I can't believe I wore it in public. I can't believe I made it in the first place. What was I thinking!? Oh yeah, I remember... :)
My 24th birthday was celebrated yesterday with both of my favorite things: great music and fast dancing. The theme of the ballroom dance was "pirates." I couldn't have been more pleased with such a great theme on my birthday--a theme that I didn't help pick out (it's like a sign or something). So, in order to costume myself as cheaply as possible, I decided to dress as a wench and make a duct tape corset.
How does one go about making a duct tape corset? First, you have to start with a huge imagination, a sense of adventure, and a trusted friend. I thought about my plan for a few days, then asked my sister if she'd help me construct the skeleton. I stuffed myself into an older bra (why I still had it, I have no clue), and added some extra padding to create monster cleavage. Then, putting my faith in my sister, I allowed her to wrap my torso in plastic wrap. She held the box vertically and I spun around and around like you see in cartoons. We were giggling to no end. It wasn't tight, but it did restrict my breathing a little at this point. Scissors were always on hand just in case. Three or four layers of plastic later, I looked like a twinkie in cellophane. The plastic wrap pushed my great cleavage down a bit, and also gave me quite the uni-boob. We fixed that later.
Step Two: DUCT TAPE! I got my duct tape at the dollar store, $1 for 10 yards of tape. I immediately cut all ten yards of the first roll into 8" to 10" strips. We started at the top and taped downward, covering well above and below the intended bottom and top "seams." To add strength to the corset, as well as giving the image of boning, I had my sister strategically place five drinking straws (the plastic bendy kind). Two went from my belly up under each breast, one went horizontally between those two (to add necessary support under the bustline), and two vertically on each flank upside down to help the back curve in at my waist. We applied five or six additional layers of duct tape over the rest of the corset. I used over 30 yards of silver duct tape. We pulled out all but the last layer of plastic wrap out of the inside of the corset to reduce weight and bulk.
Step Three: Cutting, covering, and corsetting. My sister delicately cut the duct tape and plastic wrap off of me straight up my spine. Whew! I then shaped the top edge creating a slight curve over each breast, the two curves meeting in a modest plunge-V. I cut an inch off each side of the back "seam" to allow room for lacing. I also trimmed off the bottom edge to create a smooth look and curve. The entire corset had to be covered in colored duct tape next. I trimmed another 10 yards of black duct tape and covered every single speck of silver duct tape, including wrapping tape over the edges. Then, in a possible fit of insanity, I added "modesty feathers" across the top of the bust. Two quick notes: first, don't do this in the house. I have red feather bits everywhere, and the vacuum doesn't always pick them up. And second, feathers tickle. A LOT. The entire time I was dancing, I kept itching myself without remembering that the feathers were tickling me, not some creepy-crawly critter.
With the outside covered, and knowing I'd be sweating if I danced while wearing this contraption, I opted to cover the inside of the corset. I found some t-shirts very cheap at a craft store and bought a kid's large t-shirt. I split the shirt up the back and splayed it open on top of the side of the corset. Using a sort of dead-reckoning, I trimmed the shirt to fit inside and adhered it with, what else, duct tape all around the edges. I used the bottom edge of the shirt as the bottom edge in the corset--this proved a bit itchy most of the night. Suggest trimming the shirt seams out entirely.
So the corset was covered, feathered, and lined. How the heck was I going to keep it on? I bought grommets at the craft store and hammered them in to pre-punched holes (please buy a new hole punch--it was incredibly difficult to get a dull hole punch to go through the shirt on the back edges). Then, using what manual dexterity I had left, I laced six yards of black ribbon through the holes. Voila! A duct tape corset.
I covered the half-inch of bare skin between the corset and my pants with a fleece scarf from the dollar store (even though I'm cool with a bare belly, some people have a problem with that, and I didn't want to offend anyone). Emily helped me put the corset on last night, and she laced it perfectly. It was hot, indeed, and a few songs had me wanting more room to breathe, but I didn't have too much problem. The corset fit impeccably, as it was made from my own body's shape. The straws held nicely. The only change I'd make would be using a real bra under the corset, and then I'd simply tape over that. Better support, better shape. But OH! what a way to spend my 24th!
Admission to a pirate-themed ballroom dance: $5. (Thanks, Jenny!)
Total cost of supplies: $15.
Number of times I hammered my finger setting grommets: 20.
The look on people's faces as they realized I was wearing a duct tape corset: priceless.