1905 Sanakor Plunge front corset

As a self directed project at university I decided to make a corset to keep further my corsetry skills. For this is chose the 1905 Sanakor plunged front corset (extant corset is held in the Symington Collection Leicestershire) because it was a cut I have never attempted before and looked to be a unique challenge. This corset presented many new techniques and I learnt a lot of new valuable skills.


As I’m using ‘Stays and Corsets: Volume 2’ (Mandy Barrington) for the construction of this corset I followed the instructions for the pattern drafting process. I’ve made a few corsets from the previous book volume so this process is quite familiar to me.
I started by drafting the block to Imogen’s measurements, I found that as she has a small bust it was better to use her hips as the widest measurement on the block (bust is suggested for this measurement in the book). The block is then widened by 30cm in the side of the block, this allows for additional space for drafting the corset patterns.
Additional measurements are added to the block such as point to point, high hip to further aid in plotting the pattern of the corset.

I decided to make a toile out of drill as I didn’t feel comfortable with my skills to make it up in my duchess satin first time. My biggest concern was marking the satin so the drill toile seemed to be the safest option.
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The pattern pieces were all cut out from two layers of cotton drill with one inch seam allowance. The pieces were tacked to indicate bust, waist, high hip and hip.
For the toile I focused on fit rather than construction, this meant I could speedily sew the toile together, get the fit alterations right and then move onto the real corset with much more time to work on perfecting the overall construction.
The toile corset was sewn with seams to the outside with 1” seam allowance (and shape adjustment space) added all the way around the pattern pieces. The centre front was sewn together as a seam to replicate the busk and the toile was fully boned using synthetic whalebone which were numbered corresponding with the boning channels on my patterns so they could be easily identified and recycled into the finished corset.

The first fitting went well with only a few alterations necessary. The bust seam needed to be taken in a bit as it was gaping and the side to centre back below the waist needed taking in also.
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These alterations were safety pined and then chalked so that this new information could be transferred and sewn for a final fitting.


The second fitting was a success with the alterations fitting Imogen perfectly.

Now that the pattern was finalised it could be retraced and used for the final corset, I traced off the new patterns by dismantling one side of the corset, laying pattern paper over carbon paper and using a tracing wheel through the pattern pieces to transfer the new information.


Once all of the pattern pieces had been transferred using the carbon I used a pattern master to clean up the lines and straighten boning channels.
No alterations were made to the busk panel so that panel was left as is to be used in the final corset.


As the original 1905 corset feature a while lining I decided to replicate this in my version of it. The top fabric was cut from black double duchess satin and the inside was cut from white coutil. 1.5cm was added to all of the pattern pieces with an extra 1” of satin added to the busk panel. It was this panel I was most worried about messing up so I wanted as much room for that as possible so any mistakes could be amended.

IMG_0066I started construction with the back panels, It was difficult to work out the construction of these from the images of the extant garment I had (no further explanation in the book) so I decided to sew the satin to the coutil wrong sides together on the centre back, press, fold them back so right sides were out and then press so the satin rolled over the centre back with a slight lip.

After making my 1820’s corded stays where rather than back stitching my stitch lines I left my threads long, threaded them to the wrong side and then tied them off. I found it difficult to back stitch on this corset as tying threads back makes them look so clean. So I decided on tying my threads back on this corset for all of my boning channels/visible lines of stitching.

On the side panel there was an internal boning chanel made up from tape that was hand sewn into place, for this I used petersham tap and extended the tape into the seam so it could be caught when sewing, the tape was slip stitched into place, catching the coutil layer and not the satin.
I have sewn busks into corsets before but for this corset decided to add a small facing/modesty panel to the hook side which would prevent any skin from showing in the small gap when worn. This was done by sewing the hook side of the busk 5mm to the side of the centre front line (this included sewing along the top edge so that it could be bagged out in the next step), folding this back with right sides showing and then sewing the centre front line of stitching. The eye side of the busk was sewn along the centre front, skipping where the eyes would poke through the seam (right sides together) again including sewing the top edge of the busk panel so that it too could be bagged out.

IMG_0178I have sewn busks into corsets before but for this corset decided to add a small facing/modesty panel to the hook side which would prevent any skin from showing in the small gap when worn. This was done by sewing the hook side of the busk 5mm to the side of the centre front line (this included sewing along the top edge so that it could be bagged out in the next step), folding this back with right sides showing and then sewing the centre front line of stitching. The eye side of the busk was sewn along the centre front, skipping where the eyes would poke through the seam (right sides together) again including sewing the top edge of the busk panel so that it too could be bagged out.

IMG_0181The eye side of the busk was then inserted and using a zipper foot fixed into place. The hook side was marked on the wrong side of the satin with chalk and I used an awl to poke the holes through from the wrong side. When all of the holes had been made the hooks were carefully inserted through them. I later used steam to shrink the fibers of the satin back together closing the holes around the hooks. A zipper foot was then used to sew the hook side of the busk into place.

