Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Learning to Sew - the hard way!

Front view, after pulling in top of bust slightly
I am a complete novice when it comes to sewing. Indeed, I find myself wishing more and more that we had been taught some more traditional (hence, useful!) subjects at school, such as how to sew, knit and mend - like a lady used to in them good old days, yar!

But like everything I feel like trying, I just jump straight in and hope I figure it out as I go along. So here I find myself on a corset project - the most fitted garment you can imagine - and inventing some choice words and phrases as I go along.

You can read about the start of the project over in this blog, but basically I have hand drawn the pattern pieces from the scale drawing in The Little Corset Book and draughted them onto paper. I went with the basic size 12 (38-28-39") given as I wasn't sure where I'd need to take in the extra fabric on all those pieces! I reckoned I could work that out at first fit stage.
Front view: pieces cut out and hand basted with 1/2" seams

Back view: centre back gap (for lacing) temporarily fitted
So here I am, I've cut out the pieces needed and hand-basted them together with 1/2 inch seams. The front and back will both be fastened - front with busk clasps and back with laces - so these need to be fastened temporarily for fitting. I did the back first, pinning a straight length of scrap fabric to each side (again with 1/2 inch seams), ensuring that there is a 2 inch gap left in the middle - this is to allow for drawing the corset tight. Next I safety-pinned the front, with the seams facing outwards so I could get in and out fairly easily whilst fitting!

First fit doesn't seem too bad (and I feel quite chuffed to have made it so far!) but on closer inspection I see it needs taken in quite a lot in various places, and possibly let out at the back hip area. My guide to fitting correctly, The Basics of Corset Building, tells me that the top and bottom of the corset should be parallel to the ground and the front seam should be vertical, not tilted. I also see that the back is wrinkling a bit so probably needs taken in in some areas and let out in others. 
Side view: lots of baggy bits to deal with!

So there's lots to do! I start with pulling in the fabric at the top front of the bust as this is way too big (unusually!) and doing this helps the corset stay in the right place whilst I fix some other areas. Next I choose a hip seam and safety-pin the extra fabric there. It's not easy doing this on yourself! At this point, baby Earthly no. 2 is wailing herself silly so I wriggle out (undoing some front pins of course!) of the corset and hope she'll let me come back to it later... stay tuned!

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