Thursday, January 30, 2014

HSF '14: Falling off the wagon (already)

During last year's HSF, I contracted 6 "plagues" in under 2 months (I had a cold, two stomach flus, tonsilitis, and two other illnesses I can't recall, just that I spent most of January and February in bed) and my sewing fell by the wayside something awful. I've never been that sick that often in my whole life. Excepting a sinus cold in August, I haven't been since, either (knock on wood!). This year was going to be different, I said. This year I was going to finish all the projects on time, AND finish all of last year's too.

Winter, however, does not like me much. I feel fine, but the last two weeks have just been a series of minor obstacles, and so my project for #2: Innovation will not be ready. Sadface.

I had initially planned to make a corset with a separating busk as the innovation. They were a great invention after the one-piece hard busks down a lady's front, enabling her to get dressed more easily by herself (I suspect this was not the reason of their invention, but in our modern world of not living with extra hands to help us get dressed, they are wonderful). All of my current corsets do not fit me ideally. My first one fits the best, front and back lacing, if just a touch too long - the front bones dig into the tops of my legs when I sit down. Whatever boning was used in them is easily bent at that point. The lady who made that corset got her hands up against my waist a year later and told me that my ribcage is sized more proportionately for someone 4-5" taller than I am.

I'm telling you, I was meant to be tall.

My second one was purchased online, and is a very nicely made corset. Nice thick, sturdy fabric, spiral steel boning, good lacing, not too long over the hip. Buuut it doesn't fit right. I can't really buy "off the rack". My waist and hips are one size, and my bust is a full size smaller. I have a belly pooch that resists reshaping very stubbornly. I broke a rib some 8 years ago. I have a lower back injury that has never fully healed, partly because I keep re-injuring it. I've bought corsets according to every guideline with which to do so - by waist measurement. But since my waist is bigger than my chest, I always end up too roomy in the chest. Even after I took this corset apart a bit to bring in the bust, it flattens me out far too much, and pulls too hard over the hips. I was quite uncomfortable by the end of the day at WorldCon.

I really need a custom made corset and really can't afford to get one unless I make it myself. I don't want to compress my body too much; it's just too uncomfortable. It needs to be just small enough to fit snugly and give the proper shape under my gowns.

I had such grand plans. I bought a couple busks close to 10 years ago and have been meaning to make one for nearly as long (I made a corset in 2005, more to say that I did, and have made mostly stays ever since). I first drafted up a scaled corset from Frances Grimble's Fashions of the Guilded Age Vol 1, and then bought a commercial pattern since it was extremely similar and had the added bonus of being a single layer. I whipped up a quick mock-up and was going to go ahead with the corset when I realized that my busk was too long.

Nooooooooo :(

There was no time to order supplies (Fashions' corset is for a spoon busk, and it's quite short, so maybe that would help at least keep the busk from sticking straight out from the pooch? Thank goodness belly pooch is very Victorian!). It was under a week before the deadline, which also happened to fall on the same day as a local convention, so there wasn't enough time to go through the mock-up process with a new pattern.

Then I was going to make open drawers - what another great invention! Drawers weren't common for women (if at all) until the Regency era, and after spending an hour outside at New Year's in -25 and losing feeling in my legs, I had a great feeling that I would have been more comfortable in flannel drawers and two petticoats and skirts. No matter what though, I wanted a pair of drawers that I could wear under other eras. Sure, they're not period for Elizabethan or Georgian, but who's going to be inspecting under my skirts? I am much more comfortable while wearing a split-leg garment of some kind.

Fate conspired against me again. For the fourth time in under 3 years, I am being sprayed for bedbugs. I don't have them, never have in all of these sprays, but it means that everything I own must be packed up and moved away from the walls. So while I haven't been packing and moving anything and have been sulking instead, February is pretty much a write-off in terms of sewing. I look at my projects and think "what's the point, it all has to be packed up anyway". It's not just the spray, it's the re-inspection two weeks later. There is extremely little point in putting my residence back in order when I'll just have to re-do it.

On the upside, it'll give me a chance to find my embroidery hoop and go through the old VHS tapes I've stuffed into a back corner of the storage closet. But Innovation is off the table for now, and Pink is not looking fantastic either, especially since I can't find my pinking shears.

Have a picture or two of my cat being oh-so-helpful for making it to the end of the post :) I nearly had a heart attack seeing the bustle move out of the corner of my eye until I realized it had grown a tail.

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