A corset for the late 1830’s (sort of)

When I started my 1830s project (which up to now just consisted of a petticoat), I knew I also wanted a new corset.

I’ve got a somewhat slimmer corset which I’ve used for my 1870’s dress, and a curvier one for the 1880s. And I’ve got a pair of regency short stays, which actually act more like stays in that they ‘lift’ more than ‘separate’. For the 1830’s, the goal is a high, still slightly separated bust, though not as high as regency.

Most ‘typical’ 1830’s corsets are transitional, meaning that they are somewhere between the soft, cupped, corded regency stays, and the more waist-defining corsets of the 1840’s.

Something between these:

regency long stay

Kyoto costume insititute

And this:

Corset, dated "1839–41," American or European. Medium: silk. Met # C.I.38.23.10b–d. Ten views available. An early strapless design.

MET museum, 1839-1840

 

This was a very transitional period, so you get a lot of different styles which are a bit difficult to date. Many original pieces are dated something like ‘1815-1840’, so quite a long range.

Somewhere in the 1830’s, corsets start losing their straps, and gain a defined waist. This one is a nice example of the transition:

An incredible original 1830s ladys ivory sateen corset with its original blue steel busk in its front pocket. Elaborately hand quilted and embroidered, top stitch reinforced, with woven braces tied in place, and at the busk pocket. A drawstring cord at the top front and early ringed brass eyelets at the lace up back closure.

 

In the end, I decided to base my corset on the ca. 1840 example from the MET shown above. I did not want straps, as they can show underneath a dress. And I wanted to, ideally, be able to wear this corset for 1840’s, and possibly 1850’s stuff as well. The main difference is the waist definition which gets more pronounced, but a more pronounced waist is not a problem for an 1830s dress. The only other thing which slightly changes  is that the bust drops a little, but given my shape that would not really be noticeable. I also wanted a defined hip-spring, as I need a large difference between waist and hips naturally, so the more ‘straight’ shapes wouldn’t work very well on me in any case.

I chose to make one more concession to accuracy for practicality reasons. In the late 1830’s, all corsets had a wooden busk, and spiral lacing. The split busk was invented in the 1850’s, and with it came the ‘typical’ straight lacing you see on corsets to today. The split busk makes it a lot easier and quicker to get into a corset by yourself, so I decided to add one.

Technically, this makes my corset more like the 1850’s and early 1860’s styles, which are actually cut very similarly, but with a split busk.

Like this one, which has the same wide hip panel:

Corset, 1864  The Victoria & Albert Museum

1850’s, V&A

 

The 1840 one from the MET does not have bust gores, which is actually quite unusual for the time, I think. However, I definitely don’t need them (they’re mostly handy for larger busts), so that was not an issue. And I really like the ‘hip’ panel, as that gives a lot of room for a large hip spring. A final advantage was that this piece was photographed really well, so I could actually see where the seams were, and figure out what the panels should sort of look like.

Met 1840 corset lines 1

Drawing lines on seams.

 

I ended up drawing the pattern from what I saw shape wise, and then made a number of mock-ups to actually make it work for my body. It took some trial and error, and no very systematic process was followed, but I ended up with something workable.

For construction, I used two layers, one cotton canvas and one plain cotton. I first inserted the busk, and then attached both lining and canvas layer of the second piece to the first, at the same time. By laying the canvas layer on the canvas layer (right sides together), and the lining to the lining (right sides together), and then stitching the seam in one go, you get the seams ‘within’ the corset. This gives a clean finish, and provides extra layers as strength for the boning. I think this was also the way the original was finished, as it shows the same clean interior, and the top-stitching, although I cannot be sure from pictures alone. In any case, it worked!

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Finished insides

 

I opted to cut the hip panel on the bias, to give some flexibility there, and just to experiment. I tried to see the grain on the original, but the weave of the fabric makes it impossible to see despite the high resolution. It does pull a bit, creating a bit of a wrinkle, so I’m not fully sold on this method yet, but otherwise it works.

