Model: Nicole Stoeckel
The story starts with, I hate bugs. I live in the southern US, where a mosquito can be the size of your thumb, cicadas the size of your hand, and wolf spiders the size of a fist. I really hate bugs. To work under the "insect" theme, I had to really break out what bugs don't bother me as much. At this point, we encounter some irony. I'm allergic to bees.
I fell upon honey bees as an idea while scrolling through bug images. My name is Melissa, and I was told from a young age that Melissa is the surname of Artemis, the goddess of the moon. Artemis is of personal fascination to me. There are references of Artemis as "queen bee" and her handmaidens, or priestesses called Melissa.
Then I went on vacation. While in New Orleans, Louisiana I discovered a yarn shop in the French Quarter. I bought yarn, because it was everything I could have hoped for. The ideas quickly started spinning from there.
Have I mentioned that I hate insects? The idea of doing a hive and including worker bees filling in the empty honey combs had some appeal, so I stuck to that. There's even one little guy sitting on the right hip by himself on a bit of flow stuck to a comb piece.
I draped the shape of this corset, deciding early that it was going to be over bust, but that it was going to be low cut. My model was patient through multiple fittings until we got the shape we wanted. She is unused to corsets, so I didn't want it to be a drastic reduction, though I did want a visible one. We ended up with a 4 inch reduction at her waist. When was the last time your model donned a corset said “Oh wow, I’ve never had boobs before!” She asked if I could give her some hips too, so I added some padding to show more of a hip spring than she actually has.
This is a 10 panel corset, cut on grain. The first panel was doubled for the busk and 4 boning channels, the back for the grommets and boning channels to add support. I installed a 3/4 inch grosgrain waist tape anchored in panel one and panel five, and basted down during construction of the remaining panels. I used every article I could find about flat felled seams, and how to correctly install waist tapes. The flat felled seams continued on the other three panels and the connections of panel one to two and panel 4 to 5. This was new for me, so there was a lot of rip and re-stitch on the one layer coutil mock-up in order to make sure I was getting it right on my shiny fabric that shows every stitch. The gold base corset, which is one of my images, is shown close up from a slight angle to show the hip curve. I was really excited about the shape, as it is the first time I have truly gotten curve from any design of my own. The edges are finished with bias tape made from the fashion fabric, and attached on the fashion layer.
I digitally cut about 3,000 hexagons from gold-flecked cork to mimic honeycomb. Then wove the knitting ribbon through the empty hexagons. Then I stared at it for a week and got nothing else done. Here's where I stalled out. I was wasting time on Instagram and ran across the post about Lucy Emke's entry from last year. Where she said "Remember...it doesn't have to be perfect to look perfect to everyone else," I made a comment about liking that thought, because she’s right. I received rather immediate encouragement from both FR and Lucy to continue. So I did.
The ribbon weaves in different directions and the bottom of the cork honeycomb to allow for movement and the broken hive effect. There are flower petals randomly included and a full flower on the honeycomb shoulder piece. Plus that lone bee and flower on the right hip. I anchored the large bead bees, which are made of of tigers-eye and gold sheen obsidian with gold shimmer tulle pleated triangle wings for the bees themselves. I stitched in a gold cotton floating lining, finished the bias edge and it was finally done.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
It was easy to decide to do it, and daunting to follow through. However, it was worth every bit of crying, doubt and bleeding fingers to complete it. Just to say that I did. And knowing that I COULD complete it made me very happy.