1905 Sanakor Plunge front corset

As a self directed project at university I decided to make a corset to keep further my corsetry skills. For this is chose the 1905 Sanakor plunged front corset (extant corset is held in the Symington Collection Leicestershire) because it was a cut I have never attempted before and looked to be a unique challenge. This corset presented many new techniques and I learnt a lot of new valuable skills.


As I’m using ‘Stays and Corsets: Volume 2’ (Mandy Barrington) for the construction of this corset I followed the instructions for the pattern drafting process. I’ve made a few corsets from the previous book volume so this process is quite familiar to me.
I started by drafting the block to Imogen’s measurements, I found that as she has a small bust it was better to use her hips as the widest measurement on the block (bust is suggested for this measurement in the book). The block is then widened by 30cm in the side of the block, this allows for additional space for drafting the corset patterns.
Additional measurements are added to the block such as point to point, high hip to further aid in plotting the pattern of the corset.

I decided to make a toile out of drill as I didn’t feel comfortable with my skills to make it up in my duchess satin first time. My biggest concern was marking the satin so the drill toile seemed to be the safest option.
IMG_9922

The pattern pieces were all cut out from two layers of cotton drill with one inch seam allowance. The pieces were tacked to indicate bust, waist, high hip and hip.
For the toile I focused on fit rather than construction, this meant I could speedily sew the toile together, get the fit alterations right and then move onto the real corset with much more time to work on perfecting the overall construction.
The toile corset was sewn with seams to the outside with 1” seam allowance (and shape adjustment space) added all the way around the pattern pieces. The centre front was sewn together as a seam to replicate the busk and the toile was fully boned using synthetic whalebone which were numbered corresponding with the boning channels on my patterns so they could be easily identified and recycled into the finished corset.

The first fitting went well with only a few alterations necessary. The bust seam needed to be taken in a bit as it was gaping and the side to centre back below the waist needed taking in also.
IMG_0031

These alterations were safety pined and then chalked so that this new information could be transferred and sewn for a final fitting.


The second fitting was a success with the alterations fitting Imogen perfectly.

Now that the pattern was finalised it could be retraced and used for the final corset, I traced off the new patterns by dismantling one side of the corset, laying pattern paper over carbon paper and using a tracing wheel through the pattern pieces to transfer the new information.


Once all of the pattern pieces had been transferred using the carbon I used a pattern master to clean up the lines and straighten boning channels.
No alterations were made to the busk panel so that panel was left as is to be used in the final corset.


As the original 1905 corset feature a while lining I decided to replicate this in my version of it. The top fabric was cut from black double duchess satin and the inside was cut from white coutil. 1.5cm was added to all of the pattern pieces with an extra 1” of satin added to the busk panel. It was this panel I was most worried about messing up so I wanted as much room for that as possible so any mistakes could be amended.

IMG_0066I started construction with the back panels, It was difficult to work out the construction of these from the images of the extant garment I had (no further explanation in the book) so I decided to sew the satin to the coutil wrong sides together on the centre back, press, fold them back so right sides were out and then press so the satin rolled over the centre back with a slight lip.

After making my 1820’s corded stays where rather than back stitching my stitch lines I left my threads long, threaded them to the wrong side and then tied them off. I found it difficult to back stitch on this corset as tying threads back makes them look so clean. So I decided on tying my threads back on this corset for all of my boning channels/visible lines of stitching.

On the side panel there was an internal boning chanel made up from tape that was hand sewn into place, for this I used petersham tap and extended the tape into the seam so it could be caught when sewing, the tape was slip stitched into place, catching the coutil layer and not the satin.
I have sewn busks into corsets before but for this corset decided to add a small facing/modesty panel to the hook side which would prevent any skin from showing in the small gap when worn. This was done by sewing the hook side of the busk 5mm to the side of the centre front line (this included sewing along the top edge so that it could be bagged out in the next step), folding this back with right sides showing and then sewing the centre front line of stitching. The eye side of the busk was sewn along the centre front, skipping where the eyes would poke through the seam (right sides together) again including sewing the top edge of the busk panel so that it too could be bagged out.

IMG_0178I have sewn busks into corsets before but for this corset decided to add a small facing/modesty panel to the hook side which would prevent any skin from showing in the small gap when worn. This was done by sewing the hook side of the busk 5mm to the side of the centre front line (this included sewing along the top edge so that it could be bagged out in the next step), folding this back with right sides showing and then sewing the centre front line of stitching. The eye side of the busk was sewn along the centre front, skipping where the eyes would poke through the seam (right sides together) again including sewing the top edge of the busk panel so that it too could be bagged out.

IMG_0181The eye side of the busk was then inserted and using a zipper foot fixed into place. The hook side was marked on the wrong side of the satin with chalk and I used an awl to poke the holes through from the wrong side. When all of the holes had been made the hooks were carefully inserted through them. I later used steam to shrink the fibers of the satin back together closing the holes around the hooks. A zipper foot was then used to sew the hook side of the busk into place.

CBAF22CC-AE4A-4791-9F6A-2BAA9D9182E6Next the bust panel was sewn to the busk panel, Hester (one of our lovely studio technicians) and I had to have a long discussion about this and spent about an hour examining pictures of the extant Sanakor corset and another surviving white variant of the Sanakor. We decided in the end that the bust and busk panels are first assembled with the coutil right sides together. Then the satin bust panel is line up over the top of this right sides together and sewn. This encases the top edge of the bust panel so that it can be bagged out after clipping into it and trimming the seam allowance. The seam is then pressed adding a slight roll/lip to the bust panel edge. A line of stitching is then sewn around the new bust seam approximately 2mm from the edge/seam line this helps to fix everything in place.

Then the boning channels for the bust seam could be sewn, like the boning channels elsewhere on the corset these were tied to the wrong side so that there was no visible back stitching.

 

Next the side seams were prepared, I secured the cotton petersham tape I was using as a waist tape over the waistline, ensuring it was long enough to be caught into the front to side seam.
The side to bust panels were then sewn together right sides together, making sure the bagged out bust top edge lined up with the tacking stitches on the side seam for a smooth finish.

The seam allowances could then be trimmed down. This seam is covered with a taped boning channel so a length of tape was cut to size and then pinned evenly over the seam.
This was followed by using a ‘stitch in the ditch’ foot from the right side of the corset. This foot lines up perfectly with the seam and stitches in the ditch of the seam resulting in beautiful invisible stitching. These threads were also tied to the wrong side. Then boning channels are sewn on either side of the stitch in ditch seam.

IMG_0202The side to centre back panels were then sewn together in the same fashion. Although the waist tape was not caught in this initial seam. After the initial seam had been sewn it was pressed and trimmed, the waist tape was then brought across following the waist line (keeping it taunt in this process) and pinned to keep it in place while the tapped seam was sewn.

966F86B6-2C50-4158-B2D1-602674EA4096The stitch in the ditch foot was used for this process and boning channels were again sewn on either side of the seam.
Lastly the waist tape is caught into the final eyelet channel bone channel. This bone chenel is also tapped, the waist tape was brought up to where the bone hennl would be sewn and then was folded back on itself a fraction to prevent any raw/exposed edges. The taped boning channel was then sewn over this.

A98831A1-C5B4-4706-8219-A1430FDEBD38With the boning channels all sewn the main construction process was finished and it was time to move on to bias binding the edges and inserting the bones into the channels.
The top edge had to be bias bound first as the top edge of the bust panel had already been closed when it was bagged out and there would be no other way to insert the bones than from the lower edge.
Hester and I had another in depth conversation about how the edges were finished, it was difficult to tell from the pictures I had found of the extant corset but we finally settled on the top edge being bias bound with white tape, the tape was sewn 2mm above the white tacking lines so that when the corset was trimmed down and the bias binding rolled over no bias would be visible. Once this binding was sewn and whip stitched down the bones could be inserted into the channels. As I hadn’t filed the edges on the synthetic whalebone down during the toile corst I had to do this first to limit the chance of any of them bursting out and creating a hole. Flat steel bones were used on the centre back boning channels and these were capped. I had always had issues with the caps coming off steel boning but Hester taught me that you can glue the caps on with ‘uhu glue’, which seems extremely obvious but had never occurred to me before and I will be including that in all of my future steel boned corset practices!
IMG_0230With the bones inserted the lower edge of the corset could be finished off.
The binding on the lower edge is something I’ve never seen or heard of on a corset before. There’s a strip of visible black satin bias running along the bottom edge but the black bias is faced with white bias binding which is turned to the wrong side.
The black satin bias binding is sewn on wrong sides together 1cm above the white tacking line, this is then pressed down and the white tacking line is then restitched through the black bias binding, white bias binding is then sewn on 2mm below the white tacking line, the remaining fabric below is then trimmed and the white bias binding is then rolled to the wrong side (whip stitched in place) so that the seam joining the black satin binding to the white bias binding sits exactly at the bottom of the corset and the white tape is not visible.
Eyelets are then inserted into the eyelet chanel, I followed the eyelet placement indicated in the book and spread out 9 eyelets evenly with one eyelet sitting on the waist.
A ribbon is then sewn 2cm above the busk on the bust panel so that it can be tied when worn offering a little more bust support/modestly.