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It’s very curvy when just taking it off the body!

 

I did not really take many construction pictures, as the corset was made during quite a busy time, with low light in the evenings, but I’m actually quite happy with how long it took me to make. It’s boned on the seams with synthetic whalebone, plus two bones in the side/hip panel all the way down, and extra bones in the back, as in the original. I’ve got one steel bone to support the eyelets center back.

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Diagonal bones in the back, and extra bone casing on the inside

 

It’s quite curvy, which is something I’m really happy about. I feel like this might be the first corset I made where I didn’t have too little room in the hips/bust in the end. I tend to underestimate the hip spring I need because I need to always increase this, and I tend to overestimate how much I need to take in the bust. But a corset works best if it actually leaves room at the top and bottom, and only reduces in the waist. This corset actually does that, which is nice!

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A gore at the back to allow room for the hips

 

It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made, being of quite utilitarian fabric, but it works, and the shape is good. I might floss it at some point in the future, but for now, it’s time to start looking towards actually making a dress to go on top! (Which, if you’ve been following my instagram, you’ve already seen some peaks of. It’s looking good so far!

Some pictures of the corset on me!

 

1880s corset

The mid-1880’s are all about the dramatic silhouette. The bustle is back in full force, and the fashion is for a small waist, full bust and relatively broad shoulders. In fashion plates you can clearly see this fashionable shape, which is of course exaggerated to near impossible proportions.

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I’ve started working on my first 1880’s dress, which will be a burgundy wool winter gown. Although I already have a 1870’s corset, I wanted to try to approximate the fashionable shape of the 1880’s a bit more. In my case that meant padding in the bust area, as there’s no way I can achieve (or even approximate) it naturally…

That’s when the idea for a new corset started, to be patterned on top of a padded bra. In my previous post I showed the process of patterning, and afterwards I could finally start making the corset!

It’s a single layer coutil corset, so there’s no extra lining or fashion layer. First order of business was inserting the busk. Because there’s no extra lining, I cut a facing for the center front, and the bust is inserted between the facing and outer layer.

 

 

 

I really love cording on corsets, and wanted to incorporate it in this one as well. As first I was wondering if it’d be possible with a single layer, but then I saw this corset on a visit to Stockholm. As you can see, there’s an extra piece of fabric placed on top of the main fabric to serve as corded panel.

Corset ca. 1860-90  From the Nordiska Museet

 

I decided to copy this method. Using small pieces of black taffeta, I stitched 15 thin cords onto the two front panels (on each side). As in the example above, I left the bottom and top piece of the taffeta uncorded.

I made a test piece first. cm next to it to see the tiny cords.

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After that, I corded the actual corset panels.

 

 

 

Construction was done after the cording, and was pretty straight-forward, I didn’t take a lot of pictures of these steps. All pieces were stitched with wrong sides together, leaving the seam allowances on the outside.

The boning channels were made from a cotton polyester mix, leftover fabric from my red spencer. The red with the black gives a lot of extra drama, and you do see contrasting boning channels in the 1880’s quite a bit, such as this yellow-black combination.

Corset, 1880-93

 

5cm wide strips were cut and sewn into tunnels with a 5mm allowance, creating 2cm wide tunnels. Those were then stitched on top of the (trimmed) seam allowances and stitched on in the center and to the side. This created space for 2 5mm wide bones (synthethic whalebone) in each channel. The center back also has a facing, creating 2 layers for the eyelets and an extra channel next to the bones. I also added one more boning channel for 1 bone next to the eyelets. Both this one and the center back were flat steel bones for extra strength.

 

 

 

After the boning channels the boning was cut, the edges molten (plastic is so much easier to finish than steel!), and inserted into the corset. The binding was machine stitched on, I used regular black cotton bias tape.

