Believe in the Flowers.

Carol of the Zombie Jesus!

Well, first and foremost, the remnants of Hurricane Ike have made their way rather unceremoniously across our area. I realize that this may not hold true for other portions of the Midwest, but we have in general been quite lucky. The last few days have been nothing but rain and humidity, plenty of clouds and absolutely no happiness when it comes to outside colors. The leaves are finally starting to realize that the cooler temperatures mean that autumn is on its way, and some of the trees are finally starting to drop - but none of them have truly begun to change. Today has been a mix of dark, foreboding gray clouds that thankfully bring no more rain, brilliant patches of blue sky lined by gray and white, and a lot of strong winds. Apparently not enough to warrant the same wind warnings that are in place south of here, but it makes for a great cross-breeze, and it's better when we can only open so many windows here (most of the windows either don't have screens, or the screens are badly ripped and unusable).

We have spent the nicer, drier days in the local parks, taking Gabe out so he can finally meet some of the other children that exist. I'm beginning to realize how strange this must seem for him, to see all these other kids, and have been asked more than once whether or not he was in daycare - I guess it really is that obvious. He doesn't know any other kids, doesn't have "friends" in the traditional sense, but it's tough to get him together with others when we really don't know any other nearby parents with children his age that would be interested in playdates. I think it's all right, though; he's a smart kid and is slowly learning that it really isn't okay to pinch or hit other children. Or us. At all. Ever.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping that tomorrow I can get started on a new project. Halloween is coming, and for now we're going to keep buying Gabe cheap, easily-stored, machine washable costumes from Wal-Mart or whatever. Not because they're well-made, or because I agree with the conditions under which they are constructed, but because they are damn cheap and can be easily put away for other children later on. But for Colin and I, I see no reason to attempt to construct hand-made costumes. Muslin is a fairly cheap fabric, and basic construction for things like shirts and drawstring pants with elastic cuffs isn't as difficult as it looks. I've thus far made a shirt, a bodice, and a tube skirt, and although none of them turned out wonderfully, I did get the experience. The skirt, I think, turned out the best, and even that was a bit of a failure, since a tube skirt is not really the most flattering thing one can end up wearing. I think at some point I'll probably end up cutting out a portion of the original side seam to the knees, or so, and add in some additional fabric so I have not only the contrast but a bit of a flare. Alternatively, I guess I could just cut the side out altogether and re-hem the thing, then use it as a top skirt .. It would look great over black .. Hmm. Anyway! Between my awesome sister-in-law Keri and some helpful online materials, I have come to the conclusion that I should be able to make a formidable bodice, maybe even with some kind of steel boning, for Halloween. The patterns and ideas I have been given are pretty straightforward, with the only potential problems coming in that I don't have a lot of experience with sewing and the last time I made a bodice, it was a totally un-boned two sided affair that was mis-assembled and put together way too quickly. All in all, it was not quality, the fabrics I chose were cheap and looked awful on me, it needed some kind of boning for support (I am a large woman, I have large needs), and the overall pattern was nice and typical, but not suited to my body shape. I have been given another idea by Keri, and have actually found similar suggestions online, although they tend to go a little farther. Keri's suggestion was to put on an old t-shirt, duct tape myself into it in the shape of the bodice that I want, and then cut my way out through the sides. It's a totally awesome idea and I look forward to getting to use the idea, although I think I'm going to take it even farther than that and use another suggestion I have found online. These instructions show basically the same thing Keri was saying, only the girl here has cut the bodice into separate pieces and has made it into a far more intricate but better-fitting affair. I think that doing something like this would be easier, and would also give me a chance to put boning in more of the pieces and to get it positioned better. Originally I think my concern would have been that I would have simply put in the boning where I thought it needed to go, but this way I can have more control over how the boning sits and can adjust the individual pieces to fit me perfectly. There are, of course, several problems with this that I can forsee: first of all, I am no good at sewing, and while I do have the luxury of having a fairly decent machine at my disposal, I have no idea how to do a good hem or how to use the machine to its maximum so that I can get a good, tight, even hem that will not be bulky but that can stand up to the massive amounts of stress that I imagine I will be putting on the fabric and the thread. Secondly, I worry about the exact way to assemble the layers. I figure I will have an inner layer that will be soft and provide some padding against the boning, a separate "layer" that will basically be the boning pockets (which may or may not end up consisting of boning tape and an extra layer of duck cloth over that, to ensure that it can handle a lot of wear and tear), then the duck to which the boning and pockets will be affixed, and finally the outer layer that will be decorative. Add on to that any additions I make, such as decorative ribbon atop the nicer outer fabric, and I am worried that I won't be able to sew through that many layers. If anyone has any recommendations, I will gladly take them! My final problem is that I know most corsets appear to be fully curved and such when not worn - I wonder if this is because they have been pre-molded thanks to wearing, or if this is a shape achieved by the ten-piece cut-and-assemble method outlined in the link I provided. Or, to go even further, if it's a shape that you get by doing yet another assembly method that I'm not aware of. I worry about these things, can you tell?

I'm also sorely tempted to not use metal boning. I am already well aware of some of the problems associated with this, thanks to the underwires in my bras. First of all, the metal CAN snap if enough pressure is put on it, but I assume that the underwire of a bra has stresses put on it that a corset could never imagine, considering that a bra's underwires are curved and end up bending on the flat side when you put a bra on, so I can only imagine that they wouldn't be able to handle the same stresses that a corset's vertical boning would. I also realize that it's easier for the metal to poke through the fabrics, and once that happens there is basically no going back, because no amount of patching will do the trick - eventually the underwire gives out or continues poking through the patches, or makes new holes elsewhere in the fabric. However, for someone who is bigger and well-endowed like I am, I worry that to go braless under these corsets without proper support would prove painful and uncomfortable. I worry that plastic boning would bend too much or not mold to my body the way metal would, and I am positive that the plastic would be more prone to breaking or snapping. 

Tomorrow, assuming my check comes and is big enough, I will hopefully be able to go out and start working on assembling all of the items that I will need. I have absolutely no idea how to go about doing this on my own (Alicia, I need you back! Help!) and could totally use the guiding hand of someone who has done this before (ALICIA COME BACK! Keri, walk me through this!). Though I don't know who I would ask. (ALICIA) (Also KERI plzkthx)

Meanwhile, I have research to do on what hems work best under high-stress conditions. Also, I have to vaccum. Yikes.