Corset making competition – 2017
Each year, Foundations Revealed hosts a corset making competition, and I have made the decision to enter. I have just started making corsets and I’m currently working on my third one, so you may think that I’m being a bit ambitious, and I would agree with you there! However, the deadline for entering the competition is at the beginning of February, 2017 so I have some time to both improve my corset making skills and to make the final piece.
Why do I want to enter the competition?
Well, I have a fairly new addiction, which is sewing. I started last year (2015) and haven’t been able to stop since; I’m not the best sewer but I can definitely see that I’m improving each time I sit down to work on a garment. I have made tops, skirts, dresses and now I am working on corsets. Despite corsets being difficult, I enjoy making them more than anything I have made before. As you know, I am passionate about foundations, lingerie and corsets so this feels like a very natural progression.
The competition, although daunting is something that I have wanted to work towards since discovering Foundations Revealed. I think that if I have an end goal, I will push myself to do better, and it’s also an opportunity for me to get some feedback from other corset makers.
Each year, several themes are set for the competition. The themes for the 2017 entry have been presented, and I have no idea which one to pick!
For those of you who are not familar with the themes for this year, I have taken the competition themes from the Foundations Revealed website and pasted them below:
Theme 1: En Pointe
Fifth position, first position, plié…. This year we want to make a connection between corsetry and ballet, either directly through an ensemble for a particular character in a ballet, or one inspired by a ballet story. Let your mind take you to the interaction of the corset and the dance, and explore the corset as a piece of a character.
Making a tutu is NOT a requirement, but it certainly would be a lot of fun!
Theme 2: Continue the Curves: Symington’s Corset Pattern Ref #2360
We at Foundations Revealed do not believe that there is a “modern body shape” that is unable to achieve the curves of the past. There is certainly a modern style of corsetry which shapes the corset to the body, cupping the ribs and focusing on the aesthetic of corset as exoskeleton, outlining the modernly fashionable, muscular thin body….. but a modern body shape that is unable to acheive old-fashioned curves? Nope, we don’t believe that exists.
To that end, we want to continue to celebrate the curvy corset! Historically, the curves were supported by a combination of natural body shape and padded shape to achieve the curves required by fashion. To make this a bit easier, we have chosen a very curvy pattern, the 1890s Symington’s Corset Pattern, Ref #2360 as our pattern for the 2017 competition. You can begin to dream of all the interesting possibilities created by the lines of this lovely design, and explore how to draft one to your measurements using Cathy’s tutorial here, Draft a Symington Corset Pattern.
I will be diarising my progress throughout the year, so be sure to check in every so often…
I have finally decided to go with the En Pointe theme for my competition entry. The Symington pattern just seems way to challenging for me at this point, maybe I will have a go once I have a few more corsets under my belt.
Since deciding on the theme, I have been OBSESSED with the corset I want to make. I created a Pinterest board where I have been adding inspiration photos on a regular basis. The idea that I have fallen in love with is a gothic ballet costume, encrusted in beads and lace, very much inspired by the aesthetics and textures of the below images.
I am very keen to add lace and beading to the corset. These things are completely new to me, but I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into it, despite knowing that it’s going to take me ages to finish it!
I have also decided to make an overbust corset, so far I have only made underbusts corsets. I will also make a romantic style tulle skirt, inspired by the image below.
Since my last post, I have attended Lowana’s beginner’s corsetry course, which you can read about here. During the course, she taught us how to make a mock-up, and adjust the mock-up during a fitting.
For this corset, I decided to find a lady to model this corset for me. This would enable me to gain some experience in working with and fitting another body shape. Luckily for me, a lovely lady called Ellen volunteered to model the corset for me.
And so, I started on my first mock-up…
Yesterday I went to fit her which was nerve-wracking in itself, as it is not something I have ever done before. I’m quite happy with how the fitting went, as it wasn’t as disasterous as I thought it was going to be!
I need to make some adjustments to the bust, as well as the bottom of the corset. These changes are just to reshape it.
In terms of fit, it wasn’t bad. The only issue was the back not being parallel. The very top overlapped and there was a gap in the middle.
The next step is to make the second mock-up, which will be made out of coutil this time. Thanks again Ellen, you’re a super star!
I have however made one little change… Based on Ellen’s colouring, I have decided to go for gold fabric with black lace, as I think it will look beautifully regal. I don’t feel like Ellen is a ‘gothic princess’, she has such delicate features that it would look ‘off’ if I pursued that them. Cross your fingers for me!