 

 

 

The final big step was the flossing. I love the fancy decorative flossing you see so often in the 1880’s. I looked around for inspiration, and eventually settled on the design of the corset below. I like the flowers, and how it covers 2 bones.

Terminology: What’s the difference between stays, jumps & a corset | The Dreamstress

 

I made a little prick-template so I could place dots on strategic places of the embroidery pattern. This way, all the bones will have the same size and proportion flossing. I adapted the pattern slightly to also floss the single bones in the center back.

 

 

 

Before you begin flossing it feels like you’re almost done, but I think the embroidery might’ve taken as much time as all the rest of construction… I did 20 double bone motifs and 4 single bone, the double bone ones took about 25 minutes to complete each. And that’s without the test sample.

But, it’s done! I’m really happy with how this came out and I really love the shape. If I ever find some narrow antique black lace I might decorate the top, but as I don’t have that in the stash for now I’m calling it done.

The front and side:

 

 

And side-front and back:

 

Corset patterning

I’ve started a new corset, 1880’s this time. My goal for this one was two-fold, firstly to try to pattern it on top of a padded bra to give a little more curve. Corsets tend to flatten me a bit up top, and while fashionable in some periods, the 1880’s were all about the hourglass. The second goal was to take a little more time patterning to get it just right.

I haven’t even cut the coutil I’ll be using yet, but that first step of patterning is done. I thought it might be interesting to see the process of slowly adapting the pattern to fit.

I should also give a shout-out to the corset making community of ‘Foundations Revealed’, a online magazine/coaching subscription website including facebook group, where I got some great feedback on my progress.

I started with the 1880’s pattern from Corsets & Crinolines by Nora Waugh.

1880 waugh

 

I didn’t have a scanner, so I eyeballed the pattern onto gridded mm paper until I had the height and waist measurement about right, and the pattern pieces had the same proportions as in the book. I then copied the pattern to full size cm paper and started from there.

The black lines were the pattern as roughly copied from the book. I measured it and found it small, so the red lines are the added width for the first mock-up.

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When fitting, I found I shouldn’t have added the extra space, the corset was too big. So the second mock-up went back to the black lines. Additionally, I found that the corset was too short on me. So I lengthened the pattern by adding a couple of cm above the waist line. This picture shows that pattern, laid out on top of the original.

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This one was much better, starting to fit. It was still short, so I added some more length to the pattern. I also added a little room to the hips on the side, and took some away from the bust and center front bottom curve, as those were too big.

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This was the first one I made a mock-up off in sturdy fabric, including busk and lacing, but no boning yet. The overall fit wasn’t bad, but the busk was tilting quite badly. I’ve had this happen on previous corsets, and thought it might just be me not lacing it straight, but it was too extreme to be a coincidence.  I also didn’t really like the inverted ‘c’ shape the third panel was making over the hip.

Mockup1

 

I suspected the tilting was because I wasn’t symmetrical, so to test this I took a picture of myself, standing solidly on 2 feet. I then traced my outlines on both sides, and then copied the lines to overlap on the other side. As you can see quite clearly, one hip is both a little higher and wider than the other. The things you learn about yourself when sewing…

Bodyshape

 

So, for the next mock-up I made a left and right version. Basically, I added some hip space for the right-hand version. I also transferred some hip room from panel 3 to 4 to make the pattern shape a bit nicer, and I added 1cm at the top. I’d added that in the previous mock-up and it was still a bit low, so I figured 1cm extra room at least would be good.

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This next mock-up I also boned, which makes quite a difference. Also: the hip fixes worked, as it wasn’t tilting anymore, yay! The whole corset was still a bit low at the top though, and I still had too much room center front bottom.

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I added even more space up top, and took away a bit of the bottom. I also took away more of the curve on the bottom of panel 2.

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The final mock-up was really close. The height is finally good here, and it’s curving quite nicely. It was a slightly sturdier fabric than the previous one, and I noticed that made it a little tight in the hips.

