December 30, 2009

to be cleaned

I can not blame the cat. It's my own fault for not storing the summer corset properly. After the last wearing I aired it out and laid it in a box. I did not put the cover on the box and nothing makes a better bed for a cat than a low sided box. As I was pulling out the 1925 corselet mock-up (which was in a see through plastic container with a lid) I stumbled across this.

In the picture it looks like just a loose layer of dust that can be brushed off, but there is ground in grime across the entire front of the corset. So, cleaning. The section about cleaning in my 1921 copy of Corsets and Close Fitting Patterns published by the Women's Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences says to lay the corset on a clean table or in a wash tub and scrub with a brush and hot soap suds. After scrubbing it should be rinsed several times then pulled and stretched lengthwise to remove wrinkles. It should then be hung in the sun and when almost dry it should be worn for a few minutes to to stretch it to the correct shape. Then rehung to dry completely. 

I like the technique of putting the corset on when damp to give it the correct shape. But scrubbing? I'm nervous about scrubbing the corset. Maybe sponging would be better. I'd given this corset a light wash before, but now it needs a real cleaning. If anyone has any tips that can help I would love to hear them, otherwise I'll just wait until there is a sunny day and get to work. 

December 27, 2009

fuchsia ribbon corset on a body

I'm always saying the most recent corset I finish is my favorite, but it's only because it's true.

Maybe it's because I can see what I've learned, or because my skills are improving, or because I feel the fit is better each time. But really, this is my new favorite. Normally I rip into whatever I've just made with criticisms, but I'm pretty happy with this one. It's as close to perfect as I've hit yet. I'll admit, I was worried about putting it on. The ribbons were so light and floppy I was concerned they'd be loose and uneven when it was on. But nope. It fit just like it was supposed to. And I love the gold flossing. It's just the right amount of color. OK, I'll quit crowing and get on to a view of the back.

I wasn't aware I'd laced slightly unevenly until I saw the pictures. No matter. When compared to the first version of the 1904 pattern the differences are clear. Steel along the grommets instead of plastic kept the center back edges straighter, and 10 grommets to a side instead of 8 looks nicer, as does the thinner ribbon. Steel boning at the sides instead of plastic makes a small difference in the curve at the waist. That may change if I wear this more and the steels become more broken into my shape. We'll see. I would not lace this corset any tighter though. It felt about right here, and aside from additional stress on the petersham ribbon, I think lacing tighter would start to look weird and too pinched at the waist. Already the ribbon takes the shape of my body way more than a corset of heavier fabric and more boning. Look how it curves around my ribs and over my belly in the top picture. That's probably exactly why it was something more comfortable to wear at night.

This small project for the road turned into a almost two month diversion from the main project. I promise the 1904 pattern will be the only one I make twice. Now back to the 1925 corselet!

December 25, 2009

December 23, 2009

ribbon corset done

It's finished!

I was having problems with the light so the above image is soft. Here's one with a bit more detail.

And here is a close up of the flossing. The top row is the interior of the corset, the bottom the exterior.

I have gold ribbon for the lacing and will snap a picture of it on as soon as possible. Until then, the statistics.

7 yards - rayon 1 1/2 inch wide petersham ribbon
5 yards - 1/4 inch wide double face satin ribbon
1/4 yard - cotton batiste (fusible)
1 spool - cotton thread
1 spool - silk thread
20 - double zero brass grommets
1 - 11 inch gold busk (trimmed to 7 3/4 inches)
84 inches - steel boning

number of seams picked out - zero     That's right, zero!

December 21, 2009

better than black

After reading the comments to the last post I thought I had my mind made up, fuchsia flossing. Just to be certain I thought I'd test the three different fuchsias I had, along with black too. I did the sample, and when I went to put the non-chosen threads away I saw this.

Gold silk. Perfect with the gold busk and grommets. I embroidered a sample and it lit up against the pink. Hands down the winner.

What's the fairy tale where straw is spun into gold? I'm sure this is what that gold thread would have been like. Stitching with it is like working with slippery air. I'm using 8 threads through the needle to get a nice thread density, but I think its worth the hassle. I can't wait to see the corset finished!

December 18, 2009

flossing question

The second ribbon has been sewn along the busk.

They blend in nicely. I'm quite happy with this solution. Then the boning was slipped in.

I cut the bones to leave 1/4 inch at the top and bottom of each channel, but it's tighter than that. Here a pin marks the end of the boning.

Including seam allowances there are four layers of fabric at each end, but since it's just ribbon fused with batiste it's not that heavy. I feel like flossing is important to prevent poke through. I was going to go with the top design from this sampler.

