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 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

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

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

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

Skirt Back 1Skirt Back 2

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

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
1890sRidingCorset13
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.
corset1880-2.jpg
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.”
HealtBeautyMadameCaplin45Hebe.png
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

Customising a Dress Form

I current live in London nine months of the year and sew for all twelve months. When I moved to London I decided not to bring my Singer dress form with me because I knew when I went home for visits brining it with me would be an issue (that and it wouldn’t fit in the car on the drive up to London). I decided on buying a cheap non adjustable dress form off Amazon instead which I would keep in London and have my adjustable form for at home. As im sure many of you know non adjustable dresss forms are a pain as they’re never quite your exact measurements. I shopped around a little bit and eventually decided on a Size 8/10 Dress Form with the intention of padding it up. I’ve lost a lot of weight in the past year (still losing weight now) and I currently sit between a size 10 and 12 so the 8/10 size seamed perfect to pad up and eventually take away from (the padding) in order to best suit my size.

Here is the process on how I went about doing just that!

 

Materials you’ll need,

•Dress form (size smaller SUGGESTED) Ideally the dress form should have a cover too.

•1 meter of thin quilt batting, I found 1m was enough for me but depending on how much you have to add you may need more. Alternatively you could use thinker batting but I found the thinner batting easier to work with as you could create more gradual shapes.

•Dressmaker pins (these are the metal ones without colourful tips on the end)

•plastic wrap (optional)

•Fabric scissors

•Felt tip pen

•Silicon bust filler (optional, you can just use an old bra)

•Your measurements! Please write them down somewhere so they’re easy to access while padding.

 

Tutorial Time

I started with the bust area and then worked my way down to the waist and hips.

Because the bust needed filling the most I bought a silicone bust filler to help keep the shape correct (you can also use an old bra!). First I traced the general shape of the bust filler onto quilt batting,
ee246feb9d009566ecfaabcbdf318746b71f8c77v2_hq
Through trial and error and lots of re pinning every five seconds I found that I needed two layers of batting under the bust filler as well as two layers of the batting continuing around my back in order to meet my bust circumference.
f70de005629f836c3b5eb293757f5c13dd7f066dv2_hq

It’s really important to keep checking your measurements as your going.

I then set about patterning the area under the bust, this took some refining… Thankfully the thinner quilt batting does have some stretch to it which makes it so much easier to manipulate over curves.
9d2f56e70b874131bfb026aa62abe8e9b9e53315v2_hqI was actually quite surprised by how easy things were going! I used my measuring tape to ensure things would be symmetrical. Most of my pattern pieces consisted of front bust, back bust, front waist, back waist etc…
304ec8006d0ea97a4e0c991347e13f589663b8c4v2_hqI was really lucky and found that doubling the quilt batting for all of my patterns resulted in my measurements.

The back looked like this,

3fb4d0c628326e48e094624257c28aeccd860520v2_hqMake sure that you match where the batting should meet perfectly! Otherwise little gaps can appear and the dress form won’t be as smooth.

I continued with the hips which I decided to make into two large sections (following my previous pattern work) rather than splitting it up. There wasn’t as much shape to curve around and the batting wrapped around perfectly!
8c46c377cd23f29a6212b7a69d7894d32414599fv2_hqNext I patterned above the bust on the front and back.

The bust front was a bit more of an awkward shape and I do recommend using lots of pins to keep the batting in place and to ensure it lays flat!
7a5afb300814ba92734c5ab9e15b5d20c4d5386fv2_hqYou can see I used a lot of pins here!!!

At this point you are kind of done although if you want to you can cover the quilt batting in plastic wrap. This will help ‘set’ the batting and hold it in place as well as keep pins from moving too much.
4b785cfe0258ebb186767df866842d87d928e1e9v2_hqI do recommend getting a friend or family member to help with this so you can apply the wrap as tight as possible.

That step is optional!! If you want to throw the cover back on straight away you can do that too!

Speaking of covers, this is what mine looked like when complete!

The sharpie is visible on the quilt batting through the cover, this could be fixed by trimming away these fibers before putting the cover on. In all honesty I wasn’t bothered by it and it won’t be something I change until I alter the dress form again. Maybe I’ll dye my cover lilac, that would be cute…

So what do you think! Is it something you’d look into knowing dress forms can be altered cheaply? I literally spent £1 on the quilt batting for this project, everything else I had in my room. It’s certainly something to look into! Do tell me if you use this tutorial or find it useful!


Spring break is a week away for me now and I’ve finished all of my work for the term so I’m looking forward to a stressless week ahead!
I’m really happy my dress form is accurate to my measurements now and its made me a lot more motivated for making things again! I’m hoping to take a huge step forward with my ballgown over the spring break but we’ll see how that goes with my work shifts again. I do want to get the new petticoat made and I plan to make a new corset when I’m back in London for my third term.
I keep you all update that’s for sure!

Thanks for reading,

-Nivera

Costume for Theatre and Screen Starts Tomorrow!

I started University just over a month ago and our first unit was not relevant to making costumes so I’m just going skip over it as its not that interesting!
Tomorrow marks the first day of my costume course which is really exciting. We’re starting off with corsets so I’m happy to have some previous experience going into the unit.
Each week (I’m planning on Saturday) I’m going to be posting a diary type blog post where I’ll talk about what I did in that week which I’ll be filing under one category. I’m really interested in documenting my progress both in and out of class so later I can look back on my posts and hopefully see some progress.
My at home project for October was making 18th century foundation garments which I’ll slowly being releasing posts of this month. I’m hoping to make a 18th century Redingote this month to go over said foundation garments so I’ll also be updating the designing process and the pattern drafting here too. Unfortunately October and September were really slow months for me and I was unable to update but thats defiantly changing this month onwards with weekly posts again.

And thats it really! Just a short sweet update on things to come!

Thank you 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.
1139

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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