Monday, October 11, 2010

Workroom Sessions 14 & 15: Back facings, setting eyelets

I have been a bit remiss, and I am behind on my timeline.  I am VERY glad I set an early deadline because I now do not believe I will make completion for Halloween.  I do still think I have time to make good for SteamCon, though!  I worked a bit on the 7th, and in little bits and pieces between now and then; I put in another very good, very productive session tonight.

Last Thursday I prepared the back pieces. I took photos of the gussets, but that is old hat - they are just more of the same, so I will spare you the bandwith and not upload those.  However, the center back pieces do have a bit that is different.  They have facings that run up the edges.  I cut strips to use for this when I cut the garment, and even fused them with some mid-weight interfacing.  Now it was finally time to apply them.

Unlike the bone casings at the center front and sides, the facings go to the inside.  I suppose I could have turned them to the outside, but chose not to for... not sure.  It doesn't matter.  I pinned the strips on to the shell pieces and stitched them.  I did not trim the 1/2" seam allowances, as I knew they would be fully encased and would only serve to add body and structure to the area that takes the most stress.
Center back facing, pinned to the shell

More after the cut...

Then each side was carefully top- and bottomstitched to form a pair of bone casings with a slightly wider section between them to accept the eyelets.  This wasn't difficult to do - but I did have to remind myself constantly to go slow and keep the machine under control.  No need to rush!
Center back, with facing topstitched
 Here I ran into a snag - a real stopping point.  I did not have enough grommets.  It was a problem, as I had asked my mother to come over on Sunday to help with the last fitting!

Since I also knew I'd need additional boning and thread, I hustled up to Pacific Fabrics at Northgate on Saturday - and much to my great dismay, they were short one package of boning and they did not carry washer-back grommets.  I purchased what they did have - 3/16" eyelets.  I went home and did a practice setting, and could not make the back flare properly with the tools in the kit.  I called my mother to schedule an emergency run to Seattle Fabrics on Monday.

Later I had another look at the tools - and it dawned on me that I should have *gasp* read the directions!  There weren't two lengths of eyelets in the package at all; rather there was a front with a longer shank, and a back with a slightly larger diameter.  They fit together perfectly, and a sample came out beautifully and easily.  I think I like them better than the grommets I already had.  I called Mom to reschedule again.  She will be here on Wednesday after dinner to fit both the corset a final time and a muslin of the jacket.  I took the time to mark the eyelet placement on back pieces, using a ruler and water-erasable pen on the wrong side.  By the time this was done it was quite late, and I did not feel comfortable setting grommets - it is a bit noisy, what with using a mallet and all.

Tonight I took the time to punch the holes and set the eyelets.  I did this immediately on coming home to avoid irritating my neighbors, and it went very quickly.  I first punched the holes using a drive punch, my handy yellow mallet, and one of the smaller self-healing mats I have around and about.  (This was much too small a bit of work to be bothered with dragging out the full tabletop mat.)  Note to self:  Stop off at Tandy some afternoon and buy a new punch bit.  Maybe get a set of different sizes - but the one you have is dull and has a notch in the cutting edge.

The prepared center backs, and the tools used to set the eyelets.  From top - drive punch, top and bottom eyelet pieces, setting bevel and anvil, clippers.  Not shown - nylon mallet, cutting mat.
Anyhow - I chose to use about half as many eylets as you see on most corsets, in part because the settings I had chosen are quite large to accommodate the beefy lacing I have selected.  I may use the laces that came in my new boots (they are too short to lace to the top) or may buy similar laces in a longer length, but it is certain that I will be using round bootlace.  The large scale of the lacing and eyelets contributes to the rough-and-ready look I was aiming for, and they look great.

I then sewed the center backs to the body and felled the seams.  Hallelujah!  All the pieces, assembled!

I also inserted the boning.  The pieces I had already cut were trimmed and rounded, using my trusty kitchen shears.  They have cut far worse than plastic boning without damage (think raw chicken bones) where my "better" shears have a relatively delicate edge.  Three additional packages of boning were removed from the premade casing (which I saved - I can think of a bunch of things it could be used for) and cut to length, using about a thumbs' width space at the top and bottom edges of the garment.  They were rounded and inserted with the curve going towards the body.  Even so, I was short and had to carefully select which courses to skip; eventually necessity selected for me, as a few of the back pieces had crooks in the seamlines that made them too narrow to accept boning.

I first inserted all the pieces so they curved in the same direction.  This caused the corset to curl unattractively, so I switched several of the bones to make it lie flatter.  Even so, the mostly-finished garment isn't very photogenic as is; it will need to be photographed taut, and with the extreme shaping of the hips and bust, that will be virtually impossible without putting the garment on.  I can't do that by myself (there is no opening busk), so I will make sure to take plenty of photos when my mother comes over this week.

Next.... jacket.  But I am tired, and will write on that stage of the project later.  For now, goodnight!

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