Yeah, that’s the whole secret. It’s stupid-obvious, but it will change your life. Not only will rubber cement work on fabric, but really really cheap rubber cement will work on fabric, leather, and a slew of other costume-useful surfaces. (This is very good to know if you have to fix a disintegrating fur stole, btw – prep the back of the skin and a scrap of muslin with the cement, then adhere.)
Now, rubber cement is period to the sixteenth century. (I think it comes in in the late 19th, possibly early 20th. The history of glue is not really my area of research.) There are a lot of very strong, very useful glues that are. In Handmade Shoes for Men (A fascinating book which turned me off the idea of shoe-making), the authors describe the process of re-inforcing the side walls of shoes by using adhesive to laminate three separate layers of leather together. “Tradition-conscious shoemakers make their own adhesive – from flour, chestnuts, or potatoes. Dried leaves of this adhesive are dissolved in the correct quantity of water and sturred to form a glue that can easily be applied.” (Vass and Molnar, 139) Anything you can pull a good deal of starch out of can be used to make a good glue. If you’re not worried about keeping it period, you can use spray-glue for this, or two sided iron-on adhesives. Much though I adore contact adhesives, you want to be careful about using them on something that covers the torso of a human, since they really don’t breathe. (Also, if you’re doing this on a human, you should know that modern buckram tends to be for millinery use, and is designed to be molded when wet. Sweat counts. Pet friendly window screening and/or plastic canvas are good substitutes without that particular flaw.)
To get started, you’ll want to cut out out your pieces. I’m working off a Pfalzgrafin style draft I made for Tyler. I’ll need fabric pieces with seam allowances, and buckram pieces without seam allowances.
I plan to put a central busk in this, so I’m being careful to avoid getting contact cement on the center of the front piece. Also, you’ll want to work on something easy to clean, as buckram has kinda biggy holes and the cement will go through them. Fun times. I’m using a teflon baking sheet.
No, really, be careful – you’re not going to have an easy time if you try to reposition the buckram after you stick it down.
Your facing fabric is now applied to the buckram. We’re going to cut these out with a generous seam allowance. I plan to bind the finished corset, but I’m going to have to do something to seal any edges that are going to be involved in seams.
Next: the Lining