October 1, 2015

How to Make a Corset...From a Purse!

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com

Salt Lake Comic Con was this last weekend and it was awesome. Characters, creatures, and cosplay galore. I've been every year and will continue to go, no matter what. It was just that good.

My 14yo and I decided this year we would do steampunk for our costumes. After scouring thrift stores for the perfect pieces, we came out with some amazing finds - including this fantastic coat my kiddo totally rocked.

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com
Wow, did he look good or what? Hands off, ladies. He's not even old enough to drive!

But I couldn't find an essential piece for my outfit - a corset. Well, I could. As long as I was willing to pay more than a week's worth of groceries. So not happening.

I had almost given up when I saw something on Pinterest. It was a link to an Etsy site that offered corsets made from leather purses.

My mind was blown. Seriously? From purses?

I couldn't wait to hit thrift store row (Deseret Industries, Savers, and Goodwill all within blocks of each other) to make my own. After searching through the piles of purses, I found one that was perfect. Faux leather with plenty of steampunky detail. And the price couldn't be beat - just $3!

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com
Check out that pocket! You can't get much more steampunk than that.

When I got it home, I set to work picking apart the side seams and removing the lining. It only took one episode of Criminal Minds on Netflix. Not too shabby. After removing the zipper and side panels, I took stock of what I had left. It was perfect.

The original purse opening was reinforced well enough to support the laces, but it needed eyelets. Off to the hardware and craft stores to snag a leather punch and eyelet setter! Added cost, but it's an investment, right?

I spaced out the eyelets where I wanted them, utilizing the existing buckles and rings for additional lacing areas. Once Handyman Husband and I determined the correct punch size, I went to work. 

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com

It was so much easier than expected to punch the holes and insert the eyelets. Then Handyman Husband, who was already working in his workshop, set the eyelets.

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com
I could have done it myself, but he insisted. What a good boy!

The process varies depending on your setter, but ours was extremely simple. Insert the eyelet. Place on the base. Hold the striker in place and whack it with a hammer. Oh, so technical...

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com
My eyelets matched the existing hardware on the purse exactly. Yay!

Once that was done, the only thing I had left to do was hem the edges. I was worried my sewing machine wouldn't be able to handle it, but since I was working with faux leather, it made short work of it. I used a heavy duty thread to ensure durability.

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com
Not as neat on the underside, but if anyone's looking that close, they deserve to be slapped. Hard.

I clipped off the extra fabric, trimmed the trailing threads, and laced the front with some cord we had left over from another project.

Done!

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com

Doesn't it look great? Wanna see something trippy now? Flip the corset sideways and...

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com

...it looks like a purse again. Cool, huh?

I received tons of compliments from people at Comic Con, including a complete jaw drop when one girl learned how it was made. Next year, I'm keeping the corset and skirt and adding on to make the outfit even better. Maybe a capelet? And a cane? Ideas are brewing...
How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com
Handyman Husband served as photographer here, which is why the strap is sticking straight up.
Tools are his thing, not posing people for photos.

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com
And the back view.

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com
One featuring the cool pocket I kept from the original purse.
Oh! I still have a business card in there I need to grab before I forget again.

A couple of notes: 

- Not everyone is a size 6/8 like I am, but this method will still work no matter your size. Just remove the purse base or pick out the seam at the bottom. Insert a panel of fabric. Or add more laces. Jazz it up however you'd like. This is so easy to customize, it's ridiculous.

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com
Me thinking I'm clever. The seam ripper is showing where you would pick it apart to add a new panel.

- Measure before you buy. You can take a tape measure and check it right there in the store, or you can do what I did and just hold it up to your body and wrap it around. My method is oh, so scientific, but worked well. Check it both directions - opening edge to opening edge (going all the way around the purse) and side to side.

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com
More pseudo-cleverness happening here. As you can see, I didn't measure until after it was done.

- Don't start this last minute! Give yourself a few weeks. I didn't find this purse in the first thrift store I went to. Take your time. Look for something with amazing detail and that's the right shape, size, color, and fabric for what you want. If you start right now, you could probably find what you need and put it together in time for Halloween.

How to make a corset...from a purse! - www.LysandraJames.com
I love, love, LOVE the buckles and rivets all over this thing. It was so perfect!
What I love most about my lovely new corset (besides the price tag) is the versatility of it. Steampunk, pirate, or whatever else I can dream up. And it's custom-fit since I made it myself. How can it get any better?

Although now I'm thinking about trying this technique with a canvas bag... That could be really cool, too.  Ooh! What about a sailor/steampunk crossover using a blue and white striped bag?! Oh, the possibilities...

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