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.
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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).
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The fabric was then cut out (on the fold) with added seam allowance.
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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
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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!
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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!)
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I continued cording and sewing the boning channels until it looked something like this,
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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

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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

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Bodice Back

Skirt Front
Skirt front 1
Skirt Back + Gathered Detail

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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

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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.

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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.
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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!

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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.
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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.

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The rest of the corset was then assembled.
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The bust cording was inserted at this stage leaving gaps for the boning channels.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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!
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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!

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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

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

1890’s Riding Corset

My latest project which I completed in just two days! I recently got the book ‘Stays & Corsets’ by Mandy Barrington and decided to test out the patterning process from is with one of the simpler corsets from the book.

The corset pattern is dated to the 1890’s and is based on an existing surviving garment from the era.

This was a simple corset to put together, I had originally intended to make a lining so that the channels would be concealed (as seen in the original) but decided against it *was lazy* and went with good old twill tape channels instead.

Drafting/Construction

The first thing I did was draft a basic block with alterations to make it corset friendly.
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I then drafted the pattern according to the books instructions.

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And then cut the pattern pieces out.

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The patterns were then pinned to my cotton coutil following grain and a seam allowance of 1cm was added to internal seams while 2cm was added to CF and CB to allow for a busk and eyelet facing.

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When the patterns were cut out I transferred boning channel lines over with carbon paper for ease of identification.

The patterns were sewn together with the 1cm seam allowances and twill tape were pinned over the boning channel indicators.

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This was then sewn down.

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Facings were then made up for the CF and CB.
The CF facing was sewn to allow for the loop side and the hook side.
The CB facing was sewn to bulk up the eyelet area (prevents tearing) and to allow for a concealed boning channel opposite the twill channel with the eyelets running down the centre of the two.

The busk was then sewn in (this busk is from my first corset which is why some paint is missing from it with wear and tear).

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Bias tape was sewn onto the right side of the corset at both edges. And was then slip stitched into place on the wrong side.

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13 eyelets were marked evenly either side of the CB down the eyelet channel.

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Each eyelet was punched and hand sewn.
I’ve hand sewn well over 100 eyelets for costumes now and have managed hone the skill down to roughly 10 minutes each, which I quite proud of considering it took me twice as long when I first started!

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And with the eyelets finished so was the corset!

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Here’s a picture of the original surviving corset the pattern is from.

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Issues/improvements

Overall I’m quite pleased with the construction, my issues come from the fit.

As far as I’m aware I followed the books instructions to the T, at no point was I confused, it was a very simple process for me. Both drafting the pattern and constructing the corset itself. However, the corset only takes my waist in by half and inch where according to the pattern it should be taking me in by 3 inches.

My other issue with the fit is the bottom of CF, it doesn’t sit flush to me and there’s and abundance of extra fabric there which is visible in photos. It should be tight and it’s not, there’s so much extra fabric that it’s so loose the bottom hook of the busk keeps coming undone. It is however an easy fix, I can alter the bottom edge with a dart and bring the extra fabric in.

I think where I went wrong was in the block draft so I will be drafting a new block for future corsets from this book and see if that resolves the issues. 

Final thoughts

It’s a good corset but it’s too big for me and doesn’t give the reduction I’m after. I plan on making a wasp waist corset from the same book and will be drafting a new block for it.

Overall I made this corset to try out the book and it’s drafting methods. Which even with the result I got I do quite like. And it’s given me a good insight into flat patterning corsets on a block.


 

Has anyone else drafted this corset or used this book? Are there any secrets I’m not wear of?
Feedback is always welcome!

Thanks for reading,
-Nivera

 

Corset Construction, Let’s make Simplicity 1139

I honestly didn’t have high hopes for this, corsetry seamed so intimidating. Although I own Norah Waugh’s ‘Corsets and Crinolines’ I decided it would be easier for me to use a bought pattern rather than attempting to scale and size one myself for my first time. I decided on Simplicity 1139 which, like the crinoline pattern is apart of the ‘Fashion Historian’ collection. The corset and the other patterns from this particular pack are heavily influenced from the Civil War Era making them the perfect for my 1860’s ballgown.
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Materials you’ll need.

All of this is stated on the packet but here’s a quick run down.