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So the only things I changed for the last draft was to add a little more hip room, mostly on panel 5 as that didn’t have much flare yet. In this picture you can see the final pattern, laying on top of the one I started with!

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The main changes were that I added some length above the waist, and above the original bustline, lengthening the corset quite extensively. I took away some bust and tummy space, and added space for my hips. Finally, I made a left and right hand version to accommodate my own asymmetry.

Now it’s time to cut the coutil, and start planning the boning channels and cording. It’ll be a single layer black coutil corset with red external channels.

 

New Victorian Corset

As soon as I finish a corset I want to make a new one, nevermind that I don’t wear them all that much. My last underbust wasn’t any different, and I started playing with a new pattern almost right after finishing it.

This time I wanted to try adapting a historical pattern using a similar method I used to draft the underbust pattern. I looked at different historical patterns, and decided on a 1870’s Victorian pattern without any gussets. The lack of gussets would make it easier to scale with the method I was using (more about that later). The choice for Victorian was because at the moment, I only have a 1860’s corset. That was the second corset I ever made, and although it fits okay, I can’t lace it quite as tightly as I’d like if I’m wearing it all day. Additionally, its shape is good for 1860’s and early 1870’s, but a bit to ‘short’ for latter Victorian. The 1870’s pattern I picked is a little longer and should work for a slightly later period as well.

A slight comparison. On the left a corset from 1865 (De Gracieuse, Dutch), in the middle from 1876  (Le Moniteur De La Mode, France) and on the right from 1885 (B. Altman & co Catalogue, England). You can see how the left one is much shorter in length than the other two. As time progressed, the flare out from the hips started lower on the body, calling for a more longline corset. The 1876’s one shows the beginning of the natural form movement, with a sleek line. In 1885, the silhouette became curvier than ever, but still with a lower flare over the hips than in 1865.

corsets

While my current corset follows the 1865 shape closest, the new corset is modeled more after the 1876 example.

For pattern, I settled on this historical pattern:

Vintage Corset Pattern:

I then resized the pattern by drawing a digital line through the bust, waist and hip points. I took my own measurements, and first lengthened the pattern so that the distance between bust-waist-hip was the same as for my body. I then took the line through the pieces and adapted the shape of the panels so that the total width of the pattern would fit with my measurements. I merged the first and second panel from the center-front, because these have a straight seam anyway. If you want a full (with pictures) description of the type of method I used, here’s a tutorial. I didn’t follow this exactly, but used the same concept.

I took this pattern and made a mock-up, and made some further changes. Mostly I removed some width at the top of the back patterns, and added a little more to the hip flare. I cut down the length at the bottom front just a bit to be able to sit better, and added a little width on the top front of the left half of the pattern. I’m not 100% symmetrical… The eventual pattern I ended up with looks like this:

pattern 1870 corset

I decided to make the corset out of a white brocade coutil I had bought on sale with no specific plans in mind. I also decided on doing a little more decoration, namely cording at the front. I’ve seen examples of both vertical and horizontal cording, but settled on the horizontal inspired by this corset from the amazing Aristocrat: (seriously, if you don’t know her work, go check it out)

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In order to be able to make the cording, I flatlined the whole corset with white cotton. The busk was put in first. The two front pieces on both sides were corded before construction. After that, all the pieces were sewn together wrong sides together. This left the raw edges on the outside, to be covered with boning channels. I cut the boning channels from the same brocade coutil, ironed the edges to fold over and stitched these over the seam allowances to hide them. Next time, I think I’ll make the boning channels tubes instead of folded strips. In some places, the fold ‘folded back out’ when sewing them on, leaving the edge a little wobbly. Final steps were cutting and inserting the boning (flat steel around the grommets, spiral for the rest) and bind the edges in white cotton bias binding.

