Paula Yeomans-Hill, UK
Model: Helen Vyse
It took me an age to decide what to do this year - spiral staircases caught my eye first, then church ceilings, caryatids, dams, but still nothing really appealed. I browsed Pinterest and came across several pictures of Robert Adam's internal architectural decoration. The ceiling design for 5 Adelphi Terrace in London was particularly inspiring. The pastel colours and the white plaster relief of these interiors have the look of an old-fashioned piped-icing wedding cake. My grandfather made and iced these sorts of multi-layered cakes, architectural in their own way.
I started my piece very late, but I decided I would like to enter something, so I have refurbished a corset which I made some years ago. I loved the shape I got at the time, but never finished the whole ensemble. The way I designed the outer elements didn't work and I never wore it. Sadly it is far too small for me now, but it's a shame to waste it. The shape gives a lovely curve to the waist and over the hip, the overbust sits a little loose on my model as it was made for me. Even at a size 10 I had a larger bust, but padding this out has helped. It is a pale blue which fits well with the pastel walls of Robert Adam's internal designs and echoes some of the cakes I remember from my childhood.
The pattern was self-drafted, using a flat patterning method. Removing the original fabric at centre front, I trimmed it back and carefully took it out of the seams. I have kept the original colour of blue satin-backed crepe which is a floating fashion layer, the base layer being white cotton drill. In my experience, this is how many theatre costumes are made, and at the time I didn't have the money for coutil. The bone channels are sewn in contrasting blue stitching and they contain mainly spiral bones.
Researching the plaster relief work I found similar shapes in lace, so I selected several types of lace applique in white and ivory. Wide guipure lace trim was too wide for what I required, but when cut into smaller sections it was ideal to make small repetitive patterns for the side and back seam lines. I didn't work from a design, but placed the lace directly onto the corset when padded out on the form and let it grow organically. Hand stitching as I went along, I added pearls in shades of grey to the adjoining pieces. These help the eye travel over the pattern and any disjointed areas and bring it together.
I'm thrilled with the final design, which has breathed new life into an old corset. I loved the challenge of making it beautiful again, using additions rather than scrapping it altogether.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
If you're wondering whether to enter, give it a go, even if life's getting in the way. Enjoy being creative for you.