Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Pattern Review: Harlots&Angels Asylum High-Backed Adventurer's Corset

I've had this pattern in my pattern drawer for a while now, but never really came around to making it. I bought it around 2011, together with a hat pattern & kit, because I liked the high back and had always wanted to make a vest corset.
It's a rather modern corset pattern, targeted mostly at Steampunk costumers.

Originally I had wanted to use an asia-style jacquard with butterflies that has been waiting in my fabric boxes for a project to come along for more than 10 years now...but at the moment I quite like wearing shiny non-fabrics like leather or PVC, so I picked a pseudo-snakeskin-patent-leather to work with. For lining and strenght, I chose a plain cotton coutil and doubled the patent leather with cotton drill. I still had some buckles salvaged from an old pair of boots (never throw anything away!) and only had to order some more steel.

And of course, this was another project for WGT.

The design and layout of the pattern and instructions are not well done at all. All illustrations are drawn by hand and not always clear, especially when it comes to the part how the boning channels are constructed. Some printed instructions are cut off by the layout so that only the upper half of the line is printed, which makes it unreadable. At some points this has been corrected by hand - quite sloppy.

There is no clear indication about how much sewing allowance is included. Apparently, for most seams it is 2cm, for some others 1.5cm or 0.5cm. For me, that makes the whole process quite error-prone.

If following the instructions, the corset busk is sewn in in a way I've never seen before using button holes - I preferred to stick to my usual method. However, I've heard from others that this method works well.  Actually I did that for most part of the corset: I just stuck to my usual corset construction method to put everything together.
What was very annoying was that some pattern pieces don't match up. One of the two pieces is simply longer and there are no notches or any other markers on the seamlines to indicate how the pieces are supposed to fit together.
I also made some modifications on the straps: the part facing the neckline was supposed to be hemmed with bias tape. I preferred to sew upper fabric and lining together and turn them inside out.

The fit of the bottom half, the actual corset, is okay for me, but I wonder if the upper part was designed for a Valkyrie or professional swimmers (mind you, with a 50cm waist). The shoulders were around 10cm too wide for me and I had to cut away a lot, the back parts were way too long and probably designed for someone at least 1,75 tall.
The way it is cut is not designed for much waist reduction, the way it is curved it will probably exert a lot of pressure on the lower ribs as well - not really comfortable.

All in all, I'm not sure if the pattern saved me much time. I had to modify so much, I might have just as well taken one of my existing corset patterns and extended it at the back. I definitely cannot recommend this pattern, especially not for beginners who do not know how to adapt a pattern to fit well. Harlots and Angels seems to have quite a wide range of patterns and for that I would have expected a much more professional product. I am aware that creating a pattern in a range of sizes takes a lot of work - but I've sewn patterns from non-professionals that were of a much higher quality.

However, I do like my result. The patent leather I used is notoriously tricky to work with, as you can't really use pins or undo seams without leaving behind holes in the fabric. I mostly used Wonder Clips for keeping the fabric together, that worked quite well. But the material behaved very nicely, and the corset turned out very neat and, once I had modified the pattern, very well-fitting. On the mannequin there's quite a lot of wrinkling in the fashion fabric, on myself it's not as bad.
I am especially proud of how neat the bias tape turned out, barely any seams are visible :)
At WGT, with a Halo and a fishtail skirt I made ages ago. The outfit was intended to be completely different, but the cold weather completely crossed my plans.

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