Joanne Fay, UK
I had this mental image of The Ironbridge over the River Severn with its iron work contrasting against the sky. My mental image doesn't quite match reality, being more a combination of some aspects of The Ironbridge and the Victorian St Mary’s railway footbridge in Lydney, which I remember from my childhood, with a bit of the Eiffel Tower thrown in for good measure. For my design I took that mental image as a starting point and tried to make it a little less literal and a lot more graphic. I kept some specific detail from Ironbridge in the front of the corset.
I also wanted to be able to wear this corset as part of an outfit and not just as a competition piece so this affected the final design choices and choice of fabric.
For the corset itself I started with the Melissa Corset pattern from Corsets by Caroline. I raised the bottom edge at the sides so that I could have a full skirt underneath.
The corset has a blue cotton fashion layer with a white herringbone coutil strength layer and is boned with synthetic whalebone with flat steels at the back opening. The edges are bound with bias binding made from the same blue cotton. Flossing was done using the same thread as the boning channels as I wanted the flossing to be subtle and not confuse the main embellishment.
The embellishment is black embroidery floss, some of it braided, most of it crocheted into chains using a variety of crochet hook sizes to achieve different effects. The crochet chains and braids were hand-stitched onto the surface of the corset, with the ends pulled through to the back where they could be firmly anchored out of sight.
The corset is machine stitched except for the busk which is hand-stitched as my machine won’t work with a generic adjustable zipper foot.
New challenges for me included roll-pinning and placing extra boning channels. I remembered seeing demonstrations of both roll-pinning and planning boning channels in the Foundations Revealed workshops so I watched the replays which were very helpful.
Fitting an over-bust corset was another new challenge and required me to re-look at how I need to adjust a pattern to fit my posture issues in order to get a neat fit at the top of the bust. After several bust alterations I realised the corset was actually being tilted forwards at the waist and it was the hip area that needed altering to avoid this.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
Competing definitely made me nervous, it's only the second time I've had to make a corset to a deadline and the first one was hidden under clothes :) However it was definitely worth it, I've made something using techniques that I otherwise would not have tackled for some time.
I'd say to anyone thinking about it next year to just go for it. Just coming up with a design to fit the theme was fun.