It's surprising what you can find in big old fabric warehouses. On my last visit to one here in Calgary, as I was wandering through the upholstery section, I spied a bolt of something plum coloured. On closer inspection, it revealed itself to be a lone bolt of plum coloured cut and sew foam. Clearly, it needed to come home with me.
I love this colour, it's warm like wine, strong enough to take bold lace and yet not as absolute as black, so there is lots of scope for creativity.
I teamed this up with some very pretty lace that I recently found. The eldest daughter had found this and announced she wanted this draped over a black foam cup, and I will certainly do that for her. The result will be very fun and girly - black with contrasting pink flowers. Yet, I wanted to use this in a bra for myself too, to see if I could make something more grown up and classy. Enter some gorgeous celadon green satin.
I had a few additional demands on this bra, apart from grown up and classy. I wanted it to be a very pretty balconette bra. I took the pattern I had used for the Midnight bra, amended the dimensions a little and then cut a strip off it.
This became the template for the upper strip of the bra. Then it was time to cover the bottom part of the cups with the black and pink floral lace. Although this lace was really very stretchy, it covered beautifully. The satin was a different matter - slippery and reluctant, I fought with it for a while until I was able to get a smooth finish on the upper.
Next, I had to decide how I wanted to transition from the lace to the green upper. The trim I wanted to use was black lace but it had a black lace ribbon running through it which was all wrong for this.
Fortunately, the ribbon wasn't sewn in place so it was easy to remove it and replace it with a more appropriate colour and apply it to the cup.
Satisfied with the result, I made the second cup, covered a black duoplex band with more of the floral lace and then considered my strap choices. Having a 30G bust means that thin spaghetti straps are not really an option. But this bra needed to look as though it had delicate straps. My options were:
Black duoplex Black duoplex covered in green satinBlack duoplex covered in floral laceBlack duoplex with more of that black/dark pink ribbon trim.
The ribbon option had the best look and then all that remained was to apply the right bow and my very pretty plum bra was done!
I am immensely pleased with it, and the fit is great with lots of uplift and oomph!...
...but something was missing - yep, panties!
So there we have it, a plum pretty bra with matching panties. Lovely. Just lovely.
I've taken a fair amount of time off this summer in order to move house and entertain overseas visitors. It's been a gorgeous summer, but all good things must come to an end, and when I was asked to make a bra in black and deepest red, I knew that people were starting to think about different colours for Fall and Winter. The changing of the seasons had started.
This particular client wanted something deceptively simple, yet stunning and luxurious. Well, I love a bit of luxury so it didn't take long to dig out some black satin. It has such a gloriously rich and silky feel - it definitely screams luxury. Yet simplicity doesn't have to mean plain. My client's eye fell on this beautiful, deepest red ribbon and asked that it be used in the bra. Time for a sketch:
I'm rubbish at drawing, yet a little sketch, however crude, gives me the chance to consolidate my ideas and discuss them with the client prior to starting. This way we both know what we're looking to achieve.
As well as discussing the colours and style choices, materials and alterations are discussed. Here, a clear preference for a foam cup was expressed so that was incorporated. She also had had issues in the past with that feeling that her breasts weren't adequately restrained and could 'fall out' at any time. So I raised the bridge a smidge and increased the height where the frame met the back band.
Her mock up was made in plain black duoplex and once all the fitting issues with this bra had been resolved these pattern pieces were amended to a 3 part cut and sew foam cup, cut slightly lower to reveal a little more skin; perfect for under a lower cut top, yet not so low as to risk 'fall out'. To turn a classic full cup bra with a horizontal seam into a 3 part cut and sew foam cup, I make a foam cup out of the initial pattern pieces first, then cut them into 3, carefully labelling each piece. These then form the templates for the pattern.
Instead of opting for elastic on the top edge of the band, simple black fold over elastic would give a cleaner, less fussy look so that all the attention could be on that beautiful yet understated lace with the ribbon running through it. I've used this lace/ribbon combo before and I really loved this particular colour combination, so decided to use it on the straps also.
