After finishing my Ursula costume, I still had a little bit of the black silk taffeta left, so I decided to give the mysterious Ralph Pink neck corset pattern a try. I've heard his name tossed around and seen his free downloads for historical corsets, but nobody seems to have actually tried any of his patterns and given them a real review, so I had no idea if they worked or not. To be perfectly honest, I was inclined to be skeptical because his grammar/proofreading on his website is terrible, and I'll be the first to admit that I can be a snob about that (despite not always following the rules myself! but this is my blog and I DO WHAT I WANT, THOR). Also he has no pictures of actual samples of this corset, which also makes me suspicious about how they look/fit on real people.
Anyway, his construction directions were a bit difficult to understand, so I basically ignored them and did what I wanted (Thor), which worked out okay. Instead of making it three layers and using two coutil layers to sandwich the boning, I opted to do a modified version of Lynda's bustier directions (taffeta underlined with flannel for the outer layer, boning channels sewn to a "strength" layer of ticking). After all, a neck corset is really more of a neck bustier (if that makes any sense!) since there is no reduction necessary. Unless, of course, you're looking to self-asphyxiate, in which case we've got bigger problems than incomprehensible sewing instructions...
|The edges flip up a little bit, which makes me wish I used a darker lining fabric.|
The pattern itself has some cool lines (which I emphasized with topstitching) and is fairly quick to put together. It comes with 1/4" seam allowances, which I increased to 5/8" since my fabrics frayed like the dickens. I must admit I wasn't very careful in doing so, which resulted in some of my markings not matching up, but that was probably my fault. I also futzed around with the bone placement. The final corset ended up a bit tall for my neck, but that's easily remedied, should there be a next time. I would also want the neck-to-shoulder junction to be more curved (it's a bit wrinkly right now since the angle isn't quite right for my body), but I have no idea how to begin modifying the pattern for something like that!
Confession: I actually finished this project over a month ago, but the thought of getting all dressed up in the bustier and and neck corset and then doing a photo shoot was just too much. In light of Polka Dot Overload's comments about removing barriers (in this case, barriers to blogging, not sewing), I decided to just throw it on (well, as much as one can throw on something that involves lacing) and take pictures without bothering to find a cool background or what have you. Also I was worried that if I didn't blog it soon, I would forget about everything that went into making it. As it is, I'm already fuzzy on some of the details...
|This is the only in-progress photo I thought to take. You can see the striped twill I used for the inside lining and the stitch lines from the channels. I used almost all the pins I have in prepping the bias binding!|
|And it really does get lopsided easily! If I cared more, I'd add ribbon ties to secure it under the arm or something, but I don't care enough.|
Fabric: about 1/4 yard each of black silk taffeta, cotton flannel, and cotton ticking.
Notions: spiral steel boning with heat-shrink tubing tips, cheap two-piece craft grommets (since again, this wasn't meant for heavy duty wear), 4 yards of ribbon for lacing.
|I couldn't see the back to check if my lacing was even or lined up at all...|
|This was before I tied the ribbon, obviously.|
Hours used: This is where I get fuzzy since it was so long ago...about 15? The pieces are small, but there are a lot of seams and the curves get tricky to put together, and then there was all the time spent cutting and tipping boning and setting grommets.
Will you make it again? Ummm, how many neck corsets does one need? I don't foresee making another one in the near future, but if I do, I'll make it shorter for less of a strangly-feeling. And it will probably be for another costume.
Total cost: Less than $10 for materials, since the taffeta was leftover, the length of boning was so little, and the grommets and ribbon I've had for ages. The pattern cost me about $5 since I bought it on sale. Not super expensive as trials go, but also fairly frivolous considering I don't know that I would ever wear this.
Final thoughts: Like I said above, a fun but useless experiment. And now I have an idea of how I feel about Ralph Pink patterns? There's potential there, but I wouldn't pay full price for his patterns. Also, corsetry is really fun. I like the physicality of cutting and tipping boning and stuffing it into channels, even if it does get tedious and tiring. Every time I finish a corset I want to make another one, even if they're fairly non-useful as garments go!
I have one more impractical, frivolous costume item to blog, and then I promise it'll be back to real clothing sewing for a while! I've built up this ridiculous backlog of finished garments that I've been wearing, but just never got around to taking pictures of or blogging. It's nice to be back, though!