me 2 hours AFTER the class to finish (total of 10 hours).

Now that I've made several of these, I've streamlined it down to about 6 hours to create a corset (not including the time it takes to wash and iron fabric for it.

First, I made a mockup. Because I hadn't made myself a corset in a while, I thought it best to double check the measurements and fit. I did have to adjust the pattern to fit, but the modifications were relatively minor. I used a simple muslin mockup to check the fit.

Originally, I was going to make a boring white corset, but realized that I have a lot of fun, geeky fabric to choose from in my Stash, especially since a corset only takes about 1-1.5 yards of fabric to make. For this one, I chose a wonderful TARDIS pattern from my collection. (I already have an outfit planned for this very corset. :-)

The TARDIS a simple printed cotton and the lining is a glazed red cotton.
Not pictured is the coutil I used for the interlining.

Cutting the Fabric: 1.5 hours
It took about 1.5 hours to cut the fabric mostly because I was pattern matching the TARDI(s) to meet along the front of the corset and to be symmetrical on all sides. I was pleased with how well the pattern matched up so it was well worth the effort.

Assembly & First fitting: 1.5 hour
The initial assembly of the fashion fabric went by fairly quickly. As mentioned previously, a corset is primarily a lot of straight seams. Adding the busk (the front part of the corset) took a bit as I had to carefully measure out the openings for it. It was during this time, I had my Viking check for fit. I had to take in some of the back seams to get a proper fit on the fashion fabric. Once the fashion shell fit well, I made modifications to the lining and sewed together the lining shell.

Hand-sewing Waist band: 30 minutes
Once the fabric shell fitted, I attached a twill ribbon to the waist band for reinforcement. This piece had to be sewn into both halves of the fabric shell. It took about 15 minutes for me to sew each 16" length of twill.

Attaching the Lining: 40 minutes
Once the waist reinforcement was in place, I attached the lining to the fabric, pressed all of the seams and made sure that the outside fabric shell and the lining fabric lined up correctly. I had to rip out a couple of seams, because I didn't give a proper seam allowance so that the lining was slightly larger than the fabric shell. Once everything aligned correctly, I stitched down the lining to the fabric at the top & bottom, then hand-stitched each of the seams so that the lining wouldn't shift for the next part of the process --- boning!

Boning: 30minutes

Boning is a fairly simple process. You stitch an appropriate number of boning channels along each seam. For myself, I used 1/4" flat and spiral boning. As I'm fairly petite, I only needed to create 6 channels for each panel (12 in total). These channels were right next to each seam, so I used each seam as a guide to create said channels.

Grommets: 30 minutes

Adding grommets is an annoying process as it has to be done with an awl and a grommet setter. First, you poke a hole through your fabric using an awl, then place your grommet in the hole, and use the grommet setter to put it into place. I timed myself for fun, and it took an average of 52 seconds to add a single grommet, which I rounded up to 60 seconds. I had to place 12 grommets in each half (24 in total). It took about 24 minutes to add all 24 grommets. I rounded up to 30 minutes.

Hand-sewing binding: 60 minutes

The bindings at the top and bottom needed to be hand-sewn. It generally takes me a long time to hand-sew, so I turned on Netflix and watched an episode or two of mindless t.v. so I could complete the sewing.

Final Corset: 6 hours later

Here's the final corset about 6 hours later. I'm happy with the overall project, but I forgot to take a few things into account during the fitting. Oops.

The corset is just a "tiny" bit too big for me, even after all that fitting. It fits well enough as an "outer" corset (meaning if I wear a long sleeve blouse under the corset, it fits fine). However, as "underwear" for a Victorian outfit, it's not suitable.

I'm slightly disappointed in myself for not getting the fit exactly right. However, I shall be making another one with the correct fit. I have more than enough of this particular fabric to make a secondary corset. :-)

You'll hear more on that soon enough. But insofar as this one, I already have plans to make a full matching outfit for that. I've sketched out what I want to do, and now it's a matter of finding the time to make all of the pieces.


And, here's my cat, Pharaoh, who was kind enough to supervise in the making.