This meant that I really had to think about my order of construction. Once the satin was on the cups and the top edge had been covered in fold over elastic. I needed to add the lace edging, the strap and the side fold over in an order that wouldn't mean things got in the way, or worse still, ended up getting sewn together. And I certainly didn't want to see stitching coming through on the front! I decided that I wouldn't drink that extra glass of wine during this phase of the construction, just in case it impaired my judgement... well, maybe just a small glass!
Things went swimmingly, the satin had been a delight to work with, and I just love the clean, modern look that fold-over elastic gives. The deep, red ribbon really took this bra from 'alright' to 'amazing' and I had decided that a small bow in the same colour on the bridge would be more than enough to give this beauty its finishing touch when I stumbled across a small black pearl in the bottom of a little box.
Those of who you followed my Spring/Summer series, including Lavender & Lace, Pink Keyhole and Peaches & Cream will remember that a small pearl adorning the bridge was a bit of a signature on all these bras. When I'd procured these pearls, this stray black one had found its way into my little stash and it must have been providence to stumble across it at this particular time. It went perfectly with the black and red ribbon.
Once it was secured on the bridge it looked wonderful:
This bra is such a deep black that it's been difficult to get a photo of the full bra which doesn't look flat, but I have to say that I am immensely pleased with the result:
It's always a good day when another bra goes to its new home. Although, had it been in my size, I would have been tempted to keep it!
As a result of my recent guest post over on Sewcialists blog, I received a number of comments and questions including a few concerning underwires and getting the right fit.
So here then is my low-down on all things underwire to help you make a good choice.
Getting the right wire.
This can be challenging, as many of us have worn bras for the longest time with the wrong wire in them without realising Ready to wear bras only use a handful of sizes, but bra makers have access to 20 different sizes, not to mention lengths, to ensure that you get the right fit.
The right wire for you should fit snugly under your breast without leaving a gap. This photo shows an underwire which sits nicely:
This photo also shows another important aspect of underwires - that it should hug the sides of your breast properly. This means it should sit at that point where your breast meets your rib cage, but not sit on your breast. On the above photo you can actually see where my model was wearing an underwire that was too small, leaving an indentation in the breast tissue, evidence of poor fit and discomfort. Here's another illustration of an underwire that is sitting on the breast:
You can barely see the wire, it's almost swallowed up by the breast tissue and will feel restrictive and uncomfortable. Not a good idea.
On the other hand, the wire shouldn't sit too far out on your rib cage either. A wire that is too big will look like this:
Not only can you see where it doesn't nestle snugly underneath the breast, but it's splayed so wide that any bra with this wire will feel like it's poking you in the side or armpit.
At the bridge too, incorrectly sized wires will pose issues. Here's an image of this same too large wire at the bridge:
You can clearly see that the wire splays into the other breast's wire zone.
When the wire is too small this is what it looks like:
Ouch, that simply doesn't bear thinking about.
The wire that fits snugly under the breast and at the side will also sit very tidily at the bridge, just like this:
Women with a very narrow bridge may still find that the wires overlap, but there is no invasion into the other breast's territory.
So, armed with this information you should be able to recognise a good wire fit, but what about the length of the wire?
Wires also come in different lengths - Regular, Long, Extra Long and Super Long. Some also have a Short version for the plungier bras. The length of wire required usually depends on the size of the breast to fill the cup and the style of the bra. I can't give you hard and fast rules on which size to choose, but a general indication would be larger breasts equals longer wires. But what does that mean in practice?
Take a look at this photo of a 38 wire in all it's lengths.
You can see that there are three clearly different wire lengths. The shortest wire in the photo is a 38 Regular and is 233mm long, the next length is the 38 Long, which is 250mm. This difference of 17mm is mostly at the bridge end of the wire, and can be all that is needed to provide the increased or decreased coverage that may be required at the bridge. The next size up is is the Extra Long. Extra Long wires are 15mm longer in the front than the Long wire.
