I am a big fan of education. I love learning. Much to my surprise, I also love teaching. (and miss it very much, in fact, quick shout out to my SHS kids!)

So when I received an inquiry about an internship from a very eager and talented young lady, I was inclined to figure out a way to make it happen, despite my schedule being all sorts of all over the place this summer.

Emma, the young lady in question, was in need of a Renaissance Faire-style bodice (I use this term instead of “corset” for various reasons, but for the purpose of this post they are interchangeable).

I decided to propose a one-day internship during which I would walk Emma through the process of creating a Faire bodice, pointing out important factors about patterning, cutting, finishing, etc. along the way.

She was thrilled by the prospect, and the date was set.

With only one day, I thought it best to do some prep work…

I had a few appropriate fashion fabrics and some cotton canvas that I pre-washed (always!).

I pulled out an old bodice in the style we were going to use and, with her measurements, created a paper pattern sized for her.

Goths in the sun, oh no!

My bodice from the Early Years of BRF had tie-on shoulder straps and laced up the sides and back.

I ironed the fabrics and had them ready to lay out, and had a few color choices in bias tape ready.

Checkered fabric- fun!

When she arrived, we got right to it, and we made good progress. We cut out 2 layers of cotton canvas lining, between which the boning would be sandwiched. When this was done it was time to cut out the fashion fabric… this particular pattern was a multi-colored check which I suggested turning to a 45 degree angle, making the squares into diamonds and creating a fun harlequin-esque look. She loved this idea, and I explained that we could do so because we had a strong base with the two layers of canvas and changing the grain of the fashion fabric alone wouldn’t change the way the garment would lay (if we angled all three layers, it would stretch in ways we would not want because it would then be cut on the bias).

Another design choice was the center seam, which allowed us to created a very flattering chevron pattern in the front and back. (Side note, if you have more fabric available to play with, you can match up the stripes of color exactly and impress your friends! We did the best we could with .5 yards.)

After all pieces were cut, we planned out the boning channels and drew them onto the lining in chalk. A zigzag stitch was used around the edges to keep all pieces in place. The channels were stitched through all three layers.

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Next we added the boning, primarily 1/2″ plastic coated spring steel. We did use 1/4″ spring steel at the 2 sides, to provide extra strength where the grommets would be pulling on the fabric. (A lesson learned the hard way; I really like to lace myself up tight!)

Once all channels were sewn and boning inserted, we pinned and stitched bias tape around all the edges. This can be challenging, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. I would suggest sewing it on by hand if you’re unsure, or at least starting with the back pieces, so any dodgy areas will be less apparent.

Then all that was left was marking and applying the grommets. I highly recommend using quality 2 part grommets and a setter that requires a hammer… one piece grommets with the little squeeze setter just aren’t very sturdy. You can get everything you need (individually or in kits) at corsetmaking.com. They’re affordable, high quality, and are not reimbursing me to say so- I’ve been using their supplies for YEARS (we won’t get into how many years… plenty!)

I think Emma enjoyed the grommeting the most. (Fun with hammers!) Just remember to use ear & eye protection- it’s a loud process!

In the end, we were right on schedule and had a lovely, sturdy custom bodice with more boning and better quality materials than most, if not all, for sale on the Faire grounds.

Emma did have some sewing knowledge going in, which does help, but I believe if taken one step at a time, a project like this can be within anyone’s reach!

Our final product:

internship (3)

internship (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, Emma in full garb, wearing her new creation:

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