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.

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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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Simple Regency petticoat (+pattern)

My first project of the year is done, and it wasn’t even planned! I started work on the red/white regency dress (an update will follow soon), and while I was working I noticed the fabric was a bit sheer. No problem of course, that’s perfectly period, but it does require a petticoat beneath the dress.

Well, unless you’re portraying a very fancy French lady, in which case you might go for this look:

Louis Léopold Boilly, Incroyable et Merveilleuse in Paris, 1797

 

But that wasn’t exactly my plan, as I believe it was reserved for the very fashionable, and mainly worn in France. (Also, in the image above the man is trying to pay the lady as he supposes she’s a prostitute because of her clothes, she’s making the cross to ward him off).

I also had some fun looking at the caricatures of sheer dresses at the time. It definitely wasn’t for everyone.

 

Anyway, a petticoat it was! I’d originally bought cotton to line the dress, but afterwards found that generally, only the bodice of Regency dresses are lined and not the skirts. So there was plenty of fabric left to make a petticoat. Generally speaking, there’s two types of petticoats, namely those with bodice and those without. The petticoats without bodice usually do have straps, to keep the skirt up at the empire waistline.

A bodiced petticoat:

And one with straps:

I opted for the straps option, mostly because it was easiest. I made up the petticoat very quickly, and without any decoration, as it’s mostly so I can wear my dress when finished. It’s basically just a skirt pattern with some bias tape finishing the top, a slit in the side and 2 straps. I don’t know how accurate this construction is, but it works!

The front:

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Side:

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And back:

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The closure:

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As it’s so simple, I drew out the pattern I used for this. I made it to scale, if you click on it you should get the full scale version. 100 pixels is 10 cm. Some notes: My ’empire-waist circumference’ (under-bust measure) is about 75 cm, so the back panel ‘gathered to fit’ in this case means gathered to 75-55=20 cm. If you have a different circumference, you might want to scale up the width in both pattern pieces. The 110 cm in height is also for me, I’d strongly suggest measuring yourself for the height. Measure from your empire waist to where you want your petticoat to hang. I also put in 110 cm both for the front and back panel, but I suggest cutting the back slightly higher than the front, as you’ll be attatching the straight back side seam to a tilted front side seam which will be longer. I did this, and just cut off the exces after attaching the panels. For the straps, the length is also based on me, and I suspect will be different for everyone. Just put the petticoat on you, pin the straps to the back at the side of the panel and check the length in the front. The same goes for the position of the straps in the front. This depends on your empire waist circumference and cup-size probably. And, just in case, always fit over your stays! This way you can also check the placement of the straps to make sure they won’t show with a gown with a wide neckline. Finally, there’s no seam allowance in this pattern. I used the selvedge as hem and bias binding at the top, so I didn’t need an allowance at either. If you’re hemming the top and/or bottom, don’t forget to add this. Same goes for the side-seams. I measured the pattern after sewing, so no allowance included. Good luck!

Petticoat pattern

Edwardian Corset Cover

Next item done! To hide the corset ridge, a corset-cover was worn between the corset and outer garments. As I’m planning to make a sheer(ish) blouse, it seemed like a good plan to make a corset cover as well. It has ruffles, moreover, which helps achieving the pigeon-breast silhouette.

I used the Truly Victorian Edwardian undergarment pattern, it worked great! I made this up very quickly, and the instructions were great. Next-up: Drawers and petticoat!

Pictures!

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White cotton – Underwear

I had a productive weekend, and made 2 new (under) garments. One is a new petticoat for over my 1860’s hoop, the other an Edwardian shift.

I started with the petticoat. My old one was quite heavy and seemed to do some weird things with my hoop dimensions, compressing it. As it was also not very period correct, being made of black polyester, I decided to make a new one. The new one isn’t quite as full, as I only had 3 meters of fabric, but it should do the job.

It consists of 2 rectangles, the first gathered to the waistband and the second gathered to the first. I started with the first rectangle, and put it on my hoop to measure for length.

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I then drew a line along the 2nd full hoop (so not the half-circle ones). I sewed the bottom strip along this line, and actually ended up with a petticoat which is pretty even along the hem! It’s just a bit short, due to lack of fabric, but with a velvet over-skirt (which is quite heavy), that shouldn’t be a problem. If I’ll ever make a new skirt for over this hoop with less volume, I might need to make another petticoat as well though.

 

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The second thing I made was an Edwardian shift. I used the Truly Victorian Edwardian underwear pattern (top left is the shift):

Edwardian Underwear

 

 

I ended up skipping the lace along the arm holes, and just made a small seam there. It has lace along the neckline, and 4 pin-tucks in the front and 2 in the back. I pieced the back, because I was using left-over fabric and couldn’t fit the whole thing without a seam. I quite like it, there’s just something about white cotton, lacy underwear.

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Front

 

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Front-detail

 

 

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Back

 

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Back detail