Adventures in Corset Making: Patterns and Piecing

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Front and back of reinforced pattern after all tracing is complete.

Things are progressing nicely and s l o w l y. In all previous projects without exception, I have rushed through all of what I considered the preliminary steps to get to the good stuff, the assembling. This is absolutely the wrong way to go about it. Things are missed. Mistakes are made. The final garment is undoubtedly effected.

This time around, I’m moving at an absurd pace. I’m working on enjoying how accurately I can do things. Lucy made it crystal clear in her corset making playlist that it is imperative to be as accurate as possible. The number of panels involved in a corset means the every error is amplified by a factor of two per panel. Since most corsets are 12 panels, this means any error has the potential to be repeated 24 times, thus making a god awful mess of the finished corset.

I’ve been working on this for a bit over a week now and I only finished transferring pattern markings last night. To understand how ridiculous this is for me, I will tell you I usually complete this step in a couple of days.

The interfacing applied to the pattern earlier on made a massive difference in the transfers, to the extent that I will never again use a pattern not augmented in this way. The photo above is a macro shot taken after all markings were transferred four times over. The pattern has obviously been used but it is not a shredded mess. The only place I was even remotely concerned were the tailor tack circles. The pattern tissue wore away after 3 transfers but the interfacing held true, even through the fourth transfer. (If you don’t sew you have no idea how remarkable this is.) If I had not backed the pattern, I seriously doubt I would have been able to accurately transfer more than two sets and the second set would have been dicey.

Next up, assembling.

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TMI Tuesday: Valentine edition

1. Tell us two reasons why you would stay in a bad relationship.
Foolishly hoping for change or financial dependence.

2. Do you wish your private life was kinkier?
Given who I am, I had to laugh at this. My “private life” is what isn’t kinky. Ninety-five percent of what I do outside the home is kinky.

3. Tell us about your weirdest sexual experience.
Well, because I’m kinky, I’ve had an awful lot of weird in my sex life. I guess being encased in duct tape would rank toward the top of the list.

4. Can you have a totally hands-free orgasm?
Of course. Doesn’t everyone?

5. What tips can you give for staying hard (you personally or keeping your partner hard)?
Abstain.

Bonus: Is it okay to not celebrate Valentine’s Day even though you have a partner? Why or why not?
If you are single, then absolutely ignore the day. Should you be partnered, and if you and your other decide not to partake then I don’t see and issue.

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Play along at TMI Tuesday.

Adventures in Corset Making: Pattern Prep

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I unpacked my pattern pieces and cut out all those needed for the corset in my size. I pressed them out as I normally would. This time, instead of reaching for my fabric and pins, I picked up my feather-weight fusible interfacing.

I read a tip that said if you back your tissue pattern pieces with interfacing, it will strengthen them, eliminating tearing. Since my patterns usually look like a small animal has been at them by the time I’m finished making one garment, I thought I’d give the interfacing a shot.

I picked up ten yards at the fabric shop. This is far more than I need but it was .39 a yard. I simply couldn’t pass up the price and I figured if this step was as life altering as I expected I’d be doing this with all of my patterns in the future.

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Applying the interfacing went as well as I expected and the pieces came out like a dream. This added step took about an hour but since these pieces will be used two to three times per corset, the durability is necessary. This is especially true since, if all goes well, I will likely make multiple copies of the same corset.

 

Corset Making: So it begins.

If you’re following along you’ll know that I’ve been waiting for the boned patterns to arrive. I planned on starting whichever pattern showed up first. So, here we are.

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Truth be told this is not the one I was hoping for. Though they both have things I’ve never done, this on is far more complex, with gores and gussets. It also includes corset flossing, which I had been fiddling with before I ever knew this pattern existed. Since my preferred pattern has been “delayed” (so sayeth the US Postal service) and is mired somewhere in Michigan, I’m going with what I have on hand.

The supplies I ordered for both arrived in less than 48 hours from my order placement. Corsetmakingsupplies.com gets an A for efficiency. The items were well packaged and sent in an appropriately sturdy box. Item quality gets a shrug and an “I guess it’s okay” because frankly I have nothing to compare. We’ll see how they perform much later down the line.

Corset Complexity

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If you’ve been following along you’ll know that the first corset I planned on making isn’t going to happen because the pattern does not allow for a busk. Though I have a fair amount of sewing experience, I don’t feel comfortable making adjustments to a corset pattern since I have made a grand total of zero corsets.

While I’m waiting for my Historically Accurate Corset Patterns to arrive from eBay, I’m gathering supplies. The Corset Bible according to Lucy recommended corsetmakingsupplies.com. Since she has never steered me wrong, I headed over there to check things out.

