Once upon a time, this Spring, there were two quilt fabrics, one with a rather large print and one with a tiny print in soft pink shades. The fabric with the large print contained birds, butterflies, birdcages, and keys, I wanted to use this fabric for a corset so badly. The print however is large as mentioned before and because of all the seams and curves in a corset I would need quite a few meters of fabric to pattern match and then still run the risk of ending up with a four-legged bird or lots of butterflies cut in halves. I decided to instead appliqué the individual shapes onto the soft pink fabric using Bondaweb/Vliesofix. This way I could easily decide where to place the shapes onto the corset.
I started off making the corset bodice by cutting the soft pink quilt fabric and the strong inner lining called coutil. I stitched all the seams with a small stitch length and pressed them open. The bird, butterflies, bumblebee, and egg I pressed onto the Bondaweb/Vliesofix and I cut them out. Once the Bondaweb/Vliesofix is securely fastened to the fabric and doesn’t show any air bubbles you can start to peel away the layer of paper carefully. I had to be extra careful making sure to not damage the beak and legs of the bird as to not let them snap off or still remain attached to the paper.
I placed the shapes onto the corset and using a piece of cotton on top for protection I ironed them onto the corset. Once the shapes were nicely adhered to the corset I again used a very small stitch length all the way around each shape to fasten them. By using a small stitch length you have greater control when you follow all the little bends and curves without stitching outside the lines as it were. To appliqué I strongly recommend using the appliqué sewing machine foot number 23.
After all the shapes were in place I added a special tape on either side of the seams. This tape is used to place the spiral and flat steel boning. This tape you attach after you’re completely done with the appliqués otherwise you can’t add any boning into the tunnels you create with the tape. Now I stitched the cups into the corset, I topstitched them in place from the right side or outside of the corset.
Because there are so many layers of material (quilt fabric, coutil, tapes, and foam for the cups) in a corset, especially at the seams you can end up with quite a lot of bulk which might be difficult to get you sewing machine to stitch evenly without getting stuck. You can solve this issue by using a leveller or stacked pieces of cardboard next to the bulk to level out your machine’s foot. But a lot of the time having bulky seams make for uncomfortable wear as a corset is worn so close on the body. In one of my next blogs I will show my method of reducing the bulk and how the rest of the corset is finished. For now I have started by adding some delicate lace and some tiny miyuki beads, also the butterflies now have antennae!
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Have you always wanted to make a corset of your own? I offer customised courses and masterclasses in the art of corsetry in Dutch but also in English. On my website you can find out more information on the different kinds of classes I offer: http://www.bespoke-corsetry.com/