The original corset was patterned to have a total of 7 panels-- a center front, side front, side back, and center back. After the first fitting, I modified the second panel by splitting it into three small panels to produce more underbust support with a better cup shape. This was necessary in order to create enough support and coverage to maintain the opening at the center front.
I designed the costume to have scales disguising the boning channels of the corset and blend it into the skirt as well as provide modesty across the bust. Originally I drafted the scales and laid them out to use with a specific laser cutter bed size in mind but was ultimately unable to gain access to the laser cutter. I modified the file to be able to use it with the Cricut Maker owned by the Penn State School of Theatre production facilities.
Each of the nearly 200 scales, ranging in size from 3/8" across to 1 1/2" across, is hand-painted and individually placed and adhered to the corset using fabric adhesive. The color gradation from dark to light, moving from the back to the front and from the waist up, is meant to echo the color gradation happening at the lower portion of the center front of the skirt.
This costume consists of a mermaid skirt with fin-shaped godets, a sheer corset, a snake collar, and a hip wrap.
The design is meant to evoke the sense of a mermaid-like being with specific origins on the African continent, particularly ancient Egypt. There is no attempt to create a 'real' snake, nor disguise the fact that she is not half fish; rather, the design draws upon Senegalese fashion, nature, and silhouette to create a being that is both specific and universal.
I designed the costume to require the use of digital fabric creation and laser-cut elements.
The snake collar has a bagged-out fabric base that is seamed at the shoulder and open at center back. The closure is underneath the tail. It features another African print that seems to suggest a scale-like texture.
The leather overlay is cut as a single piece. The edges are lightly tooled, and it is dyed using Fiebing's Leather Dye. I then used gold metallic acrylic paint and dry-brushed highlights, concentrating more on the rings going around the neck and slightly less on the vertical bands between them.
I chose to make all of the vertical bands curve the same direction (rather than mirror the curve) to enhance the stylization of it being a coiled snake. They are, however, in mirror positions across either side of center front and center back.
Once the painting was finished, I glued the leather overlay to the fabric collar along the outer and neck edges.
This costume underwent a single mock-up fitting followed by a full fashion fabric fitting.
The mock-up fitting led to taking in the mermaid skirt along every seam to produce a 'skin-tight- took that gave way just above the knee where the godets began. This was also the point at which I drew on the 'V' waistline. The corset was taken in slightly and some additional height was given along the top edge.
The fashion fabric fitting led to adjusting the sidefront seam of the skirt slightly to eliminate minor drag lines. Additionally, the top edge of the corset was left unfinished to double-check the edge.About 1/4" additional height was still needed, which came from the seam allowance.