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
Blue cotton twill has faded much over time and the corset is now a very pale blue and mostly appears to be off white.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Boning channels are external and appear to be made up from satin which is topstitched with a small stitch length into place.
Between 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.
The 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.
There 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.
Flossing thread is visibly prick stitched through with very little thread showing through. No flossing along top bones, no prick stitching visible.
Small ’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.
A 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.
Eyelet 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.
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,