Thursday, May 8, 2014

Experimenting With the Ralph Pink Neck Corset Pattern

In case you thought that the bustier was the end of corsetry projects for the time being, you were wrong.



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!

Another barrier to taking photos: it's also ridiculously hard to take pictures when you don't have any large mirrors in your house that also have good lighting, and you can't really turn your head or crane your neck or else it'll make things sit lopsided. 
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. 

Summary:
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!

25 comments:

  1. Very nice construction for doing What You Want (Thor), and kind of upscale vampira.... almost gothique! Brava for trying the Pink Patterns, go you!

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    1. Oooh, let's start a trend called upscale vampira...I like that name!

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  2. Distinctive! Should get everyone's attention in Science classes! Welcome back - I've missed you.

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    1. Hah, there's no way I'd ever wear something like this to class! And thank you for the welcome back...I've missed blogging more than I thought!

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  3. I have wanted this neck corset since I saw the pattern, but have no corsetry experience and am not even sure where to start (other than Leimomi's classes, which I might do yet). But seeing this on you makes me want it even more! Corsetry, here I come!

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    1. I think this pattern is actually very doable even without the instructions, as long as you know how to put basic pieces together. Like I said, it doesn't need to be as durable as an actual corset since it's not reducing anything, so it could almost be sewn just like a regular garment that happens to have boning! Give it a try!

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  4. Okay, now you have to cosplay the Director from Nimona.

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    1. Oh my goodness, that never even occurred to me! My neck needs to be more giraffe-like, though!

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  5. Such an interesting piece! If it were for a theatre or film production, I'm sure whooper-poppers (the huge snaps) would be stitched to each shoulder and then to whatever garment was worn under it to keep it from twisting off the shoulders.

    To match your neckline curve, I think the easiest tool to use would be a flexible ruler.

    I can't wait to see how you find a way to use the neck-corset with a costume!

    ~ Brooke

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    1. I don't know that I'll return to this pattern anytime soon, but I appreciate the tips!

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  6. well i'm glad you removed that barrier, because this is, as usual, awesome.

    i've tried one of his garment patterns, and it was perfection-- i know what you mean about the site though!

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    1. Well that's good to know re: his other patterns! I was really only talking about the corset patterns, and I just get suspicious when there are no pictures and the grammar is bad :)

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  7. This is really cool!! I don't think I've ever heard of a neck corset (neckier? It can't be a bustier cause it's not the bust - ha! LOL) I love how elegant it is - you could do an awesome evil stepmother/Malificent kind of costume with this! :)

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    1. Hahaha yessss I am calling it a neckier! And I love the idea of using it in a Maleficent costume. She's actually my favorite Disney villain!

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  8. This is really frakkin awesome. Thanks for posting!!

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  9. This is why your blog is always a must read! Photos are such a barrier for me too... I look at all the amazing photoshoots out there and then I'm like "whatever, I'll just stand in front of this wall or I'll NEVER blog anything ever."

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    1. Photos didn't use to be a barrier when Mr. Cation was a student and available all day to take pictures...now that he's traveling all the time, they happen in chunks once every couple of months. And I like your realistic "this was an available wall" photos! It fits with the style of your blog, and honestly, who has time to always shoot in grungy train yards or in front of urban murals?

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    2. That sounds like my method of having photos taken too! I usually get the husband to take them in chunks.

      I just did a clean up in my studio to take photos of myself wearing half a dozen different pairs of jeans, and when I cropped them you couldn't tell where they were taken anyway.

      (And I have a backlog of blogging that I want to do too)

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    3. Haha Andrea, I totally tried to get my husband to do the same thing, but he's usually done after two outfits...

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Thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts! I appreciate reading them and I try to reply to most, if not all, comments, especially when they are questions. I ask that you keep your comments polite, and if you're a spammer, don't bother because your comment will just be deleted! Also, if you're commenting on a post that's more than two weeks old, it will be moderated.