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.
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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.
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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’ve noticed that this post is receiving a lot of traffic recently so I decided to add the additional pictures I took of this corset in February 2020 modelled by my friend Imogen who the corset was made for (and she made the lovely combinations!)

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

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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
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Front Observations

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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

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.
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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!

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!
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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

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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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)

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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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
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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

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