Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wedding Dress Progress Post #5


I know it seems like it's just wedding dress posts all the time now, but you know what? That's all I've been working on, so...yeah. The good news is, it's almost done! I finished just about everything, and it's in the mail on its way to Elaine for a final try on before I tack on the appliques.


Can I just say that I never expected to be sore from corset-making? I woke up this morning feeling like I'd worked out, and I promise you, I haven't been. It's just that between cutting spiral steel, stuffing it into my very tight boning channels, inserting grommets, and extensive use of the hand-wheel on my machine for parts where I was sewing through eight layers of fabric, well, my hands and arms have been put to work.


This experience (and I'm more or less mentally/blogally wrapping up the experience since almost everything is done) has taught me that:

  • steel is sharp. I kept inadvertently jabbing or scratching myself while trying to cut and file the boning. Next time, gloves and not-shorts might be in order.
  • the people at Orchard Supply Hardware do not know what they're about. I wasted an hour being misdirected from aisle to aisle while looking for heat shrink tubing and grommet-setting tools. They also recommended aviation snips that were only barely sufficient for cutting the steel boning. I made it work, but my right arm did not thank me.
  • Steam Ingenious is seriously a genius for coming up with the heat-shrink tubing method of tipping steel boning. It was ridiculously fun watching the pieces of tubing shrink up around the bones. I want to heat shrink everything now!
  • when using the heat shrink tubing method, though, make sure to allot an extra eighth of an inch of length on either end for the extra tubing that has to stick out, or else you'll be a sad, sad person when it comes to binding the edges. 
  • I hate making holes for grommets, especially through multiple thick layers -- they have to be just the right size to be tight, but not so tight you can't wiggle the grommet in. Also, if you've got the same fabric on both the outside and inside of the corset, it's a good idea to make sure that the grommet is going in the right way. One of my grommets ended up the wrong way; thankfully the right side and wrong side are fairly indistinguishable when inserted properly. I really don't think anyone at Elaine's wedding is going to notice...right? And don't even get me started on getting them all perfectly lined up. 
  • those Clover bias tape makers are totally worth it. I actually don't have one for the size I needed for the corset binding, so I spent a good hour-plus cutting and pressing the misbehaving cream-colored poly-satin from the underskirt leftovers into 1/2" double-fold bias tape. Polyester just does not like holding a crease! I'm pretty pleased with how nice it looks in the end, though it would've been a lot faster and easier if I had the little doohicky. 
  • there's a reason why real corsetiers use special brocade for the fashion fabric in corsets; it's just a lot more stable and tightly woven. This slippery poly-satin that I used was cheap, but it was a pain when it came to fraying, bubbling, and shifting. I think I made the best of it, but if I were to do this again, I'd underline it with some stable cotton. It's unfortunate that I still had to be learning as I went while making a wedding garment, but I guess that's what Elaine gets for trusting an amateur. At least I saved her a lot of money?
On that note, custom corsets are totally justified in costing hundreds of dollars. While I mostly enjoyed the learning and the experience of making this corset for Elaine, I'll be honest -- there's no way I would do this for anyone other than a very, very, incredibly close friend that I like a lot! I'm glad I got a chance to do this, and I'm glad to be able to save her several hundreds of dollars, but I'm not in a hurry to do it all again anytime soon. I'm so relieved that it's (mostly) done.

Now I just need to figure out the applique(s). What do you think?
(My greatest fear: that the appliques will look like a violin's f-holes.)


Like I said earlier, it's now in the mail to her in Tucson, and I'm trying to hold back the anxiety that it will 1) somehow spontaneously combust en route, 2) not fit, despite having done a muslin and extensive comparison to a corset she already has, and 3) fall apart in the middle of the wedding day.

Remember that tornado of fabric that spit up in my sewing room? Well, this has now been added to the floor. 

44 comments:

  1. It's coming along splendidly! I got a chance to look at the skirt part in person, it's very Esmerelda-esque.

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    1. I'll let her know in case she ever wants to do an Esmerelda cosplay :)

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  2. Wow! You have been busy! Looks very nice from here though. :)
    I like the goldy appliques better than the white ones in the bottom photos. Maybe seeing the corset on a body will help with placement ideas.

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    1. Thanks for the input! I sent the appliques with the corset so she can play around with the placement too.

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  3. Jeepers! No wonder you're feeling like you've had a rad workout! That sounds crazy tough.
    I am loving the gold trim over the white! I agree with Em- placement will become clearer when it is on a body.
    Rad work!

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    1. Still not as worked out as you and your derby arms! I like the gold better too, but I like giving people choices :)

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  4. I have no words for how stunning this is. Congratulations!

    FWIW, I like the gold appliques best, and the shape in the top right photo is my favourite. Though it's hard to say without a three-dimensional person inside the corset ;-)

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    1. Thanks! I appreciate the opinions on the applique, although ultimately it will be up to Elaine, the 3D person inside the corset :)

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  5. Labor of Love, this is looking like! Gorgeous :)

    My vote is top right....kinda no question, actually :)

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    1. Labor of love is a very accurate description! Thanks for your vote on the applique!

