How the undergarments were constructed. . .
Shortly before I finished my dress, I had gone online to find corset-making supplies, and the only place I could find was Farthingales up in Canada. I ordered the kit for the corset pattern I had (What a lifesaver!), that included all the necessary bones and hardware, and the boning for my hoopskirt. Here I made a near-fatal mistake. Rather than spend the little extra that steel hoop-boning costs, I bought the really cheap plastic boning. Once I finished my hoopskirt, it worked really well until the plastic bones warped in the heat at the State Fair. Years of trying to “re-heat-set” the boning at various times has helped, but I still wish I had bought the steel.
Making the hoopskirt was an adventure. Sewing it together was easy enough, but when it came time to cut and wire together the boning, I had to recruit my dad’s help. Most of the time, when I tell someone that I sew, they ask, or at least used to ask, “Does your mom help you?” “No, my dad does.” He actually cut himself on a wire and started to bleed on my hoopskirt (this was a month away from fair) and I ran in a panic for the peroxide to get the bood out! When the hoopskirt was finally done, I put it on and starting walking around the house to show my family, only to have my little brothers and the dog go running under it, the brothers screaming “It’s a tent!” (I swear, that needs to be in a movie someday. . .)
Next project was the corset. Yet again, I had to recruit my dad to help with the eyelets up the back. This time, no one bled on anything, although we did break the hole-punch. Since I had bought the corset kit from Farthingales, all the boning was already cut to the right size, so it was an easy matter to construct the rest of the corset myself.
By this time, I had less than a week to County Fair, and I had yet to make the chemise, bloomers, or petticoat. I made a timeline and ranked them in the order I thought most important, and began a race against time!
First, I made the chemise, so the corset wouldn’t chafe against my bare skin. It was only a two-day project. Next, I made the bloomers, since the hoop-skirt was likely to “fluff up” and show my legs– not a good thing. The bloomers were a little harder than I expected– especially since they had no crotch seam, and were edged with lace. Finally, I made the petticoat, and finished it, lace edging and all, the night before the fair!
I was as proud as I could be the next evening when it was announced that I had won Grand Champion. . .