  • 1 meter of coutil fabric (I used This Herringbone coutil )
  • One 12″ (30cm) corset busk (White Busk)
  • Metal grommet punching kit // ALTERNATIVELY One heavy duty fabric punch
  • White Top Stitching Thread (embroidery floss works too)
  • 3.5 meters of white cotton pipping (This is just what I used to lace the corset up there are plenty of other options)
  • One straw needle (I refuse to sew eyelets with any other needle)
  • 6 meters of white twill tape.
  • 6 meters of 0.5cm plastic covered steel boning
  • bolt/wire cutters
  • Disappearing ink pen
  • General notions (thread, fabric scissors etc…)

The corset is made up of seven patterns, six are cut on double folded fabric and one pattern (the busk cover) was cut four times.

This being my first corset I actually expected there to be more pattern pieces. In my mind when I looked at a corset I imagined for each boning channel there would be a seam but I quickly realised I was wrong and that boning channels were sewn onto the corset panels as well as over the seemliness.
NnjnLXa6.jpg-largeOnce the pattern pieces are cut out transfer the boning channel lines over to the fabric using your fabric pen. Making sure not to mistake these lines for the grain line as some are diagonal and don’t follow the grain. I made the mistake of sewing my panels together before realising the boning channels needed to be drawn but this was an easy fix using the paper patterns as a guid and drawing them in that way.

You can see the boning channel lines marked in pink in the above images. Making sure to iron the seams out flat as your sew them, it’s really important for this project.
BUT REMEMBER fabric pen ink disappears under heat so it will disappear if you iron over those channels you’ve just drawn. Be careful! I almost made this mistake again but remembered the issue from my crinoline experience.

Next get your twill tape and pin it over the seams on the RIGHT side of the fabric. Cutting it into correct lengths as you go. You’re then going to sew on either side of the twill tape as close to the edge as you can get. This will form the boning channels. Be sure not to sew the top or bottom ends up as this will be done later.
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Then repeat the process and pin the twill tape centred over the the boning channel indicators you’ve just drawn. If you were like me and used a bright colours pen you should be abled to see the lines vaguely through the twill tape making it easier to pin centred.
Technically you can pin the seams and the channel indicators at the same time and sew the all at once but I found doing them in sets was easier to manage!
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Once all the twill tape is sewn it will look like this! Now this is where you have an option and I strayed from the pattern, kinda. You have the choice of using a metal grommet punch and putting metal grommets into your corset for eyelets. However if you’re going for historical accuracy and making a costume that predates the 1820’s then I suggest you read Why metal grommets are the visible panty lines of historical costuming

I personally prefer the look of hand sewn eyelets, when using a colour matched thread they blend into a costume seamlessly unlike metal grommets which stand out and will catch any light source. I just think metal grommets look tacky. Sewing OVER metal grommets to give them the look of hand sewn eyelets, I don’t have problem with.

Mark the eyelet/grommet placements out with your fabric pen, you should have 30 of them if you’ve measured according to the pattern instructions.

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Then begin punching in grommets or sewing your eyelets. Make sure to do the eyelets one at a time or they can stretch. You can use fray check on them before sewing but I didn’t find it necessary this time round.

Continue and repeat 30 times.
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I found that I could do one every 10-15 minutes without distractions.
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They are very pleasing to look at once you’ve finished them though! Next up is inserting the busk. This was my first time using a busk and I find them so cool!
VTcqJe1b.jpg-largeThe instructions will tell you to mark the top of each side (stud and loop), you do this by getting some tape putting on each end and marking the letter ‘T’. Simple!
c3364368725d966935823b901b64349c7fefbd1b_hqStarting with the loop side mark out where the loops will sit within the seam allowance. Use your fabric pen for this. You’re better to measure everything for this. It has to be exact on either side of the busk or it will not connect and create a closure.
a9636cef9112d3d20055df091d1d16279aac0f96_hqAfter sewing the patterns together you should be able to slot the loop busk into the seam allowance and the loops will poke through the holes you created. It can then be sewn onto the base corset like so!
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The some idea applies to the stud side. Just this time your marking where the studs will poke though the fabric. The instructions suggest you use and awl to open these holes but I used my fabric punch and just matched the hole side to one size smaller than the stud so it could be pushed through the hole but not pop out again. Make sure to fray check these punched holes.
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Repeat the process of sewing it together and then onto the base corset. Last but not least. Sew along the bottom edge within your seam allowance and trim any excess fabric. Then pin and sew bias tape along the bottom edge. There were a few places the needle didn’t quite catch the tape on the other side (wrong side) and I just fixed these up with needle and thread being carful not to show stitches on the right side. The only reason I didn’t unpick it and re sew it on again was because I didn’t want to damage my fabric too much and the bias tape looked great from the front the first time round!
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Then cut your boning to size and insert it into the channels. I found the putting heavy duty duct tape on the ends unfortunately showed through the twill tape and left weird dark patches on the channels so I didn’t do that this time and so far so good, no boning has torn through the casing.
Repeat what you did with the bias time on the top of the corset and you’re finished!
Lace yourself up or get a friend to help cinch you in and your corset is good to go!

