There’s nothing worse than having a love for corset making yet abhorring the process of making them.
My current sewing machine is one that has no name and was bought on a whim. Now I find myself using it all the time, I realise how much I hate the bloody thing. At the worst possible moments, the thread snaps, the bobbin jams and means I need to unpick all the work I’ve done and redo it in order to keep it looking beautiful. During these times, I’ve accidentally ripped, frayed and destroyed the outer fashion fabric. At points like this I think ‘why the hell do you do this to yourself?’. All in all, it’s all worked out in the end but I just can’t be arsed with the possibility that it can all be wasted because of a substandard machine. So, I went looking for a new machine and have been won over by the Janome TXL607. I want all the wonderful little extras like thread cutting at the click of a button. I was all the lovely embroidery stitches it offers. I want options! This weekend, I plan to spend my hard-earned bonus on this beauty of a machine. What’s lovely is it is £50 off and comes with a free quilting kit worth £99.
My new ingenious plan is to make a lot of complete linings with my coutil so that half the work is done. I find the process of making each corset from scratch very stressful! To be honest, it the urge to see the finished product that makes the yearning so much worse. Therefore, I’ve decided that I can help myself by spending a few weeks making half the corset and then having lots and lots of fun creating the outside. Before I start that, though, I’ll be testing out all 402 stitches and seeing which ones will look great on the next corset I’m planning.
My most recent purchase is this fabric by Michael Miller. I absolutely love it but I can’t say why. I’ve realised that when I look for something a bit different, I always end up liking something that he’s created. I found this one in Ditto Fabrics and it also comes in monochrome.
For a while now, I’ve been quite stumped about where to find fabric that has a bit more going on. Shops tend to stock the same fabrics; printed cotton (kid/holiday themed); the same Chinese brocade patterns; and the same coloured satins. I got to the point where I was desperate to find something new. God bless bloggers who collate this stuff for me! After a quick search, I found a blog that listed a range of diverse fabrics. It’s given me some great ideas for corsets but it got me thinking about accessories. Corsets are incredible on their own but are often paired with unsuitable accessories. I saw a beautiful corset, modelled by a stunning woman but they had paired it with brown granny stockings. Personally, it ruined the whole look for me. I understand it can be hard finding things to match your corset but the effort needs to be made.
I received the most gorgeous thing I have ever set eyes upon. A Vivienne Westwood hat made by Lock & Co. Now, these are the kinds of accessories I need more of! Ones that make you think “I need to make a corset to match this hat!”. This hat is very limited edition and I am so excited about having one. I’ll definitely be showing it off at a certain conference next year 🙂
I bought the Laughing Moon corset pattern from Sew Curvy and made the red satin corset I posted about previously. I would definitely recommend this style for beginners because it is a simple pattern with simple sewing. Saying this, however, you might need to watch a few “how to” videos as the instructions given might only be understood well by those who have had prior experience in sewing corsets. Nevertheless, it’s a great place to start and you can definitely get some great products from it.
Personally, this style of corset is a bit too plain for me. Unless you spend a lot of time customising it with trims and embellishments, it will always be quite plain. I, therefore, looked to see what other patterns were available. To be honest, there are a lot of the same Victorian styles and the shapes of the pattern pieces do not allow for a lot variation on style. If you are unable to use an existing patter and transform it, you will always be limited. The only way to avoid being stuck in the same pattern is to find one that gives you the opportunity to express yourself. Eventually, I stumbled across Ralph Pink’s pattern page. I absolutely love this page because of the range of patterns it has and the cheap prices they are available at. I decided to try the Straight Fronted Corset pattern, as this has great potential for mixing fabric types and colours. The possibilities are endless. You get a range of sizes from UK6 to UK16 and an easy guide about how to print them and how to construct your corset.
I will be making a few different styles of this corset and I have begun with a friend who has very classical, soft looks. I found a duchesse satin in a vintage champagne colour and immediately had a corset in mind. It would be champagne, brown, and lacy. Since she loves butterflies, I thought it would be a great opportunity to use some of the 316 butterflies I purchased recently. I have also bought some brown eyelets to compliment the champagne and will dye the laces to a similar colour.
Here’s a sneak preview so far.
So now I have a wonderful reason to make as many corsets as possible, I find that inspiration is finding me again. I mentioned previously that I struggle to come up with ideas for corsets because I’m not an artist; I can’t draw from my imagination. It may be that I’m spending so much time in the fabric shop that corset idea inception is occurring.
I awoke a few mornings ago to realise that the best place to start is to start with what you enjoy the most. Now, I could do a corset on a corset and, in all honesty, I probably will but I have been thinking about doing a lot of Guitar themed corsets. I love Tony Iommi and I’d love to have his signature guitar on my corsets. I also have guitar tattoos that I think would look great as an abstract addition.
