Saturday, January 31, 2015

Historical Sew Monthly #1: Foundations

I decided to use this first challenge to make sure I actually finished my corset. I did not start the corset just for the historical sew monthly, but I really wanted to make it my goal to  have it done this month so I would have the rest of the year to make whatever.

It only just occurred to me a couple days ago (I finished it last week).....I'M DONE! This has been the most challenging project I have ever taken on. I made a half-hearted attempt last January *wince* and then didn't try again til July when I recieved the Dressmaker's Guide. The instructions were so much more helpful than the pattern I bought from Joann's. The one-size-fits-none pattern. Ugh.

The Challenge:  #1: Foundations
Fabric: Cotton Twill
Pattern: Draped myself, using The Dressmaker's Guide for instructions
Year: Mid-Victorian; I was shooting for 1860's
Notions: Metal grommets, spring steel boning, busk, thread
How historically accurate is it? How about.....80%? I have no idea. No glaringly bad mistakes, some of my finish work probably isn't accurate. It gives me the right shape, though. The way I have the bones in the front definitely isn't; I will fix that.
Hours to complete: A million? Seriously, I have no idea. I started it six months ago, so a ton of hours.
First worn: To a reenactment back in September, when it was only half finished. Thankfully I have fixed the problems and was glad I had the experience to wear it for five hours to get an idea of what needed to be done.
Total cost: $75; that was why I was so hard on myself to get it right.
Anyway, I started with a t-shirt and duck-taped it, sort of like if you would make a dressform. Instead of taping your whole body, though, you only do from the bust to the waist. Then you cut it off and slice it in the places you want the corset seams to go. That was a great place to start, and I will definitely use that method again.

But after that everything went downhill. To sum up this experience in a nutshell....everything went wrong that could. From ordering the wrong size boning, to re-setting the busk three times, to cutting out new pieces, to messing with the fit so much I could cry (okay, maybe I did cry), to discovering that the fabric was stretching, to just about finishing and it doesn't sit straight on my back, it has NOT been, in reality show words, a surreal incredible journey. More like a walk through sewing hell. In the picture below, those small horizontal wrinkles are from the stretching.

So that is why it has taken me six months to complete. Procrastination got the better of me, and also fear of messing up to the point of completely starting over. Thankfully, it turned out better than I could have hoped for.

Sure, the bones in the front are about 1/2'' short, but it doesn't matter that much. The only thing I'm a little disappointed about is the placement of the boning in the front. I was following the seams I had, and it looked straight when laying flat. In the picture above, you can see what I mean. Of course, I'M not flat, so that doesn't work. Other than that, I am super excited to get on with my sewing life without that hanging over me.

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