The finished corset, here shown over my Edwardian chemise because I don’t have a Victorian one. (And because it’ be quite scandalous without chemise, as it’s very solidly mid-bust, and not over-bust).  I now sort of need to make a chemise with the neckline sitting right above the edge of the corset.

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And lying flat. I love how the coutil makes it curve even off the body.

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A detail of the cording on the outside.

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And an interior picture. You can see that by constructing the panels right sides together, the inside gets a really clean finish.

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The cording on the inside. The only disadvantage of having the coutil as fashion fabric and cotton as lining is that with the cording, the cotton tends to wrap around the cord more than the coutil. So the relief is stronger on the inside. I suspect it’d work best with the thinner fabric on the outside. (Also, I think I’m getting better at hand-stitching, very pleased with the stitches sewing the binding on on the inside.)

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New underbust corset

Remember how my last underbust corset started out as a mock-up? When I started the mock-up I already had the fabric I wanted to make the corset in. Those plans got delayed though, as I decided to just fully finish the mock-up. I’ve now finally finished the underbust it was supposed to be!

This was the fabric that inspired me:

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I slightly adapted the pattern from the last fit, making it a little smaller in the lower front section. Next was cutting out the fabric. This actually took quite some time, as I had a printed cotton I wanted to use, and I wanted to keep the image intact. It took some laying out (and laying out, and laying out), but I think it worked (after shifting everything about 5 times) and I even have quite some fabric left. Not knowing how I’d need to space the pieces I made sure to get enough. The final lay-out:

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As you can see in the image, both the left & right side are layed out here. I used the pattern pieces from the original underbust to fill the other side, the differences were quite small and this allowed me to see if I had enough fabric. Obviously, I used the correct ones for cutting out.

I didn’t take any pictures during construction this time, but I did try something new! (aside from the pattern-matching, because doing that for the first time was a perfect moment to try a new technique…). Previously I’ve used the ‘stitch-in-the-ditch’ method, using very wide seam allowances and folding them back on both sides to create channels, using bone-casings on the inside not following the seams and using bone-casings on the outside following the seams. For this corset, I used the welt-seam method, constructing it both layers at the same time front to back while enclosing the seam allowances between them. I think it worked okay, and I quite like the technique, although I’m not sure it’s best for pattern matching. It requires you to pin both the strength layer and the fashion layer at separate sides to the previous panel, which makes it a bit fiddly. It gives a very nice finish though! I used coutil (also a first, it’s a lot sturdier than previous corsets now!), and I didn’t line the corset as all the seams are nicely hidden.

I’m not 100% happy with how the pattern-matching turned out, but for a first try I think it worked okay. I was also too lazy to un-pick anything, as it’s only noticeable from up close where the matching is not perfect, so it’s entirely my own fault.

I do still really like the fabric for corsetry, and it was another good learning experience doing new things! Some images of the finished corset.

The front:

& the back:

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And laying flat (sort off). As you can see, it’s a lot smoother on me, but this shows off the pattern.

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Sewing – modern with a classic twist

There’s a bi-yearly fabric market which also stops in the town where I live, and I always try to make time to go. This year, there were a lot of digitally printed fabrics. Not very suitable for historical sewing, but they do come in some great prints. I saw a couple which I just couldn’t resist and bought them. Only problem; they were jersey fabrics, which I hadn’t got a lot of experience with. So I sought a sewing magazine with some suitable patterns in it (also on the market), checked the yardage and bought the fabric. My goal was to make 2 jersey dresses which would be suitable for work and wearing in winter. Most of my dresses are summer dresses (i.e. don’t have sleeves or only very short ones), or are either too short or too fancy to wear to work. So I figured they’d make a good addition to my wardrobe. The patterns were published in the Dutch Knipmode magazine of November 2014. The only change I made was to lengthen the 3/4 sleeves to long ones.

Given that this was the first time working with a pattern for stretch fabric, I’m pretty happy with how they turned out!