The corset was then complete.


I am extremely pleased with the outcome of this self directed project. I feel as though I have accomplished all that I set out to do with it and more. I made up my first corset using satin and successfully completed it without marking the satin which I was terrified of doing. The new shape was a challenge but I feel as though it came together rather successfully. Alterations were needed in fitting but nothing that took away from the overall silhouette. I inserted my first waist tape into a corset which thankfully wasn’t as difficult as I expected it to be. I got to have another experience fitting a corset which I feel was extremely beneficial to my skills as an interpreter. I think I now have a better ‘eye’ for fitting and can now assess what needs altering with little input from technicians. Finally I am so pleased with myself with this finished corset, its so clean and the lines are sharp. I have received many compliments in the studio on it and I’m just so proud! Corsetry is a still I want to use more in the future and I feel as though completing this corset was a major step in the right direction.


I hope to make more corsets over the holidays, I’m still determined to finish my ‘Corseted through the Century Challenge’ so I’d like to work on that over the holidays as well as a few other costume and day to day clothes for myself.

Thank you for reading, comments are always welcome!

-Nivera

Advertisements

Examining a 1887 Wedding Corset V&A T .265&A-1960

The second of the two corsets I was requested to view at Clothworkers was this brilliant 1887 Wedding Corset T.265&A-1960
IMG_9874

Front Observations

IMG_9881
Very clearly steam moulded to shape as it holds this rigidly.

White satin has maintained colour extremely well, taking a slightly cream colour now but hardly faded or any major discolouration.
IMG_9876Spoon busk with four hooks and eyes, interesting top stitch detail which forms a channel around the busk shape. Busk does not feature any flossing. The busk has been shaped with a noticeable dip at the waistline keeping a straight form into the bust-line. The busk ‘kicks’ out from the waistline as the bust follows the shape of the body downwards.

 

 

 

 

IMG_9890The eyes of the busk have small plastic covers around their base, this is likely from when the corset was on exhibition on a stand to prevent any rust from contamination the satin surrounding the busk eyes.

Both top and bottom of the boning channels are flossed in a ‘tick’ shaped design. Flossing on the lower edge appears to be 5mm-1cm up from the lower edge of the corset and this remains consistent. Thread used is very similar to first corset viewed, seven strands of thread used to build up the flossing design.

 

IMG_9898Lace sewn to upmost edge is highly detailed, featuring many different design aspects, unsure if this was originally white, though it is currently a deep cream/gold in colour.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_9883Lower edge appears to be faced though there is a every so small roll to the facing so is possibly pipped, this has however rolled more towards the underside of the corset making is difficult to tell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_9875Boning is internal, between two layers  with channels top stitched into place. Base layer is coutil.  I would imagine that spiral or or baleen was used for most channels as there is a lot of movement to all of them, this is exaggerated with the steam shaping over the hips into the waistline.
The bust also appears to have been steam shipped due to the curve it holds when laid flat. Boning on the front of the corset is all is clusters of three, two boning channel clusters going over the bust the third cupping the side of the bust and the fourth blending from the front into the side waist line.

IMG_9880One the side off the corset there is a small section of net sewn (possibly bonded) to the lower edge. This area of the corset appears to be undamaged, upon asking this corset was apart of the ‘Undressed: A Brief History Of Underwear’ exhibition from 2016(?) so restoration work was carried out to ensure it would be suitable for the exhibition.


Back Observations

IMG_9896The clusters of boning channels (sets of three) continue on the back of the corset, each flossed in the same way as the front.

IMG_9894The eyelet panel is boned either side with full length bones, the bone on the CF side is flossed while the bone directly on the CB does not feature any flossing. Fifteen eyelets run down this panel, from bust to waist and hips to waist they are spread evenly. However in the waist area the eyelets are positioned much closer together which would have aided in waist reduction and relieved stress had there been less eyelets more evenly spread in this area.

 

Lacing cord is very chunky, laced from top to bottom in a crisscross motion, no eyelet pairs skipped.
More net used in the restoration process is visible along the bottom edge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside Observations

IMG_9885The steam moulding is even more visible from an internal view as the corset flexes following the bodies shape. I think I can make out that the corset is built up from six panels.

IMG_9886A small trade stamp is featured on the bottom right hand side beside the eyelet panel

 

 

 

IMG_9887Small areas of rust are visible on the underside of the busk. From an internal view the shape of the busk is much more apparent.

 

 

 

 

Additional Photos

 

 


Seeing these corsets was an amazing opportunity and I will be visiting the Clothworkers Centre much more now! I had imagined it would be intimidating but the environment was really nice and I never felt unwelcome. I’ve since booked another appointment with them to view an 1857 wedding dress as research for the Costume Society ‘Patterns of Fashion’ competition which I plan on entering next year. If all goes well I should have more information about that soon. Of course I will be publishing my notes/photos regardless!
I also found out that the dress I want to make (at some point for one of my third year projects) is available to be viewed which has all but confirmed I’ll make it! But I think I’ll keep that a secret for now.

If you enjoy my work and you’re not following me on instagram already, then take this opportunity to go and follow me @nivera.costumes.

Thank you for reading
-Nivera

Examining a 1905 Corset V&A T .228-1968

Today I had the pleasure of visiting the Clothworker Centre for the first time. I was able to examine two corsets, spending an hour with each one. This post will share my notes and photos from the first of the two corsets I examined, I will share my notes and photos  for the second of the two corsets in the next few days.

The first corset is from 1905 made by S&S Corsets and its museum number is T. 228-1968


Front Observations

Blue cotton twill has faded much over time and the corset is now a very pale blue and mostly appears to be off white.
IMG_9854

Straight busk, five hooks and eyes. The holes for the eyes are lightly frayed. The hook side of the busk has ’S&S’ printed onto each individual hook.
IMG_9852
The busk is inserted  between a facing. Satin (used for the boning channels) has also been caught into the facing which has been top stitched down, this encases the busk. A braid of flossing has been sewn at the bottom of the busk, I imagine this it mirrored at the top of the busk also to prevent any movement.

 

 

Flossing adorns each boning channel at the bottom of the bone, the top of the boning channel does not appear to have flossing, lace covers this area. The flossing design is a cross pattern consisting of five strands of flossing that do not intersect with one another.
IMG_9856

 

 

 

 
The bone inserted on the side of the corset consists of a similar flossing design though on a larger scale, this flossing design does intersect with each other in a weave pattern. This floss pattern is made up using 16 threads.  This boning channel is much larger, referred to as ‘wide bones’ in archive description.
IMG_9857

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cotton ribbon insert lace decorates the top edge of the corset, the cotton lace is dagged with two rows of ribbon insets approximately 5mm part from each other. The ribbon inserts appear to be white/cream though originally could have been blue to match the body of the corset.
IMG_9853

Boning channels are external and appear to be made up from satin which is topstitched with a small stitch length into place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back Observations
IMG_9858
IMG_9859Between wide bone positioned on the side of the corset and the eyelet panel there is a section of three bones clustered together. The cluster of boning channels also feature flossing. There are four strands of thread to make up the cross over flossing design, the design does not incorporate  wearing and the flossing lays over each of each other.

 

 

 

img_9860.jpgThe eyelet panel is boned on either side, on the CB the bone runs the full length of the CB. The bone on the opposite side of the eyelets runs from the bottom edge until the third eyelet from the top and stops, rust has visibly bleed through the twill here. Continuing from where this bone stops two bones half its size continue upwards.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_9861There are 17 eyelets in total running the eyelet panel, the topmost one is completely hidden by lace, the one lower to this is half covered by the end of the lace.
Both bones on the eyelet panel have a braided flossing very similar to what holds the busk in place.

