Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Corsets, Tea-Dying and More Fetish Thoughts

This week has been a fairly quiet one day job wise so I have managed to get a little more done burlesque-wise than usual.

The biggest achievement for me this week has been facing my fears, biting the bullet and working on my Jackalope corset. I bought a gorgeous ‘Morticia’ underbust corset some time ago now from What Katie Did (see older posts for the fun and games that I had obtaining it!). WKD are my corset people of choice as they make such gorgeous stuff (not to mention their bras, undies and what have you!) at really reasonable prices. The Morticia style is perfect for my figure as it has gored hips – I find when I wear corsets without the goring that there is not much room as I have a 28” waist to 37” hips.

Originally, I had considered getting a custom corset made as I wanted something in a yellowed out white, so that it looked aged, and most of the off the peg corsets I found came in white or ivory. However, I know and trust What Katie Did and know their corsets fit my body shape well so I decided to go with them and if need be dye the corset (NB – Disclaimer – What Katie Did do not recommend dying any of their corsets except for their ‘Music Hall’ range. I dyed mine totally off my own steam and cannot guarantee that the results I had would be the same for anyone else).

When I received the corset it was so beautiful that I didn’t dare risk dying it. I was so worried that I would accidentally shrink it, cause it to rust or do it some other sort of damage. I decided instead to embellish the corset using lace appliqués. I spent hours trawling the web looking for something that would be the right shape, size and colour and come in two symmetrical parts (as the corset is in two parts) but nothing was quite right. Then I had a light bulb moment – why buy pre-made appliqués that aren’t quite right when you can make your own? I found instructions on Google for making appliqués at home and was pleasantly surprised by how simple it was. So I ended up going to the fabric market and buying beautiful beaded bridal lace, in a light tea colour – I bought a half metre, the fabric was £120 for a whole one!!! After I had made the appliqués and sewed them on, a painstaking process that shredded the skin on my thumbs and fingers, I was delighted with the result.

So why didn’t I leave it at that? Well, I’ve never been the kind of girl to leave well enough alone. After a long conversation with my other half, he told me that in his minds eye the costume would not be white at all and that the whole thing would be a yellowish, brownish cream again aged looking but still beautiful. I agreed that that was what I had wanted to do, but that WKD had advised against dying their corset as they couldn’t predict the results. I didn’t dare bugger it up, especially as I had gone to all the work and expense with the appliqués. But the more I thought about it, the more the thought wouldn’t go away. So I decided to take the plunge and risk it in the hope of getting closer to my original vision of what the costume should look like.

I dyed the corset, and also my bloomers and bra in a tea bath. Nothing scary happened during the dying process but I was like a broody bantam fussing and checking and turning the two halves of the corset as it dried. Reputable sources had told me that if you absolutely must dye a corset you should leave it to dry flat and try and get it dry as quickly as possible. Leaving it flat was a bit of an issue because of the goring in the hips – it just isn’t cut to sit in one flat piece, but I did my best. I put it near the radiator on a drying rack and hoped for the best.
In the end I was absolutely delighted with the results for the corset. It has come out a light brownish cream and does look as though it was something that used to be white but is very old. There is a little inconsistency in the colour in a couple of places but it kind of adds to the flawed, aged effect and I don’t regret taking the risk (NB another disclaimer! I am not suggesting anyone else follow my lead and dye their own corset – mine turned out great but I can’t guarantee whether other people’s would.).

The bloomers, being made of cotton, took the colour a little darker and have come out slightly more yellow in tone which gives a nice contrast to the corset but the bra – made from mainly synthetic stuff – didn’t take the colour as strongly. It came out more like a pale brownish peach. This wasn’t a big problem though as I only wanted it dyed as a base so there would be no bright white peeking through when I covered it. I have started covering the cups of the bra with vintage lace fabric bought from my local car boot sale and then trimmed it with a cream and brown lace edging. I still need to work on the side sections and add a little more trimming and then the bra will be done.

Here’s a snapshot of my bra-in-progress and my finished corset – apologies for the rubbish phone photo.

So the Jackalope costume is now coming on in leaps and bounds. There is still lots more work to do before I can put costuming to bed, the skirt alone is going to be a mammoth task, not to mention I still need to get myself my prop and finish music editing and choreography. It looks like I will not meet my self imposed deadline I had hoped for but I think the extra time I have spent on it will pay off in the end.

In other developments – I have been thinking more about my fetish idea (see the previous post) and have decided to produce a simple version of my idea and trial it at a few burlesque events. If people seem to respond to it I’ll keep it and upgrade the costume etc (I have some very exciting – very complex ideas) to bring it in line production-wise with my other acts. If people hate it or don’t get it I’ll retire it knowing I didn’t break my back (or the bank!). It will be good, after working on my Jackalope, to do something with a quicker turnaround time and with less of my heart and soul invested. Not that I plan to just slapdash this idea out, but it would be nice to produce an act that doesn’t involve too much over-thinking, and that can be done as a bit of fun. My other half (who among his many talents, paint beautiful abstract canvasses) talked to me at great length about letting the chips fall where they may, playing, experimenting and not being too precious and trying to control everything so I am going to try and take that approach with this new piece. And apparently the universe or what have you agrees because this Sunday at the car boot (my own personal treasure trove of amazing finds) I stumbled upon something (or should I say two matching somethings?) that were exactly what I needed for a part of this new act’s costume.

I now have a couple of busy weeks vanilla life-wise but hopefully I will still be able to make time to get some burlesquey stuff done. Also, ballet starts again tomorrow after the Easter break – I feel rusty just thinking about it!

‘Til next time



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