27 June 2012

Purchased Victorian underbust corset

Before poor Maggie explodes from curiosity and impatience, I'll let the cat out of the bag: I bought a corset at Renn Faire this year.  This morning hubby had a couple minutes to snap some quick pictures, so I can finally post up about it.

I went with an underbust corset to avoid fitting issues, and bought from a vendor who's been at the Faire for the past four years, so I am familiar with her sewing skills (she's had a lot more practice than I have!) and admire her construction techniques.  Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to have a website, but those on the renn faire circuit in this general region can look for Fiona's Fineries.  Pic time:
Front of underbust corset

back of underbust corset
Brief stats: it has a 5-prong steel split busk in front (so it goes below the waistband of my jeans another couple inches), spiral steel bones, a silk outer shell, and a black cotton coutil inner/core with a satin ribbon waist tape.  It's been quite educational to examine and wear ... especially the steel split busk.  While a busk is many times more sturdy than a metal zipper, I am also still having my issues with getting it fastened.  It's rather fidgety, and one of my main frustrations will be getting four prongs fastened, then when I go to get the last one looped one of the others will pop off.  The other fidgety part is keeping the modesty panel straight.

Even more educational for me was the sizing.  She measured my waist and pulled out a 32" one (wow I really HAVE lost size since last year she was having me try on the 36" stuff!).  Once we got that on and tightened ... I had next to no lacing gap, so we tried a 30" one.  I still didn't have enough of a lacing gap!  Remember how squishy I was with the denim one?  This silk corset is a 28" waist-size (I don't have it tightened all the way this morning).  Surprise!  That's two sizes below what the tape measure said for my waist, and a big part of my problem with fitting myself (this is not including the hips and bust, though ... the hips do NOT squish on me).

I forgot to ask at Ren Faire which pattern she uses for the underbust ... the lines make me suspect the Laughing Moon underbust one (which I still intend to buy).  Does anyone have it to confirm that?

Since I have had it for over five weeks now, I have a couple more observations.  Spiral steel boning with a steel busk is definitely harder to move in than a metal zipper and plastic cable tie boning, so this really isn't a good one for yard work (never mind that I don't want to mess up the silk outer shell), so I still have to make myself a denim or linen corset as a more functional back brace.  I've already mentioned how fiddly fastening a busk is for me, so the functional back brace model will have a metal zipper along with the main boning being cable ties.  The steel hardware is still on my to-buy list for a more formal and fancy corset, though!

Oh, there is a good reason Victorian-era women had such perfectly-straight posture ... there is no slouching in this!

18 June 2012

How does your garden grow?

The old nursery rhyme comes to mind:
Mary, Mary - quite contrary - How does your garden grow?
While I am not a Mary, the rest of it fits.  My mom mentioned my lack of posting when she was down here a couple weeks ago for my son's graduation (along with picking and eating my first cherry tomato off the clearance cart "mystery variety" tomato plant!).  I've also noticed a few nudges from the old chat regs in comments and emails. So after some fighting with the digicam and Gimp, here's a little update:
Acorn squash blossoms

first sunflower blooming

Sweet mint!  And it's still alive!
The two (?) acorn squash plants in the garden box are freakishly huge, and look like some artist's rendition of the dinosaur-era flora ... they've done a LOT of blossoms but I have only one little squash forming.  When I did a google image search I noticed one pic where someone had a Q-tip fussing with the blossoms, so I may need to help them pollinate (?).  The ones I didn't succeed in giving away will get planted on the compost pile, I think.

My sunflower plants are only about waist-high, with the first flower being about the size of my open hand.  Small, but pretty.  My other sunflower plant will have two blooms ... the result of the top of the plant getting eaten and dividing into two tops.

Finally, it appears the Mint Curse has been broken!  This is my third attempt to keep mint alive, as my neighbor brought me this planter and stand (he made the stand at work from scrap metal) with a native mint of unspecific variety in it, which promptly died even though I followed his instructions.  On a whim, I bought one peat-pot of sweet mint at the garden department last month just for Ss & Gs.  It's now over double the size and still bushing out.

No pics of what's already been eaten: the first three ripe cherry tomatoes (Mom only got one), the sweet peas (an early variety that withered and died with the first week of over-90F weather at the end of May), the green onions I planted from the bottoms of what I bought at the grocery (knocked down by a thunderstorm last week), and the green beans (one round of bush-Blue Lake, and the first round of the pole-Kentucky Wonders).  Those are the successes.

On the not-success front ... I now have a good idea of what the word "bolting" means in the gardening sense, as my spinach and lettuce are determined to flower without getting big enough to snip enough leaves off them.  Most of my potato plants are gone as well ... in the first garden box they got eaten up, and in the front box they turned yellow and died without a single hole in a single leaf.  My basil has stalled at an inch-and-half tall, neither dying nor growing more.  Surprisingly, the cilantro (coriander) was eaten down to the ground, with the prime suspect being some stray cats.

More later ... I guess I really do have a lot of catching up to do.