My research began with practicing style lines and shapes on a mannequin using tape. I pinned a basic shape of corset shapes then added further detail and specific bust, waist and hip shaping. Rather than the traditional pattern cutting method, I worked straight from the mannequin. The first draft was 6 panels in the front and back. Then I practiced even more panels, evenly spaced and liked this style also. Using a transparent fabric to copy each individual panel then carefully removed the panels and transferred this onto pattern paper.
I decided to sample making a sculpture of the mannequin form with layers of muslin and water resistant wood glue. I wanted to try this as I thought it may be more forgiving with a needle and thread , because I think I might try some sort of piping or cording, embroidery, crewel work or an embellishment of some description.
However, I wanted to mix the shape up a bit instead of the traditional fit. I wanted to achieve a 1950's pointed bust look (more up to date would be described as the Madonna/Jean Paul Gaultier look in the 90's). The waist would remain the standard size 12 but I wanted the hips to be accentuated, having an almost Edwardian effect.
I got the effect by initially applying paper mache with a balloon and for the bust 2 card circles, slit as in the paper sculpt previous exercise in class, turned over to create a cone effect. The balloon, when dried was cut in half and attached to either side of the hip, the bust cones then attached and all sealed in with cling film, prior to applying muslin soaked strips dipped in the glue, repeated the process about 7 times.
I really liked the end result, perhaps this one more than the others I have tried. Now I will be working on the actual design.
Discussing corset with tutor as she looked at my Sculpt project, she preferred in terms of unique design my linear type black cord over my sculpt, this could be visually effective if painted white; for me to try. That evening I painted my sculpted corset with oil based paint, when it dried I pencilled in the lines for me to glue on 3mm black satin cord that I ordered 30 meters of. In refection, comparing what I thought my original idea might be, I think this will look quite striking, as black and white tends to have a sharp effect.
Applied black binding to my corset to appear finished and using a belt hole puncher, I made the holes ready for lacing. Reflecting on my ideas for the lower part in terms of colour, shape and embellishment, I decided will be a black skirt, I will work on ideas that will compliment my corset. I want to add detail, if a tubular skirt or fitted to the knee, then possibly lots of godets that will accentuate the design and add an interesting contrast with some kind of white embellishing.
I worked on ideas for a skirt shape and colour to compliment my sculpted corset, I have decided that a striking look will be achieved using black and white designs incorporated in my skirt. I drafted, cut and pinned ready for toiling the skirt before I cut out in fabric. It is a long fitted black satin backed cotton that has white inserted godets from the knees to assist movement, accentuate the dramatic black and white contrasts, and attached in the white godets, are black strips using the flow of linear designs that are also on the corset.
Photo credit: Julie Leadham Photography