I left off with fitting the coutil/lining inside in my last (and only) construction post. This inner layer was just the pattern pieces cut in both coutil and a cotton quilting fabric for underlining, and then sewn together. I decided to keep things simple and just do boning channels over the seams. These channels were made from bias strips of coutil, 1.25" wide, which is enough to accommodate two 3/8" wide channels for 1/4" bones. I got my bones pre-tipped at Lacis in Berkeley, where they cost anywhere from $0.40-$1.00 each, depending on length. I've got a whole roll of spiral steel leftover from making Elaine's corset, but frankly, I didn't feel like dealing with cutting and tipping all twenty-plus bones myself. I really need to get me some steel cable cutters to make the process easier on my hands!
|Lynda had us sew the inner layer with 1" seam allowances, so when I sewed my boning channels on, there was no awkward flapping of seam allowances underneath to get caught up in the boning.|
After sewing on the boning channels, I added the grosgrain waist stay, stitching it on only at strategic points. This waist stay is sewn to the inside and remains hidden, and only exits close to the zipper through two buttonholes. Lynda recommended a 1.5" wide ribbon, which is larger than my buttonhole foot can handle, so I had to improvise with a tiny zigzag stitch. To secure the waist stay, I went with my usual swimsuit bra hook instead of hooks and eyes. Whenever I have hooks and eyes at my back, they dig in uncomfortably and make me itchy. At this point, I also sewed in my zipper. It's a heavier duty 12" separating zipper, but still plastic.
|Pretty good free-hand buttonhole, right? Except that the two sides don't quite match up...shhh!|
|Since the largest swimsuit hook I had was 5/8", it wouldn't quite fit on the 1.5" waist stay, so I had to add a tinier piece of petersham ribbon at the ends to make it work.|
|You can see at the top of the picture the start of my shameful clipping :(|
The final step was to put the two layers together. I don't know why, but I found this seriously nerve-wracking! With previous corsets, I've always sewn them wrong sides together and then bound the top, but this time I decided to go with a new-to-me method and sew the top and bottom right sides together, then flip it all right side out (this was tricky with all the bones in...good thing spiral steel is flexible!). This method creates a clean edge without having to fuss with binding, but it does create a lot of thickness due to the four layers of seam allowance + four layers of fabric! My machine was a trooper, though, and I only had to hand-wheel through some parts. The real last step was to topstitch all the way around, being especially careful at the zipper since there was a bone right next to the stitch line.
|The only thing worse than trying to photograph black or red is trying to photograph black and red. You all know what topstitching looks like though, so I think you get the picture.|
|All done! Much red! So cats! Very polka dot! Wow!|
Pattern: Simplicity 5006
Fabric: 1 yard black silk dupioni, 1 yard purple houndstooth print flannel, 1 yard coutil, 1 yard quilting cotton
Notions: black plastic 12" separating zipper meant for jackets, less than 1 yard 1.5" wide black grosgrain ribbon, one 5/8" swimsuit bra hook, lots of spiral steel boning
Hours: At least sixty, spread out over a month and half. That includes fitting, multiple muslins, cutting and sewing four layers, lots of hand sewing, and lots of wibbling.
Will you make it again? Elaine went to Thailand and brought back lots of yummy silk in both her colors and my colors, so I think that means yes. I think new makes will take much less time, though, now that I know what I'm doing and have patterns already fitted.
Total cost: The fabrics listed above were $15, $8, $30, and free, respectively, the spiral steel was $13, and the rest of the notions were about $5. So we're looking at a $70 garment here, and that's just for the materials. No wonder why custom corsetry is so expensive!
Final thoughts: Um, I love it? It looks and feels amazing, if I do say so myself, and in black silk, it feels very versatile. If I pair it with a nice (normal) skirt, it makes for lovely formalwear, and black is a good base for many villain/superhero costumes. I want to do a Maleficent costume with this, even if I'm dubious about the upcoming movie. Mr. Cation was pretty thrilled about the Ursula costume too, so that was a plus!
|Because nothing says Ursula like a satellite dish in the background, amirite?|
So that brings me to my big question: would anyone be down for a bustier sewalong? I learned so much from this class, and while I had some idea of what I was getting into because of Elaine's corset, I have to say that a bustier/corset top is one of those things where it looks impressively scary, but is actually not that hard to sew when you break it down. Obviously, I'm not nearly as knowledgeable as Lynda, but I think it'd be fun to share the process in more detail with other seamstresses who might have always wanted to make one, but thought it was too intimidating. If people are interested, I'm thinking of running the sewalong during the summer, when I've got more bandwidth than the during school year. Let me know in the comments if you'd be interested!