Photo editor: Paw-some photography
When broken, return home
Return home and rest.
For there you shall find, the rest of you
Strong as the earth itself.
This year I broke while making my entry for this competition. I was too ambitious and tried to make an extremely new and elaborate design using only techniques I did not know, while handling house renovations and two kids, one less than a year old.
So I quit the competition.
And free of it, I found inspiration and strength to make something again. I was inspired by Beth Moody's moth entry, and looking through images of moths from my own country, I found a beautiful gold and moss green moth called Burnished Brass or Diachrysia Chrysis.
Synesthesia is a funny thing, which is often found in creative people. You sense things with more than only the usual sense, like sensing sounds in colors or numbers as a distance in space. For me, I feel most things in colors, and I often find that things that are right and true to myself, feel moss- or olive green (I am well aware that to a non-synesthetic person this sounds absolutely bonkers. It probably is). So the little moth, with its combination of luxurious gold and earth tone greens felt so familiar, that I could go ahead and make it into a corset. And even though I would try out new sewing techniques and materials, it did not become overwhelming, as everything about this project was within my safe zone because of the colors.
This turned out to be a very good thing, as most of the corset was made when my youngest child had the flu, and thus I was constantly out of time and had to focus on everything else. I often had time to hand sew, but not to use a sewing machine. Therefore there are odd places where the craftsmanship is overkill, like the beautiful handstitched inside of a bound edge, that is then covered with fake fur and pearls, leaving plenty of big stitches on the inside of the corset.
So, what did I learn and what will I do differently next time? I absolutely love the method of combining the fashion layer with the coutil, so the boning channels are hidden. This is going to be my go-to method from now on. On the pattern however, I am going lift the neckline to create an illusion of a longer torso, as this is one of my main problems with this corset. It makes my body look shorter, and there really is no need for that.
The pattern is made from my personal seven panel pattern and adjusted to my new body shape, as I had my second child one year ago. Based on what I learned in the FR live mentoring calls, I changed the grainline of one of the front panels, lowered the waist at the front and lifted it in the sides.
I chose a moss green/black shot silk shantung with very few slubs, a leftover I had from my wedding dress, after having tried all the olive green fabrics I had on hand (I have a few). I had expected to use a cotton velvet I had, as the fabric had a lovely pile that reminded me of the surface of the wings, but the velvet did not take any of the gold dyes I tried.
The outer layer of silk was sewn together with the coutil at each seam, but then pushed aside as the boning channel was sewn onto the coutil on the inside of the corset, covering the seam allowances. The silk was then flipped back, roll-pinned in place and the next seam could be made. The seams were sewn from front to back, and on the last seam in the back, the silk was handstitched in place from the outside.
I tested several dyes, including edible gold powder and acrylic paint of the different fabrics I was considering to use. I ended up using diluted acrylic gold paint, applied both with a sponge and flicked on with my fingers.
The gray parts of the design were made using fake fur, cut up in strips and small pieces. In order to cut the fake fur, I turned it wrong side up, and used a scalpel to cut only the back layer and not the hairs, holding everything in midair. I originally thought to use feathers for the part, but could not get hands on any partridge feathers in time, and the pheasant feathers I ended up buying did not look good together with the gold paint. Through trial and error I found out that thin bands of fur worked the best, as the hairs would then lay more flat against the fabric, than if I used wider pieces. Direction of the fur also mattered, and for the swivels on the front bottom I had the fur fabric cut on a diagonal, to get the fur to fall in a good way.
I bought five different pearls to apply, but decided only to use two of them after I tested them all by spreading them on the fur-decorated corset. I ended up sewing the front top three times as it did not match the pearl design on the fur edges very well.
I added some tulle I had on hand as three square pieces attached on each hip under the fur spots. The olive colored tulle was missing the gold sheen from the painted silk, so I added gold tulle as a layer underneath, giving a moderate shine.