But I'm thinking of changing the color to the same fuschia as the ribbon because the orange needs a bit more space visually. More than is on the sample. At least I think so. Your 2¢?

December 17, 2009

14 stitches per inch

I sewed the ribbon along the busk by hand. I figured I was going to have to baste anyway, so why not. 

I just folded the top edge of the ribbon under and used a back stitch. If you look closely at the top of the right vertical ribbon you can make out the fold. I measured my stitches afterward and they came out to 14 per inch. Probably a bit smaller than needed to do the job, but I'm very happy with how they look. Tonight I'll do the ribbon along the other side then it will be on to flossing. Really.

December 16, 2009


I found something else to do while mulling over the ribbons along the busk issue. Tie and tuck all loose threads. After the threads were knotted I threaded them through a needle and pulled the thread into the channels. Before.


Not exciting, but necessary. And made much easier with this.

Dritz Quilting Needle Pullers. Once you've pushed the needle through several layers of fabric it can be tough to grasp and pull out. Or at least it is for me. No more. 

Alright, I can't avoid it any longer, back to the busk.

December 10, 2009

busk inserted and a new issue

It's never as easy as I think it should be. The busk is in. I followed pretty much the same steps I did to insert the other side. Attach the facing to the front panel, then fold and baste the ends. Here is a good picture of the folded and basted ends.

See how the back facing is folded so it's slightly shorter than the front so it won't show? After everything was folded and basted in place I stitched 1/16 from the center front edge then marked where the studs will come through the fabric.

I used an awl to make the holes for the studs, pushed them through, and sewed the busk in place. 

And there is the new problem. Can you see it? The center point isn't as perfect as I'd like it to be, but that's not it. It's that seam at the edge of the ribbon. There is 6mm space between seams on the left side, but maybe just 4 on the right. Yuck. It's even more visible when you look at more of the busk.

I thought I had allowed a bit of extra fabric for that small 1/16 seam at the center front so I wouldn't have this exact problem. I guess I didn't. I do have a possible solution though.

If I run a thin piece of ribbon along the edge of the loop side, and bump it just over the edge on the stud side, I balance the difference out. Plus, I'll have an extra seam securing the horizontal ribbons in place. Thoughts?

December 8, 2009

fold, press, baste, trim, fold, baste, sew

With no bias trim to finish the top edge it's important that I make the center at the top point super clean and neat. I also realized if I sewed a regular seam with a 1/2 inch seam allowance at the busk the corset will be the exact size of the pattern, not larger as I originally thought. I placed the back facing so it would overlap the front panel by 1/8 inch to make sure it there'd be enough fabric to catch when I sewed from the front. I marked my stitching line and the spaces to leave for the busk loops.

After I sewed the pieces together the top edges were folded down and pressed, then basted so they would not shift or come untucked. I made sure when folding that the back piece was folded a little lower than the front so there was no chance it would show. After they were secure I trimmed the excess seam allowance off. Then I folded the back panel back and basted the top edge together. Here it is seen from the inside of the corset.

I did the same for the bottom, except that I slid the busk in place before basting the bottom edge closed. I sewed along the busk, and along the edge of the ribbon, removed the basting, and voila.

Pretty crisp. Now I just need to make the edges of the stud side match and I'm ready for flossing!

December 4, 2009

frog closure how to

Here it is. The Chinese frog closure tutorial. The instructions are broken down into 5 jpegs, 1mb each, and each jpeg is an 8 x 11 image.

Here is what the finished frogs will look like.

My closures went on a dress, but they can be used for many projects. If you use these instructions to tie your own frog buttons send me a picture of them. I'd love to see how they turn out!

December 1, 2009

a busk and a confession

First the confession. Let's revisit my sewing rule.

I broke that rule. I bought a pattern without having any usable fabric in the stash for it. I am only adding to the backlog of patterns that may never be sewn. I have been able to browse through patterns with no problem, but this time I couldn't help myself. I was powerless to the Siren's call of Polynesian Pattern #191.

I have two vintage dresses from Hawaii cut like this, they are very flattering, and with their pleated trains festive without being over the top. I could probably make a pattern from them, but when the Polynesian Pattern company has already done the work for me I'd be foolish not to snap it up. Plus it was only $7 and by purchasing it I'm supporting a great local shop, Meow. Have I rationalized enough? Someday I'll find the perfect Marimekko fabric and it will be sewn.

OK. Now that I've confessed my sins, on to ribbon corset items. In addition to testing flossing designs I trimmed the busk so it angles at the top instead of being rounded.

I don't know if it will make a big difference, but it seems like it should help support the point at the center front. We'll see.