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The corset if I’m honest is too big for me. It docent cinch my waist in at all, the bust area is too large and theres no room for me to cinch it in smaller as the eyelets meet centrally down the centre (not shown in the above picture but I have since achieved that). I fear attempting to pull the corset tighter would ruin it. I’m disappointed it doesn’t cinch me in further at best it just flattens my stomach.  It looks as though I won’t be doing a shoo for this costume until next Spring so I may make a new one in that time and possibly sell this one as its of no great use to me.
My next corset will be smaller and likely patterned from the book ‘Corsets and Crinolines’ Unless I can find my other corset book which I know covers this period exclusively.
Despite the size issue I’m still really proud of how this turned out.  I’ve had many complements on my social media on it which is always great to hear! I think it also shows how much my skill has improved over the last year too.


This corset along with my crinoline and a petticoat (post coming along soon) will be worn under an 1860’s ballgown ensemble. Unfortunately my sewing machine needs servicing and I won’t be able to make any further progress on it until the Christmas holidays. But hopefully my mother will come and visit me during term and will bring along my serviced machine so I can continue to work on things in my dorm while at Uni! I will have a fabric selection and embellishment choice post coming along soon too so thats one update on the dress at least.

I’m really enjoying the Fashion Historian pattern line and I’d love to make some more things from it. Perhaps a pair of drawers to be worn with the rest of the undergarments.

 

Thank you for reading!

-Nivera

Crinoline Construction, Let’s make Simplicity 9764

I’ve been planing to start on this costume for how long now? I’m hoping to make and shoot a 1860’s ballgown all before university starts, is it ambitious? Yes but I’ve made a start!

The pattern we’re using is Simplicity 9764 which is apart of the fashion historian collection. It’s an eleven hoop crinoline making it perfect for historical dress and cosplay!
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I believe this pattern is currently out of print (no worries as it’s frequently rebranded and sold under new names) so the best place to get one is online. Places like EBay and Amazon are great places to look. I got mine on EBay for £15, unopened. I highly suggest you try and find unopened ones as you can never fully trust how well others look after their used patterns!

Materials you’ll need.

All of this is stated on the packet but here’s a quick run down.

•4m of a medium/heavy weight material. I used bleached Calico.

•24 of twill tape. This is what will be used to create the boning channels.

•27m of 12mm wide plastic covered steel boning. (I used 10mm because I couldn’t find 12mm where the shipping wasn’t insane, it makes no difference)

•Hooks and Eyes.

•Disappearing ink pen (Also know as friction/fabric pens)

•Thread (lots of it!)

•Fabric scissors

•Top stitching thread in contrasting colour

•Top stitching thread in white

•Tape measure

•Heavy duty Duct Tape

•Wire cutters

And of course a trusty sewing machine.The crinoline is made up of five pattern pieces. The waistband and the skirt panels.
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The pattern pieces are quite large so give yourself some room and cut them out.
0ff26e1f2a60f60028a0f6f578a16dbe3bc7ebc2_hqI like to iron my pattern after cutting them out, this makes sure they’re flat with no creases.
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Then pin your patterns to the fabric and cut them out!

MAKE SURE YOU TRANSFER THE BONING CHANNEL LINES OVER TO YOUR FABRIC BEFORE CUTTING!!!
I cut my fabric out before transferring the lines over and it was a pain to re-pin them and then trace the lines out. Make sure to use your disappearing ink pen for this!