Overall the difference in lengths is not huge but can make a huge difference in the finished article.
Another type of wire is the vertical wire. Ready to wear bras don't come with vertical wires. If your bras are made by a bra maker, or you make your own, you could consider using a vertical wire. These are often recommended for women with omega shaped breasts, or women who've lost a large amount of weight and whose breast shape may be changed as a result. I don't fall into either of these categories, however I do have a very narrow bridge and larger breasts on a small frame, and I love my vertical wires. But whatever the reason, the more vertical rise on this wire , however slight, makes an enormous difference to the fit and comfort of my bras. So if you are making a bra and it should be a perfect fit, but something is just ever so slightly 'off' consider a vertical, it could be just the thing you are looking for.
The bra design does not need to be changed to accommodate the vertical wire, it will mould itself nicely in the space allowed.
So if you make bras for yourself, it's really worth investing in all the lengths available and a vertical option so that you can achieve the best results possible.
I hope this little overview of all things underwire has helped you understand how important this little U shaped bit of metal is and how important it is to get it right.
Summer is here! We've had almost 30 degrees here in Calgary this week and I am loving it! Mr. Weaver and the mini Weavers are complaining, but not me!
Perfect weather to make this Marrakech bikini for a lovely client of mine.
Isn't this fabric gorgeous! I absolutely adore it - I found it at Fabric Fairy and knew instantly that I had to have it.
When it arrived, I was a tiny bit disappointed, as it greyed out when I stretched it.
Oh dear. I would have to use it as an accent colour in areas where there is less stretch... well, that was certainly do-able! And when this particular client arrived I knew it was the perfect fabric for her. I chose to make a Pin-Up Girls Rebecca which is one of the Three Sisters bikini pattern, which I had made before, but with a few tweaks of my own for a better fit for this lady.
The Rebecca pattern uses a cut and sew foam cup with a single vertical seam. I don't find that a single seam works very well on some busts, and it can leave your breasts looking a little flat so a I used the cups for the Lavender & Lace bra which were tailored to my clients measurements and altered for a partial band and used that instead. I love these cups and apparently so do you asI've had a number of requests to make the pattern for this bra available to you all - I'm working on it!
The bridge was made in the same way as you would for a partial band, the lovely Marrakech fabric lined with a bit of fusible interfacing, and I do believe I added a little duoplex for good measure.
I then had to add the front panel to the bra, which I also had to tweak to follow the Lavender & Lace cup. This is the pattern piece here:
The band and back was made quickly enough, 2 pieces of powernet as always, covered with more of that glorious fabric. The front panel was attached to the sides/band at this point. The top edge of the back band and underarm was finished using black binding which further secured the front panel to the underarm edge of the cups.
The lovely ruching detail at the bridge is really easy! A small length of strapping is simply tied at the bridge and it's done! I decided to add a little detail by adding these super cute beads at which I found at Michael's.
Added to the end of that short piece of strap, it makes a really nice finish!
There is a lovely design detail on the reverse of the Rebecca which removes the requirement for a clip fastening. It's really pretty, although not terribly supportive for the bigger bust. So my client had to choose - practicality over pretty, sexy over support. In the end she went for the pretty and sexy version, and this is the reverse:
Isn't it lovely? And with her gorgeous skin and well toned back it looks even more fabulous! It's not going to withstand dive bombing into a swimming pool but for loitering with a cold glass of something bubbly, it is perfect!
I made 2 bikini bottoms for this lovely top; the first has a slightly higher waist with a panel of that amazing fabric, the second a sexy Brazilian style with a ruched back for extra booty definition.
I am really pleased with how this set turned out and it's sure to turn a lot of heads for many summers to come!
These last few weeks I've shown you a handful of corsets that I have been working on, now, as the weather has turned warmer it's time to turn my attention to swimwear.