The first fabric is a greyscale compilation of what looks like vintage children’s advertisements. I combined it with black jersey for the skirt. (The dress sits a lot better over my hips than those of my dummy by the way, the weird shape is gone if I wear it).

The full dress:

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A close-up of the neckline:

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A detail of the fabric: (pattern-matched at the back). I loved these little girls!

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The back of the bodice:

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The second fabric was the one which originally cought my eye. It’s a mix of an antique corset, roses, thread scissors, sewing machine charms and sewing dummy advertisements. I abselutely couln’t resist. This time I used only the print fabric. This dress has the same skirt pattern as the first one, but a slightly different bodice and neckline.

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A close-up of the pleating in the bodice and skirt.

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Close-up of the neckline.

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A close-up of the corset on the print.

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And another close-up of the fabric.

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Additionally, I also made myself 2 new belts recently. I own one black elastic belt, which I wear all the time. It’s also perfect for these dresses, to break-up the look a bit. I wanted more belt like this, but it was difficult finding non-plain black wide elastic which would suit. Luckily, there’s a store in Utrecht which carries absolutely everything considering lace, ribbon, elastic, buttons and closures you could ever want, so I found 2 lovely elastics and closures there.

There’s one with a silver closure:

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And one with a gold one:

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And a quick peek at what it looks like with the dress:

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Modern Underbust corset – with a traditional touch

Corset making is addictive. It can be frustrating, fiddly and there’s little room for error, but as soon as I finish one I’m thinking ‘I want to make more!’. Because despite being all of the above, they’re also incredibly rewarding. I guess this comes from it being so fiddly and precise work, if you do succeed it’s something to be proud of. And there’s so much which can go wrong, it’s difficult to get it to be perfect.

After finishing my Edwardian corset, I started to plan the next one. A modern corset this time, and an underbust. Both firsts for me. Of course, this didn’t stop me from trying to completely draft the pattern from scratch, which I’ve never done before either.

I drafted the pattern using a couple of tutorials and making them my own. I didn’t follow these exactly, but the over-all method I used is described really well here: https://katafalk.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/underbust-pattern-tutorial/ and here: http://ultharkitty.livejournal.com/641477.html . I decided on a 6-panel (per side) pattern.

I made the mock-up of a shiny, sturdy black polyester I had left-over from another project, and it actually worked really well right away. I hadn’t planned on doing anything with the mock-up, but then I followed a workshop on fabric decoration with paint, and the black mock-up fabric was perfect for it. As the pattern seemed to work pretty well, I took a leap and decided to finish it properly.

The fabric decoration technique I used is called ‘dotwork’, and is traditional to the Dutch town of Staphorst. They use it in their traditional clothing as a form of decoration. It came into existence to replace embroidery, which was more expensive because it took more time. Essentially, it’s a technique where you paint dots on fabric using the heads of nails to form patterns. If you get really good at it, this looks something like this:

The traditional colors are red, blue, yellow, green, purple and white. The background is traditionally dark blue or black. The patterns can be made quicker by using stamps, where multiple nails have been hammered into a piece of wood. A special paint is used, which has a plastic base. It applies well to fabric, and doesn’t wash out.

As a friend of mine followed a course in this technique, I was able to use some of her stamps and paint to decorate this corset. Making the stamps is one of the most difficult things of the whole process, so it made things a lot easier and quicker for me. Even so, it took me 2 afternoons to place all the dots. Once the paint touches the fabric, there’s no going back, so it’s a job which requires a lot of patience and concentration. It’s wonderfully relaxing to do though.

I ended up using only red and white, as I believed it looked best with the corset. In Staphorst they like very busy patterns, so this is a slightly more modern variation. The corset was constructed of 3 layers, the black as outside, a strong canvas-like cotton for the strength layer and a floating black cotton lining. It has a waist-tape and external red boning channels out of bias tape. The bones in the center-back are flat steel, all the others spiral.