Also check out my sweet purple fabric scissors. My last pair of scissors died cutting adhesive velcro, RIP.
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373a3534e462f8bdec6340935415230f569c8b4a_hqOnce all of the pieces are cut out sew them together making sure to take notice of the seam that’s finished with a narrow hem.
It makes a hella nice cloak when all the seams are sewn.
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Back to the narrow hem! This my first time sewing one and although the sewing pattern does explain how to sew one it confused me. I decided to look up a tutorial and found This Tutorialwhich is super helpful and simplifies it down with lots of pictures!

They’re pretty simple, once you know what you’re doing!
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This will become the opening for the crinoline.
Next up is the waistband and gathering the top edge. Straight away I’m going to say cut the waistband pattern from the petticoat (apart of the same pattern pack) and double the fabric. The waistband intended for the crinoline is tiny and and just a genuine pain in the ass. I tried following the pattern using the original waistband and it was too small, came apart and didn’t even look like a waistband. I just didn’t work for me, I probably did something wrong but I found the petticoat pattern to be a great alternative.
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///Note: I changed the waistbands over after completing the crinoline///

The next step is to gather the skirt up. Now the instructions say to use a long machine stitch with a heavy thread.
Basically two lines of basting stitches using top stitching thread. Make sure to use a contrasting coloured thread.
Now when I did this and stated gathering it all up and the top stitching thread snapped. And I’d used both a bobbin and a spool of top stitching thread so it should have been secure as hell. I brushed it off and thought it just twisted it accidentally which made the thread more brittle. So I sewed the lines of stitching again and it snapped again…
So I decided it would be easier and more reliable to hand sew the gathers myself. This surprisingly wasn’t as time consuming as I thought it would be!
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Once all of the gathering is in place and it’s gathered to your waist band size. Sew the waist band on!
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The bottom edge is hemmed and this creates the bottom two boning channels.
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The others are created with the twill tape.
This is the time consuming part! Yay!
On the WRONG side starting from the back seam pin the twill tape centred over the lines you drew to indicate the boning channel all the way round the crinoline leaving at least an inch over lap when you get back to where you started. Make sure to leave a three inch opening so you can insert the boning later!

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I highly recommend doing one at a time it’s a lot easier to manage and if you’re like me you won’t have enough (good🙃straight🙃long) pins to do more than one at a time!
Once the twill tape is pinned in place sew it on either side of the tape as close to the edge as possible.
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Then repeat that nine times and try not to lose your mind.
But if you do, that’s okay.
We have a weekly sessions you can attended. This week we have a box of kittens to cheer everyone up after we talk about our feelings.

It took me around 11 hours to sew the boning channels in (with breaks).
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It looks so pretty and drapy ahhh. The next day I started on inserting the boning into the channels. I got my boning from Sew Curvy Sew Curvy is run by a really lovely team and I recommend buying from them!

Onto the hoops!4c9a8d4ad469e644d464316b74fec1f6ac64f3fa_hqYou’ll need your wire cutters now!
Steel boning is pretty sharp even with the plastic covering. The sharp edges are sharp enough to pierce the twill tape and your base fabric so it’s best to cover them up! This also makes inserting it a lot easier as it won’t snag on anything. You can get caps to put on the end of boning but heavy duty duct tape works just as well!

The instructions does have a chart to indicate how long each hoop should be,
f30b8b2ff35be17aa8591dc3f2099e2bb29d931b_hqBut I wanted quite a full crinoline so I just inserted the bonging while still on the roll and cut it to size once it made the full circle. Do what ever you feel most comfortable with🤷🏼‍♀

Before inserting the boning I covered the end with the duct tape. I’d cut of a section wider then the boning and tape half of it to the boning.
fed228b3dd8d98f425c2e3224a4c451c168d9a37_hqThen fold it over and press the sides where the tape meets. And then cut the excess off the sides. And it’s ready to be inserted into a channel!

It’s pretty simple to guide the boning around the channel just be carful where any seams are. When the end meets itself again leave about an inch of overlap. Then tape the end you just cut and bind the two ends together using the tape. You should have some overlapping twill tape as well so pin that over the hole you left for the boning and hand sew in place.
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Repeat this eleven times!
Once you’re finished inserting the boning and sewing the channels closed there are just a few things left to do.