This week, I want to show you a basic swimsuit with built in foam cups in this amazing retro fabric:
I remember that back in the 70's my grandmother had very similar sheets on the bunkbeds in her spare room, except the background was white. In fact, I used these sheets in a quilt I made when my beautiful niece was born 5 years ago.
It also reminds me of the Mystery Machine - the van used by the mystery solving teens and their snacking Great Dane, Scooby Doo. I have to say that I love this fabric! It's so cheerful and busy and covers lots of lumps and bumps without even trying to!
But I'm getting ahead of myself!
Buying a swimsuit when you have a fuller bust can be daunting and frustrating. You want some support, however where a swimsuit has built in cups, they are generally all one size, which is, inevitably, not your size. So it makes sense to have beautiful swimwear sized to your own specifications as well as bras.
So, armed with fabulous fabric and the Denise Swimsuit pattern it was time to get to work.
This swimsuit has a two piece back with a clasp closing. The smaller upper back piece is lined with power net instead of swimsuit lining, just like the back band of my bras, which gives extra support. A strip of power net is also attached to the front lining of the bra. The power net will not be seen as it will be trapped between the lining and the outer floral fabric, giving hidden support.
Now that the lining is prepared, it's time to position your cups. The cups used in this suit are MU's (available from Bra Makers Supply). The cups are available in a range of sizes which don't relate at all to your regular bra size, so the only way to ascertain which size is right for you is to try them on. Once you get the right size, pop them on under your swimsuit lining and position them in the right place. Pin them to stop slippage!
This rather glamorous photograph (!) shows the next step which is where you cut through the lining and powernet in this starburst pattern to allow the fabric between the cups to settle closer to the chest wall. Once you have the fit you want, it's time to carefully remove the lining, pin the other side of the cups and zig-zag these into place.
It's all plain sailing from here on in. Baste the outer fabric to your lining and finish your edges. The leg holes require elastic, about 2" shorter than the leg opening. The underarm and neck/back elastic don't require any additional pull. In this suit, I chose not to use any elastic in the underarms and neck and back - instead I opted to bind this with brown swimwear fabric which gives a lovely finish.
The end result is a great fun and well fitting swimsuit. It's comfortable and supportive and so much better than any store bought swimsuit that I've ever owned.
In the first in this series we met Mary Phelps Jacob, the woman credited with being the inventor of the modern brassiere. While she liberated women from compulsory corsets, women were still dressed in long skirts and high necklines.
Then, in the 30's, the world finally saw way more of the female form than at any other time, when a number of women - actresses, pin up models and burlesque dancers - exposed their beauty and curves to the mainstream.
Beautiful women who removed much or all of their clothing on the stage, with the emphasis on the 'tease' part of striptease, are what now commonly refer to as being burlesque dancers. Originally burlesque was not the combination of dance and striptease that it is now. Burlesque was a bawdy, comic sketch often parodying current events or stories from history. It wasn’t until much later, that it evolved into the art form that it is now.
One of the women who bacame very famous in this way, was Lili St. Cyr. Born Marie Frances van Schaack in June of 1918, she was a tall, slender and very striking woman from Minnesota who became a dancer in a chorus line in LA. Unfortunately for Lili, she found that this wasn’t the lucrative career she had hoped for, however she did discover that one way to earn significantly more money, and to gain fame (or notoriety) was to take off her clothes. This may not seem like such a big deal today, but at the time, this was fraught with the risk of indecency charges which could have serious consequences.
She was offered a job in a club in Montreal, where she developed various routines and worked for several years, becoming very well known in the city where she 'provided titillation for sophisticated tastes. Whereas burlesque was rough and lusty, unbridled and raw, Lili St. Cyr was glamorous and sensual, refined and elegant. She presented imagined romance and the intoxicating suggestion of sex, all while pirouetting along the subtle line of desire and lust, good taste and vulgarity' (DiNardo).
