The Japanese Crane Corset
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I really felt that I ought to make a pink bra, but then, it's corset month on the Bra-A-Week Challenge, so that meant it really should be a pink corset.
Trouble is, I'm not a pink kinda-girl. I'm more a black, grey, dingy brown kinda girl. So I resolved to make a pink-ish corset instead. It was just a case of finding a fabric that looked less like cupcake frosting and more like the kind of thing I would go for.
There's nothing like putting it 'out there', before you know it, you literally trip over the very thing you need. Take a look at this magnificent fabric.
Oh...my...goodness... it took my breath away. Yes, it was pink, but I could easily forgive it's pink-ness because of the amazing image on the panel; the flying cranes, the bougainvillae cascading from the top, the mass of chrysanthemum's at the bottom. It was stunning. But would be incredibly challenging to work with. I mean, how on earth was I going to transfer a two dimensional image onto the three dimensional curves of the female body?
I had to do some research. I am a very happy subscriber to Foundations Revealed website and I trawled their archives looking for help, which came in the form of the incredibly talented Alexis Black from Electra Designs. Her work is simply stunning. You can take a look at some of her amazing work here.
So, armed with a little more knowledge and a couple of compulsory glasses of wine for Dutch courage - white wine in this case, couldn't risk staining this fabric! - I decided my waist would be the place where I wanted my pattern pieces to meet. I measured the distance between the tips of the smaller birds wings and the mid-point was to be where my busk would meet. I did want to have the bigger bird at the front, but with all the curves, it would become quite disfigured, so it had to be the smaller bird.
The next challenge came in the form of that beautiful bougainvillae. These would sit over the bust area, a very curvy part of the body so I had to hope that they aligned well and didn't get cut off mid bloom.
That larger bird still called to me though. So he was to form the image on the rear of the corset. Another challenge here - the lacing and gap at the back of the corset would mean that my bird would have to be cut off half way. I considered my options. A modesty panel in the back with the missing piece of the birds anatomy would be ideal, but I couldn't be sure how much the corset would cinch and which bit of the bird would need to be seen. I also knew that lacing would obscure some of the overlap. What to do, what to do...another glass of wine seemed like a good idea... it wasn't. In the end, the wine addled my thinking and I decided on some pattern piece positioning which I hoped would work. That glass of wine turned out to make me 1/4" out, but we'll get to that.
The construction was straightforward, the pattern drafted to have a very straight front and a slightly higher back. The stress in the construction of this corset was in finding out whether or not I'd cut my fabric properly and if the pattern pieces would like up to create complete cranes once more. Which they did, as you could see in the picture above! And this corset was as desperate to be made as I was to make it, as it took on the curves of the body it was to cover as it went under the sewing machine.
I love handsewing the binding on. It's my favourite part of the process, so soothing and graceful; but I must confess to being in a bit of a hurry this time as I was desperate to see the end result. Some cream velvet ribbon was laced in the back and it was ready to wear!
So pleased with this beautiful corset. I'm very happy with the positioning of the crane on the front. The way the purple bougainvillae cascades and meets over the right breast is lovely. My crane on the back is also lovely, although here is where my 3rd glass of wine got in the way and my OCD nature would have been happier if that left panel had been moved over just 1/4" to allow your eye to travel without interruption from the left to the right.
Now, there is that curve of the wing on the edge of the left panel which I find a little distracting, but which Mr. Weaver says is just fine, and that I should stop obsessing. I retorted that it would have been better if he'd laced me up more evenly. Still, it was our wedding anniversary on this particular day, so we stopped bickering and got back to business. Despite my 1/4" irritation, I was very pleased with my modesty panel, for which I'd ultimately chosen to use a red bougainvillae flower to give the illusion of the crane flying past.
I learnt so very much from this corset. The fit is beautiful, the lines graceful, and the image left pleasingly whole despite the curves it had to follow. Asymmetrical pattern matching in corsetry is an art, one that I have yet to master, but I'm overjoyed with my results on my Japanese Cranes which will be making it's debut at the Calgary International Burlesque Festival.