I’ve been working on a corset based on the 1890s corded corset pattern for Madame Ornata.
She asked me to make a BRIGHT green corset for a Victorian Poison Ivy costume. There were lots of complications (it’s complicated) and ended up going with an 18th century take on the idea for the costume party.
The brief for the corset was BRIGHT green. Unfortunately we just couldn’t find anything in visits to every fabric store in Wellington. We did pick up a cute ivy-leaf patterned green quilting fabric for the lining.
And then Madame O found the outer fabric on her own. And it was BRIGHT green. Did I tell you it was BRIGHT?
Yeah. It made the lining fabric look dull and brown.
So I had a mad rummage through my fabric stash.
I found a flowered pink cotton that was rather sweet.
Too sweet in fact. It just couldn’t stand up to the green silk.
Finally, I found a mid-pink quilting cotton.
I’m not even sure why I own this fabric. I have no idea when I acquired it. It isn’t a ‘me’ colour. It isn’t the type of fabric I sew with. And I have three or so metres of it!
But it was perfect for the green – bold enough to stand up to it, but without distracting from the green.
The pink and the green of the fabric together really reminded me of a green cymbidium orchid. So this became the Cymbidium Orchid/Poison Ivy Corset.
The first thing with the corded corset is, well, the cording.
People have been telling me that cording would be easier/work better/be more historically accurate (not for this period)/smell better etc. if I sewed the channels first, and then pulled the cords through.
It isn’t. It’s two steps instead of one. If you sew the channels tight enough to really hold the cording it is incredibly hard to pull through. And no matter how tight you sew the channels, the sew-and-then-pull-through method just doesn’t provide nearly as much support as sewn in cording. I’m not a convert.
With all the pieces corded, I sewed them together, wrong sides together, and then stitched down the seam selvedges, which would be covered with bias strips.
Along with lots and lots of cording, this corset takes lots and lots of bias strips.
Because the silk outer fabric is so lightweight, I bonded it to fusible interfacing so that the fabric would be strong enough to support the boning channels.
It would have really been smart if I had thought to bond the silk fabric to the interfacing BEFORE I cut the bias strips. And if I had noticed the obvious directionality of the silk and turned all my strips the same way.
The final challenge with this corset was the thread colours. Obviously the outer and lining fabric are very different colours. And BRIGHT green is really hard to find as a thread colour. I ended up having to use a rayon embroidery thread in bright green for the top thread. Gorgeous, but not very strong.
For strength, and because I didn’t want the contrast on the lining, I used a pink polyester thread for the bottom thread.
And, for a final touch I used brass eyelets. Green and gold are so fabulous (well, maybe not on yesterday’s Rate the Dress according to some of you).
So that’s the corset’s beginnings and a few sneak peeks to titillate you. On Saturday I’ll show you finished photos.