Saturday, 23 April 2011

Cutting the pattern for the Corset

According to Wikipedia: Coutil (or Coutille) is woven cloth created specifically for making corsets[1]. It is woven tightly to inhibit penetration of the corset's bones and resist stretching. Coutil has a high cotton content. Cotton has good dimensional stability, or a resistance to stretching, which makes it a good choice for such a stressed garment. Coutil may be made to be plain (similar to 100% cotton facing), satin, or brocade. It is common for coutil to have a herringbone texture, or a similar woven texture.

According to Lucy Green: Coutil is a plastic cardboard masquerading as fabric sent to scare the novice corset maker!  Beautiful, tightly woven, tiny, perfect herringbone woven fabric which doesn't look as good once it's been washed and the steam iron isn't heavy duty enough to iron out the creases again... Some serious ironing later, I had cut the first 10 pieces of my corset and was now more worried about how plastic cardboard would "fit my curves" than ever I had been about the creases... 

Too much Geisha, not enough Gothic!
10 pieces of cream canvas (I left it alone, we had no hassle) later and the third layer was my gorgeous Alexander Henry Zen Charmer, a yard of which I finally found for sale thanks to an estate sale in America. 

I first cut the pieces matching the pattern, but when I pinned them all together I had a pair of Geisha's and not much else showing.  I wanted more Gothic than Geisha, so re-cut various pieces with no pattern matching at all. 

My yard of fabric disappeared quickly with the pattern matching and what little was left I've used for the new sections.  There is nothing but scraps remaining now, but this corset is a one off piece so any spare fabric would have just sat gathering dust; it was a wasteful but useful process and in finding specific parts of the fabric for the new panels I've created an overall look that I am  pleased with.  I hate waste, but I know I wouldn't be as pleased with the final outcome if I'd not gone through the process... and the scraps will look great in a quilt one day.

The Future Quilt
And what actually went on the bin.

Now I just have to get my head round sewing three layers of fabric (plastic cardboard) together with a bit of stainless steel thrown in for good measure...!
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