The second of the two corsets I was requested to view at Clothworkers was this brilliant 1887 Wedding Corset T.265&A-1960
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.
Spoon 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.
The 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.
Lace 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.
Lower 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.
Boning 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.
One 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.
The clusters of boning channels (sets of three) continue on the back of the corset, each flossed in the same way as the front.
The 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.
The 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.
A small trade stamp is featured on the bottom right hand side beside the eyelet panel
Small areas of rust are visible on the underside of the busk. From an internal view the shape of the busk is much more apparent.
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