Oct 29, 2018

A Pirate's Life!

It's that time of year again!  When I was a kid, this was the time of year when we opened up the large steamer trunk to an explosion of costumes!  I have always had a thing for costumes.  Now that I'm older, though, I don't have a steamer trunk...I have a whole room!  With the kids leaving the nest one by one, I commandeered one of the bedrooms recently and turned it into my very own costume room.  I love it!

Now this year, I could have just went to the room and picked a costume to wear to our annual church Harvest Carnival, and even though we decided on a pirate theme and had enough pirate attire, I just felt the desire to update it a bit.

I really wanted a leather corset to wear, and since I had recently picked up two leather coats for $1 each, I knew that it was going to be on my list of things to do.

The main coat was black, had big poofy sleeves, and two-toned leather inserts.  The other one (not pictured) was a men's bomber style jacket and was only going to be used for trim.

I thought about ordering a pattern from Harlots and Angels, but since I was repurposing I thought it might be hard to follow the pattern with everything that was already going on with the coat.  I did use one of their corsets for inspiration, though.  

If you're not repurposing, I highly recommend buying a pattern...they have some really awesome designs!

I figured that since the shoulders already had some curve to them, they would make a good start to the bodice.  So, after opening all the seams to make the coat lay relatively flat, and taking measurements to get the right size and shape, I made the cut from each sleeve.

This became the front of my corset.  The back of the corset was cut from the back of the coat.  From there, it was a matter of placing it on my dress form and working with it to get the right fit.  I wish I had more process photos, but this was a trial and error kind of project.  It took some time, but I'm very happy with the results!

I also made a new blouse using a simple peasant blouse pattern.  The original pattern had short sleeves.  I lengthened them to 3/4 length and added some looped trim to the bottom edge.  I then cut another rectangle piece that was twice as wide as my sleeve.  I gathered it and added the same looped trim to the top of it.  I then laced the two pieces together with cording made from the blouse fabric.  A casing with elastic finished them off.

A few close-ups of the details...

A separating zipper behind the front trim kept the corset secure.

The extra pieces stitched into the back were actually part of the original coat, with the exception of a dart sewn on each side for a better fit.

This hip detail was from the inspiration corset.

The neck strap was one piece that I split and stitched part way up to give the illusion of two straps.

The original shoulder of the coat made for great detail on the bodice without any extra piecing!

A few tips for making a leather corset:

1.  When sewing leather, always use a needle made for leather.  It makes a big difference!
2.  Binder clips work well at holding the pieces together since you can't pin the seams prior to stitching.
3.  Take your time and stitch it right the first time.  If you need to pick some of the stitches out, it will leave holes in the leather.
4.  I found that a walking foot was helpful in sewing on the trim.  Especially since I was sewing 3-4 layers of leather at times.
5.  Practice attaching the rivets and eyelets on scrap leather before you put them on your finished piece.
6.  I used boning at the bodice and side seams for extra structure.
7.  I ordered all the fasteners, buckles, rivets, and eyelets from aliexpress.  It takes awhile for them to arrive, but they are pretty inexpensive.  I purchased a tool from Joann's to attach the rivets, and used my Crop-A-Dile II to punch all the holes and attach the eyelets.
8.  I was concerned that the front fasteners might not stay fastened, so I added a separating zipper behind the center front trim.

And, here's a glimpse of how we decorated our pirate room, including a canon!  More on that, and pictures from the rest of the room, in a different post.

I like to link to these great parties!

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  1. Oh my goodness - so adorable!!!!!! I have a sewing room now too! I miss the kids but love the sewing room.

  2. You make the most amazing outfits, Susan - so, so creative and clever.


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate the feedback and always look forward to reading what you have to say! Susan