Gentleman Skull Corset

It's almost Hallowe'en! I've never been a huge fan, hailing from a country where it isn't celebrated; however now, with mini-Weavers, it's taken on more significance.

So, it behooves me as a good step-parent, to assist in the manufacure and fabrication of something suitable for All Hallows Eve.

Hallowe-en fabrics

Whilst fabric shopping back in August I came across these three fun fabrics - perfect for Hallowe'en. After some creative discussions with the eldest, we settled on the middle fabric to be incorporated into an underbust corset. Although fabrication took place in September, I had to promise not to publish it on the blog until much closer to Halloween so as not to spoil the surprise for her friends.

Although I like to think that I am a good step-parent, I don't do all the work for the kids. This was therefore an excellent opportunity to explain the basics of corsetry to my lovely teen, and get her to do some measuring, designing and drafting - and then get her imagination working on coming up with the rest of her outfit.

Now for a quick disclaimer. This is a quilting cotton and not something I would use for a 'serious' corset. But as this tall, willowy teen has a lovely shape without a gram of excess fat on her, this corset doesn't need to cinch; it just needs to look amazing at the Hallowe'en dance. So, some mid-weight interfacing on the back and a sturdy coutil should be enough to create something visually spectacular despite the light-weight nature of the exterior fabric.

Let's take a closer look at this awesome fabric:

Halloween fabric panel

It was the only panel of its kind at the store, and she wanted the skull in the top hat as the main image on the front of her corset. This meant that we had to sacrifice the busk so that the image remained visually intact when it came to construction. This isn't a big deal, it just means some longer lengths of ribbon in the back to lace her up, and additionally means that it's a little less easy to get into and out of on her own. She also thought it would be fun to have the skeletons on the far left and right of the panel to sit side-by-side at the back of the corset, where her grommets would go. Great idea, but it would require a little jiggery-pokery and some forward planning to see if it would all work, plus a visual aid to ensure we created the exact thing we were visualising in our heads.

The grand plan

So, careful instructions given, she set about tracing her pattern using Pin Up Girls Freedom corset pattern. The front panel was then carefully mirrored to produce a new, larger front panel without the need for a busk. The other pattern pieces were cut out following which the boning lines were drawn on. The Pin Up Girls corset pattern is fabulous, however for smaller waisted people the boning channels on the back panels can infringe on the grommet panel. This was the case here so we moved the boning channels and added a central bone to the front where the busk would otherwise have been.

Once this was done, the pattern pieces were placed on the fabric for perfect positioning.

In order to maximise the use of the panel of fabric, we had to shave a little off the back pattern pieces. The amount removed was then added to the adjacent pieces which was to be in a solid black fabric. In this way, the overall dimensions wouldn't be affected but both the Skeleton in the top hat and the smaller skeletal diagrams could be used to their best advantage. By adding the grommet positions to the back pieces, we could also ensure that we didn't end up with a grommet in a vital organ!

Now that all this was done, it was time to get to work on the cutting out. As our lovely teen was to be doing some of the sewing herself, I thought I'd make it a little easier for her and we used a spray adhesive to fix the fashion fabric to the coutil This meant less chance of things moving on her under the machine. Then it was simply a case of sewing it all together. We paid particular attention to the front panel with our thread choices - beige thread would stand out on the black, black thread would stand out on the beige. The only way to deal with it was to measure and mark the bone casings at a change over point, stop there and change top thread colour. This was laborious, and at times frustrating, but paid dividends in the final article.

She opted for black binding. I decided to try a different method than the pattern suggests for tucking in the ends of the binding neatly which I'd found after some research. It was a little fiddly, as it required a handful of pins to hold fabric in place while I hand stitched the binding, but I really love the nice square corners it gave me. As I finished handstitching the binding she researched sugar skull make up on the Internet so that her Day of the Dead look would be complete. Here's the finished corset on that tiny waist:

Gentleman skull corset - front view

I love how the front turned out! But I think I like the back even more:

Gentleman Skull corset - back view

She seemed very pleased with it! So, as wicked stepmothers go, I think I'm very wicked indeed!!

Gentleman skull corset - front view

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