Simple bias binding runs the bottom edge off the corset, top stitch in place presumably to catch the underside of the bias tape in the process as one full stitch motion.

 

Interior Observations
IMG_9865

 

IMG_9867Flossing thread is visibly prick stitched through with very little thread showing through. No flossing along top bones, no prick stitching visible.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_9871Small ’S&S’ corset label on left hand back side with 23” written on it, only a short distance away on the side closest to the eyelet panel is ’23’ written in pencil. Indication of waist measure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_9870A waist tape featuring more branding from ’S&S’ is still very vibrant, the statue of liberty is featured also. The waist tape which is stamped in blue cursive writing on the right hand side with ‘NOUVELLE FORM DROIT DEVANT’ and on the left side with ‘THE S & S CORSET REGISTERED made in Belgium’.

Thread holding lace down is visible along top edge, long running stitch with small pricks to catch the lace. Thread is also visible running through the bias binding.

IMG_9872Eyelet panel appears to have been made with excess fabric on the CB so that it can be turned back to the wrong side, reenforcing the panel at the same time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Photos

IMG_9863

IMG_9873


I’m really pleased I got the opportunity to examine these extant corsets, corsetry is still something that I’m very interested in, seeing these up close and being able to soak up all of the craftsmanship was an amazing experience.
I know for sure I’ll be back at the Clothworkers Centre sometime soon. I’m starting to weigh up my third year project options and making something that I can view in person through the Victoria and Albert museum archives should benefit the project. There are a few pieces I have in mind but I’ll wait for our briefing in a few weeks time before making any big decisions.

Thanks for reading,

-Nivera

1830’s Corded Petticoat

Wow! I have not updated here in a while, so lets change that with some foundation garments!

We made 1830’s ballgowns for our first unit back at university and whats more iconic to the 1830’s than obnoxious sleeves and plaid fabric? Corded petticoats of course!

Remember when I made my 1870’s corded corset and I was surprised by how much cording went into it? I ate my words during this project!


This project was really interesting and I enjoyed it greatly though it did test my patience here and there. I’m pretty pleased with the results, I was a little concerned I made it too big (width) but after speaking to other historical costumers they seam to be pretty pleased with the results as well!

Materials:

8m of white pillow cotton
Two 100m spools of size 4 cording (this was bought whole sale, cheaper!)
White thread (I used a polyester overlocker spool and never worried about my thread only the bobbin)
2m of petersham tape (any waistband tape will do)
One skirt buckle
White top stitching thread


The pattern I used for my corded petticoat was an altered version of the pattern found in ‘The Victorian Dressmaker’ (Prior Attire). The original pattern consists of four 1m squared panels, these are then sewn in pairs making two 1m by 2m panels. These panels are then put together (wrong sides together) so cording can be sewn between the layers. I altered this pattern by doubling the patterns required with the intention of making a larger than standard petticoat. My reasons for this were as follows.

  1. No seam allowance was added to the patterns. I was using a standard 1.5cm seam allowance, this is minor but worth mentioning.
  2. I wanted to account for the shift in the fabric when the cording is added and the fabric that will need to be taken off in order to square up the petticoat. I read blogs that made mention of this (written by historical seamstresses), they mention that the more cording there is the more the fabric will shift which in turn means more needs to be taken off at the end of the process to square the petticoat up.
  3. Silhouette, the design I’m working from features a large skirt, rather than making a smaller corded petticoat with little volume and having to pile net petticoats on top to reach the size I think it makes more sense to make my base foundation bigger. I may need a layer or two of net to smoothen the shape out but this can be determined when the petticoat is complete and I have a skirt toile.
  4. Continuing from 3, as the unit is about opera costumes (costumes in motion / stage costumes / performing costumes) so we to think about costume changes and the practicality of the costumes. Having one large corded petticoat vs one regular corded petticoat and a large (or multiple) net petticoats would seem to be easier to change into making it more practical.

The panels are sewn together creating two layers of 1m by 4m panels. The seams should be pressed open and then the two layers laid over top of each other with the wrong sides together (matching the seams).
I decided to have a 3” hem on my petticoat which could be turned up to add extra support and strength. I marked and sewed the 3” by measuring 3” from the needle on the industrial machine and placing tape there as a guide.
This line also acts as the initial starting line for the cording.
IMG_8476

The cording was sewn using a zipper foot to ensure the channels were snug with the cording. As the industrial machines don’t have zipper foot attachments the sewing of the cording had to be done on a domestic machine. To make this process easier for myself I got out one of the extension tables and fitted that to machine for more flat space to work on.

IMG_8661I found the fastest way of sewing the cording (without tucks or puckering) was to push the cording snug between the two layers, keeping my left hand between the layers to keep pushing it in as I sewed while my right hand would steady the fabric and also keep it taunt.
This was very successful and I was able to sew around 20m of cording per day. I was very cautious when sewing the cording and was very thankful to not have to unpick any tucks or puckering!

IMG_8662

I was amazed by how quickly the petticoat stiffened up with the cording. I had intended to starch my petticoat after completion (mostly for the experience) but about halfway through sewing the cording I had half decided there would be little point because of how much structure it was already holding.

After looking at extant corded petticoats and reproduction corded petticoats I decided to stagger my cording so that there were more heavily corded clusters at the bottom and slowly dispersed in thinner clusters at the top. Below is a diagram of how I staggered out my cording.
unnamed

When I had finished the cording (I used approximately 120m) the sides (open ends) needed to be straightened up as during the cording process the two layers shifted in opposite directions. I used a square ruler lining it up along the bottom row of cording and drew a line up to the top edge. I then cut along this line which covered two layers removing the shift in the fabric and straightening everything up. In the process of straighten the end up I ended up taking approximately 20cm off each side due to the shift in order to straighten out the two layers.

Next I gathered the waistband, it needed to be reduced down to julias measurements in the stays which is 26”. I decided to cartridge pleat the waistband as I felt that I wouldn’t be able to reduce it down to waist size just by gathering it. After carefully considering how to gather it I decided on having deeper 1” gathers at the centre back of the petticoat and have ½” gathers from those point forward to the front. The deeper gathers at the back would give the petticoat more fullness there creating a slight elliptical shape which I had seen in extant garments and historical reproductions. I marked the petticoat into quarters, the middle would be the centre back. On either side of the CB I marked 18” (equivalent to ⅛ of the petticoat length) which amounted to equally spreading ¼ over the CB (36.25”) this quarter measurement over the CB would be the area of pleats that are 1” deep giving more fullness to the CB, from those points towards the centre front would be ½” deep for a more gradual silhouette.
Below is a table I made which is a better visual representation of my planning.

Screen Shot 2019-01-20 at 12.58.31
After finalising my maths I marked the gathering increments along the top edge of the petticoat so they could be used as reference when cartridge pleating it down to size. This was done by hand using white top stitching thread, the top stitching thread is less likely to snap and the white will blend with the fabric.

IMG_8516
The petticoat was then very carefully gathered down to the waist size, I did not want any of the threads to snap at this point. In this picture you can already see how much more of a ‘kick’ the pleats over the CB have in comparison to the ½ pleats. I decided to pin it to a temporary waistband just to check I was happy with the shape it was creating before moving forward.
I was quite happy with the shape it created and decided to move forward.

IMG_8531
The petticoat needed to be closed, I discussed this with Glenda (tutor) and she suggested overlapping the open ends (staggering the cording) and then sewing it up. I also asked Hester (studio technician) what she would do and she suggested unpicking 1” of the open ends (exposing the ends of the cording), then sewing a seam joining the top fabric open ends together (leaving an 11” opening at the top) and then carefully weaving/hand sewing the open ended cords together before folding the wrong sides excess fabric back over concealing the cording. Hesters idea was a much longer process but it sounded like a much cleaner end result. My main concern was the petticoat collapsing where the open ends joined but this idea sounds like it would prevent
that without having to overlay the cording.

After unpicking the cording on the open ends and sewing a seam (right sides together on top petticoat fabric) I started hand sewing the cording back together. I trimmed the cords so they touched ends and then whipped them together keeping them as flat as possible. This was don’t up until the cording that was 11” below the top edge as this needed to be left open for the opening. Those cords would be sealed in the next step.

IMG_8532The excess seamallowence was then folded back over concealing the cording. I then used a small whip stitch to hold it in place. For the cording position in the opening the excess seam allowance was folded inward right sides together and stitched down.
To further reinforce the cording where the join was I top stitched into the channels in the join which separated them into their channels again making it appear as though the cording was coiled into continuous circles. The join was much more firm after this and I no longer felt like the petticoat would collapse in on itself from this point.