You’ll need to sew sets of hook and eyes down the opening and to the waistband to create the closure.
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And three laces needed to be sewn on the inside to each of the top three hoops. This will pull the front of the crinoline towards you more and push the back outwards for the 1860’s silhouette. This is of course optional if that’s not the look you’re going for!

Here’s a picture from the instructions to explain the process better!
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And with that you’re done! You have your very own eleven hoop crinoline perfect for any princess occasion!!

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I’m making the petticoat and corset to go along with the crinoline so look out for future posts on those patterns!

This was a lot of fun to make and was very different from the regular store bought patterns I usually follow. I’m super happy with the outcome of this and I’m so excited to get a dress over it. I’ve just got this costume and my Nightingale Armour to make before I leave for University I really don’t want to be stressing myself too much before then because I’m sure I have a lot to make when course starts. I think my worst nightmare at this point will be my dress form not fitting in my room!

Thank you for reading,
-Nivera

Pattern & Fabric Haul (February 2017)

This post is a little late but I decided an update on Ana was more exciting!

Late in February Mum and I went to Hertfordshire to visit my grandmother and other family there (a trip we try to make once a month). While there I decided to have a look for some fabric shops as I needed to buy some fabric for the crinoline pattern I recently purchased for my 1860’s ballgown.
I used Pinterest to look for crinoline patterns and found mostly discontinued patterns or companies that wouldn’t ship outside of America. I found simplicity 9764 (apart of the Fashion Historian collection) and immediately saw that it would be perfect for my ballgown as it’s silhouette was made for the 1860’s but also found it was discontinued. I really wanted this pattern and found it for sale on a few sites although some of these listings were selling used/cut patterns which I wasn’t a fan of. I eventually found an unopened pattern on Ebay for around £15 which I was more than happy to pay considering USED patterns could sell for £30 upwards. It arrived a few days later in perfect condition as described and I took t with me to Hertfordshire and then on to the fabric stores to help with fabric measurements.
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The store I went to was called Neddle Craft, its a small stores but has a lot of different fabrics and notions pilled in. I was really pleased to see they has sewing patterns in stock too. Because of this is decided to look through them and see if I could find the matching Simplicity corset pattern to make and wear with my 1860’s dress. I had been unsure about making the corset previously but felt having a pattern would make thing much easier. And amazingly the store had all patterns marked down to half price that day so it was was an easy decision to get a few more while I was there.

The Patterns!
Simplicity 1139
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The perfect match!! These ‘Fashion Historian’ patterns have been around for a while from what I can tell so there will be some variation on what their code numbers are depending on what pattern books they were released in and the country, I think? Thats the only reason I can think of that would meaning change the code numbers!
So if your looking to buy these patterns keep that in mind!

I also decided to get a skirt pattern that would fit over a crinoline and petticoat and found Simplicity 1818.
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I decided to buy a skirt pattern because it would give me a better idea of what the shape and construction of a historical garment should look like. Looking back on my 1500’s dress where I drape drafted a skirt pattern (god the initial shapes were awful) I decided following a proper patter would be a better option. It also meant that for future reference I’d know more about shape and silhouette and how a pattern contributes to that. Just looking at the construction notes on pattern shapes in this pattern has already mad me go “Ah! that makes more sense” a number of times.

Next up is Simplicity 8286 a bodysuit pattern that closely resembles the McCalls Yaya Han bodysuit.
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I also own the Yaya Han bodysuit pattern but as its disappeared on me (probably in a box thats apart of our overflow furniture yet to be delivered) I decided to give this one a go. Bodysuit patterns are really useful in cosplay and there is something I’d like to make in the future that would require one. Though it is low on this list of priorities right now!

And the final pattern in Simplicity 8276, a onesie pattern!
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I’ve wanted a new onesie for a while now and I was sooooo damn happy to see Simplicity release this pattern last year. I’ve seen so many cosplayer in the past (post pattern release) try to construct and pattern a onesie trying to replicate the original Kigurumi onesies. And I can defiantly see why it would be so difficult. But this pattern cam along and a sigh of relief was herd among all cosplayers.
I would like to make one based of the Pokemon Vaporeon. I will take inspiration from 4Kigurumi’s Vaporeon Onesie but I can tell you now my material cost will not amount up to what their onesie is listed as in price. I’ve already looked at material costs for this and I’ll be WELL under.

