Midway through the summer the big girls go to visit my parents, and for that one week their lives completely change. No schoolwork, no job, no younger siblings to attend to, no catboxes to clean. Nana and Grampa have a dishwasher… ’nuff said. They sleep late and dine out. They go to the ballet and the opera.
This year for her birthday present, Louisa requested that she and I design and sew a special outfit for her to wear for her evening at the opera with her grandparents. Lately, she has become enamored of a style of clothing called Steampunk. Imagine the sort of thing a Jules Vern-esque heroine might wear… if she had a great sense of style and an even greater imagination, that is. That’s steampunk. Much of it is quite odd, (bordering on the bizarre actually) but much of it is delightfully charming. After having a fine time looking at pictures and images online, Louisa and I devised an outfit consisting of a slightly trained brown linen skirt, a cream-colored blouse with an underbust corset worn over top. Of course we didn’t have a pattern for any of this, but we did have duct tape. Lots of duct tape… and the internet, which came in very handy as it turns out.
You know how when you are designing something, you get an image in your mind of how it will turn out? It’s an idealized image, and usually the finished product never quite lives up to that elusive picture you hold in your mind. But this one time the finished product does measure up. This corset looks just how I had hoped and envisioned it. Most importantly, it looks just how Louisa had envisioned it. And it looks great on her.
Feel free to click on the images for enlargements if you’d like to see more of the details. The outer fabric is a polished cotton, the lining unbleached muslin. There are two layers of cotton canvas between to give the garment strength. In lieu of boning, I merely stitched through the multiple thicknesses from the seam allowances. All edges are bound with self bias. The grommets are oversized battered brass, and the lacing is a leather thong. Louisa will be hanging some type of brass bauble or washers or clockwork gears from the ends as soon as she can find just the right sort of something to hang.
Next week, we’ll be making the skirt and I just can’t wait. If there’s one thing I love more than sewing, it’s designing… especially when what you’ve made actually ends up looking OK.
And you know what else? Life is fun. Really, really fun.