K.A. Lambe, Ireland
Inspiration and Mood Board: Pinterest
Photography: Sean Kenny
Photography and photo shoot direction: Meg (@withoutastitch_)
The traditional Japanese art of kintsugi involves mending broken pottery by filling the cracks with precious metals, boldly incorporating the breakage and repair into the piece. Rather than an invisible, flawless repair, the result is a new work of art, in which the history of the object is celebrated and imperfections are embraced.
To me, there seemed to be a natural harmony between the sculptural curves of ceramic and of corsetry, and between kintsugi and the creative journey of healing, renewal and resilience. I was inspired to create a piece that evokes a long, shapely ceramic vase, broken into many pieces and seamed back to life with molten gold.
With these inspirations in mind, I set out to find a lustrous blue fabric with beautiful depth of colour, a bright, sunshine gold silk to highlight the shapes, and an s-bend pattern with many pieces and beautiful, sweeping seams that I could transform into something of a hobble dress, with a graceful waist and narrow hem.
My finished piece has its imperfections but, in the spirit of kintsugi, I’m choosing to honour them and let them signify where I am right now in my creative journey. I hope you like it!
I started with the 1902 Kops patent explored by Cecile Magnier in her wonderful articles on Foundations Revealed. I scaled up the pattern to my size and mocked it up to check the fit before converting it to an overbust corset dress, refining the fit over two further mockups.
For the real thing, I fused silk dupioni to soft coutil and made my piping by hand, using cotton cord and silk charmeuse. I used the lapped seam method for much of the construction, basting the piping first along the stitching line and then topstitching the adjoining panel in place on top of it. I also made up a method to mitre the piping, to make the corners as crisp as possible.
The dress has fourteen pieces per side and is boned with flat steels at centre front, heavy synthetic whalebone either side of the grommets, and an additional seven spiral steels. The internal boning channels are made with twill tape, topstitched from the outside of the dress and handstitched on the inside where they intersect with the piped seams.
The dress is finished with cotton lining, a boned floating modesty panel, and a kick pleat with double inverted box pleats.
My thanks to Foundations Revealed authors Cecile Magnier and Charlotte Aurora Madsen for their incredibly helpful articles!
Cotton coutil, silk dupioni, silk charmeuse, fusible web and fusible interfacing, quilting cotton (lining), 7mm flat steel boning, 7mm spiral steel boning, 6mm synthetic whalebone, 4mm 2-part grommets, lacing ribbon
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
My sewing background is rooted in cosplay, and I've always been much more confident in the construction side of this craft than the design side. To come up with an idea of my own and invest time and energy in that idea has been quite a new experience, and it’s sometimes been a challenge to trust my own taste. However, the competition provided a perfect chance to exercise those muscles in a supportive environment.
If you’re thinking of entering, I really recommend it – trust in your ideas and give yourself plenty of time to make them a reality. It’s a wonderful opportunity to grow!