 

Fabric and Notions!

For the crinoline I bought 4 meters of bleached calico.3qbvC4Il.jpg-large
I wanted a really sturdy medium to heavy weight fabric and this was just perfect for that. I did consider buying it in another colour but as the crinoline wouldn’t be seen in most is not all of my photos white was the perfect natural colour to go for.

24 meters of inch wide twill tape.
Yup 24 meters, did I stutter?
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A you can see the lady in the store gave up rolling it neatly, I don’t blame her. I probably would have tossed it in the bag un-rolled!!!. You should have seen her face when I told her I needed 24 meters. She asked if I read it wrong and really meant 2.4 but after viewing the pattern she believed me.

I also decided to get some new thread for this and took into consideration that there would be a lot of sewing involved so a lot of thread was needed. 800 meters should do?
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This threat will be used for the petticoat (9764) and corset (1139) as well which will be made in white as well. Maybe I’ll add some trims to the corset, I’m not sure at the moment.

And lastly some hooks and eyes.
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I could only find large hooks and eyes in my collection and as the pattern called for small ones I decided it was best to buy these ones.

And that it for this haul, I will be ordering some fabrics online for my next costume(s) so if I get enough I’ll do a review of sorts for the website.
Ana will be finished in about a week I’m thinking so I’ll have an official line up for what I’m making over the next few months up when thats complete.


Have any suggestions? Or prior experience with the patterns I’ve bought?
I’d love to hear it!

Thank you for reading,
-Nivera

1860’s Ball Gown

Hello everyone!

Today’s post is all about me rambling about my next historical project, which as I’m sure you can guess from the title will be from the 1800’s. I decided after completing my 1500’s ensemble I wanted to tackle something from a completely different era. The 1800’s is such a diverse era too, with a variety of styles and silhouettes over 100 years. I thought a ballgown would be a lot of fun too as it would give me an opportunity to make some foundation garments such as a petticoat and a corset which I’m really excited to attempt to make! With the dress being a ball gown it will have to have embellishments!! Another thing I’m excited for, I really want to go about expanding my skills further with this project!!!
After doing some research through Pintrest and museum collections I have found the 1860’s to be most appealing to me, can you guess that is also has some of the most elaborate ballgowns from the era?
Below are some dress’s from this period starting with my favorite!
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I also found this dress the morning after posting on the ‘Corseted Beauty’ FB page. Ballgown, England, ca. 1865. Berlin State Museums
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Isn’t it just beautful!! I love the beautiful layers at the back of the dress. I don’t think I weant my dres to have a train but the overall silloett is lovely. I also adore the bodice, I think hunting for lace will be very fun for this project.

And this beautiful painting of  Princesse de Broglie, which was completed in 1853. Although its not in the exact period I’m taking inspiration from  it won’t hurt as its only 7 years prior!! I love the headdress she’s wearing too, completing my ensemble with a headdress would really top it off.

princess-albert-de-broglie

I love all of the frills and lace incorporated into this era, it looks so beautiful. Its something that I want to achieve with this costume.

Under the dress

Like I said earlier I would like to make foundation garments to go with this ensemble.
In my mind I currently have the idea of making a period accurate corset.

And a floor length petticoat (to be worn over a crinoline)
With a correct crinoline shape only a single layer petticoat is needed. Buuuut I also want to look as much like a princess with this dress as possible so extra poof may be needed!

I’m not yet decided on a headdress for this ensemble yet but do like the one from the painting despite how little of it can be seen. I do have an Amazon gift card left from my birthday this year so think that will go toward Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles: (With 453 Illustrations, Medieval to Modern)  which is a really good costume hat/headdress/hairstyle reference book.

Materials

As for materials I’n not decided on what to use just yet. I really want to keep my price down for this costume after spending so much on my 1500’s ensemble. I’m thinking cotton sateen but it could be too light weight to support the bodice… My best best option is to feel the fabrics when I’m in store/buying a swatch. I’ll be taking notes on what materials were used in Janet Arnold’s books too so that will influence my decision. This will be the same for the book I have which covers 19th century corsets.


I think that’s enough of me rambling, I can’t do much more than the planning process of this costume at this stage. I’ll have a post about Ana coming later in the month and possibly another tutorial.

Thank you for reading
-Nivera