Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dress Diary: Steampunk Cleopatra: Yet More Corset Mock-ups

This is the corset of endless mock-ups.  Every time I fix one thing, more things pop up, and then I have to go and undo what I just fixed.  *sigh*  Partly this is taking so long because I'm really trying to get it as close to perfect as I can.

So when last we left the mock-ups, I had made two mock-ups and though the first one had problems, I preferred the shape it gave to the second, corrected mock-up.

So I went back to the first pattern and started from there.  It's been months since I did this part, since I was interrupted by illness and then an event to vend, so I can't tell you all the changes I made exactly.  I took an entire panel out at the back to create a lacing gap.  I took more out at the waist and made some changes to the side hip curves.  I don't think I made any changes to the bust yet, because I was trying to get the waist and hip right first.  Here's that mock-up.

All in all pretty good.  The nice hip spring is back, and though the 4th panel has some diagonal wrinkles, it's better than it was.   The left side has the top folded down to the height I want the corset at.

Here's the back.  Nice, respectable lacing gap.  At this point I was forced to put the project down for a couple of months.

So just recently I was able to come back to it and I tried the corset back on.  I think it's possible I lost some weight in that time, because as you'll see the lacing gap isn't so great anymore.  I felt the corset was too big in the side bust and there was also some extra space in the high hip.  So I pinched and pinned those areas and make the alterations directly on the corset.

Here is the same mock-up with those alterations.  I also make a rough trial of the waist belt panel.  I took the original size of the waist panel and simple extended it in length to fit.  It doesn't have seam allowances here, so it's just sewn in place.  Note the changes are only to the side of the corset with the belt, the side on the right (this was taken in a mirror, so everything has flipped.)

Side view.  You can see the dart I made in the bust of the 4th panel as well as how much was taken out of the hip on the 5th panel.

The next step was to take this half of the corset apart, keeping the changes in it and use this to alter the paper pattern. In addition  to the reductions on panels 4 and 5, I took some off the top to create the top line you see here.  I also had decided the back needed to come higher to better support the bust, so I added about and inch and a half on the last panel, and slanted the 6th panel up to meet it.  So I thought I was pretty close to having a final pattern, so I only made up half of this new pattern.

I was using much lighter duck and when I tried that half on with the previous half, well, this is what happened.   I'm going with this is because of the difference in fabric strength, and also a really cheap busk.  But I did learn a few things, by pulling the busk straight and carefully studying it.

The combination of tightening the fit in the bust and lowering the top line of the front was a bad idea.  Without the side for my bust to fall into the line was way too close to my nipple for comfort.  I intend to wear this with a sheer top underneath, but I like to feel like there is NO danger of falling out of my corsets, no matter how much bending over and running around I do.  So I raised the top of the first three panels again.  I liked the height in the back now.

 But if you look, you can maybe see that the waist reduction isn't as great on the patterned side, and that's because I reduced the hip.  So I reverted to my previous hip lines, while keeping the bust reduction.  And I made the other side of the corset with these changes.  Now, I know this is already confusing enough, but now these pictures are no longer in the mirror so we've swapped sides again.  The left side of the photo is the same as the previous picture and the right side is the new pattern, with height added back.

My breast is sitting much higher up on the right (my left), so the large increase is actually just about right.  I like the longer look in the waist I get as a result.  The nice hip spring is back, but panel 4 still has stubborn diagonal wrinkles.  I was referred to an excellent article on the site Foundations Revealed on smoothing exactly these kinds of wrinkles on the front hip.  Unfortunately, that article is behind the paywall.  (As an aside, in general I've found that there is a lot of great content on the site, worth paying for, at least for the course of a complicated project like this.)

So, armed with the knowledge from that article, I set out to try a technique to reduce the wrinkle by adding a crescent of fullness to the front of the hip panel.    Here is the new hip panel.

Well, there are FEWER wrinkles in the hip portion now.  That large wrinkle at the front is now from excess fabric.  It's much easier to pull smooth, though, than it was.  The top of that panel is still quite wrinkled.  But I'm hoping that with stiffer fabric, more layers, and most importantly extra boning, like a  bone running down the middle of the panel, that it will smooth out.

I think I'm going to slice a little off the crescent where this big wrinkle is to try to get it to lie a bit flatter.  And after all these changes, I have one more thing to fix.

The lacing gap is almost completely closed now from the waist down.  I intend to take a bit out at the very back, and also some from waist down from the second to last panel.

But I'm just DONE with mock-ups.  I have lost the will to remake this any more.  And I'm out of duck cloth.  So I'll be making some slight variations to my pattern and embarking on the actual corset...

I am doing some fabric tests first because I want to try fusing my fashion fabric to my coutil.  And I still have to work out exactly how I'm going to do the belt.  Eek.

Oh, and I do actually have a deadline now.  I'm going to be entering this outfit in the Your Wardrobe Unlock'd Costume Competition.  One of their themes this year is "Steampunk: Historical Inspirations."  Seriously.  If I needed a competition more perfectly suited to this costume, I couldn't find one.  But that means I have to have my photos in by Feb 4, 2013.  And I'll be in Hawaii visiting my mom for two weeks in January.  EEK AGAIN.

I actually do have the overskirt put together.  I intend to add more trim though, so technically the hard part isn't really done.  (Pleated trim, yes, I make things easy for myself.)

Then I just need to make the headdress, the front Egyptian panel thingy, work on the jewelry, paint the boots, sew gears on stuff, make an ostrich feather fan, and, oh, yeah I think also build a gun out of a brass lamp a friend gave me that would be perfect.   So, no pressure.

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