I’m really happy with how it came out, and I love the shape it gives me. I’m planning to make another corset with this pattern, so I want to wear this one a bit to check if the fit stays right over time. There’s probably some small things I’ll change, such as adding a little extra room in the hip at the back, and raising the top, but overall it looks pretty good.

 

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And lying flat, outside and in.

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A little detail of the dots, binding and lining

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Edwardian corset – done!

My edwardian corset is done!

When I left off last time, I was trying to figure out how to avoid wrinkles in the silk when stitching the boning channels on.

I tried to use a different zipper foot, but it didn’t really work… I looked for other solutions, but they involve fusing the fabrics, or pinning them together over a curve. This would mean taking the whole thing apart though, and as I’d already sewn on all the boning channels that seemed like completely undoing every progress I’d made. So I decided to just continue, and accept that it’s a bit wrinkly. Something to consider next time, and if anyone has any tips to avoid these type of wrinkles, I’d love to know!

So, the finished thing:

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Aside from the wrinkles, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out, and I still love the fabric and the lace. I’m wearing it over my Edwardian chemise, bum pad and the Wearing History bust improvers I just made up:

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The Edwardian silhouette is all about emphasizing the waist by having a full bust and wide hips. The hips I almost have, but the bust can use a little help, and these improvers are a perfectly historical solution! I now just need to make a corset cover to cover up the edge of the corset.

Some detail shots:

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And lying flat (which it doesn’t do very well). Here you can also see that the wrinkles are not just caused by fitting issues…

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The lace, attached on the inside:

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And from the outside. It’s so pretty!

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I also made bias tape for the first time, which I think worked rather well! And I flossed the corset. Of course, having no experience in embroidery or flossing I went for the simplest design.. not. It worked out okay though, they’re not all exactly the same, but pretty enough!

 

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At the busk.

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The flossing on the inside & the bias tape hand-stiched down:

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I flossed the bones in the front and the 2 at the back nearest the grommets.

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Edwardian corset progress

A while without any sewing posts, but I have been, I promise! My 1860’s ballgown bodice is almost done (a post will follow when it’s complete), and I’ve been working on my Edwardian corset. In this post some progress on the latter. All photo’s were taken with my phone, and sometimes in bad light, but I wanted to register progress closely this time and this was the easiest way.

I started with tracing the pattern and cutting the pattern pieces (I’m using Truly Victorian E01). After this, it was mock-up time!

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I’m always a bit lazy, so while I wouldn’t skip a mock-up of such a close fitting garment, I usually just pin it together to check for fit. I also included a panel at the center-back because I don’t have lacing yet. The mock-up fitted all-right. It seemed a bit loose at the top, but Edwardian corsets aren’t really meant to support much anyways. I figured that if it would turn out too loose, I’d just stuff in extra padding, because that’s what they did back then as well. Next step was cutting the fabric!

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The strength-layer.

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And the silk. This was really scary! Next to cutting was marking all the pieces. This is especially important in corset patterns, because it isn’t always obvious which piece is which at first glance.

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Marking always takes so much longer than I initially think… Next up was flatlining the strength-layer to the silk. The pattern I’m using calls for a single-layer corset, so I sewed the strength-fabric to the silk around the edges.

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Flat-lined pieces. It’s already pretty! The construction was next, and started with inserting the busk at the center-front. My busk was slightly too long, so I needed to shorten it first.

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After cutting it off, I filed the edges to be smooth and used plumbers-tape to protect it further. (I wouldn’t recommend the cutter I’m using by the way, I need to get a new one).

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For the loop side, I sewed the facing to the center-front piece, leaving gaps at inter falls for the loops to fit through. This is what it looked like right sides together.

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And right side. Next I put the busk in between the seam allowences, with the loops sticking through the holes. I then sewed the facing in place next to the loops. The other side was similar, but here I sewed the facing on normally, and then poked holes through the Center-front piece to fit the knobs through. Next up, construction time!

