I’m not really sure what’s the best way to show/discuss the sewing of the Union Jack Corset. I’m going to say again that most of you already know how to sew including most of the steps so I think I may just stick to pictures and steps and leave the ball in your court to send us a note and ask about anything that seems confusing or even if you just want a bit of advice.
Just a few photos to review progress.
Leslie and I both agree that the ‘work’ of a new design happens mostly in the pattern making and cutting stages. Once it comes time to sew the pieces together both of us turn on the tunes or an audio book and ‘rock-on’. When I worked with the lovely Barbara (so sadly now gone) she laughed long and hard when she first saw me sewing. I had been concentrating deeply on drafting, planning and cutting and had been so quietly immersed for so long that it was a complete surprise and shock to her that once I started the stitching process the tunes were blasting and the machine was blasting through the stacks of cut pieces. She said my cutting vs sewing style was like Hyde and Jekyll!….or is that Jekyll and Hyde?
I think that much of this approach (careful careful cutting – then just SEW!) stems from the fact that both Leslie and I come from a background of industrial techniques – and have adapted our costume making production to make the most of the speedy and deliberate style of sewing associated with commercial garment production.
But – I digress……..well this is a blog and digressions are a part of the process….yes?…No?
What follows is by no means an exhaustive description of corset making for the novice. We’re currently working on that book – or should I say OPUS! But the steps here will give you a sense of the “order of operations” that were used for this particular corset project.
The Union Jack Corset is based on two layers of coutil – with the flag colour pieces attached to the outside layer. The corset hardware will then sit (sandwiched) between these two layers. There are many other ways to construct a corset – this is just one of the many.
(Note please – a corset is no loosey, goosey garment – accuracy in both cutting, and sewing really makes a difference when putting together those 130 cut fabric pieces, 22 bones, a busk and 28 grommets!)
Step 1– Sew all the piecing seams of the coloured chips. The chips for each of the 13 panels (12 body and 1 facing) are joined to each other. Each chip was marked with a pencil dot at the crucial attachment points in order to achieve a degree of accuracy.
Step 2– Press all of those seams open. In quilting I usually lay both seams to one side but for this corset I wanted to distribute the thicknesses evenly. The only exception is with the pieces that have insets.
Step 3 – Flat mount each coloured panel onto the corresponding exterior coutil backing piece.
Step 4 – Join all the left and right – both exterior and lining pieces to each other leaving the center back and center front open.
Step 5 – Press the exterior body seams open (again to distribute any thickness) – Press the interior body seams toward the front. This makes for a very strong inner layer. Normally I press the outside body seams one way and the inside body seams the other way. Strong, strong STRONG construction techniques are needed to keep a corset from breaking at the seams. At this point adding a strip of buckram to the eyelet section of the center back piece helps prevent eyelet tear-out. ( I usually do this prior to panels being sewn together as shown.)
Step 6 – Join outside (coloured) center front to center front lining and make busk insertion allowances for the left and right. Join center back to center back (each outside center back to each corresponding lining center back. Turn the pieces so that all the seam allowances are now on the inside – There is now a left corset sandwich and a right corset sandwich.
Step 7 – ‘Laminate’ (best word I can think of) the outside bodies to the lining bodies by stitching in the ditch of each seamline. Careful that there is no creeping of the pieces. Top raw edges and bottom raw edges should align perfectly.
Step 8 – Make the boning channels. This first sample has 22 bone channels stuffed with 5mm polyester bones as follows for each side: 2 channels adjacent to the busk, 2 channels centered on piece 2, 2 channels centered on piece 3, one channel for each seam between pieces 3-4, 4-5, and 5-6, and then the last two channels at the center back leaving a 1cm space for the grommets that will go in last.
Step 9 – Stitch top edges together, trim off seam allowance and bind in navy. (I used straight grain bindings – it’s just one of many options.)
Step 10 – Measure, cut, and file the bone ends. Stuff the bone channels.
Step 11 – Stitch lower edges together, trim off seam allowance and bind in navy.
Step 12 – Make the facing – if you haven’t got your own label – make one! and attach it – this may be the only credit you ever get for making this garment!…..Own It.
Step 13 – Insert the grommets at the center back. Attach the facing to one side of the center back (yeah yeah – this time I will remember to leave the grommets free at the back)
Step 14 – Put the lacings in and try that pretty thing on! – ’cause you are DONE! 🙂