I have started on the shoulders. These will be made of tulle, corded lace and beads.
These shoulder pieces took me a long time but I really enjoyed making them. I love working with detail and I would like to do something similar to this in the future, but slightly more elaborate.
I got the shoulders to this point and will see if I want to add more beading when I see them on Ellen.
The second toile was a slightly more challenging than the first! It took me quite a while but it definitely taught me a lot, and I managed to make a few mistakes that I’m glad I made before moving on to the final piece.
Considering that there are quite a few more panels on this corset than any other corset that I have ever attempted, I got to practise a lot of top stitching and sewing boning channels.
The most challenging part of this corset so far is the bust. I have no idea how to adjust busts on corsets. Unfortunately, this over bust will not be supportive and Ellen will have to wear a bra underneath. This exercise has helped me to realise how hard this style of corset is and that I need to study up!
Here is Ellen, looking beautiful as ever. I tried the tulle skirt and shoulder straps with the corset as well.
I’m pretty happy with the fit, apart from the back around the underarms. For this piece I will not make changes to the pattern, mainly due to time (I work full-time and am trying to run a little business on the side!).
I have started the final piece!! I am terrified… I have never used the sateen coutil before and I am afraid that I will screw everything up! I have to say though, once I have cut the panels out and had sewn them together, I really liked the way it looked.
The sateen coutil is from Sew Curvy, if you’re interested.
I really enjoyed sewing this fabric, it is very smooth but it isn’t very forgiving like broche coutil (I discovered that the hard way…).
Unfortunately, things startered to get a little more complicated after the panels were stitched together… After top stitching, I noticed that the panels had developed some ripples. I couldn’t work out why, and nothing I did helped. I decided to move on in the hope that the ripples would smooth out when I put th corset on Ellen.
I then cut and placed the lace. Oh boy… this was also a steep learning curve! I have also never used lace on anything before so I had no ide what I was doing. I prematurely cut the sections out to place on the corset, and realised that I couldn’t match the left side to the right side and it looked mismatched an uneven. I would have changed the lace but I didn’t buy enough so I just carried on. Very annoying.
Next in, the eyelets. I decided to add a lot of eyelets as I love the way it looks.
I also had help from my fluffy sewing assistant, Chester.
I was initially going to leave the ‘guts’ of the corset visible, however since adding the lace and hand stitching it all on, the insides weren’t very pretty anymore. I decided to use some lightweight cotton and cover the inside by replicating the panels and stitching them to the first and eigth panels.
I have changed my mind about adding beads to the corset, I didn’t want it to be too crowded. I’m happy to just have beads on the shoulders instead.
Then on went the bias binding, which I’m fairly happy with. Bias binding is something that I previously found impossible, and now I feel like I have got to grips with it. I have to admit to breaking more than five needles in the process… ok six.
I’m still very perplexed by the ripples… I guess that can be the next thing to focus on! I also wish the waist tape didn’t show up so much. Lots of things to learn!
Anyway, I need to give myself a pat on the back because I’m pretty proud of this corset. I’m just a beginner afterall!
It’s time to shoot my the corset!!! I also made a grey and white outfit for a friend, which we shot on the same night.
My friend Jenna Orlando did the hair and makeup, and Russell Thomas was the photographer. I’m so grateful to know such talented people, it’s such a priviledge to work with them. And of course Ellen, the beautiful Ellen. She looked like a queen in her corset and wavy, long hair. I love her hair so much, and was one of the reasons I chose her to model this corset. She reminded me of Rapunzel in the photos, so I have decided to name this corset ‘Rapunzel‘.
The shoot went really well, despite it being a horrifically humid evening. Here are some behind the scenes photos and a video.
*Please click on the images to see the full size version
I’m so excited to see how these images turn out!
The photos have been edited and I’m so excited to share them with you!
*Please click on the images to see the full size version
I need to thank my wonderful model, Ellen for her beautiful poses and patience during the shoot. I’m sure that you will all agree, she is very much a natural beauty. I have to say that although I started with a concept, Ellen because my biggest inspiration.
I would also like to thank Russell for these beautiful images. We have worked together a few times in the past and it is always a pleasure.
I also owe a big thanks to my wonderful friend Jenna, for her always flawless hair and makeup skills.
I hope that you enjoyed reading my dress diary!