I brought my (ordinary) sewing machine downstairs. Which means I can sew in the evenings without being all antisocial, excellent. I transferred the size 14 corset pattern onto fabric, for durability and because I don't want to damage the paper pattern for other sizes. (By the way, don't believe them when they say yellow transfer paper works on white fabric. It's a great big fat lie.) I then made a swift mock-up of the main pieces (no boning or eyelets or anything), because it looked just way too big, then I got brave and cut the actual fabric, and then promptly got scared and stashed it away to do some other cutting out. So I now have the fabric for one never-ending underskirt cut out (5 tiers!), as well as the corset, and was just about to start sewing them together in the rather imminent interests of a fancy-dress party, when J pipes up with "what am I going to wear?". This party is in honour of a friend buying a cannon for his front lawn, and is therefore pirate-themed. Not that the recent costume-tastic "Pirates of the Caribbean" had any influence on the proceedings at all. Well, since my vague costume idea had been for me to go as 'captured wench stripped down to her underthings', and as such was an excuse to wear a (currently nonexistent) corset in public, and because my day-to-day wardrobe is more geared towards dressing up than J's anyway, we decided that his costume was slightly higher priority and went to town to see what we could see. Of course, we came back with fabric and patterns, because no-one would sell us pirate garb. Bah, are the shops in Cambridge stupid or what?? 😉 In case you were wondering, Simplicity 5925, about 3 metres of black linen for the shirt, and 1.7 m of ruby polyester duppion for the trousers, cos it was in the remnants bin. So, I started sewing again at about 3 pm on Saturday, and by roughly the same time on Sunday, J had his costume. Not bad, though I'm still not sure how the shirt managed to take as long as it did; probably about 8 hours in all, not including the absolutely stirling job that J did hand-binding the eyelets for the lacing at cuff and sleeve! Thankyou Sempstress for wonderful instructions. Definitely need pictures of this one, including close-ups of the eyelets. Seriously. I'm totally blown away by them. I'm also chuffed to bits that we made such a fine team getting this done. Go us!!
So, back to the corset. I have finally started actually putting this together. I'm going to try and chronicle this thing as I do it, for future reference and kindof time estimates and things. It's going fine so far. On Tuesday night I spent an hour or so sewing the panels together (all but the centre front and centre back, which are treated differently), and pressing seams open and to one side. Last night I flat felled the seams. It took another couple of hours, I guess, and I am so proud of the little suckers! Flat felling involves trimming one seam allowance (the underneath one) to within 3mm of its life, pressing under 6mm of the top seam allowance, and stitching it down over the bottom one, so it's all neat and folded in like you see on the outside leg seams of your jeans. It has a reputation of being difficult to achieve on curved seams, which is what my corset is full of, because the edge of the seam you are trying to stitch down is usually a different length to the piece of fabric you are trying to stitch it to. This has a nasty tendency to lead to puckering, odd stretched looking bits and other ugly bits of seam weirdness. Well, mine are *gorgeous*. Flat, smooth and just generally beautiful, which is especially gratifying since I've never made them before. And now I have to cover them up with boning tape. Wah. I'll have to take some photos of them first. One rather wonderful discovery is that this coutil (the corset fabric) can be finger-pressed to turn under the seam allowance; it holds the crease from a sharp pinch very well indeed. This is far less intimidating than pressing with an iron, and, importantly, can be done on your lap whilst watching "The Two Towers". All this sewing would probably go a lot faster if the telly was off.
Actually, I'm a little perplexed by this boning tape business. It has to be stitched onto the inside of the corset to make a channel for the boning. It is presumably stitched through all layers, as invisible stitching is pretty unlikely to take the strain of the intended use of the thing. A strip of boning tape is to be centred over each seam (thus hiding my beautiful flat-felling) and over a few more places mid-panel. Well, I know I was skeptical about my abilities to flat fell curved seams, but this seems even less likely to come out looking nice. At each seam, I'm going to have the seam line itself, plus three rows of (effectively) top-stitching showing on the outside. If they're not neat and parallel, it's going to suck. I haven't been able to find any clear enough pictures of the finished article to be able to see if I'm right or not, but that does appear to be the way my veggie-leather corset is made. Well, kindof. That one appears to have the flat felled seam sewn down about 3mm from teh seam line; I stitched close to teh folded edge of the seam allowance, which puts it 8-9mm from the seam line, which will be very close to one edge of the boning tape. Oh, well, we'll see, I guess. Maybe my sheer brilliance will astound me yet again.