Saturday, February 16, 2013

Spring Awakening -- the beginning

And so it begins again! I began working on my next big build last semester in December. I have an 1890s era hot pink corset to construct, as well as a black Victorian bodice and skirt. The trick here is that I was unable to do any fittings until this term...with the show coming up in mid-February, there was no question that I had to start building the corset in the actual fabric and get as far as possible.

The corset:
 I did a lot of research into different corset shapes and patterns and ended up draping it. The corset the designer wanted me to use as an example is from the 1890s and is sort of a conglomerate of earlier corsets and the more modern ones. It has gussets at the bust and the back hip and a straight busk. I constructed it out of two layers of coutil and one layer of fashion fabric. The trick was the bone casings...we wanted top-stitching to be a part of the corset design, so I had to stitch very carefully by machine, moving from the bone channels in the center out to the edges so that the corset would remain smooth. I had to sort of curve the corset while stitching, in order to maintain the shape it would be over a body...without the right amount of ease between the layers, wrinkles and bubbles could be created. I wasn't completely successful with this, but I do understand the concept behind it and I think it just takes some practice.

What I learned? Don't use the industrial machine! I chose to use this machine because of all the layers...I thought it would sew a lot easier, and it did. However, it would have been easier to maintain that curve with a free arm machine rather than one built into a table. Live and learn!

Once I got the channels sewn I stitched the panels together. There are ten panels total, with a front opening busk as well as lacing in the back. I basted each panel together before attempting to stitch by machine -- there were just a lot of layers to deal with as well as some tricky curves.

Next I stitched in the gussets...lots of careful sewing, but I think they turned out pretty well. Again, difficult because of all the layers.

Once those were sewn in it was time to insert the busk.

I stitched a sort of temporary grommeted and laced closure in the back, just in case things would have to move once I had the fitting. 

I thread-marked the top and bottom hem and it was ready for the first fitting.

The Gown:

Thankfully I was able to at least drape the gown before winter holidays. I'm really happy with how the drape turned out. I spent a lot of time making sure the dress form was padded as accurately as possible because of the fitting situation. I marked my style lines carefully and went over them with the designer to make sure it was exactly what she wanted. All ready for draping, I began my work. I have to say I was just really in the zone for this drape. I was excited for it and I just had a really good idea as to what I wanted to do with it. Last year I had done something similar, so I was feeling a lot more confident than I have before. In about 3 hours I had a half drape of everything but the sleeves and collar. I left it there for the break knowing that once I got back I could easily pattern it and make myself a mock-up to be fitted within the first week of school in January.

I should mention a little about the character -- this is the adult woman in the show -- the only adult woman in the show. This is her teacher look -- strict, German, simple but proper. The bustle is subtle -- she is a working woman and things need to be practical! This is also when the bustle is going out of fashion. The corset will be worn underneath and will be featured in a scandalous reveal! Due to this, I also have to make the bodice easily far we're thinking center front zipper, which should work great, even if it's not quite period! ;)