IMG_8663The petticoat was then hemmed, this was very easy to do as I was just folding the 3” I had left along the bottom edge up to the inside of the petticoat. This was then hand stitched in place using a herringbone stitch.
The hem of the petticoat now ran along the first row of cording with the turned up 3” now helping stabilize and keep its shape.
Finally I sewed a waistband on, the waistband was an 1” wide petersham tape doubled over the top edge. The waistband closes with a skirt hook and bar.

And below is a finished picture of the petticoat on my model!
IMG_8549


I’m super happy with the result of my petticoat, the shape is great and I’ve received so many nice complements on it! When I get around to taking finished photos of the complete ballgown I’ll add them here!

If you like my work be sure to check out my instagram page, I’m a little more consistent with posting there as I don’t write as much as I do here!

Thank you for reading,

-Nivera

1870s Corded and Quilted Corset

The latest corset I made apart of my Corseted through the Century Challenge is a lovely 1870s quilted and corded corset.

This corset caught my eye as soon as I opened ‘Stays and Corsets’ though it seamed intimidating at first but I’m happy to report I really enjoyed this process and learnt a lot along the way.
For this corset I used a light royal blue cotton drill (two layer corset), all boning channels, quilting and cording sewn in a gold thread while interior construction was sewn in a matching blue. And of course the flossing, sewn in a matching gold embroidery floss.

Below is a picture of my materials alongside the surviving historical corset my pattern is based on.
fb50f722cb04d788810501809b2bf175313f1b80r1-642-680v2_hq
The pattern was drafted following the books instructions, with alterations to the waist measurement as I’ve since found this book on some bodies isn’t reliable with maintaining the suggested waist size and often the waist measurement will be 3+ inches larger than it should be at no mistake of the pattern drafter. So I downsized the waist size by three sizes, I’d tried two previously which resulted in a full closure corset without reduction (too large).
Screen Shot 2018-12-09 at 18.23.20
The fabric was then cut out (on the fold) with added seam allowance.
11011646dceb6b92e02d4dd0e704b7b34c1249aer1-1536-2048v2_hq
Carbon paper was then used to transfer markings to the wrong side (lining) pattern pieces. Stitching lines (boning channels) and seam allowances. The wrong side of top gusset and hip pad pieces also had seam allowance and grain lines transferee in carbon paper. This makes inserting them easier and grading out the quilting.

I decided to sew the quilting first which now I’m looking back on it would have been better to sew the two layers together in this process rather than just the ‘top’ fabric. I used the grain to ‘set’ the direction of the quilting and then used the edge of my quilting foot as a width guide for the squares which are approximately 7mm/7mm in size. This was a full days work of sewing
2d9948525d90e8ca4c951709b1ae6fe36fec7511r1-1080-1921v2_hq
Next was sewing the gussets, I hadn’t sewn gussets into a corset before so this was a new technique for me. Because I used the two layer method for this corset I assembled each layer gusset into the corset individually so when I was finished I still had two separated layers. I don’t know if this was the correct way of assembling a corset like this however due to the cording and boning (mostly vertical) it made sense to me to keep the layers separate so that they were joined as I sewed the cording and boning in.
Everything was carefully basted before being sewn by matching with the basting removed when everything was complete.

I had originally intended to sew the gussets in with the colour matched blue but decided to go with the gold and keep up with the contrast theme. I decision I’m very happy with.
And finally the hip padding (not sure thats the right term but its what I’m going with), this took a very long time to baste in correctly and I kept having my needle catch where it wasn’t supposed to. You know when something puckers and it looks horrible but the cause is something so small? That’s what kept happening, one stitch too many!
967458ac67f33188ff3dbfae457288a8c89624e5r1-1536-2048v2_hq
The busk was then inserted which joined the two layers together. I’m getting much quicker at inserting busks.
My next step was to start inserting the boning and cording working from the CF (busk) outwards. This was lengthy. I also had to be really cautious of keeping the two layers together so they mirrored without a shift. I did start with sewing a boning channel/cord on one side then doing the same on the other side but this just became a hassle so I completed one side then the other. To ensure my boning/cording lines of sewing hit the right mark on the hip pad boning line I sewed a running stitch on the top layer where it would be sewn later down the track. This just meant I could sew the lines to where they needed to be a whip the running stitch out to be sewn in properly when it made sense.
Hopefully the below picture makes more sense than I am! (The red stitches are just tacking lines to hold everything on place, its the gold running stitch we’re looking at!)
Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 16.56.47
I continued cording and sewing the boning channels until it looked something like this,
4e46ff52dcf0236fd7fa9cbc7b85958cada3948fr1-801-1024v2_hq-1
Keeping cording straight is defiantly an art and is something I am yet to master but as a whole I’m extremely pleased with this outcome!
But of course, the other side has to be sewn too. Which went about as smoothly as you’d expect. Apart from that time I read my placement lines wrong and started cording about an inch below where it was supposed to start.img_8603.jpg
All of that was unpicked and I had to start again.
One thing I really like about vertical cording is that you can see that progress your making which I found really motiving.
img_8604.jpg

When all of the cording and boning channels were sewn it was time for eyelets and steel boning. I need up using the eyelet press at uni for this corset as I didn’t bring a hammer with me to London for term (do you blame me?). I made a big o’l error here but we’ll get to that.
For boning I used a combination of flat steel and spiral steel. The spiral steel was used for the bust and hip pad channels while the flat steel was used everywhere else.
Satin bias binding was used to bind the edges, I think it looks really elegant and the slightly darker blue is a nice contrast. For flossing I used the original corset flossing as reference. Its very simple but its position and shape works really well with the overall design.
img_8409.jpg
The first try on reviled a few things.
Lets start by ignoring my wonky busk in this picture, it does sit centrally but I attempted to move (my boobs) while I was wearing it which shifted its position.

Things I learnt making this corset

  • I now know that the cotton drill I bought for my recent four corsets has a stretch to it. It was something I didn’t really notice but now that I’ve put two and two together it really makes sense that this corset may measure 24″ at the waist when flat but 26″ at the waist when worn. Because it stretched. It hurts my soul a little bit with close to thirty hours put into this corset but its taught me the valuable lesson on properly identifying my fabrics before using them. Would it have been more beneficial to have learnt this lesson three corsets ago? Yes!
    Regardless of this utterly stupid mistake I hold my head high knowing that this is still a very good example of my skill, it is a lovely corset and 2″ of reduction is still reduction at the end of the day. Its a very comfortable corset to wear (thats probably the stretch HA) and I’d go as far as saying its the most comfortable one I’ve made.
  • Reenforcing the eyelet panel is a must and on this occasion I forgot. I did add an extra 2″ to the CB so that they could be turned inwards creating a facing/also reinforcing the eyelet channel. However, when I was finishing off the last of the cording and boning towards the CB I cut down the 2″ so I’d ‘just’ have enough to turn them to the inside. I realised pretty quickly the mistake I had made. What I should have done is open it up and sewn in a facing which would also cover the eyelet channel and reenforce it. But in my head I thought I’d be okay and that it would be alright just this once. Cue eyelets tearing on the first try on. The eyelets only tore at the waistline (luckily none tore out), I was able to ‘save’ them by binding the hell out of them and secure them. It probably didn’t help that my fabric had a stretch to it either, this will be a running joke until I’ve learn my lesson!!
  • Spiral steel should ideally be used in any curved boning channel. Initially I tried using flat steel in the over bust channels but it ‘cut’ into my bust resulting in an unflattering and unnatural shape. These steels were replaced with spiral steels and the shape was greatly improved. I wouldn’t say this was something I learnt, I did know this before hand it was more something I accepted. I’ve been really stingy when using spiral steel and I shouldn’t be. It is a brilliant material to work with.
  • Cording is cool. I really enjoyed cording this corset, although is was straightforward and repetitive it kept me thinking constantly. With my next corded corset I’d like to focus more on symmetry as I know this corset isn’t symmetrical, I think to accomplish this I’ll need to use a cording needle which I will experiment with.
  • I need more practice with inserting gussets, I’ll give the ones I did on this corset a pass but I’d like to do better next time around

Overall I’m extremely pleased with this corset. I think its beautiful and a true statement in terms of my skill growing. I’m going to continue challenging myself with each corset I make and endeavour to make the next one better than the last.

