Screw “Take It Easy”

I really should have listened to the Eagles advice.  The bustier part of my costume was anything but easy.  But alas I already finished the coat part of my Steampunk costume, and it is so fabulous I had to continue even though the bustier was daunting.

I began work on the bustier during a sewing and crafting night that Elizabeth hosted.  During the past week, my husband has been traveling for work, and I tend to sew a lot when he is gone.  This week I was so busy with work and a few other things that I only did small parts of the bustier up until this weekend.

Why was the bustier scary?

  1. It is fitted and that is always scary.  Lots of pieces and tricky pinning.  But I dealt with most of that during sewing night.
  2. It involved using featherweight boning to help keep its shape and provide support to the wearer.  (By the way, I hope you all enjoy a snicker every time you read the word ‘boning’ in this post.  I was snickering internally as I wrote it.  Be very careful if you do an internet search for that particular sewing term … you may have already found that out if you made your way here though.)
  3. It is closed with a separating zipper.

Strangely, during one of our recent trips to the fabric store, another customer asked me if I knew where they kept the boning in the store.  I showed her where I thought it would be, but when I purchased mine for this project, I ordered it from Amazon because the store did not carry it.  I told her as much.  Anyway, in case you are ever looking for it for a project, here are some images of how it comes packaged.

If you read my last post, you’ll remember I made a mistake when I sewed all the pieces of the outer fabric together.  I got ahead of myself and finished the seams, even though I was supposed to flatten them to help attach the boning to the bustier.  I decided that the best way to fix my mistake was to simply attach the boning to the lining of the piece rather than the outer fabric.  Not awesome, but hopefully it was going to work and not ruin the piece.  I had to re-read the pattern instructions a few times – at first I thought I was supposed to use the seams of the bustier to make casings for the boning.  However, it turned out (after several re-reads of the pattern and reading the instructions on the boning packaging) that the casing that the boning comes in (see the white roll above) just gets attached to the fabric at the seam lines.  It was not terrible to attach the casings to the fabric, though I definitely slowed down my machine’s stitch rate to make sure I stayed in the general vicinity of the lines that had been stitched already.

I measured and attached sewing cases for each of 5 seams along the front of the bustier.  I was having some issues with fit of the garment and decided I did not really need boning the whole way through in case it was too big and I needed to take it in.

After I got all of the casings attached, I realized that I really needed to straighten out the boning some.  Since the package had it curled up for who knows how long, I tried to uncurl it with some heavy objects overnight.  It was mostly successful, though a little bit of residual curling remains.

I also tried to insert the boning into the casings in such a way that the slightly curled side would be going towards my body rather than away from it.  I feel like that was probably a good decision.  I trimmed the plastic boning pieces down a bit because the machine can’t sew through them, and then I basted across the casings.  The instructions say to do a rounded end on the boning, but I found that difficult to cut into the plastic.  What I wound up with was essentially rounded, but not exact.  At this point, it was time to turn the right sides in, and pin the outside fabric and the lining together.  I felt like I must have failed at cutting when I did this because there was a bit of non-matching going on.

After sewing the pieces together, I turned the bustier right side out.  Below is a shot of the lining side.  You’ll notice I had some thread issues on the center one, but I decided I was not going to call Fred in to help with that since nobody is going to see it while I am wearing it.  You guys can keep a secret, right? 😛

And here is a picture of the outside, prior to ironing which helped a lot.

Remember earlier when I said I had some fit issues?  At this point, I went the extra mile of measuring myself at the bust, waist, and slightly below the waist to make sure the bustier would fit my figure, and then I crossed my fingers.  I had extra fabric on the edges of the bustier so I cut according to the measurements I took, and hoped I didn’t mess it up.  Then I ironed about 1/2″ under on the sides of the bustier where the zipper would be attached.  I couldn’t quite make sense of how the instructions were asking me to put the zipper in, so I slept on it.  I was glad I did – I seemed to magically understand what I was supposed to do the next morning.

First I ironed the zipper flat.  It was a 12″ zipper, so only one crease to iron out.  Then with the zipper closed, I pinned it to the outer fabric, and I moved the lining aside.    Then I unzipped the zipper and attached that side to the other end of the bustier in the same manner.  It looked something like this.

Then just to make sure I had the zippers lined up well, I zipped the two edges together.  This is what it looked like.

Ooops.  Redo.  At least I did not sew it before trying that!  Would have been a struggle to zip it up with the little zipper tag on the inside.

The dogs watched from the kitchen, only mildly amused by my mistake. Penny squeaked her octopus toy a bunch to echo my dismay at the zipper error.

After repinning properly, I basted the zipper parts in place, being careful not to sew any lining pieces in.  I actually did not use the zipper foot of my machine, as it was causing me problems.  I don’t think the feed dogs really liked the zipper teeth.  I was probably doing something wrong by having the zipper teeth anywhere near the feed dogs, but oh well.  I was frustrated by this part of the process; the hubby was snickering at my outbursts of cursing from the kitchen.  After basting the zipper parts, I pinned the lining to the other side of the zipper, like so.

The instructions wanted me to slip-stitch the lining in here.  I did not see the point of that.  The line of stitching on the outside of the bustier was not going to be noticed with that pattern, and the back was going to be hidden by a coat anyway.  So ultimately I disregarded the instructions and just stitched the lining down with the machine.  The finished zipper:

The zipper was not quite long enough to go the whole way down the back seam, but not a huge deal.  I was much more concerned with the prospect of putting this thing on and having it not fit me.  The moment of truth …

Huzzah!  And the peasants rejoice.  It’s not perfect – there is some odd bunching at the sides, but at least it fits.  And the front looks nice enough to wear with the rest of the Steampunk costume.  I decided to try the coat on and take some pictures as well.

It’s all coming together!  Two pieces down, one to go!  It might be time to seriously start looking for the perfect pair of boots to go with this costume  …


5 comments for “Screw “Take It Easy”

  1. April 9, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Buddy, this looks fantastic. Congratulations on another successful adventure in steampunk sewing.

  2. Kim
    April 9, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Amazing! That looks GREAT Jen! I know I’ve said it before, but for a virtual beginner seamstress, you have created a masterpiece! It’s gorgeous! I don’t think i would have attempted this project. Good Job Girl!!!

    • jadesabre9
      April 9, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      Thanks, ladies 🙂

  3. matt hannen
    April 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    Your dogs and their octapus Squeaky toy are enjoying this blog as much as me, apparently. Odd, but reality is Like that sometimes. Absolutely.

  4. Leslie
    April 10, 2012 at 8:15 am

    That looks awesome! I give you credit, lady, you have much more intestinal fortitude for sewing than I. I probably would have gotten ticked off and thrown the machine out the window ages ago.

    Which is probably why I stick to drinking wine and cooking–less frustrating.


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