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  6. I agree with Kat, photo #2 is my favorite appliqué placement. I don't know if you already know this trick, but with spiral boning, it's much easier to snip if you turn it to the "frowny" side and clip in the two loops along the right-hand edge. Does that make sense? I make corsets a lot for theatre, and I was taught this by my draper. It is still a bear to cut though. I haven't seen the shrink-tubing method before though, and am kind of geeked out over it! ;) Great progress! I can't believe this is your first wedding dress--you are such a good friend!

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    1. Oooh, thanks for the tip! I'm going to go look back at my boning and see if I can identify those parts, since I was definitely just clipping haphazardly as I went.

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  7. wow looking lovely! your efforts are well worth it!
    I really want to try the shrink tubing on a corset!

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    1. I've never tried the plastic dipping fluid, but I think the mere fact that everything in this application is solid is to be preferred. Also, no drying time required!

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  8. I can't criticize--I had nothing to blog about except for my wedding dress for months! ;)

    It's looking amazing so far! And of course now I'm evaluating all of the applique pictures for violin-esque qualities. I agree that the top right one looks the best, at least flat.

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    1. I can't even imagine making my own wedding dress! Although to a certain extent, it seems like it would be easier since you're only responsible to yourself and your own opinion.

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  9. My vote goes centre right, applique wise. And holy moly, what an insane amount of work you've done here! I'm now desperate (crazy??) to try corset making myself. Do let us know when it makes it safely to it's new home, won't you? I'm nervous for you too! I'm looking forward to a few pics of the finished product in action, if we can be so lucky ;)

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    1. Thanks for the vote! And I think you would do a fantastic job with a corset...I have yet to feel confident enough to tackle a suit like you!

      You can bet I'll be spamming my blog (can one spam one's own blog?) with pictures after the wedding! Assuming it doesn't fall apart or catch fire, that is ;)

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  10. What a lot of work! Top right, without doubt. It will widen the bust line, narrow the waist, no matter who wears it. This is looking very beautiful.

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    1. Thanks for the breakdown of what works about the applique!

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    1. Hahaha I would love it if the appliques were left off, because then I would be DONE!

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  12. This is really coming along nicely! I'm so impressed!

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  13. I've said it before, but seriously, you are SUCH a great friend. This is turning out so beautifully, and I can't believe you made it out of poly satin! It looks way more expensive.

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    1. That's me, making cheap things...that's why I use thrifted sheets so much! ;)

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  14. Wowzers! This dress gets more fantastic with ever post. The corset looks amazing.

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    1. Thank you! It's definitely gratifying to see it all come together into an actual outfit!

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  15. This looks wonderful :D -- I'm especially in awe of those even lines of grommets.

    Hope your aching arms are better now!

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    1. Bwahahaha I had to laugh at that -- a few of the grommets are totally off center, but once the whole line is there, it's less obvious looking at the whole.

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  16. Brilliant job, I love it and you are sooo talented and patient. IMHO not that it counts I love it as is, no appliqué. Can wait to see it in 3d on Elaine

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  17. i totally know how you feel--i made a wedding dress for one of my sisters (also long-distance fitting) and i am none to eager to attempt that again! by the time it was done i just wanted to shove it in a box and be done with it. and i too assumed it would spontaneously combust or fall apart... fortunately none of that happened, so i'm sure it won't for you! ha! it's looking amazing, great work!

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  18. On one of my corsets, I set all the grommets on one side backwards. (Oops.)

    For appliques, I like the top right arrangement. It seems most natural, and it will also help with visually making the waist seem smaller.

    Great job! Your friend is going to love it!

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  19. To stop her from looking like a string instrument, why don't you run the appliques out to the sides, along the bottom hem of the corset? they'll highlight the transition from corset to skirt, and she won't end up looking so much like an instrument :)

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  20. So wonderful! You've done an incredible job! Can't wait to see it on her!

    I don't think anyone else suggested it, but you can always cut the appliques into smaller pieces so there is less chance of a violin look. I've cut lace appliques up and rearranged the patterns many times. =)

    Did you not use a grommet hole cutter (it's a tool you use with a hammer to punch holes)? They make life way easier when you are doing that many grommets.

    Welcome to the less glamorous side of costuming! =) I'm often unable to really use my hands for a couple days after difficult construction or handsewing with pliers. And man, does it hurt after a day of fittings! The up and down off the floor and all the pinning just about does me in when I feel it the next day.

    ~ Brooke

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  21. I'm so impressed with what you've done. Here's hoping it fits perfectly!

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  22. Wow. The trim along the top of the corset is beautiful and the corset as a whole is just incredible. You're such an inspiration!

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  23. Wow!! It is going to be amazing!

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  24. It is just stunning! The craftsmanship in this is just astounding - so very well done!

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