Brace yourselves, this is possibly my most image-heavy post ever!
Although I’ve enjoyed sewing since I was little, it’s only really been in the last year that I’ve really taken it up seriously. It appeals to so many of my interests: creativity and design, yes, but also problem solving and focused, precision work. I enjoy the process of creating just as much as I enjoy creating beautiful, useful things for myself, friends and family. I feel so calm and focussed when I’m working, and the sense of satisfaction in successfully realising a carefully executed design, having worked through all the problems and challenges, is incredible.
Of course, sewing is a time-consuming hobby, and I’m currently pursuing one of the most time-consuming courses and eventually, careers, possible. With so many hours dedicated to my studies every week, it’s difficult sometimes to find time to spend with friends and family or to work, let alone dressmaking. But it’s really important to me that I do; if I can’t find time to pursue things I love outside of medicine, how can I take joy in the field I’m dedicating my life to? So I do take some time each week, after study and work is done, to indulge in some stress relief in whirl of creative frenzy. I feel so much more peaceful and energised after working whatever project has captured my imagination, and it makes it so much easier to settle down to work when it’s crunch time.
When the opportunity arose with a creative assignment, to combine my two passions of medicine and sewing, I was delighted to be able to bring them together in this piece. I chose to make a corset due to the complexity of the project: it seemed to mirror the ever-increasing challenges of both my course and balancing my studies with my life. I really liked the idea of reflecting some aspect of my studies in the piece; by appliquéing ribs on to the finished piece, I felt like I was really able to incorporate both my love for the complexity of the human body and my love for design.
Coutil is the corsetière’s fabric of choice; but on the expensive side and difficult to find, I opted for a cheaper substitute, super heavy-weight cotton drill (which worked perfectly, I would like to add!). For the outer layer, I wanted something smooth and shiny, and I found the perfect fabric in a glossy black poly-something from Rathdowne, strong without being too bulky, and with a matte side that would make sewing easier. All the corset-y bits and pieces I sourced from Ortensia Sewing Supplies, an Aussie-based online corsetry supplier (who I highly recommend!), except the lacing tape, which came from Spotlight. White felt for the appliqué came from my stash. Time to get sewing!
Like my last corset, this pattern came from the Corset Pattern Compendium that came with the Express Corset Making Course by Scarlet of CorsetTraining.net. The written instructions are clear if brief, but the videos are very detailed and well-made, and provide a high-level of hand-holding if you’re nervous about making your first corset. I decided I’d do this one properly, with steel bones and a waist-tape – but I did still take a couple of short-cuts: in the interests of saving time and effort, I used eyelet tape again instead of grommets (but I’m intending to put the grommets in at some point!), and I omitted the busk, which would also make it easier to appliqué later. I used the same corset Scarlet makes in the video, the Corset Training Plunge; like last time, I printed out the pattern scaled up instead of scaling it up myself. I added one cm seam allowances, and decided to make the pattern as-is without size adjustments – given it was for an assignment and not really necessarily to be worn, I didn’t want to go to too much effort fitting or making muslins.
Sewing up this corset, whilst a bit of a learning curve, was fairly straightforward. In her video, Scarlet shows a very thorough construction method, ideal for a sturdy and supportive waist-training corset. As this corset was intended for minimal (if any) wear, and I was already suspecting it would be a little large for me, I opted not to stitch each seam multiple times and so on, though I probably would for a corset intended for more strain. I also had to contend with binding a sweet-heart neckline, given the corset was busk-less with no front closure; so I cut the binding at the corner and did it in two pieces. I’m not super happy with the finish there – any suggestions of how to bind that inverted corner? The last step was to trace some ribs onto felt, cut them out and stitch them down. I used nice big stitches for this to make it easier to remove them later if I want (ribs = good for a spooky costume, and not much else!).
I’m super happy with the finished product – it looks just as I envisioned, and it doesn’t even fit too badly (one I took an additional two cm out of each back piece), although I’ll be taking a couple of inches out of the bust, underbust, waist and hip lines for the next one. And yes, there’ll be more! Like lingerie-sewing, corsetry is proving addictive and I’m already planning more. I’m even imagining some bra, underwear and underbust corset matching sets! I’m also warming up to the idea of corsets as outerwear too, and am having lots of fun planning some lovely corsets meant to be seen!
This may be the last I post for a few weeks now – this is my last week of semester, and exams are looming; on the other hand, maybe I’ll be squeezing in some stress-relief sewing here and there! Either way, until next time,
Miss Maddy x