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

IMG_9881
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

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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,
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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.
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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