CBAF22CC-AE4A-4791-9F6A-2BAA9D9182E6Next the bust panel was sewn to the busk panel, Hester (one of our lovely studio technicians) and I had to have a long discussion about this and spent about an hour examining pictures of the extant Sanakor corset and another surviving white variant of the Sanakor. We decided in the end that the bust and busk panels are first assembled with the coutil right sides together. Then the satin bust panel is line up over the top of this right sides together and sewn. This encases the top edge of the bust panel so that it can be bagged out after clipping into it and trimming the seam allowance. The seam is then pressed adding a slight roll/lip to the bust panel edge. A line of stitching is then sewn around the new bust seam approximately 2mm from the edge/seam line this helps to fix everything in place.

Then the boning channels for the bust seam could be sewn, like the boning channels elsewhere on the corset these were tied to the wrong side so that there was no visible back stitching.

 

Next the side seams were prepared, I secured the cotton petersham tape I was using as a waist tape over the waistline, ensuring it was long enough to be caught into the front to side seam.
The side to bust panels were then sewn together right sides together, making sure the bagged out bust top edge lined up with the tacking stitches on the side seam for a smooth finish.

The seam allowances could then be trimmed down. This seam is covered with a taped boning channel so a length of tape was cut to size and then pinned evenly over the seam.
This was followed by using a ‘stitch in the ditch’ foot from the right side of the corset. This foot lines up perfectly with the seam and stitches in the ditch of the seam resulting in beautiful invisible stitching. These threads were also tied to the wrong side. Then boning channels are sewn on either side of the stitch in ditch seam.

IMG_0202The side to centre back panels were then sewn together in the same fashion. Although the waist tape was not caught in this initial seam. After the initial seam had been sewn it was pressed and trimmed, the waist tape was then brought across following the waist line (keeping it taunt in this process) and pinned to keep it in place while the tapped seam was sewn.

966F86B6-2C50-4158-B2D1-602674EA4096The stitch in the ditch foot was used for this process and boning channels were again sewn on either side of the seam.
Lastly the waist tape is caught into the final eyelet channel bone channel. This bone chenel is also tapped, the waist tape was brought up to where the bone hennl would be sewn and then was folded back on itself a fraction to prevent any raw/exposed edges. The taped boning channel was then sewn over this.

A98831A1-C5B4-4706-8219-A1430FDEBD38With the boning channels all sewn the main construction process was finished and it was time to move on to bias binding the edges and inserting the bones into the channels.
The top edge had to be bias bound first as the top edge of the bust panel had already been closed when it was bagged out and there would be no other way to insert the bones than from the lower edge.
Hester and I had another in depth conversation about how the edges were finished, it was difficult to tell from the pictures I had found of the extant corset but we finally settled on the top edge being bias bound with white tape, the tape was sewn 2mm above the white tacking lines so that when the corset was trimmed down and the bias binding rolled over no bias would be visible. Once this binding was sewn and whip stitched down the bones could be inserted into the channels. As I hadn’t filed the edges on the synthetic whalebone down during the toile corst I had to do this first to limit the chance of any of them bursting out and creating a hole. Flat steel bones were used on the centre back boning channels and these were capped. I had always had issues with the caps coming off steel boning but Hester taught me that you can glue the caps on with ‘uhu glue’, which seems extremely obvious but had never occurred to me before and I will be including that in all of my future steel boned corset practices!
IMG_0230With the bones inserted the lower edge of the corset could be finished off.
The binding on the lower edge is something I’ve never seen or heard of on a corset before. There’s a strip of visible black satin bias running along the bottom edge but the black bias is faced with white bias binding which is turned to the wrong side.
The black satin bias binding is sewn on wrong sides together 1cm above the white tacking line, this is then pressed down and the white tacking line is then restitched through the black bias binding, white bias binding is then sewn on 2mm below the white tacking line, the remaining fabric below is then trimmed and the white bias binding is then rolled to the wrong side (whip stitched in place) so that the seam joining the black satin binding to the white bias binding sits exactly at the bottom of the corset and the white tape is not visible.
Eyelets are then inserted into the eyelet chanel, I followed the eyelet placement indicated in the book and spread out 9 eyelets evenly with one eyelet sitting on the waist.
A ribbon is then sewn 2cm above the busk on the bust panel so that it can be tied when worn offering a little more bust support/modestly.

The corset was then complete.


I am extremely pleased with the outcome of this self directed project. I feel as though I have accomplished all that I set out to do with it and more. I made up my first corset using satin and successfully completed it without marking the satin which I was terrified of doing. The new shape was a challenge but I feel as though it came together rather successfully. Alterations were needed in fitting but nothing that took away from the overall silhouette. I inserted my first waist tape into a corset which thankfully wasn’t as difficult as I expected it to be. I got to have another experience fitting a corset which I feel was extremely beneficial to my skills as an interpreter. I think I now have a better ‘eye’ for fitting and can now assess what needs altering with little input from technicians. Finally I am so pleased with myself with this finished corset, its so clean and the lines are sharp. I have received many compliments in the studio on it and I’m just so proud! Corsetry is a still I want to use more in the future and I feel as though completing this corset was a major step in the right direction.


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

I hope to make more corsets over the holidays, I’m still determined to finish my ‘Corseted through the Century Challenge’ so I’d like to work on that over the holidays as well as a few other costume and day to day clothes for myself.

Thank you for reading, comments are always welcome!

-Nivera

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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