Although she had many admirers, not everyone appreciated her performances and in 1947 she was charged with indecency and charged $350 for appearing nude in a club in LA. This would not be her only brush with the law for indecency or similar charges – her mugshot below was taken when she was charged with lewd behaviour for a performance at the same LA club as before. She got a $50 fine this time, but the club owner did not fare so well. He was sentenced to thirty-nine days in jail.
Yet despite this, Lili worked in some of North America’s most renowned clubs and her fans included Humphrey Bogart and Ronald Regan. She transitioned from the stage to the big screen but never achieved the success that she dreamed of and was often type-cast as a stripper.
She gave her last performance in Las Vegas in 1970 at the age of 53. This is what I see as one of her most incredible achievements – to be dancing in a burlesque show at 53, an age where in this day most women are already passed over as being too old, Lili St. Cyr still showed style, grace and artistry.
By the 70’s the focus was more on strip than tease, and Lili’s fame faded very quickly. Strippers, female nudity and more blatant sexuality was available everywhere and the artistry of Lili, and other women like her, faded into the background.
Lili’s fame had financed a wild life, but now she disappeared into obscurity, establishing a mail order lingerie store called The Undie world of Lili St. Cyr which provided women across the US with seductive underwear with provocative names like Scantie Panties. She ultimately sold the business and became a recluse, living in poverty with an alleged heroin addiction, until her death in 1999.
With the resurgence of interest in burlesque and the celebration of the female form in all it’s shapes and sizes, interest in women like Lili has resurfaced; and instead of being seen as a scandalous woman of low morals, we see a woman who had the independence of spirit and confidence to pave the way for the physical freedom of women in future generations.
Summer is almost upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere, and in Ontario people are taking the tarps off their swimming pools and getting ready to dive in to cool down.
Summer is synonymous with swimming and swimwear - and for many of us some angst about being seen in skin tight spandex, possibly even longing for the years where women wore enormous wool swim dresses which exposed only the very minimum of skin.
So if this sounds like you, then one of the people you have to thank for bringing us the modern bathing suit is a woman called Annette Kellerman.
Annette Kellerman was born in Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia, on 6 July 1886. She had problems with her legs as a child which meant that when she was only six years old she was forced to wear steel leg braces. Her parents, wanting to help her overcome this potential disability, enrolled her in swimming lessons. These paid off as, by the time she was 13 the issues with her legs were virtually resolved. By the time she was 15 she had won her first swimming race and was giving diving displays.
On 24 August 1905, aged 19, Kellerman was the one of first women to attempt to swim the English Channel. After three unsuccessful swims she declared, "I had the endurance but not the brute strength."
Annette was very serious about her swimming and it must have been in the early 1900's that she decided that the swimwear of the time was not very practical - pantaloons covered by a dress. She opted instead to wear a one piece swimming suit.
This caused quite the stir, so much so, that in 1907 Annette was arrested for indecency while on a beach in Massachusetts. Despite this, her one piece swimsuits were hugely popular and resulted in her launching her own line of women's swimwear. These 'Annette Kellermans' were the the first modern swimsuits as we would recognise them.
Despite this line of swimwear, women were still restricted in what they could wear at many public beaches, this photo below shows police measuring the distance of the hemline to the knee of these bathing beauties in 1922. That's over 15 years after Annette's indecency charge.
Despite the issues with her legs at a younger age, Annette seems to have been very body confident. The indecency charge didn't appear to concern her and in 1916 she decided to forgo her swimsuit altogether when she was the first major actress to appear nude in a film called Daughter of the Gods.
This was only one of many films that Kellerman appeared in, the majority of which had an aquatic theme and in which she did all her own stunts - including diving into a pool of crocodiles!
But if swimming, diving, a line of swimwear and a career as a movie star wasn't enough, Annette also wrote a number of books and opened a health food store in California. Wow, what a woman and what a life! And although I don't always feel fabulous in my swimsuit, I must say that I am very glad that I don't have to wear pantaloons and a dress to the beach!
Another week has flown by, and another corset has found it's way from a picture in my head to a finished item. This time I wanted to make a cupped corset.
