A fantasy fairy outfit – part one corset fail

I had some sewing plans. Then I got invited to a wedding with a dress code “fantasy dress encouraged”

hold up it’s new outfit time!!!!

I pretty much based the outfit off of wanting another fantasy cape, because they are so much fun to swish around in. I spent a ton of time looking around fantasy corsets on etsy, was hugely inspired by Sparklewren and Royal Black, and wanted to be a gothy fairy so I settled on a pink and black color scheme.

I started on the corset because obviously that’s the hardest part (a gathered skirt to go with it is easy right? Hold that thought for later…). I’ve made mid-bust corsets before, and figured an overbust wouldn’t be that different (oy). Of course I made my life difficult with a Sparklewren pattern that contains no boning layout or instructions…

The best part – fabric shopping! An Instagram poll ended up evenly split between the top three Silk Baron dupionis shown here on top of the skirt lace. I ended up going with the light pink, since I planned to cover it with black lace decorations.

alas poor salmon pink, no one liked you…

Before cutting I did my usual pattern adjustments – shortening the length (both above and below the waist) and also letting the waist out slightly. Turns out I am shaped like the world’s fastest hourglass (aka a cylinder) and can’t get much waist compression because my rib cage and hip bone are bffs and hang out next to each other, so all these lovely pattern curves needed to be straightened out.

In canvas, my practicing my first ever single layer hip gusset!

not quite even seam spacing all the way around, but not bad for a practice round
uglier from the back and I didn’t catch the top point, but again first ever attempt

The way I generally do my corset mockups is doing a giant basting stitch to sew the seam allowance down and add bones to those channels. I also have pre-made lacing strips which get basted onto the back.

It’s…a look? Despite wanting cleavage of doom, this was a bit much. And the shape of the flappy bits was odd. (Unfortunately I couldn’t find any pictures of the made-up corset pattern, so I was also going blind on what the flappy bits should look like on a person).

no I’m not that short, strange camera angles doing their thing here
Back is touching from waist down, so this is too big.

Between mockups one and two I tweaked the shape of the flappies, raised the center front, made the front bottom shape into a way more flattering V point, and took things in a bit to try and fix the back lacing to make it more even.

V1 on the left, v2 on the right:

Also I put bones in the middle of panels so I could get a better sense of what was going on

Closer, but still not there. For the final version, I let out the top of the back a bit more, and also totally changed the shape of the bust. I chopped off the flappy bits (which I like the idea of, but could not make look good) and went for more of a V. I also split the front panel into two, so I could more easily tweak the shape over the bust.

According to my notes this is mockup #4, I don’t even remember what happened to number 3

Unfortunately, to truly make a corset mockup, you have to make a corset. Since I wanted the pink corset to be the couture fantasy corset of my dreams, I decided to make a wearable mockup first with absolutely zero shortcuts (rather than spending all that time on plain boring canvas). And since the only appropriate extra fabric I really had was some dark red leftover silk taffeta, I would hopefully end up with a second goth AF corset?

I used various techniques I learned from the Royal Black patreon about working with two fabrics (this is the only Patreon I actually pay $10 a month for, and I cannot emphasize enough how much it is worth it. Truly a bargain for the tutorials and knowledge you get from a professional). The outside is silk taffeta from Renaissance Fabrics, the strength layer is a cotton twill from Dharma Fabrics. It’s nowhere near as strong as a coutil, but when layered with the silk and all the boning it ends up strong enough.

System win for saving all these super narrow pieces of fabric over the years!

And when I said couture, I meant it. For each piece of the corset I basted across the waist and the middle to hold them together. Then carefully holding it over a tailors ham, I basted the sides in order to build in the curve that it needs over the body. I also bent over the seam allowance as if it was ironed down and basted just outside of it.

Hard to see, but those slight wrinkles when the panel is right side up are meant to be there. They go away when the fabric goes over a body.
All that practice with single layer gores paid off!

I ended up sewing the whole thing together – including boning channels which cover the trimmed seam allowance – except the channel over the seam closest to the busk. I figured that would leave me enough wiggle room to alter the bust shape if needed.

Then I tried it on –

eww ew nope uggo uggo uggo UGH.

From the front and back it’s not awful, but from the side profile you I ended up with a conical smashed down completely flat shape instead of a nice curvy shape.

I’ve got some small pads on the hips there to get any semblance of hourglass shape. I just do not get waist reduction and I need to accept that fact…
seriously what in the elizabethan heck is this nonsense.

Looking at the pattern it’s obvious what’s wrong. The top of 1b and 2 are convex curves (that’s how you get space for the bust), but the piece I split into two (which is now pieces 1a and 1b) also needed some convex curve. Instead it’s more or less straight.

In order for this to not be a total waste of time, I eked out as much curve as I could from the seam allowance between those two pieces. (and also took in the top so it laid flatter)

Final results:

The faiiiiintest hint of a curve

So it went from unwearably bad to meh. That’s good enough for me to finish and wear at a later date (especially when I cover it with black lace and bling to distract anyone from the shape) but was not good enough to be the wearable mockup for the intended new corset. And since I was running out of time, it got put in the naughty corner to think about what it’s done, and I planned to wear my regular old Victorian corset as outerwear instead (which uh, I still haven’t put up the final pictures of years later…)

And then onto what surely had to be easier to make – a plain rectangle gathered skirt. Right?!? Dun dun dun to be continued…

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