As I have finished the red satin corset, it’s time to move on to the vintage champagne satin. I’ve decided to use a brown satin trim and can’t wait to use my butterflies. They came as a continuous trim but I decided to cut them into individual butterflies. And just like any normal OCD person, I had to count them all. I plan to have them on my hips and leading up to my bosom. I’m going to make this a custom fit corset rather than following a pattern. This means I’m in for a world of pain and headaches trying to get it perfect! The most difficult part will be the bosoms. Mine are on las domingas/gazungas side of things so it’ll take a lot of work making sure they have a home within my corset.
So I’ve had a bit of absence while I’ve been finishing the corset. I said that I’d make sure I finished the blue one before I moved onto the red one. Sadly, things didn’t work out that way. I, very stupidly, rushed the blue corset and forgot that I was doing it all wrong. This resulted in me trying to unpick the seams and damaging a lot of the fabric. In my frustration, I decided it was time for us to part temporarily. I decided to begin the red satin corset because the fabric was easier to work with. Yes, it was a bit of a copout but, I suppose, I felt I needed to start somewhere positive.
I find it all rather terrifying and I have realised why. The last life changing decision I made was deciding to leave London and travel on my own to Manchester to go to university. It was the best decision I ever made but daunting because I didn’t know anyone. I was starting a new life. This is what is happening now. I’m choosing to take the bull by the horns and hump it. It’s funny when you realise how uninteresting your life can become. Ok, I have a secret lifestyle but, like many others of a similar mindset, that’s very normal because it’s who I am. You choose a job you know you can do, you get bored of that job and look for a similar job in a different place. In actuality, nothing has changed. Until the thought of a new venture has your stomach in knots and you have invasive thoughts about all that could go wrong, you have not made that choice. I have made that choice. For two days I have had knots in my stomach about what I’m planning to do next year. Pure terror, pure excitement. What this means for me is I need to make as many corsets as I can. I need to perfect my techniques and find a style that defines what I enjoy.
My red satin corset is quite plain and simple; a perfect place to start. I’m very pleased with what I have achieved so far but I have so many plans and so little time. For the next I have champagne coloured satin and some beautiful black lace. Let’s see what I manage with that….
I’ve been making a corset with the blue Chinese brocade and I hit my usual moment of wanting to abandon it all. I suppose it’s a moment of self-doubt despite the fact that nothing is going wrong. If anything, I have a fear of success. I worry about what will happen if everything goes to plan. It’s amusing how ridiculous that thought is. In fear that I would move on from my current project, I went to buy material for the next corset. This maybe an antithetical idea, considering what I have just expressed, but it is my secret weapon. I will not want to waste what I have started and, seeing the new purchases, it will make me focus on my current project. I will want to get it over with as soon as possible so I can enjoy the next corset. I always have the urge to start something new before I have finished what I have started.
I decided to go back to my first love: red. I am definitely more purple now but, once, I was red through and through. Red makes me feel alive. I bought the coutil, red duchess satin, black satin binding and a frog fastener. As I walked down the street thinking about the lace trims I had wanted to buy, a beautiful intrusive thought entered my brain: I love my home.
Home used to be a place where people were too busy to breathe; so busy that they didn’t stop to look at the people around them. The city was not their home or their life. It was thrust upon them. Their home was their dwellings. I lived in this environment and found myself falling into the same horrible trap of being forced to think only of my world. If you didn’t, you’d find yourself being the last person on the train although you were kissing the doors. You’d be the last person standing although you were the first on. What a sickening time. No peace and no freedom.
Sadly, not everyone has the luxury of enjoying a city which allows you to be free. You can be anything you want here and that’s what comforts me. There is nothing to confirm to. Nothing is out of reach. I can be whoever I want here and, more often than not, the person I want to be is Alejandra. How she’d thrive here… I pity those who are clueless about the support here. It’s in the atmosphere. As soon as you arrive, you realise you can do anything and lead any life you wish. No discrimination, no prejudice and no mockery. What an opportunity. How stupid would it be to waste it with something as minor as self-doubt? How can I squander this chance? I’ve been given the fortune of discovering this while I still have decades ahead of me; decades to make it count. That leaves me with two options: stay and use it or lose it and get the hell out. I intend to stay.
This is the face of Alejandra. This is the face of power and dreams. This is the face of pure desire. This is the face of someone who doesn’t give a shit. This is the face of joy and love. This face does not need to belittle others in order to feel significant. This face is selfish. This face’s only concern is keeping this face as fierce as possible. This face hopes to see its reflection in everyone else.