When interpreting the theme for this corset, I wanted to incorporate some form of digital printing and fabric pattern matching into the construction. I searched fine art paintings based on the five senses, and while a few took my fancy, the one by Austrian painter Hans Makart, “Die Fünf Sinne” (The Five Senses), caught my imagination. The oil painting, completed in 1879, consists of five panels depicting the 5 senses. The women are voluptuous and sensual, exactly how I see corsetry. I like the moody, fleshy colours, and I knew that when sewn together, they would lose the obvious visual of naked bodies and would transform into patterns and shapes altered by the mind's eye. In addition, the fact that the painting was created in panels lent itself to the panels in corsets.
The pattern I drafted is based on one I have been working on all last year. I scanned it, and altered it digitally to get the shape I wanted, which was higher over the bust to include having straps, and scalloping the hemline. Once this was complete, I then arranged the painting into the panels, checking that the pattern matching was exact, ready for printing.
I tested the pattern matching by printing it full scale onto paper and sewing it up, which was challenging, but also satisfying. I was so happy with the result, I nearly submitted the paper version!
I then sent the design to Spoonflower to be printed on cotton sateen, and even though I hadn’t tried printing to scale like this before, when it arrived, it was perfect!
I used a coutil layer to line the corset, and backed both the sateen and coutil with woven interfacing for support. The corset is a single layer, and made with 14” steel and spiral boning with a 12” black busk, attached waist tape, and has 16 panels, four of which feature pattern matching. I bound the edges using a satin/metallic bias, finished with hand stitching, and the decorative flossing.
I am so happy with the end result, and I am glad I made it in fabric as well as paper. The fit is lovely, and it is very comfortable (more so than the paper version – perhaps not surprisingly!) I was in two minds about incorporating the straps, but I am really glad I did, I think it balances out the hips and accentuates the hourglass shape.
When I named the corset, I pondered the notion of the five senses, and what it means to wear a corset: it is not simply a garment for fashion, it is a choice, a desire, a drive or a need. It emboldens women (or men), it has a force in itself that impacts the viewer, it creates a hyper-awareness for the wearer of their body, and yes, all their senses.
And then it came to me: Synesthesia, the phenomenon in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another.