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.
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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.
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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.
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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!

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!)
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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.
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And I’ve got to say, despite being a simple stitch it really does look very nice!!!
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*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

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