Hi everyone! Welcome to my very first blog post, hopefully one of many! My name is Kitty Krell, I'm a cosplayer and corset maker of many years. Hope you enjoy my ramblings! This very first post is on my entry for this year's Foundations Revealed Competition! After seeing how beautiful everyone's pieces were last year, I knew I wanted to enter. After (impatiently) waiting for this year's theme, they announced that Insects were next! Immediately, I thought of Rainbow Curve Corsetry's entry from last year. It was a gorgeous iridescent and hand painted butterfly corset and tutu, all light grace, whimsy, and ethereal as can be.
I decided to go opposite. I wanted something heavy and dramatic and chitinous. An idea started to shape in my mind. I'd been planning to work with iridescent and holographic materials more over the last year, so I started doing some research. I found a gorgeous black holographic vinyl, but unfortunately it was only sold in half yard pieces. So I messaged them. After a couple months of messaging back and forth, I managed to score a decent sized bolt of the stuff in one continuous piece! To add a green cast, I wanted to layer green over and with the vinyl. I chose reversible sequins, a beautiful feathered sequin fabric I happened to have laying around, and actual beetle wings.
I started with the corset. It was the most critical piece, being, yanno, a corset competition. I spent several months refining my pattern, and making a few new corsets for myself along the way!
While I worked on that, I wanted to be sure that the material would a) hold up to being made into a corset, and b) not wrinkle terribly. I wasn't sure yet just how much extra black vinyl I would have after cutting all my pieces, so I chose one of my other iridescent vinyls! I was pretty happy with how it turned out, and learned exactly what techniques I needed to apply differently on the Scarab.
Next step was the skirt! I got lucky with my patterning for it, as I had made a similar skirt a couple years back and I could use that pattern as a base! It's a 7 panel pattern, with 1/4 circle godets between each seam. I tried on my previous finished piece with the corset I had finalized the pattern on, and luckily, it fit beautifully together! If not in color, in silhouette!
Now that I had a plan, I started cutting and assembling pieces! The body of the corset went together relatively easily after all the work I'd done on prep beforehand. Learning from past projects, I stitched boning channels to the coutil pieces, then roll fused the vinyl to the coutil. After stitching (with a wider stitch length than usual) I carefully top stitched everything.
Then it was time to start working on the appliques! I carefully cut out the pieces to go over the hips, joining several pieces together where necessary, and, over several evenings of work, hand stitched beetle wings onto each scale. It was tedious. The material is hella pretty though, so that helped!
Next, I started assembling the skirt! I knew there was going to be a lot of structure needed, so after doing the base assembly, I started adding horsehair braid to the skirt lining! Obviously, one layer wasn't going to be enough, so I layered horsehair all the way up to the top of the godets, about 50 yards total!
Of course, nothing can ever go smoothly, so somehow, the skirt wound up too small. By a lot. There was no way it could contain my booty. So I had to get creative. I decided to add lacing panels down the back, and try to match the lacing gap to the corset. It was kinda a pain to insert, but I wound up liking it better than the flat back design I did have planned! Next, I realized another really cool thing I could add to the skirt to make it even better than my original design. I cut out several more pieces of the scaled sequin fabric, scattered a few beetle wings on each, and stitched them to the skirt trailing up from the hem. However, the hem was still laying a little flat for my tastes, so I added a layer of 4" wide horsehair braid in the hem of the top layer also!
The posture collar, epaulettes, and bracers were one of the last things I worked on. I figured if I didn't get them finished, it wouldn't be the end of the world. I draped the posture collar on a dress form, then made a muslin mock up and adjusted a couple spots. The bracers I drafted, made a mock up, tried on, fixed, made a mock up, tried on, fixed, made a mock up, tried on, fixed, made a mock up, and then finally had something that fit the way I wanted! .... With just a couple tweaks.
For the "wings," I wanted to use that crazy iridescent sheer fabric. You know the one. It usually comes in white, blue, and pink, and very very pale, which definitely wasn't going to work for this project. So I decided to dye it. And not just regular dye it, but varigated dye it! I stacked the pieces, pleated them, and folded them so it would be easy to manipulate in the pot. I have a collection of dye pots in various sizes, so I set up two, one with RIT's Dye More in Emerald Green, and the other with Sapphire Blue. Once they were both boiling (which is the most important thing when trying to dye synthetics) I dipped one side in green and the other in blue until I was happy with it!
For the centerpiece of the corset and epaulettes, I had ordered brass stamped scarabs from a maker on Etsy. I'd originally planned to have them painted with the same chrome I planned for my nails, (more on that later!) but I decided the contrast of the gold with the beetle wings was just too lovely to pass up. Just one problem, they were plain brass and looked a little cheap. So I decided to take a walk down patina road. Luckily I ordered a couple extra to test on! I tried two different things, a green iridescent nail polish I had sitting around, and black Sharpie. Both were good, but missing something. So tried another with both, and that was the clear winner!
With the beetles prepped, it was time for the corset applique! To make the pattern, I put on my cream and pink corset that uses the same pattern, pinned a piece of muslin to myself, and drew on the general shape needed. Once that was done, I transferred the pattern to paper, doubled it, and held it up to make sure it was the right shape. Once I was satisfied with that, I began to layer the sequin scale material over the pattern and cut and place it to create the wing shape.
Once that layer was carefully pinned together, I placed the sequin layer over felt and hand stitched it down. Then filled the scales with the beetle wings much like I had on the hips, hand stitched my large brass beetle to the center, and filled the blank area around with beads and crystals! After I was satisfied with the level of embellishment, I mixed classic Elmer's glue and water in a 1:1 ratio and painted it to the back of the felt where it needed to stand up. I placed it on my trusty bathroom vent to speed up the drying process because of course this was the day before the shoot, then cut it out carefully and hand applied it to the corset.
On to the epaulettes! There's a couple things I would do differently if I made these again, including adding a chain to go around my arm behind them. I carefully matched sizes of beetle wings for each side, and attached them to some delicate antique brass chain. I then realized they weren't nearly big enough for my arms, and added a second layer and dangles!
Finally, it was time to get my nails done to match my outfit for the photoshoot! I'm so lucky I have a great salon, and they carry a bunch of amazing chrome finishes! Take a look!
After a few more last minute things, it was time for the photoshoot! Ginny Di was kind enough to work with me on this project, I love how the pictures turned out! I hope you enjoy!
And just for funsies, a couple quick videos! One with Kirakira+, and one in the sun to show off the holo!