Edited to put this image at top for the thumbnail.
I went away to Las Vegas for my birthday for the second week in July, because the notion of 105F weather doesn't frighten me LIKE IT SHOULD.
On one of the shuttles to or from somewhere, wearing a dress that I'd made, I suddenly decided that I wanted to make a corset. Mostly I thought it would be a cute addition to that specific dress in a bright yellow vinyl. When I got home, I received an announcement for the Marquis de Sade Ball the upcoming weekend. That solidified the project and the deadline. I can make a corset in, like, 3 days, right?
I've made a corset once before, using Simplicity 9769, affectionately known as the Giant Cock Corset, as I built it from upholstery fabric featuring colorful roosters on a burgundy field. It was sort of a test to see how hard it is to do, and what kinds of materials I could use. Looking at it now, I can see how I fouled it up a bit. I had used plastic needlepoint canvas in place of real boning, and that doesn't impart much structure at all.
I had originally made it in size 20 with 1.0mm seam allowance rather than the usual 1.5mm because I was concerned it would be too small. Turns out, it was a little too big that way, so I made this one in 20 with standard 1.5mm seam allowance. I wear RTW 16/18.
When I went to buy vinyl, I couldn't find a yellow. So I dug through the upholstery flats until I found on this beige/pink stuff on the red tag clearance table. It's a very... fleshy color, with leather texturing.
Because I had less than a week to make the thing, I didn't have enough time to order supplies, even if I'd wanted to. I've read about a lot of different things people have used for corset boning. I wanted something with some strength, but it's not like I'm doing tight-lacing or waist-training, so I didn't need to get carried away. My first thought was to get some of the biggest zip ties I could get. Lowe's has 175-lb test zip ties in 18" lengths for something like $4.50/8. They were a little narrow and I'd have preferred they be stiffer, but at least they were immediately available and not horribly expensive -- although I would have to buy 3 packages.
Someone had also suggested to me that I grab some of the steel banding that lumber yards use to bind pallets of board. The Lowe's I was at doesn't use steel banding, but rather a heavy-duty plastic. This seemed like a good thing to try as I could use utility scissors to cut/round it, and I wouldn't have to worry about rust-proofing.Recycled Plastic Strapping Boning
The pattern calls for twill tape as boning casings, but the plastic strapping was actually wider than the steel bones would have been -- just a touch under the width of extra-wide double-fold bias tape that's been opened up. What a coincidence! (Oh there are no coincidences in math.)
I opened up the bias tape and stripped it over the seams, pinning just through the flannel backing, then stitched close to the edges. More bias tape went roughly through the middles of the panels for still more boning. More boning! Can never get enough boning. This was fun because this was one of those situations where you have to put a layer of tissue paper between the vinyl and the sewing machine so it doesn't get all skippy.Flat and Sewn Panels
As with the boning, I knew I wouldn't have enough time to order a traditional busk for the closure, but it occurred to me to call the better fabric store in town, Haberman in Royal Oak, because they have a bridal salon. Turns out, they do have busks in stock -- for $35. If there is any theme that carries through most of my projects, that theme would be CHEAP. So I didn't see making that investment. Realistically my choices were zipper, as used on the Giant Cock corset, or... nothing. I went with nothing. Thought it would look slicker.
As for the rear lacing, I had some two-part grommets on hand. I took the two bones that were to go in the back edges and drilled evenly-spaced holes -- and how much do I love garment projects that involve power tools? When I installed the grommets, I skipped half the holes that I'd drilled -- there are 9 lacing holes in the corset now, but there are, in fact, 17 holes available. Just in case.
After the grommets were in and all the bones in place, my old friend extra-wide double-fold bias tape finished the top and bottom edges. And that's it! Fairly rigid, nicely heavy duty corset! Here's the price breakdown, as I remember:
Clearance vinyl: $3 for 1 yard
Extra-wide double-fold bias tape: 3 packages (1 for casings, 2 for edging) at around $2/pkg
Plastic boning: Free
Grommets: On hand
Round waxed cotton cord: $4.50 for about 5 times as much as I needed
And I started cutting Wednesday and wore it out Saturday (and I have a full-time day job in the in-between). All-in-all maybe... 6-8 hours, HALF of which was probably installing those consarned grommets.Corset FrontCorset Rear
As usual, the piece looks better on me than it does on the dummy, but Heddy is wearing the same outfit that I wore to the Ball that Saturday night; that is a black vinyl pencil skirt. The corset is quite comfortable, although getting into it was... a bit of a challenge. I figured if I got it mostly right I could borrow someone's slave once at the event, for purely wardrobe purposes. You can see that I tied it in the front, so I was able to keep it well adjusted. Well, enough so that whenever I dropped anything, I had to have someone else pick it up for me. A small price to pay, I'd say.
My only "complaint" at this point is that it's too plain. Because it was largely a test, and was in a bit of a hurry, I didn't do anything decorative to it. I really want to play up the fleshy aspect of it. I had considered doing some semi-random Frankenstein-style stitches to make it look like the panels were pieced together from smaller pieces of skin. But I also thought it would be cool to have someone draw some old tattoo-style art on it. We'll see what I wind up with before it hits the city again the next time.
ACTION!My Goofy Self
As always, a more blah-blah version with more pictures is also available on my website:www.shefightslikeagirl.com