The Mummy

1 mummy bodice drawingHere’s something you don’t see every day.  On a sewing blog.

I attempted to make a close-fitting model of myself, which to then carve up along the Six Napoleon seam lines into 9 pieces (five for bodice front and four for the back). The plan was to lay these long, narrow pieces flat on paper and trace around, also adding seam allowances and grainlines for an accurate bodice pattern.

1 back of the mummy

In a method similar to making a duct tape dummy, I had my ‘husband’ wrap multiple layers of cheap industrial clingfilm (shrinkwrap) firmly around me into a kind of semi-rigid carapace.  It’s the stuff used to wrap pallets.

At first I wanted just a kind of corset.  The shoulder straps were added as an afterthought, the idea being that I’d get an accurate angle of the shoulder.

Unfortunately we got rather carried away and wrapped way too tightly!

As you can see from all the flesh squeezed out into my armpits and general resemblance to sausages.

Before the mummification, I’d put on a bra to give my bust the volume and support that I’d want while wearing the dress.  I also wore one of those waist-trainers which I bought to wear under my wedding dress.  It reduces my waist by 1-2 cm.  The corseting took off another 3!

There’s something fascinating about feeling yourself becoming smaller and… plastic.  I enjoyed smoothing each new layer around me as I twirled around. 1 experiment in corsetry My husband drew a line down the side, roughly representative of a side seam, and the warp was then slowly and carefully cut along this mark whereupon my flesh spilled out of its casing like a hot haggis.

1 haggis

Haggis – tastier than you’d think

But the clingfilm form is too small to be of use. The inner layers are less rigid than the outer ones and after releasing they pull a little, shrinking.  But had my husband not then gone to France (screaming into the distance), I’d have given this another go as I believe it could work with more layers and aiming for snugness rather than tightness.

This is probably not something any right-thinking person would do, but for the rest of you who might here are some tips:

  • Be careful.  Don’t attempt to do this on yourself or you might have to offer an embarrassing explanation down the Accident & Emergency Ward.  Get a well-briefed friend to help you!
  • Don’t rush it or you might fall over.  The process took some twenty minutes starting with my husband walking around me, till he got dizzy.  He sat down and instead I slowly rotated on the spot in front of him till I got dizzy.  But I couldn’t sit down!
  • Wear a swimming costume or leotard with a side seam to give your friend an indication of where the cutting line should be.  For a balanced bodice, draw on both sides before cutting as it will be difficult to know where the opposite side seam is once the form is off.
  • Snip carefully.
  • When binding, don’t pull too tight above the midriff.
  • Post update Official: it’s not just nutters who do this. Fashion Incubator – who is a clothes-manufacturing industry professional and extremely experienced – did a similar experiment.  Check out the post here.  There’s good advice in the comments too.  Thanks to Pella for the tip!

1 corset

23 thoughts on “The Mummy

  1. I have vague memories of doing one of these after seeing it on Kathleen Fasanella’s blog. Good luck with #2. I seem to remember that you needed a fair amount of inspired guesswork to decide how the flattened shape should be interpreted.

    • Thanks Pella, I’ve just found the post which you may be referring to (that would have been 2005 which is, like, era of Ancient Egypt…) I’ve edited my post to include the link.

      As is often the case, the value is just as much in the comments as in the post!

  2. So this is what you get up to now you’re married!! Such an entertaining post, especially the haggis reference. I can’t offer any helpful advice, but I will follow your project with great interest!

  3. It’s amazing what we sewers will do in pursuit of that perfect garment! I can’t imagine ever doing this but enjoyed reading about your try. I really hope it helps with the Napoleon.

  4. Lol. I hope this approach do work out for you after some adjustments. Because I hope it’ll be my go to method for updating my 0-ease block should my figure changes again. I’ve done duct-tape & paper-tape & measure-n-draft. They’re so time consuming! This platinum wrap & flatten seems a much quicker way to the same end.

  5. Been discussing this with my sister, using plastic packing tape over a sacrificial t-shirt. The Fasanella version made me laugh the first time I read it, but it stuck in my head, and the clear tape is more helpful than duct tape to not snip the model. And as an aging lady, I need a faster method than previous ones to stay ahead of my gradual evolution into a box shaped human.

  6. Thanks so much M. I read this on an iPhone with poor reception and the pictures didn’t come out so my imagination went wild. Reading it again I find it more reassuring, but still a bit scary. Can ones body experience claustrophobia? I think mine would. On the other hand you can certainly see your figure very clearly once wrapped so I can see the value in it. I hope it helps you get a good fit, but it may have squashed the bust a bit too much?

    • Such a wonderful word and not one I hear often. These days. So either my environment and social circle has gone a bit mainstream, or the word’s fallen out of fashion. I used to work for a theatre company and on my induction, I was told not to choose ‘kinky’ as a password…. because most employees already had!

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  9. I realize this comment is months after the post, but I just had to write in and thank you for giving me a genuine belly-laugh with your hilarious writing and photos. I so appreciate your sense of humor and willingness to laugh at your all-too-human foibles. The line about your husband “screaming into the distance” was too funny! You really should be a humor writer, but since you’re such a good and creative and adventurous sewist I would hate to see you leave that out. Many thanks for being willing to take chances and share them with us! And, BTW, (and again months late) congratulations on your wedding. Your dress was gorgeous! I’m sure it was even prettier in person.

    • Thank you Randi, that’s so many compliments in one comment. I hope to return to more experimental sewing (and writing about it) soon but I’m currently working long hours with lots of travel so all is on hold for a bit! But you have reminded me not to neglect this blog.

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