my newest project

i see in my last post that i was at a bit of a loss for something to do. i spent a few weeks making clothing for my own self, and after that i figured inspiration would come. well, it has.

corsets.

more like waist cinchers.

something between the silk camisoles that were such a hit last xmas, and full-scale bondage tightlacers which kind of scare me.

i wouldn’t wear these things anyway. i’ve never been a sex-object kind of girl, and besides i look much the best with no clothes on at all.

not so my friend lories. she trained as a ballet dancer and then went into hair and makeup and costuming. she’s rail thin and clothes look wonderful on her, and she knows it.

we’re completely opposite that way.

lorie owns a pin-up place where girls go to dress up and take pictures in saucy poses.

she was excited to hear i wanted to borrow her corsets to study them, because i’d had a little voice say ‘corsets’ in my ear, and i’ve learned to trust the little voice.

she wants me to start production on them right away.

but wait. i’ve just run across someone who took all my scarves to her shop in east atlanta, and so now i have to make more. and i can’t possibly start turning out custom corsets when i’ve never done boning, or grommets, and can hardly sew a straight line despite the fact that i’m on the machine every other day doing something.

and i’ve got to file my taxes to take advantage of the free money. and i’ve got all those old clothes i had my brother davie collect from mom’s basement last time he went up to help her out. and i’ve got a pile of baby clothes bought at half-off mondays at my local thrift store. and i’m still not even decided whether to make that nice blue linen i bought into a tunic or a smock (to go over those nice japanese pants made of the same blue raw silk, which i just finished), and how to turn the remnant blue indian lacework cotton into a shirt to go with the pants and the top.

so i don’t know why i have been spending every minute of the last three days studying up on corset construction.

a ribbon corset

i had no idea about anything to do with women’s lingerie. i haven’t worn a bra since 1975, and abandoned piercings and makeup and nylons and high heels and shaving around that time as well. i don’t know from women’s frilly underthings – i don’t wear underwear. you wouldn’t catch me wearing a girdle.

so what possesses me to want to start making women’s corsets? and not black ones either. i want colors. i want to hand dye the silks and cottons i’m going to use (i even found a place that sells glove-leather hides that they say you can sew on a machine.

i’m actually a little out of breath thinking about all the things i want to do. as if i were wearing a really tight corset.

the artist in me sees this as a new toy. wow, it thinks, i can make corsets with all kinds of statements, how beauty hurts, how politicized the sex roles are, a whole industry built on artifice and falsehood. lies, snake oil. exploitation. making fun of the silly things women do to make themselves attractive to men who are expected to grow ugly as they age.

hmmm.

a genuine catherine coatney

so maybe i’ll learn how to put together a simple waist cincher, almost just a wide belt. something comfortably snug but not going to do any damage to the internal organs. and maybe i’ll see if lorie likes it enough to charge her customers most of a hundred bucks for the simple ones, and several hundred for a custom work of art. well, up to a thousand for a work of art, but several hundred to take your actual measurements and listen when you tell me about your favorite colors. and even with the thousand dollar corset, you still get what happens to end up being made.

so, i took pictures of all of lorie’s sample corsets. the one that intrigues me most is the ribbon corset.

there are loads of differences in the way the different corsets are made and the materials they use. online references give just a few different designs, but there is a lot of variety in what i just looked at.

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