Laura Austin, Washington, USA
Model: Annalize Johnson
An icy wind blew, making my cheeks sting. It was appropriate weather for my mood. I was home for a happy occasion, but my soul felt bruised and weary. I had found myself, somewhat unexpectedly, standing outside an old stone chapel in October.
As a child, I had attended mass with my classmates here. The church had been built from faith and field stones during the Great Depression. Each week, we walked from the school to a garden patio nestled between the rectory, chapel, and a hallway connecting them. Once our teacher determined we were quiet enough, then we would file through a worn wooden door into the chapel for mass.
In that biting cold evening, stillness settled on my spirit. Underneath the gray and drizzle, ferns and flowers lay dormant, waiting for their season. I felt lighter as I walked away, savoring the moment of respite.
I had decided at the beginning of 2018 that I would learn how to make corsets. In my typical manner, I jumped in with both feet. Why read an instruction manual when you can just give it a go? Predictably, I tried many things over the course of the year, and discovered many ways not to make a corset. Though much of the year went contrary to my wishes, I found inspiration in many places. I am content to have gone on this journey.
Sanctum began as an attempt at replicating Symington pattern 18746. Using Inkscape, I traced the image from the Leicestershire Museums website to create an SVG file, which was used in conjunction with a laser cutter. As the deadline approached, I opted to cut the project into an underbust in order to overcome perfectionism.
- arch of the church windows in the front panel
- trusses in the boning
- foundational stones in the unadorned gray coutil.
- Twill tape for waist tape and boning channels
- Single layer of gray spot broche coutil for body of corset
- 1 inch wide strips of matching coutil, cut on the straight, and attached using ladder stitching. (This was a first for me, and investing in a pair of pliers was vital to completing this project.)
- 6mm by 2.5 mm synthetic whalebone at the back (in place of flat steels)
- 7mm by 1 mm synthetic whalebone elsewhere
- Gutermann silk thread for hand embroidered eyelets
- All-purpose thread for all seams and boning channels.
Techniques And Challenges
- Understanding seam types and their uses in on my list of things to learn in 2019. I believe I used plain seams, topstitched 1/8th of an inch along the edge to tack the fabric down and reinforce the seam, and covered the raw edges with twill tape, which then encased the boning.
- lack of awareness of the gaps in my (basic) knowledge regarding sewing, and lack of experience were significant challenges.
Foundations Revealed and Corsets by Caroline were huge inspirations, and helped me to keep pushing myself.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
Participating in the competition has been an incredible opportunity to pushing myself, and delve into something that fuels my creativity. If you think you would enjoy creating something new and unique, you should go for it!