I found that they have a wonderful variety – read: everything I needed – and absurdly reasonable shipping fees. While the jury is (obviously) still out on efficiency, customer service, and quality of goods, as stated above, I trust Lucy. I seriously doubt I’ll have any issue.

I had initially intended to buy uncut rolls of spring steel boning, but the supplier had kits specifically intended for the patterns I’m waiting on, removing much of the guess work and reducing my learning curve. One of the kits had a bunch of tools that I already own but I was able to extrapolate the items I don’t have (boning and such) to purchase those separately. The other kit I bought intact. Though rolls of spring steel boning will be more cost effective for future projects, I thought the kits would be a better option given my current level of ignorance.

Since I have an unplanned lag in the start of the project, I decided to correct the massive hips on my dress form. Though this oddity would not have made any difference in my corset project, it just looked weird.

I went up to the attic and dragged out a bag of fiber fill. I pulled the measuring lines out of the form, redistributed the appearance to be more accurate between hips and buttocks, and reattached the measuring markers. While I’m annoyed at the project delay, I’m glad I corrected the dress form. My body doesn’t look like that and it bugged me.

Now, I wait.

Adventures in Corset Making: Super Bowl Edition

I sat down with all of my tools and my shiny new pattern ready to begin what is likely to be a two-month long project (minimum).

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Shiny new, if inadequate, pattern.

I ironed the heavy canvas material for the mock-up stage. I cut, ironed, and marked for size, all of the paper pattern pieces. I sat and read through the instructions highlighting the things I thought I might screw up, adding notes along the way. Then I realized something was missing.

Take a close look at the picture above. Notice anything? That’s okay, neither did I. There is no busk. For the uninitiated, this is the hook and post device that allows the front of the corset to open and close. I then looked at the six other patterns (six!) that I purchased and not one of them has a busk.

What’s the big deal, you say? The big deal is this: Do you see how the corset in the picture covers her iliac crest? Do you know what else it covers? It covers the button and zipper that allows her to use the restroom, should she need to. Now, when fully kitted out in fetish gear, it’s nearly (and I only say “nearly” because I’m sure there is some contortionist somewhere to whom this does not apply, not me, but someone, somewhere) impossible to use the restroom without getting at least partially undressed and the first thing that comes off is the corset.

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Without a busk, the only method of removal is to unlace the back completely. No. Just, no. I’d be spending my entire evening in the dungeon restroom. I did consider trying to alter this pattern to include a busk or side zipper. It should not be all that hard given that there are handy seams in those locations. Never having made a corset, I don’t want to risk the time/expense on uninformed suppositions. Therefore, after having spent some two hours preparing to make this corset, I have to start over.

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The good news is that I found an historical out-of-print pattern, busk included, on eBay that I picked up for dirt cheap, that is even now winging its way to me from Michigan. This will be my inaugural project when it arrives.

Adventures in Corset Making

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My hips are not quite this large. Some of the weight belongs in my posterior but my kit didn’t include enough pads to split the measurement. Since any corset will not extend that far, this won’t effect construction.

After some five years of waist training, I have finally decided to begin the daunting task that is learning corset making. I am not new to sewing but there is something about the required steel boning that I find intimidating. Having always had a near paralyzing fear of failure, it’s taken me this long to muster my courage.

The impetus for this undertaking is a lack of satisfaction with OTR corsets and a lack of funds to order a bespoke piece. I already have most of the tools I need, including a good quality dress form and the kit to pad it out to my dimensions. I’ve been using this form in a not entirely accurate way because when I bought it I just wanted to “do the thing”. I was not overly careful about the measurements and accepted close enough as near perfect.

Given the complexity of corset construction and the incredible importance of dimensional accuracy, today I again took all of my measurements and reset my dress form for a truer representation of my figure. I also pinned ribbons to the form representative of the measurement lines so I will be assured those reference points will stay consistent throughout the course of my projects.

 

An open letter to Pinterest

Dear Pinterest,

I’ve been telling you every day, multiple times per day, for weeks ….

These miniatures:2018-02-02_205202.jpg

NOT these:
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I keep telling you. You keep promising that you won’t show me anymore like that. Either this doesn’t mean what you think it means or your pants are on fire.

Since we’re at it: Yes, I am female HOWEVER I’m not getting married. I’m not decorating a mansion. I’m not pregnant. I am not the mother of a toddler. I’m not a nurse. While I absolutely adore cats, I HATE dogs. No, they are not the same thing no matter what your algorithms might tell you.

The fact that I am interested in the history and construction of corsets does not mean that I have any interest in fashioning my own tricorne hat. I especially do not need to know how to make one out of 8 different fabrics/materials/mediums. (Yes, even when you show me how to make one in leather, though, by this point, I can certainly understand why you’d think anything made of leather would lure me in.)