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This is always the stage I like most, because you can see the corset coming alive. This photo is of all but the center-front piece sewn together.

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After sewing and pressing open the seams, some of the curved seams were ironed to one side and top-stitched to secure them more. This was scary, because I’m using slightly contrasting thread and I wanted it to look pretty on the outside as well.

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I think it turned out pretty nice! These are the seams at the frond of the corset.

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Time for the eyelets! At the center back, I attached the facing and sewed 3 lines of stitching. The first to form the first boning channel, a gap for the eyelets, and then another 2 lines for the second boning channel. I initially wanted to use an awl to poke the holes for the eyelets as the silk frays, but I couldn’t get the hole big enough. I ended up cutting the holes with the eyelet-tong, and using fray-check to keep the fabric under control. I tested it on a scrap, and it looked pretty sturdy, so hopefully it’ll hold. And then I put in all the eyelets! They’re 5 mm prym eyelets.

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Next is planning the boning channels. They’re internal tubes, and I sewed together 3 cm biasbinding to create the channels as I couldn’t find pre-made anywhere. The pattern called for 4 channels in the front, but I could only fit 3.

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Sewing the channels in. I also added a waist-tape. The pattern doesn’t call for it, but it’s supposed to increase sturdyness.

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And then, cutting the boning! Cutting, filing and taping the bones.

This is where I’m at now. I’m having a slight delay, because after sewing on the boning channels, this happened:

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Wrinkles! It’s not entirely avoidable because of the thin silk, but it’s not very pretty either. I strongly suspect that using a special sewing foot will help decrease this. It happens because the top fabric and bottom fabric are moving at different speeds through the machine, and there are foots which help getting things aligned again. As turns out, the machine I’m using comes with such a foot, but it’s at my mother’s, so I don’t have it yet. I’ll probably unpick some of the boning channels and test re-stitching them very carefully to see if I can decrease the wrinkles. It’s a bit of a set-back, but I really want this corset to turn out really nice. I already invested in the fabric and lace, and I’m planning on spending even more time on flossing and I’d hate to end up thinking I could’ve done more to make it as nice as I can. It will probably always have some wrinkles, but I want to have at least tried.

So I’m now waiting for when I can get the foot, and then I’ll be able to continue! Meanwhile I’ve been working on other stuff, so my ball-gown bodice is now nearly done and should be posted about in a couple of weeks.

 

 

Edwardian corset

I’ve been working on a new corset. This time it’ll be an S-bend Edwardian corset, ca. 1903. This type of corset is very specific for the time. It has a straight front, and a very sharply curved back, giving it the S-bend name.

These corsets are meant to minimize the waist, but to keep as much volume as possible in the hip and bust era.

I’m using the Truly Victorian pattern for this corset. It comes with a hip pad to add volume to the back and bust padding to fill up the front. I made the padding last year. It looks a bit weird on its own.

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I also already cut out the pattern pieces last year, and over Christmas cut and pinned the mock-up. Corsets are alwasy difficult to fit, but these even more so, so I decided it was close enough and will just go with my measurements. I’ve a gap at the top front, but that’s sort of the point as Edwardian corsets don’t really support the bust anyways. If it turns out too big, I can always make some more padding to fill it up. There’s loads of examples of Edwardian ‘bust-improvers’, so it would be very period.

Wearing History has a e-pattern of some bust-improvers which I might try.

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So now it’s time to sew! I’ll be using a beige coutil as strength layer and I’ve bought a lovely pale pink silk for the outer layer. It’s my first time working with silk, and I’m very excited but also a bit scared, because it’s so pretty! At the top of the corset I will use a lovely beige lace with tiny flowers and pearls. I’m also planning on trying out flossing for this corset, so it should turn out to be pretty fancy!

My phone camera doesn’t do the fabric justice, but just to get an idea. I want to layer the lace this way at the top.

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For the bottom of the corset I’m planning on using the top side of the lace in a thin border.

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