What's the difference between a cupped corset and a bustier? Nothing really, except maybe the bustier doesn't cover the hips. So then what is the difference between a bustier and a basque? Well, as far as I know, it's the garters.
This meant that the picture in my head wasn't really a cupped corset, but it was in fact a basque. Here's a picture of what was in my head:
I wanted to use all steel bones in this piece and some super luxurious black satin and red and black blossom silk brocade.
Although I had the fabric and the picture in my head, I had to get it from an abstract idea into a tangible pattern. To do this, I cut my Freedom overbust corset pieces out, removed the seam allowances and made a 3D model using my favourite cut and sew foam. This is the method that Beverly Johnson recommends for helping to visualise style changes, moving seam lines and identifying potential design issues. It's also great fun.
I wanted to have a black V-shaped panel in the front of the basque to further accentuate the lines that the corset was to create. By drawing these on to the foam model, I could easily ascertain the best width for this V and how best to continue the lines of the V into the bra cups.
Speaking of bra cups, I also had to change the overbust corset pattern to incorporate the shape of my bra frame. To do this, I measured the distance from my waist to my wireline and transferred this line onto pieces of the corset pattern. Then, by joining the pieces at this line and laying my bra frame over the top, it's possible to transfer the bowl lines onto the pieces.
Note that the pieces overlap and you need to be careful that you don't have too much overlap into the 'body' of the corset pieces. If this happens your bowl will be too small. Once the bowl is drawn on, you will need to move the outer line out further to simulate the pull on the underwire that you would get in a bra.
Once you have this done, make a mock up of the body of the basque using a cheap canvas fabric and hold it up to your body to see how the bowls for the cups sit. In my case, I had to widen the bowls another 3/4" which just shows how important this step is.
Now it's back to your 3D foam body piece with your revised design lines. Cut along the new lines and trace these onto your canvas mock up. Now cut up your mock up and trace onto pattern paper remembering to add a 3/8" seam allowance onto the corset pieces and 1/4" onto the bowls for your bra cups.
Alrighty, lots of planning but no sewing yet, and by now I was desperate to cut into my beautiful brocade. Yet patience is a virtue and there was one design element I had not dealt with. I wanted to have that sumptuous brocade interspersed with black panels on the sides and that V at the front. Yet I didn't just want to use a black satin or something similar. I wanted these panels to be sheer, or at least, opaque to make it even more sexy!
The lining of a corset is traditionally coutil, which is exceptionally strong and has no give. In order to have a sheer panel, I needed to use a fabric that was similarly strong and resistant to stretching. I opted to use 2 layers of sheer cup lining, which provides an element of transparency yet still retains strength.
At last, all the pieces were considered, cut out and I was ready to sew!
Putting this basque together was the same as it was for both Edelweiss and Dragon's Blood, however there was a little more thought required when it came to inserting the boning.
As there is no busk in this, I needed a long bone up the centre. I also had 2 bones culminating 2/3's down this central bone instead of terminating at the bottom of the garment. These are the 2 bones that make up the upper edge of the V. These bones would have the be inserted first with the casings terminating just under the casing of the central bone. The stitch lines of the central bone casing would ensure that the bones on either side wouldn't slip down.
The cups were then inserted. This was a little tougher than usual as the already present bones made it difficult to maneuver the fabric under the machine, so a lot of patience was required.
The binding was put on, with longer tails being left at the garter edges. These were turned under a ring, strap elastic and garters were added and then all that was left was to lace her up! I opted for rabbit ears so make it easier to tie up without assistance.
And here it is, the almost finished article sans garters - my Black Blossom Basque.
The dress form is way less busty than I am, so the cups don't quite face front on this image, but on me, they most certainly do.
And here is a selfie showing the side panel. If you've never tried taking a selfie from the side in a steel boned corset, then let me tell you, it's no mean feat!