Additionally, though I do enjoy the creative nail art by Russian manicurists, this does not mean I speak Russian. Yes, I do enjoy a good meme but I do not speak enough Spanish to appreciate memes En Español.

In closing, Pinterest, buddy, ol’ pal, stop making assumptions. If I want something, I’ll ask for it.

Good talk.

TMI Tuesday: ABC

ABCs of TMI

1. I will never again give birth .

2. I stash all manner of sex toys and kink related items in my closet.

3. Are you embarrassed when strangers start talking about their sex life to you?
This has never happened. The closest I can come to this would be the folks at the dungeon but talking about sex and sex related things is so commonplace there that I think nothing of it.

4. Would you date someone who is celibate?
I don’t see any reason why not. I’m poly. I can get my physical fix from someone else. Perhaps this celibate person is intellectually stimulating whereas the person I may have sex with is not. One person does not have to be all things, nor should they be expected to be.

5. What percentage does each of these activities–work, play, household, sex, rest/sleep have in your life? (Must equal 100%)
They are currently as follows: Work: 0% – Household: 85% – Play: 10% – Sex: 5%

Bonus: How do you decompress at the end of each day? How would you like to decompress at the end of each day?
I lay in bed and watch TV until I literally can’t keep my eyes open. I have tried abandoning this routine only to stare at the ceiling, thoughts whirling, until morning.

I would very much like to be like every man I know. Climb into bed and fifteen seconds later be snoring. Bed not required, by the way. I’ve seen this happen on the toilet, at the desk, or on the couch. Ah, to be a man.

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Play along at TMI Tuesday.

TMI Tuesday: It’s my FAVORITE!!

 

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1. Favorite childhood memory?
We used to go apple picking, the six of us. Our transportation was a nineteen-seventy-something Granada Ghia, a car far better suited to four people than six. My siblings sat in the backseat and, because I was the smallest, I shared the front with my parents, squished over as close as I could to my mother so as not to be in the way of my father, the driver.

We went, one year, and spent the day at the orchard. Come the end of the day, we stepped up to the scales. By the time we tallied it all up we brought home 81 pounds of apples.

Traditionally, we each selected an apple to eat on the ride home. In my memory, the one I chose that day was nearly as large as my head. Smooshed between my parents, I happily munched on my prize. My jokester father asked if he could take a bite and I watched in horror as he took the largest bite he possibly could, which was easily 3/4 of the fruit. He thought this was hysterical. Me? Not so much.

Decades later, I still think twice before allowing my father to sample anything I’m eating and 81 pounds remains the standard unit by which our family measures excess.

2. Favorite moment in the last 3 months?
In recent years, my favorite part of Christmas: Not having to travel to a bajillion relative’s houses. I now gloat about this in the same way that, after years of working retail management, I gloated about not working on Black Friday.

3. Favorite drink on a hot summer day?
Sixteen ounces of Pepsi Max with four ice cubes, preferably served in an insulated container to prevent warming.

4. Perfect day out: what, where, with whom?
Any perfect day would have to include MP. If he is there, no other detail matters.

5. Your most unexpected achievement?
I had to think about this for quite a while as I don’t consider myself to have achieved anything. I attended and graduated University, Summa Cum Laude, with a 4 year degree — unexpected because I did this as an adult, well past college age, with a small child.

Bonus: The kindest thing you ever did for a stranger?
Several years ago I was running errands. I had saved up some money to spend at the local fish store when I was finished. My travels took me through a parking lot behind a major shopping center. I pulled over to make a phone call and there was a knock at my window. I looked up to see a women standing there. I lowered my window. She asked for money explaining that the soup kitchen didn’t open until much later and that she and her son were hungry. I could see a little boy of perhaps five, sitting behind her some, distance away, waiting patiently in the back of a shopping cart. I dug a hand into the change cup in my car and gave her some coins. She thanked me and walked away.

I sat there, in the near empty lot. I thought about the twenty I had in my wallet. I really wanted to add a few fish to my tank. I thought about the cell phone in my hand. I thought about the car I was sitting in, the house I would be going home to. I drove over to her, covering the distance she had made while I was lost in thought. I got out of my car and handed her the twenty. She hugged me, said “God bless”, and went on her way, pushing her son in the shopping cart in front of her.

I think about her sometimes. I wonder if she scammed me. I wonder if she truly was as she presented herself. I repeatedly come to the conclusion that it dosn’t matter. If there is even a tiny chance that she was genuine then I absolutely did the right thing … and how could I not have?

Play along at TMI Tuesday.