To finish up here are a few clear detail shots and a (grainy) shot showing off the waist reduction.
Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 15.45.04Screen-Shot-2018-12-12-at-15.45.13.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-12 at 15.45.21IMG_8410
This corset only gives me 2″ of waist reduction but I’m amazed at how dramatic it makes my waist look. I am hoping to get additional photos of this corset over the holidays and I will make a new post containing those pictures as well as adding them to this post when they’re available. I have an 1820’s corset to complete over the holidays and I’d love to get the base of an 1880’s corset made as well which I will be updating here.

Comments are always appreciated, thank you very much for reading.

-Nivera

Purple Plaid Trousers Burda 6332

On my last fabric trip in London I bought some purple paid that I had been eyeing up for months, on previous trips I’d passed up buying some because I had nothing to make wit it. But all that changed when I discovered vintage patterns on eBay!
My wardrobe got a overhaul at the beginning of 2018 and I got rid of a lot of my older clothes because the colours were all very dark (not my thing anymore) and most of them no longer fit after loosing weight (two dress sizes) in 2017. So it was the perfect opportunity for new clothes and a new style!
My wardrobe since then has really taken an 80’s theme in style and after discovering eBay vintage patterns and its absolute treasure trove that style became a whole lot easier to source. Although I have got a few vintage (I know calling the 80’s vintage is weird, I’m a 90’s baby too) I though making some of my own pieces would be a fun little side challenge when I need a break from my historical dresses.

I came across Burda 6332 on eBay and instantly fell in love, I’ve wanted a pair of plaid trousers for a while and seeing just that on the front of the pack was awesome! Burda 6332.jpg

This pattern conveniently (call it fate) came in my size so I was able to make it up as suggested. I made two stylistic alterations however which were, flat felling the outer leg seams and adding extra top stitching as decoration. Unfortunately I didn’t document making these, I had made most of the trousers before I remembered to take photos and by then it was too late. I do however plan to remake these at some point, I’d love to make them in another tartan (I saw a lovely light blue tartan in the same store) and I’d also like to make a pair up in a light denim. If and when I get around to making those I’ll be sure to document everything!

Here are the finished photos
Tartan Trousers 2
Tartan trousers 1
They go wonderfully with my lilac Dr Martens. I’m really pleased with how these turned out, this is my first proper pair of trousers so I’m happy it was successful. Not to mention how obnoxiously stylish they are! I do hope I get the time to make another pair as they a really neat addition to my wardrobe and the fit its great.


I plan on using more 80’s patterns to build my wardrobe, I’ve since bought another trouser pattern and have my eye on a few more listings. Historical costume will always be the main focus of this blog but these were such fun to make and its nice to make something different every now and then.

What do you think of these trousers? Are there any particular fabrics you think that would be perfect for in this style? Let me know!
As always thank you for reading.

-Nivera

Examining an 1880’s Dress

Today I had the pleasure of examining an authentic dress from the 1880’s. I was lucky enough to have been lent this dress from my mothers friend who owns a vintage fashion shop. I was beyond excited when she pulled it out and finally had the time to examine it today.
Unfortunately there isn’t much history to the dress, there aren’t any identifying prints or names to be found on it anywhere. Aside from the label from the vintage shop identifying is as “Victorian, Silk, Skirt + Jacket c. 1880” there isn’t anything else to go on, which is a shame! I would have loved to have know who wore this dress or at least find out where it was made.
The dress itself is an olive green in colour although the colour didn’t pick up too well on my camera and reflected more of an shimmery grey/green.


Please note: I am no expert, I do one day have the hopes of becoming a dress historian/historical dress expert but at the age of 19 and only entering my second year of costume interpretation this October that is not the case.. Yet! Any comments made following in this blog post are assumptions based on my current knowledge and guess work. I would love to make a follow up post after speaking to one of my tutors and getting their opinion on these photos.
If you have anything to add to these photos/post please leave a comment!



Bodice Front

bodice-front-1.jpg

Bodice Back

Skirt Front
Skirt front 1
Skirt Back + Gathered Detail

Skirt Back 1Skirt Back 2

Sleeves


Full Dress
Full Dress 2Full Dress 3
Inside Bodice Detail


Inside skirt detail


I want to start by saying I was amazed by just how heavy the jacket/skirt was, I wasn’t expecting it to be that heavy but as the skirt and jacket are fully lined (canvas I think) as well as the silk it does make sense for it to have some weight to it.
I think the jacket has had some alterations after they were initially made.  The jacket trim appears to have been resewn on (it looks to be original but I’m not sure), I say this because the trim is current sewn on with what looks to be a long (hand sewn) running stitch with a cream (it may have been white at some stage) thread. This stitching is quite obvious and just appears to have been done in order to tack the original trim in place. I would imagine the original with trim was starting to come off which was why this was done. Alternatively it could be the original stitching (using a contrasting colour for some reason) but I’m not too inclined to believe this as it does look quite sloppy where other original stitching is fine and precise. There also a few places on the jacket where a blue thread has been used which is out of place with the rest of the garment, this mostly appears on the pipped edges of the jacket. After doing some research into fastenings in the Victorian era I believe the hooks in the bodice are all originals as well as the two on the skirt. I was fascinated by how small the eyelets were that the hooks attached to, they’re so finely sewn and ever so small. Clearly I need to practice my hand sewn eyelets more. I adore the sleeves, the pleating thats gone into them is lovely. I like the style of having the pleating at the top half of the sleeve and then finishing with a two piece sleeve. The bottom half looks as though it would have been fitted. The front of the skirt looks as though there was stitching forming an inverted triangle (though it wouldn’t pick up on camera with the sheen), perhaps some sort of decorative panel that had been removed. This could of course just be the result of the silk being pulled but I thought it was worth mentioning. I believe the velvet sitting just below the skirt hem is a dust ruffle of sorts, it was quite firm, likely lined with canvas as well.

This was a very fascinating exercise for me and is something I want to do more frequently through museum visits to the archives. As I’m very focused on corsets at the moment I would love to see what the Victoria and Albert museum has hidden away. I recently bought the VA book on ’19th Century Fashion in Detail’ which has shown me there is much, much more behind closed doors! I really want to do more historic dress research with this coming academic year.


So what do you think of this wonderful dress? If you have anything to add please do, as said earlier these are just my assumptions!

Thank you for reading,
Nivera

1890’s Wasp Waist Corset

Following my Corseted through the century project I decided to revisit the 1890’s as I wasn’t happy with my previous attempt at this decade. History was set to repeat.


For this corset I used Mandy Barrington’s 1890 Wasp Waist corset from the book ‘Stays and Corsets’.36de54e8d56da3b58199a2cbb7521be7ae112a85r1-986-449v2_hq.jpg

f0eff0b7f8917bfb55a5b1bd2422b8b36be5368dr1-1152-2048v2_hq.jpg
The materials I used were,
One meter of pink cotton drill
One 30cm Spoon busk
2 100m spools of poly thread
1 100m spool of topstitching thread
Embroidery floss

Pictured also is lace with ribbon insert and pink ribbon I intended to replace the red ribbon with.
Not pictured are the 4mm eyelets used.
I started by laying out my patterns onto my fabric (cotton drill) and drew out the seam allowances. I used 1.5cm on all of the interior seams and the CB and CF used 2cm seam allowances, this allowed for the fabric to be turned back to the interior of the eyelet panel and for the busk.

7f1c082e03bdd395d64358d2ba86b4597a5a4a36r1-1536-2048v2_hq-e1535295267539.jpg
The pattern pieces were then cut out.
b8b61bebe4837c590f8307f47bad1cdc3c7acf6er1-1024-768v2_hq.jpgThis fabric has a really nice diagonal texture to it which I really like for the top side of the corset so I’ve been using that rather than the untextured other side.

And then came my latest new corset adventure, cording. This is a historical technique and provides extra support along side boning although there are samples of corsets that use only cording for support.
c80d734c08ebaddbf3995e1a342f05f2f27f9dc0r1-576-897v2_hq.jpg
My book ‘Corsets’ by Jill Salen has a small tutorial for cording so I followed that with modern techniques.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided that I’d used carbon paper for transferring information over to my wrong side fabric. But I chose to use yellow which I soon realised isn’t a great choice on top of pink.

You can just make it out if you squint!

b9cc6064026df61aee2c19ed8d24c336cc8aad99r1-1152-2048v2_hq.jpg
I didn’t think the process over all that well and decided to cord before assembling the corset, although it’s possible to do this I highly recommend assembling and then cording especially if you’re cording a larger area of a panel!!

