It's been exciting seeing the patterns and mock-ups posted on the sew along flickr group page. If you haven't already joined, please do! I've found the fitting advice I've received from readers such a help, the flickr page provides the same opportunity for all sew along participants. Don't worry if you're running behind the schedule, it's not too late to share you work no matter what stage your corset is!
Fitting time! It helps to have a friend help with fitting the corset mock-up, especially since this is a long one. But if you're working alone a mirror can serve as your second pair of eyes, and you'll have to bend and pin as best you can. You will also need a seam ripper, pins, and tailor's chalk or a soft pencil. Before putting the mock-up on it's a good idea to mark the waistline. At the center back edge of both patterns there are two notch marks, the waist line is the top one.
Sew the alterations in using a long stitch length. Try on the mock-up again with the seam allowances to the inside now. I know, I know, on/off, on/off, it's gets tiresome. But wait until you see the fit without seam allowances in the way.
In fact, there should be a notch on all the pieces at the waist so simply connect them.
If you don't have a second set of hands to do the lacing getting into the mock-up may be a bit awkward, but with a long lace it's doable. Wrap the corset around you with the center back opening in front, seam allowances to the outside, and start lacing from the bottom up. Make sure you don't forget to leave loops, or bunny ears, when you reach the waist. Keep the laces loose and twist the corset so the laces are in the back. Make certain the waistline you just marked on the fabric does sit at your waist. Once the corset is properly situated pull the laces just tight enough so the waist sits is snug. Not tight! Just firmly against your body. Now take a look in the mirror. It's hard to get past those giant seam allowances, but you should be able to see a hint of the corset's shape.
Don't be concerned if there is a large gap between the center back panels. Mine was 5 inches. The final corset will be sewn of stronger fabric with reinforced seams and can be handled with more force, but this lighter fabric with it's easy to separate seams will stretch and tear if you lace it tightly. Look at the gap in the lacing. If they are way closer at the top and wider at the bottom, like a capital A, then you need to remover fabric near the top and add fabric at the hips. If the lacing makes a capital V then do the opposite, add fabric near the top and remove at the hip. If they are more or less parallel, hooray, do nothing.
To add fabric, carefully open the seam with a seam ripper and pin the new seam line adding additional fabric from the seam allowance. To remove fabric pinch the excess and pin. Once you have the alterations pinned evaluate the changes. Does the corset feel like it's going to burst at the seams? Too tight. Baggyness? Too loose. Look at the center front split below the bust, it should lie smoothly, not pull. If it is being tugged apart then the hips are too tight. You should be able to walk comfortably the corset. Don't over fit the corset. If you make the mock-up skin tight now when you lace the finished corset it will cut in at the top and bottom edges and may feel uncomfortable later. No baggyness and no pulling are what we're after, we'll sort out the top and bottom edges once we have the seams fit.
When you are satisfied with the fit take the mock-up off and mark the adjustments you've made with chalk, or pencil. Adding fabric will look like this.
Removing fabric will look like this.
Now look at how the top and bottom edges work. If the top edge is crushed under the bustline then draw a new top edge with chalk or pencil. How is the length? Sit down on a firm chair. If it is not possible to sit without pressing the bones to the curve your body then they are too long. Make a mark about two or three fingers from the seat of the chair on your lacing, this is where the boning must end. Here it marked on my mock-up.
The length of the corset will still be longer than this, but it's important that the bones don't constantly butt up against chair seats. How does the length work otherwise? If you want to change the shape of the bottom edge draw it in. If you look closely you can see I drew in a more extreme curve to the center front on one side. I may decide make that curve, or take an entire inch off the length at the bottom later, but I'm going to leave it for now and once the real corset is sewn I'll do a quick try on and do any hem fine tuning then.
That's it for today. This is a lot of information for first time corset makers, but you have plenty of time this week to do everything. I had scheduled a second fitting for this Friday, but that is really only if needed. My guess is most of us will be able to fit our corsets well enough with this first fitting. We'll mark the alterations and transfer them to the patterns on Wednesday!