Der Schauspieldirektor – Costume Diary, Part 1

29 Nov

I am currently putting together all the items form my “Der Schauspieldirektor” photo shoot. The play is about a group of actors auditioning for parts, and you can read about it in one of my previous posts.

I have to make all the costumes, and I have decided to costume the ladies in outfits inspired by a page in Fashion by the The Kyoto Fashion Institute featuring two fancy ladies outfits from the 1790s.

The costumes from The Kyoto Fashion Institute that have inspired the look for my current project.

Because I am building the costumes myself for the ladies who will be modeling, I have to start from the underwear and build my way out to the hats and the hair. The next few posts will follow my costuming process!

To start with, I have to make two corsets — one for each lady. There is a Blue Silk corset, made from a blue silk dupioni shot with Fuschia, and a Rust Corset made from an attractive upholstery weight fabric. I decided to use Simplicity Pattern #3635 because I feel that it is a versatile corset (in practice, being worn) and it is easier to make than some other Rococo corsets.

The insides of a corset. The first step is to cut out the pieces. This image shows the interlining where the bones will be placed. I used Simplicity Pattern #3635.

A corset has to be made in layers. Many corset patterns call for you to have one fabric front, one lining and one inter-lining. The directions say to sew the boning channels through all the layers, and place the bones between the lining and one of the fashion fabrics. However, after my first corset, I ALWAYS use a double inter-lining to keep the boning completely separate from the front fashion fabric and lining fabric. The boning can poke and scratch holes through the decorative fabrics, but have a hard time getting through a inter-lining of heavy canvas, cotton or muslin.

Here are all the cut pieces of my Blue Silk corset stacked together. The boning channels have been drawn on.

I decided to make both the Rust and the Blue corset a bit differently from each other, though they are the same size and same pattern.

With the boning channels drawn on the inter-lining with a water-soluable marking pen, the inter-lining is pinned to the outer fabric. This one shows my rust colored corset.

I only loosely pin my inter-lining to my fabric, because once the channels are sewn through all the pieces, they hold the thing together very quickly, and it is a lot of extra work to remove the pins from something that is too thoroughly pinned.

In this image, the corset inter-lining is pinned to the corset fabric. Here you can see it from the front and the back. The boning channels on the Rust corset are sewn through the outer fabric as well.

I cut both plastic and steel boning for my corsets. I made an all steel corset once and I felt that it was too oppressive, and had too little give. If all the bones are plastic, though, I find that the corset doesn’t offer as good of support or shaping, so I mix them. I use Tin Snips to cut my boning, both plastic (which is made smooth and easy!) and steel (which still takes some leverage).

The Blue Corset side panels, inter-lining, fully boned. Unlike the Rust Corset, the Blue Corset fabric will be added after all the channels are sewn.

A corset must be made smaller than the person’s measurements in order to shape the body. With thinner people, I only reduce the shape around three inches, but with plus size ladies, five to six inches come off easily without strain or too much discomfort.

All the boned pieces are sewn together to form the corset front, which in this image is seen from the back to show the channels.

I am not very good with avoiding the boning as I sew. On these two corsets I broke four needles in the machine completely in half by accidentally hitting steel, and I have a sneaking suspicion it was always in the same place as well.

You will see here that the Rust Corset has different colored boning, light and dark. The light colored bones are plastic, the dark are steel. I mix them up because when I used all steel the corset was too ridgid.

On the Rust Corset I cut in the tabs as directed in the pattern. In the Blue Corset I did not cut the tabs, which will keep the hips a little flatter.

Here is the blue corset with all the pieces, front, inter-lining and lining in place and ready to have the bias tape stitched around the edges to finish the look.

.I used store bought double-wide bias tape for the edges of the corsets. Sometimes I make my own bias tape out of the corset fabric, but I didn’t feel like doing it this time, because I was making two corsets.

Here is the blue corset all sewn together without bias tape as seen from the lining side.

My corsets each have a different look. One, the Rust Corset, features boning channels sewn through the front fabric and has tabs. The other, the Blue Corset, has the inter-lining and front fabric separate so that the  look is smoother, and it has no tabs.

All the pieces of the Rust Corset, including bias tape, are in place. Seen from the lining side.

After the bias tape is on, I put in eyelets to lace the corset up. I do not have any pictures of this part of the process, because I have to go into the dark basement and hammer away on the cement floor, because if I do it in my apartment the whole building shakes.

Here is the front of the Rust Corset with the bias tape on. The last step is to add eyelets to lace the corset.

Both of my corsets are now finished, and you will get to see them soon! Now I am working on the famous Jacket and Gilet based on the Kyoto example, and I have been drafting a pattern and embroidering fabric. I hope to share this process with you in my next post! Come back next time to see what I come up with!

Update – All the Posts From This Series:

  1. My first post follows the making of the corsets for both ladies.
  2. The second post takes a look at my embroidery process, and brief reviews of some of the movies I viewed while sewing.
  3. The third post shows how I put together my Jacket and Gilet.
  4. My fourth post shows the inspiration and final pigeon breasted drawstring-front jacket.
  5. The fifth post talks about the hats I created, and features a step-by-step construction process.
  6. The sixth post shows outtakes from our photo shoot and the ladies in costume.
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