It was a very slow process but rewarding when complete! It took me eight hours to complete both the large panels.
Boning channels were also sewn in at this stage.
I wanted to give myself a break before starting the cording over the bust and decided to prepare the busk first. This time featuring a spoon busk!! First time working with one and they’re just as easy as rectangular busks, more curvy but plain and simple.
Sewn in with a zipper foot.
5dc9f8c6648167fbd45fc35c5ca7786405a84c32r1-1536-2048v2_hq.jpg
I also at this stage made the dumb mistake of using a pencil to draw guide marks for the busk which are a tiny bit visible on the completed corset! It doesn’t bother me too much is was just a bad decision especially when I have friction pens handy.

For the busk side with the eyes the fabric was marked where the eyes would poke through and then with my eyelet ouch holes were punched. Awls are best to use but I still haven’t acquired one. The eyes are 4mm at the widest part however I used a 2mm hole. The hole is then coated in fray check and left to set over night. The fray check will allow some stretch to the fabric allowing the hole to stretch over the eye and then fit snug to the stud with no loose fabric visible.

bab67059e71b4a8d12d63501dcfa12f598facd4ar1-750-1334v2_hq.jpg

The rest of the corset was then assembled.
858a8885a5ade24fb54420fc8a491b2cdb7eec62r1-574-577v2_hq.jpg

The bust cording was inserted at this stage leaving gaps for the boning channels.
a45e04823557abf8e5cbf5b2521e49c2df6d9643r1-1536-2048v2_hq
I used long tweezers to make sure it was sitting correctly and flush to the cording above. Before seams were closed off to the larger cording channels, boning was inserted into the horizontal channels as they’d not be accessible after.
ee04d75c0f79759a331dd125db8a77621d38f3bbr1-1536-2048v2_hq.jpg
After assembling the rest of the corset and sewing in the deep so that the two layers were flush with each other the boning channels could be sewn. This was a simple process as of the markings for the channels were on the wrong side of the fabric for easy identification and sewing. Whenever a channel needed to be sewn into the deep the corset was flipped to the right side for precise lines of stitching (just in case the layer done quite like up) being a few millimetres off can ruin the look of the neat and narrow channels!
Once the channels were all sewn it was time to insert the boning, I’m using 5mm flat steel boning which I ‘cap’ to remove any chance of the steels ripping through the fabric. It also makes inserting them into tight channels much easier.
The issues that I ran into (which I did foresee happening) was that the bust channels need more movement to them than the flat steel allows for.

You can see in the below picture how the bust boning is fighting the shape of the channels.
4d1dacd60638f4c060d6bd00117e062c16a176e9r1-1024-662v2_hq.jpg
This was a fight I would not win…
The channels need to be the shape they are for support and silhouette, so how is this fixed?
Spiral steel.
aca0c20766f2a3daec499d2fad8d5a38c6a12488r1-1536-1536v2_hq.jpg
I’ve been lucky with my last few corsets as they were functional using just flat steel but this corset has beat me!! Unfortunately I didn’t have a supply of spiral steel (the piece you see in my photos is from a old corset and that’s the only length I have) so I needed to order some in. I decided to buy 10m (buying it in bulk rolls was out of stock) which will be more than enough for at least two more corsets. I also bought proper spiral steel caps as my capping method isn’t function for spiral steel so these caps are necessary and a new corset lace as my current one is grubby and needs replacing.

After inserting the spiral steel into the bust boning channels I could seal the bottom of the corset up preventing the boning from coming out. I also zigzagged the bottom edge to prevent any fraying. The top and bottom edge of the corset were then bound in bias tape. I got store bought bias tape this time because I was emotionally ready to sew ribbon bias onto a corset again!
5ef5678ed5695c085104d0b3e844a87b0793dec4r1-750-456v2_hq.jpg
I also decided that I would floss this corset like I did my 1860’s one. This time I chose a more complicated technique for more of a challenge and it looks lovely!
15efc7da066ea96d2a2e3e7dc503581ebb33a430r1-1536-2048v2_hq.jpg
Flossing really does add to historical corsets and is something I’ll be incorporating into future corsets! After this I used my new 4mm eyelets and inserted them into the corset. Yes there a lot but that was the amount suggested in the book!

And then the corset was complete ready to be tried on!

f7b7f5197a81ea11d76b057ebe4986b27fecb83fr1-574-765v2_hq.jpg
9f01056413e0395ca371cd7b5be13102e5d77648r1-750-1150v2_hq40931dd7ca9eddd2e3d5f0c2c90c0f47e4d409fdr1-656-877v2_hq.jpgfd632ad5135b2aea6c4446c67a77f764222a3182r1-1536-2048v2_hq.jpg


I am very happy with this corset and I think it shows off skills as a seamstress quite well. I’m definitely seeing a steady improvement with each corset I make and considering thats the reason I’m making so many that makes me very happy. The corset is however, too large for me. It barley takes me in by and inch (the full closure measurement is 29″ my regular waist measurement is around 29.5″) when I should have been able to get 4” off with the pattern I drafted. I did however talk to a student who studied at AUB and Mandy Barrington was her tutor, she said that the sizing issue was common in her classes with Mandy and Mandy herself wasn’t sure why some students were having issues with the waist measurement being off. They gave me some great tips for altering the corset size which I will use towards my next one from this book!
I’m excited to move onto my next corset, I think I’ll do the 1880’s next. I’ve unintentionally been drawn the the last half of the century but I am just as excited for the first half of the century. I’d like to complete this challenge of mine before the end of the year but our head tutor sent out an email about the Golden Shears Tailoring Competition which I’m very interested in entering, I’ll probably make post dedicated to that once I’m back a uni and have spoken to our tutor about it further.


Comments are always appreciated! If you’ve worked with this book let me know how it went for you.
Thanks for reading

-Nivera

Corseted Through The Century

I’ve decided to give myself the challenge of sewing one corset from each decade of the 19th century, hence the crafty title of this post. Ideally I should have announced this before I started on this project/challenge but the idea didn’t occur until after completing my 1890’s riding corset.
I’ve become quite obsessed with corsets recently, I really enjoy making them and I’m seeing great improvement with each corset I complete. I picked the 19th century for this challenge as the silhouette (affected by corsets) changes greatly over the century. What I also like is that each decade has a reasonably iconic corset style that sets it apart from every other decade making each decade different from the next. This means the corsets I’ll be creating will be visually different and keep things interesting in the construction process.

References, Sources and Patterns

I own three corsetry books that cover the 19th century.
‘Corsets and Crinolines’ Norah waugh, ‘Corsets – Historical patterns and techniques’ Jill Salen and ‘Stays and Corsets – Historical patterns translated for the modern body’ Mandy Barrington

Currently I’ve only worked from ‘Corsets and crinolines’ and ‘Stays and corsets’ but Jill Salen’s book ‘corsets’ covers the second half of the century quite well. As all three of these books are well used in the historical costume community I’ve found many blog post detailing others experience with these patterns which I’ve read to see if there are any complications or handy tricks about the patterns I can know before hand.

I won’t be making these in historical order, I’ll likely continue making them as I am now and picking the decade that inspires me the most.
Working backwards here are the completed corsets from this challenge already and those planned with patterns (or still need to be sourced). These patterns are not final, there are a few decades I’m lucky enough to have multiple choices for and decision on which pattern I use will lie with what sewing procedures I’ve already applied/want to use and if that corset will include them.

1890-1900
I’ve already completed an under bust riding corset (‘Stays and Corsets’ Mandy Barrington) from this decade however, as the fit wasn’t satisfactory I’ve decided to make another corset from this decade as well.
1890 Riding Corset
1890sRidingCorset13
The corset I’ve decided to “replace” the riding corset with is an 1890 wasp waist corset (‘Stays and Corsets’ Mandy Barrington).

I think the wasp waist corset is a much better representation of foundation garments in that decade rather than a ‘sporting’ corset. I’m actually in the process of drafting this corset up as I write this post making it the next most likely corset to be completed for this challenge.

1880-1890
I didn’t find as many references to 1880’s corsets in my books as I thought I would.
There was Norah Waugh’s (Corsets and Crinolines) 1880 black coutil corset which has a more traditional appearance to it. I make mention of the traditional appearance because my other pattern option is far from it.
corset1880-2.jpg
The only other pattern from this decade I could find in my collection is the 1885 gold exotic corset from Jill Salen (Corsets, Historical patterns and techniques). This corset is designed to allow for more movement as women begin taking a more part in working life. The corset is described as exotic by Jill as there is a subtle gold sheen to the fabrics used, enhanced by the eyelets.


