Corset Tops, Alabama Chanin Style

I started putting the binding on the collar of my first corset top and was about halfway around when I decided I didn’t like how it looks. I used the Cretan stitch with the dark blue thread (the white thread is basting the binding to the top.)



I didn’t like it because it was just too angular and didn’t fit in with the feminine look of the top. So I put it aside while I hunted for a curvier stretch stitch. Enter the Rosebud stitch. It took a while to learn because I couldn’t find clear written instructions or a video, but I finally got it. I’m going to continue practicing before I use it on the binding, but I think the overall effect will be much better.

In the meantime I started a white on white corset top made from a couple of t-shirts from my local thrift shop. I’m using the reverse applique technique, so it’s made of two layers of t-shirt knit.


One of the things I was concerned about was marking the fabric. I always had problems with leftover marks on white fabrics, then I found out that some quilters were using Frixion pens. I use a Frixion pen in my planner because it’s erasable, but I had no idea it could be used to mark fabric. When I tested it, it worked beautifully. And it disappears when you iron it. I swear it’s like magic. Now, I also read that if the fabric gets really cold (like freezer cold), the marks will reappear, but this is a warm weather top so I went for it. And if the marks do reappear, I’ll just iron it again.

I also decided to use embroidery floss instead of thread to outline the shapes (I think that’s why it took forever to finish the first one – millions and millions of tiny stitches.) So far I’ve finished 1 of the 8 panels and I did it in just a few hours while watching Peaky Blinders on Netflix. Yeah, I was seriously thrilled to see how much faster it goes with the embroidery floss.

So that’s what I’ll be up to this week: finishing the binding on the old corset top and the embroidery on the new. I’m pretty happy with my progress on both and, more importantly, I think my mojo may have finally returned just in time for spring!

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I feel like that friend that hasn’t called in forever, but then calls out of the blue and acts all cheery trying to deflect from the fact that they disappeared in the first place. Ugh. Awkward. But here I am.

Sure, I needed a break from blogging, but I didn’t think it would be this long. Truth is, I haven’t been doing much sewing lately. Okay, actually none except for a super simple stretch skirt last month. A lot has happened since my last post. Mostly good; some not so good, but I guess that’s life.

Initially I stopped because of my day job – video editing – but then I just couldn’t get motivated to make anything. I’d literally packed away my machine and every time I thought about sewing, I felt overwhelmed at the thought of having to set everything up again.
Now I have a couple of projects on my table. First up is the Alabama Chanin corset tank I started last fall. I finally dyed the cloth to make the binding and started stitching it on. When I tried it on a few months ago, it was so insanely tight that I could barely get into it. Once I got it over my head, it required a lot of wiggling, breath-holding and contortions to pull it down. And my efforts were not rewarded: it squeezed and flattened my D cups into a big round mass. It looked like I was trying to smuggle a loaf of peasant bread in my top. But now thanks to Shaun T, it fits – and creates perfect cleavage. Not too much, but enough to keep things interesting. I also have a black/charcoal skirt that I’ve been embroidering, but I may put it aside to work on another corset top. I really, REALLY want a white one now that I saw how great the blue one fits.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is a chiffon skirt that – for now – exists only in my head. I think I saw a polka dot maxi skirt on Pinterest or something, but I can’t find the picture. The one I’m imagining is damn fabulous – a large circle skirt that billows in the breeze behind me. I might even hire someone to follow me around with a fan just to keep the effect going.

I’m also super excited because I found a place to sew straw again. I used to make and sell straw hats, but I put my machine in storage at my friend’s house – and he moved to Portland. A local milliner is letting me practice on his machine until I can get mine back (hopefully this summer when my friend comes home to visit.) Anyway, this is the first thing I made in years:

It’s the size of a doll hat and has a bunch of holes, but I’m sure I’ll be a lot better after more practice time. When I first sat at the machine, I couldn’t remember anything, but then muscle memory kicked in and I started playing with the straw to create different shapes (that’s why it looks more like a vase than a hat.)

Anyhow, I’ll be back soon with pictures of my finished corset top as well as progress pics from my next project – whatever that is.


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