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

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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