I’m leaning towards the 1880’s corset from ‘Corsets and Crinolines’ as it has a more tradition appearance and I’d like for all of the corsets to be coordinated. The exotic corset does seam like a fun challenge and may be something I complete at another date.

1870-1880
I felt quite lucky to find two patterns for this decade, both corsets different from each other yet iconic. I’m happy to se both of the corsets involve chording in their construction, its something I haven’t attempted yet but am eager to try.
‘Corsets and Crinolines’ has a 1873 corset which is lightly boned but heavily corded.
AY2c7Vyr.jpg-large.jpeg
The other option from Mandy Barrington (Stays and Corsets) is a 1875 corded and quilted corset. I love the contrasting visible stitching on the original corset, I’m sure it looked more striking in it’s original condition.

Both of these corsets fit over the hips which is something I haven’t worked with yet and will be a new challenge. I’m not quite decided on which of the two corsets I prefer but I do like that the 1875 corset uses both quilting, cording and boning.

1860-1870
I’ve completed two corsets from this decade already. The first being one I completed last year (my first corset ever) from Simplicity 1139. I am very proud of this corset and it holds a very special place in my heart however, I outgrew (I’m not sure thats the right word to use in this context!) it when I lost 4-5 inches at my waist. I was overweight, healthy weightless. This corset has since been taken apart, the busk removed and recycled for my 1890 riding corset which the boning was also recycled into.
VYH3zzsC.jpg-large
The second corset I’ve made from this decade is also my most recent corset from my last post. I’m much happier with this one and the fit is more appropriate too! This corset uses the 1860 light French corset pattern from Norah Waugh (Corsets and Crinolines). It was also my first attempt using flossing which is something I want to incorporate into future corsets as it really does add to the historicalness of the corset.
5c26870e2c151a3e66a2def056206ab11455de8fr1-539-734v2_hq
I’m happy with my most recent 1860s corset and it will be featured as the corset representing that decade.

1850-1860
I’m really struggling with this decade. From what I’ve read its a transitional decade from the stays of the past to more modern looking corsets seen in the 1860s. None of my three books have reference to this decade and finding anything online even after extensive searches through museum archives and other historical costume maker blogs its still difficult to pinpoint a corset pattern from this decade.
I’ve found a few useful sources so I’m going to leave them here for future reference.
1850 Lady’s Stay (L. Balis Patented September 5 1850 Source)

443px-USpatent7627_1850.gif
This source is looking quite promising, although it doesn’t come with a pattern if you follow the link you can find more detailed descriptions and construction instructions. The image I’m using is actually from Wikipedia ‘History of Corsets’ where its referred to as a ‘girls corset’. It does appear to be an adult woman’s corset to me however which is further backed up by the first link posted. Children’s corsets were flat fronted and were for encouraging an upright posture, a strong spine and also for warmth.
The other helpful image I’ve found is also from the same Wiki, “At the Great Exhibition in 1851 Madame Roxey Ann Caplin was awarded the prize medal of “Manufacturer, Designer and Inventor” for her corsetry designs, as the only corsetmaker who get a prize by the Great Exhibition. This prize medal changed the corsetry of England.”
HealtBeautyMadameCaplin45Hebe.png
Her blank stare into nothingness is scary I’m not afraid to admit that! There were a few other corsets from Madame Roxey however they weren’t what I’m after (pregnancy corsets, early child corset, petticoat suspender) so I’m just including this one. I like that this one shows different panel pieces more clearly, even though a back picture isn’t available I would feel confident in drafting it on my own after looking for more reference.
I was able to find one pattern 1853 stays from Godey’s Lady’s Book, my only issue is there little information about it on the source page. It does look reliable and correct for the period (to me) but I feel I’d be happier with more information.1853stays.jpg
1850 has defiantly been the hardest to source a pattern for and its looking although I may draft a pattern for myself instead. I may not have a pattern but I think I have enough reference material to push me in the right direction.

1840-1850
I was very lucky to find two patterns for this decade in my books. There is a small issue with one of them however which I’ll get to last.
‘Corsets and crinolines’ has a pattern for a 1844 corset to be boned on each seam. This corset is quite simple in appearance, featuring two bust gussets, a busk and the previously mentioned bones on each seam.
th7UjWC0.jpg-large.jpeg
The other questionable option is a 1840 Corded Taffeta Corset from Jill Salen (Corsets, historical patterns and techniques). The reason this option is considered questionable is as follows, Jill mentions that the corset has undergone some crude alterations at the front in the form of alternation buttons holes which have been fixed in place with cruder stitching indication that the alterations were made by someone other than the original maker. Jill also states that the corset represents a mixture of styles and its quite possible the corset could date back to as early as 1820. Except for the metal eyelets that date from after 1828 that could have been inserted over original hand-worked eyelets.

I do like both corsets however, I don’t feel using the second one is a true representation of this decade. Its quite possible that it was originally made twenty years earlier with alterations being made to it up until the 1840s. I want to make something that I know is period accurate for the decade and although the second corset is a unique piece I will be choosing to work with the first one from ‘Corsets and crinolines’.

1830-1840
I was only able to find one corset pattern in my books from this decade, though I am aware commercial patterns are available but I won’t be visiting those for this series (am I okay to call this a series?).
The pattern is from Jill Salen (Corsets, historical patterns and techniques) 1830-40 Rural corded corset and its buff orange. This corset has no boning and is supported by cording only. I’m going to leave this one until I’ve experimented with cording first. Its only just occurred to me that I’ll need to oder busk widths of boning for these earlier corsets, heres hoping my new bolt cutters will manage them!


1820-1830
I have two references to 1820s corsets from my books which I’m counting myself lucky for as the earlier I go to the start of the century the harder its become to find original sourced patterns.
The first is a 1820 white cotton corset from Mandy Barrinton (Stays and corsets), this corset has no boning but the two busks, supported by the cording. There is decretive stitching as well as four bust gussets.

The second is a pair of 1820s white cotton sateen stays from Norah Waugh (Corsets and crinolines). They are lightly boned with a centre busk and elaborately quilted around the waist.
fUMWF873.jpg-large
Both of these corsets are fantastic pieces and I’m really not sure which I prefer of the two. I’m not sure how well scaling up the Norah Waugh pattern will go as its fitted over much more of the body than more modern corsets, I can of course make alterations and check measurements before beginning the final pice. I think Mandy Barrington’s pattern may be more straightforward in that respect.

1810-1820
Another difficult decade, none of my books cover 1800-1820 so the first two decades became an online search. While I was sourcing for later decades I came across museum archives which rarely would yield patterns in their collections. Most of theses are from large pattern sheets that featured numerous patterns on a single sheet overlaid and outlined with different lines (usually a unique combination of dots and dashes that related to all of the patterns for on individual product) and if you were lucky within the mass of lines there might be numbers thrown in two which coordinate to different projects. Heres an example from March 1897 by Mode Illustree in Paris France
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 23.50.32.png
I’m getting off topic here but I just wanted to explain that I had come across pattern sheets like this for corsets however they were too difficult to render without photoshop which I don’t have access to outside of term time and I’m not paying for it…
Back on topic! I was able to find museums with completed patterns for some corsets and I ended up with one for this decade.
This is an 1811 Corset in the collection of the Missouri Historical Society, the pattern isn’t in as good quality as some of the others I’ve complied but I’ve seen worse on my search and will count myself lucky for coming across this one!


1800-1810
Found that with the later decades the early decade corsets look quite similar with small alterations to style/shape/fit decade to decade so I was ready for something visually different with the first decade of the century. The solution? Short stays.
After some in-depth Pinterest lurking I was able to find this blog post ‘Short Stays’ Studies containing some amazing research as well as various patterns from the decade. Life saver. There are a few patterns available on the blog but the one I like the best would have to be Bernhardt’s patterns ‘F’, I think I prefer its style and shape to the others.PatronF_kleidungum1800.jpg
It will need to be rescaled but that will be easy enough to do! Thank you very much Kleidung um 1800 for sharing your work!


And that is one pattern, multiple choice or sufficient research for one corset for ever decade of the 18th century. I’m very excited for this project and I think it will be considered a huge accomplishment when I’ve completed it. Hopefully I will still be as excited for corsetry after I’ve finished and not put off the idea entirely. I haven’t given myself a deadline for this huge project as I don’t want to stress myself out over it and rather just enjoy the process but if I were able to complete this by the end of the year that would be fantastic.
I will be documenting each corset/stay here on WordPress as well as major pictorial updates on instagram!
If anyone has any 19th century corset sources I’m missing out on and would like to share that would be greatly appreciated.