Another week has flown by with more unmentionable ideas flooding in every day. It must be the new energy of Spring that is bringing all this inspiration. And while it's wonderful, it's not without risk. I ended up with a rather nasty and deep cut in my finger caused by a momentary lapse in concentration while wielding sharp scissors and cutting corset boning. Ouch...
Still, the wonderful world of unmentionables may not be without risk, but the rewards are fabulous - take a look:
This underbust corset is made using the most stunning gold and deep burgundy silk brocade with images of peacocks in trees adorning it. The dark red, is a deep, dark colour that was surprisingly similar to the blood seeping out through my band aid.
I decided that I wanted to cinch the waist in on this one a little further than on Edelweiss and drafted the pattern accordingly. To add to the illusion of an exceptionally small waist, I wanted a solid fabric on either side of the front panel. The deep red in the brocade was perfect and I scoured the fabric store looking for something of the same colour. Eventually I found it - the perfect match in the deepest, darkest blood red. Dragon's Blood red.
As well as deciding on colour blocking on this corset, I wanted to further accentuate the small waist so I decided to add a diagonal panel to the front in a V-shape. Optically, this draws the eye to the V of gold brocade which creates the illusion of an even smaller waist without compromising on comfort.
For this underbust, I used an antique bronze busk. Once this was put in place, I seamed the pieces together using the stitch-and-flip method and opted to use plastic boning. Constructing a corset is really very meditative and zen, and before I new it I was stabbing my fingers with a needle while handstitching on the binding. It was all worth it, Dragon's Blood is rather fabulous!
Here we are then! Week 1 of a series of posts on corsets and we're starting with an overbust corset that I have called Edelweiss.
I went shopping for fabric for this corset in a drapery store. Drapery fabric, as long as it's not too heavy or thick, and with an appropriately sized pattern, works really well when making corsets. As I was perusing the fabrics I started humming a song from the Sound of Music, thinking of the scene where our plucky nun fashions new clothes for the children from the chateau's drapery, including these rather fetching lederhosen.
Apparently these costumes really were made of curtain fabric and they were sold, along with a number of others from the movie, at auction in 2013 selling for an amazing $1.3 million. I don't know if I would get that kind of money for my corset, but I certainly feel like a million dollars when I'm wearing it!
This six panel corset is made using Beverly Johnsons Freedom Corset pattern. Prior to starting you need to take a number of measurements - bust, waist and bust to hip - and use these measurements to select the right pattern pieces. What's wonderful about this pattern is that it's easily modified to accommodate my less than standard measurements.
My bust measures 37", my waist 26" and my hips are 35". I could easily trace the lines on the pattern to the right measurements for me. Once traced, I cut out my outer fabric - this lovely white floral fabric - and the lining fabric. Coutil is the lining fabric of choice for corsets, an incredibly strong herringbone weave ensures no stretch and superlative support, and is especially recommended when using lightweight or flimsy fabrics. Twill is another good option when your outer fabric is a little sturdier. Anything less is not going to give you the strength that is required to hold you firmly in place.
White doesn't look particularly good on me, so I chose to add ribbon along the boning lines on the exterior in the taupe colour of the floral outlines. This meant that I had to stitch the boning to the coutil lining only, then add the ribbon to the floral fabric, being very careful to ensure the ribbon was stitched to exactly the same spot on the fabric as the boning - if it was off, you'd be able to see it.
Once the ribbon and boning was put into place, I chose an antique bronze finish for my busk and grommets for a good colour match. Then, it was simply a case of sewing all the panels together and adding bone casing to the seams.
On this corset I used a combination of boning. The different types of boning affect the ability of the finished item to hold you in as well as your ability to move. I used spiral steel bones in the bust area, heavyweight metal bones along the back and plastic bones elsewhere.
I added my grommets using a grommet press and laced her up using more of the taupe ribbon that I'd used elsewhere.
Finally, the binding was added using the same fabric. I love it! And while it's not practical for skipping up an alpine meadow, it'll look fabulous at this year's Calgary Stampede!