Learning corset patterning with us

I came into Nero to read and relax, and they were playing Lauren Housley (my lad plays drums with her band quite often). Lovely coincidence. 

Cat helped. A lot. 
Cat helped. A lot. 

It’s been a busy week. Monday/Tuesday I had the delightful and talented Joni of Rainbow Curve Corsetry here to study pattern drafting. My brain is so distracted by learning how horses are made at the moment that I rather forgot I knew so much about how corsets are made, haha. It was nice and rewarding to be teaching again, reminded me that I enjoy sharing all those little details that make the difference. I’d said to Joni on email that she didn’t really need my help. There are so many capable new corsetmakers out there who are doing brilliantly under their own steam, and she is one of them. Her work is distinctive, colourful, and adventurous. She attempts things well beyond her existing knowledge level, which is exactly how I learned too! I’m definitely an advocat of sometimes throwing yourself in at the deep end. That spirit of positivity and willingness to fail means that very often you succeed well beyond your expectations. Anyway, teaching this week reminded me that often the most important thing is being given either a nudge in a particular direction or a guiding principle to give your self-directed study a sense of, well, direction. 

It brings me to a line from Sara Wyche (author on various equine anatomy/movement texts) when thinking about education: “The first way is to learn hundreds of instructions, and follow them. The second way is to learn a handful of facts, and understand them.”

I for sure didn’t think this bottom “faux” pattern would work… but it kind of did! Ideas for the future. 

I like that idea a lot. Once you’re at a certain starting level of ability (you’ve made a couple of corsets, for example) is it more useful to follow instructions absolutely to the letter (which, even when I was learning, I never ever have) or to understand what you’re trying to achieve and why? I’d say the latter, as then you will understand the choices you’re presented with at any given moment.

Is this the time for a waist tape? A partial waist tape? None at all? Does this corset need multiple layers? One layer? I need to make a waist smaller, do I try taking the reduction from here or here?  If you know what you’re trying to achieve, and why, then it becomes easier to understand whether each decision you make takes you closer to that goal or further away from it. Hey presto you can, for the most part, self-educate. My book (still in progress!) has how-tos on three different corsets, but most of it is geared towards this kind of learning. I hesitate to use the word “empowering” as it’s so trite and overused, but I can’t think of a better one right now. 

It was good to realise that this stuff can be taught even on my tiny boat, too! So this year I think I will open up the possibility of taking a couple more patterning students.

Joni and I did two days as she was travelling from abroad, but either one day or two is enough to go over lots of important stuff. We can do flat corset patterning, creative adaptation of your existing patterns, trouble-shooting of your own corsets/patterns, and (in my opinion, the best bit) lots of discussion on the evolution of my own corsets. I enjoy that bit not because I’m vain (haha!) but because following the story through explains the choices I’ve made along the way. The choices illustrate the principles. And the principles give you a way of self-assessing your own progression afterwards, without me there to hold your hand. 

The fee is £50/hr or £100/day (a day being 10am to 5pm, with up to an hour for lunch – we’ve shops and cafés 5mins walk away). Access is tricky on the boat, so talk to me if that’s an issue. The easiest days for me to do are either Saturday/Sunday or Monday/Tuesday, but I can be flexible. In short, drop me an email and we’ll figure it out: jenni@sparklewren.co.uk

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