Corset Chaos for Canada Cups: Part 1

This year I was invited to be part of a blog tour of Canadian sewing bloggers - The Canada Cups Relay. It's incredible to see the sewing talent in this country, so I was very flattered to be asked to join - after all, I'm not really Canadian!

On this blog tour, all the participants are reviewing Craftsy's lingerie, bra and corset making classes to help you decide which one you'd like to try.

The Craftsy Bit

I love Craftsy classes - they provide a great starting point in any new crafting venture and you get to learn from some really great teachers without having to get on a plane! It's also really helpful that you can rewind the tough bits again, and again until you get it - and if you still don't get it, you can ask the teacher.

So when Craftsy invited me to become an affiliate earlier this year, I was really pleased! I get to share their news and special offers with you from time to time, knowing that you're going to get a great class. I also get to offer you the classes I'm reviewing at half price!

I've ordered quite the selection of classes from them over the last few years, and only once have I come across a class that I really didn't like - and I must admit that Craftsy's service was great, I had a replacement course within hours of getting in touch with them.

I snagged Craftsy's 2 corset making classes to review. I love making corsets. There's something so meditative about sewing row upon row of straight stitches and watching something incredibly curvy appear as if by magic.

My heirloom corset made with the Freedom Corset Pattern

Now, as I've already made a corset or two, I was a little cagey about reviewing Alison Smith's class Sewing Corsets - Essential Techniques. I wanted to be able to be objective and when my step-daughter asked for another corset for Hallowe'en (she had one last year too, you can check that out here), I thought it was the perfect opportunity for her to test drive the class with me. Her Hallowe'en goal is to be Diana, Goddess of the Hunt, hence all the camo fabric.

So here is our joint review of Alison's Class:

The Teacher

Alison is composed, clear, articulate and clearly a seasoned teacher. Both Kayleigh and I give her a big thumbs up. And it's not surprising, she's been awarded the MBE for services to sewing - so you know this lady is going to know her stuff.

The Pattern

Alison showcases a number of patterns that you can use, including her own. Having reviewed our pattern options and the goal of the corset - i.e. Kayleigh's corset didn't need to be historically accurate, just super curvy, we decided that most of the patterns suggested were a bit too 'straight up and down' and instead opted for the Freedom Corset Pattern by Beverly Johnson which I used to make my Heirloom corset, pictured above. If you like her bra patterns, you'll love her corset pattern. It provides great shaping and is great for curvy or busty ladies (like me!!) thanks primarily to an extra piece at the front.

The Instruction

Kayleigh worked through the class on her own, with strict instructions to only ask me for help if she was really stuck. Inserting the loop part of the busk, which can be intimidating, was clearly explained and went in without issue. However, I didn't feel the explanation for how to insert the other side was very clear and could have been explained better. Kayleigh felt the same and was worried that her 2 halves wouldn't align properly.

Inserting the grommets at the back was well explained and these went in fine. And Kayleigh made miles and miles of bone casings with ease and only a single scorched finger.

As someone who has made corsets before, I think there was a missed opportunity when it came to the bone casings. Alison teaches how to place them on the outside of the corset, while a lot of patterns have them on the inside. It would have been good to have just a few moments to address this.

We both particularly loved the finishing touch of the modesty panel. And I appreciated the hand stitching on the bottom binding - I've seen too many very expensive corsets that have been badly stitched in the ditch - so I loved this attention to detail. Also, Alison's repeated instructions to give everything a really good press is vital and I'm pleased she stressed this regularly.

At times Alison would instruct you not to do something, but would do that exact thing herself (like cutting into her seam allowances) which was a bit confusing for Kayleigh. At one point, when discussing bone casings she says that it would be different if you were using velvet, without explaining why. This was the perfect opportunity to ask a question on the Craftsy platform and Alison's response was quick and clear.

The Technical Stuff

I liked the set which gave Alison an opportunity to showcase her work; this made it visually interesting. I also appreciate that this is one of those classes where episodes go as long as they need to in order to cover technically complex sections, some of the newer classes can feel rushed to squeeze everything in in 20 minute instalments.

Kayleigh wasn't a fan of all the styles of corsets on display, but it did help her narrow down her own design preferences and on more than one occasion she exclaimed 'I can do that!' which for someone who hasn't sewn a single garment before is pretty amazing. Testimony to the courage that Alison's calm manner imbues in those who watch her class, and just look at the precision with which Kayleigh is sewing on her bone casings:

The Verdict

A big thumbs up for this class from my step-daughter. She's proud as a peacock in her corset. For me, I would have loved to have seen more detail on pattern matching, hip gores, cording etc but then, as Kayleigh reminded me, 'It's ESSENTIAL techniques Karin!' and in that, this class covers all the basics very thoroughly. It's probably not for you if you've made one or two before and are looking for more design options.

If you've made your own bras, want to make an incredible Hallowe'en corset like here, are going to a renaissance fair or Cosplay event and are fearful of making a corset because it looks so hard - you can totally do this!

Give it a try, personally, I wish I could wear a corset every day of the year, they are super comfy and it finally looks like I have a flat tummy. Right now, you can try the course for half price, which is a great bargain to add a new skill to your sewing toolbox!

And here's my Diana, almost ready for Hallowe'en:

But that's just the opinion from the Wild West of Canada, head over to Seam of My Pants tomorrow to see how Marsha in the East got on making her corset using this class.

Later today, I'll be posting my second part to Corset Chaos where I'll be reviewing Linda Sparks corset class: Custom Corsets, Bones, Casings and Busks and showing you why I shredded my free gift from Craftsy!

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