Thank your for reading
-Nivera

1860’s Corset

I was still in the mood for corsetry after completing my 1890’s riding corset and as I was in need of a new 1860’s corset as I outgrew my old one (lost weight) it seamed like the best choice.
This is my first corset from Corsets and Crinolines!! I feel really proud to say I’ve made a corset from that book and it will not be the last.
I used the 1860’s light French corset pattern.
9f48e12274e2c99aa49c702b401b6b5b37846bf2r1-538-293v2_hq
I did a lot of reading from others who’ve made this corset before to familiarise myself with it before beginning. I did make one major alteration to the pattern and that was removing the busk. The main reason for this is that I wanted to make a flat front corset because it meant I wouldn’t have to make a corset cover to protect the top fabric layers from the split busk. Me lazy? No. I also didn’t want to order a busk and have to wait for it to arrive. I wasn’t feeling a busk for this corset.

I scaled the pattern up to have a two inch reduction, I think I’ve got the hang of scaling patterns up now which opens so many more books for me.

After scaling my patterns I laid them out over my fabric following the grain lines. I’m using a different fabric for my corset this time, cotton drill. It’s cheaper than coutil but has similar properties. Although it does fray a little bit overlocking or zigzagging fixes that easy. I’m also using a different boning channel technique this time round, this time I’m boning between two layers of fabric which meant my fabric was folded twice to compensate for the extra layer needed.
b3bc4a7e3f0fe72600c9bff55b92af701795b5der1-1536-2048v2_hq.jpg
The seam allowances were then drawn onto the fabric (not included in the pattern) which were 1.5cm. I read now that 2cm is recommended for corset seams which is something I’ll be applying to future projects.
Because I adapted the pattern so that it removed the split busk and replaced it with a single busk the area would be reinforced with thicker steel bones (7mm) than the bones used everywhere else (5mm).

The patterns were then cut out.
a1c7a9ebadbaad22ece628d3ca66afcc329b3206r1-1024-768v2_hq.jpg

I then began the tedious process of transferring boning channels with carbon paper, pinning the lining fabric with the carbon markings together and then pinning the top layer pattern pieces together.

This got very confusing at times! As the pattern looked very similar un marked!

85721811add3053dc023cafc94a42f4f94e8a559r1-1536-2048v2_hq.jpg

All of the panels were then sewn together and I was left with watch would be my top layer and lining layer of the corset.
8170d2da91bb206171bbde0e5863c88bcb9aec7dr1-1024-768v2_hq.jpg
The two layers then needed to be joined together, I used a hand basting stitch and ‘sewd in the deep’ joining the layers together wrong sides together stitching in between the seams.
This basting stitch ensures that the layers are sitting flush with each other mirroring perfectly. This is crucial when sewing the channels.
099c02f4a111301af68931c46a3fa973cf363c31r1-873-475v2_hq.jpg
Next the boning channels were sewn using the carbon markings on the lining/wrong ‘right’ layer. The 7mm busk bones were sewn with 1cm channels while the 5mm bones in every other channel were sewn with 7mm channels. Some of these channels were next to seams so to create the line of stitching for the channel on the seam I sewd in the deep from the top layer of fabric to ensure the best accuracy so the top stitching would be hidden in the seam.
After the boning channels were sewn I sewd the stopper along the bottom edge preventing the bones from poking out. At this time I also zigzagged the sides and bottom edges to prevent any further fraying.
54b5ebf0e22cf40e710a7c9a4e948b41277800d7r1-969-556v2_hq.jpgNext the boning was cut and inserted into the channels, which was made much easier with the new pair of bolt cutters!!! Previously I’d just been using wire cutters but I kept blunting them and my mum wasn’t too happy with that!
The bones were also cheaply capped before being sewn in. I did this with masking tape, this just blunts the edges and stops the sharp corners of the steels from tearing out with wear. I am yet to use proper steel boning caps for a corset. I’ve also heard that nail polish works quite well so I may try that with my next corset.

The top stopper was then sewn in, sealing the bones in place.
c1233bbe17d3fc499a0160bd6b57cab1b2349648r1-1024-572v2_hq.jpg
I was then able to do a test fit, this would mean I could see what the waist reduction was like and if I needed to take the bust in (I have a small chest so I run into this issue with corsets often!)
adf0e027d450c1384e128ab43e01e33cf80018d6r1-943-2048v2_hq
I found that the corset only offered 1” reduction in my waist, which was disappointing. So I decided it needed to be taken in. The bust area was surprisingly okay so no alterations were needed there.
The next time I scale a corset I’ll scale it down to the waist reduction size I want minus 3cm and see if that gets better results.
I took the corset in by 3cm at the CF. This meant taking it apart… luckily it was rather easy and the alteration was quite straight forward. I removed the two bones acting as a busk as well as 0.5 to each side of them. I added a lot onto this pattern to begin with so removing it didn’t cause any issues.
After the alteration was made I re sewd the boning channels in as well as the top and bottom stoppers that had to be removed. The CF isn’t quite symmetrical as it was previously but it’s not as noticeable as I thought it would be.

I had originally intended to make bias tape for this corset because I again decided to be lazy and Oh Boy did it backfire. I decide it would be easier to bind the edge with satin ribbon as I had a coordinating colour in my collection. Machine sewing didn’t work as the ribbon was thinner than that it really should have been for it’s intended purpose and the machine stitched created bulk. So of course I had to slip stitch it into place.
And once it was slip stitch into place on the from it had too be whip stitched into place on the wrong side.
All of which took me a considerably longer amount of time that it would have to make bias tape and sew that on.

I was very happy to have the binding finished, at first I though the satin looked a little tacky and ‘costumy’ but I remembered that this is a Victorian corset from the 1860’s, the Victorians owned OTT.
What are you thoughts?

For this project I had promised myself I would give flossing a go as it looks very pretty and ads so much to the historical factor. I picked out a flossing technique (the most basic stitch I could find) and got to work.
fea8347912008393eddacf3e799693738fab26b6r1-745-444v2_hq.jpg
And I’ve got to say, despite being a simple stitch it really does look very nice!!!
6651ae5a8c16688dedd4d842e7fbbf8b28a3cb02r1-1536-2048v2_hq.jpg
*The two above photos were taken in bad lighting and don’t reflect the true colour of the fabric*

I’m definitely going to try out something more complex with my next corset. I’ve seen some amazing feathered flossing that look stunning in a contrasting colour.
With the flossing done, so was the corset!!5c26870e2c151a3e66a2def056206ab11455de8fr1-539-734v2_hq.jpgf7ce8ee7ad4d449cb5e77f05274ba8ace527348er1-750-1334v2_hq.jpg
I unfortunately forgot to save photos of the back of the corset and I’m not putting it on again just for that! I can say that I am able to achieve a full closure which I’m pretty happy with. However, I’m going to be using and binding metal eyelets for my next corset. Although my hand sewn eyelets are very pretty I don’t think they could take the tension of me cinching any smaller so I’ll need that reinforcement.

I’d really like to make a corset with cording or one that’s quilted next so I’m looking into those at the moment! Right now its a three way tie between 1880’s, 1870’s and 1840’s.


This corset takes me in by two inches and even though the reduction is small it has a great affect of my silhouette. 27″ is what I was aiming for with this corset and I’m pleased to have constructed a corset capable of that however with my next corset I want to achieve greater reduction. ‘Good’ corsets should be able to cinch you in by 3-4″ and thats something I’d like to do with my next one.
I shouldn’t have to say this but I’m in no way suddenly fascinated with achieving a small Victorian waist. My corsetry will remain safe and I’d never push myself to a health concern, I don’t wear my corsets long enough to do this anyway! My corsets are still only being worn for historical costumes and I won’t be making them apart of my daily wear any time soon. The main reason I want to make a corset capable of cinching me in smaller is because I see it as a showcase of the corsetry skill and its something I really enjoy and want to become better at.

So what are the thoughts on my latest corset? And what do you think I should make next, 80’s, 70’s or 40’s?

I’m back working on my 1860’s ballgown again and am hoping to have it completed by the end of next month, so long as my lace appliqué and sequins order comes speedily.
Updates coming soon.


As always thank you for reading
-Nivera