Symington corset pattern 1907-07 experiment

Victorian Black and Blue-8

 

When, earlier on this year, the scans of Symington corset patterns were released, (by Leicester County council, link to the patterns, etc: Leicestershire symington patterns), a lot of corsetmakers  stormed the site and bought the images they wanted to use as an experiment in pattern-making. Well, I was one of the horde who grabbed an image (or two…) but it was only recently that I had time enough to have a go at one of the patterns.

I chose 2 complex patterns and up till the last moment I couldn’t decide on which one to make first – but  in the end the decision fell on one with a lot of gores. I know, a masochistic choice, but well… I just couldn’t resist it, as the ‘gore within a gore’ concept worked for me on a variety of levels –  historically accurate and yet with styling  that would not look amiss in a modern or steampunk corset.

So ‘Gore Galore Corset’ it was – and it turned out be be even more gore-tastic than I had imagined….

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But,  let us start at the beginning.

 

The moment I measured the printed out pattern, I knew there would be serious issues with the fit – it just wasn’t very curvy! There were just a few inches of difference between the  hip, waist, and bust, and my bod calls for more than just a few. Still, I worked out (read: husband  did the calculations) how much the  pattern has to be enlarged, and blew it up in the local photocopying place.

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Then, I took the sheet, components and lunch and drove over to Sew Curvy for our usual Stitch and Bitch session – the corset was to be constructed there –  good company and nice space make it easy for me to focus, and having an accomplished corsetiere on hand to help with the fitting can only help… 🙂

The work could then begin.

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tracing the seam lines on the blown up copy

 

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calico on the pattern and could trace the pieces next…

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Pieces traced

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and pieces cut out….

 

At that point I was cleverly distracted by Julia who dug out 2 lovely antique corsets and I stopped to drool over  them… A teaser here, no doubt Julia will put more info and pictures of them on the Sew Curvy blog at some point…

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Then it was back to work – I wanted to assemble the mock up before lunch…

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The pieces assembled….. outside view

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and inside, below…

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The moment of truth! How does it look on the body..?

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Pretty straight – as expected to be  honest.  As the proportions, length etc worked, I just needed an inch more reduction at the waist – and  to add a few inches at the hip and bust to accommodate my curves…

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And the easiest way to do that was just to cut inside the gores and use bits of calico to cover the areas that needed more expansion… and a bit more boning in front for support…

 

IMG_0308   The hip spring already looks much better, (and feels more comfy too)

 Then it was lunch time!

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well, we had soup first…..

After lunch I amended the pattern to accommodate the changes – all that needed to be done was to enlarge the inside gores….  and since the incisions were sort of already there, I decided to let them remain split – and just get another gore in…. A gore within a gore within a gore! A bit mad, but it just seemed to work better than simply making the inside gore bigger – and it resulted in a much more interesting look too…..

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Corset pieces cut out in black and blue sateen

Alas, it also meant I had 12 gores to sew in…. ouch….

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seam allowances pressed and ready for assembly

but with help of coffee I persevered…

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the corset will be boned with internal boning – but since back looked a bit boring in comparison with the front, I decided to make a casting for double bones in contrasting fabric there to balance the design

The rest of the evening was spent flossing the gores…..

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And next morning saw me with the gores flossed (is it only me, or does that sound a bit weird? ), and I was ready for some boning. (Seriously, take that sentence out of context and it sounds damned indecent! Corsetry nomenclature joys…)

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I marked the channels as close to the original as possible, and added a few more to support my boobage a bit better too…) The tape was applied over a waist stay.

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and done!

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It was time to try it on – if anything needs changing, there is still some scope for reshaping things, if needs be, before the lining comes in and covers all the inside…

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verdict – not too bad!

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a tiny bit too loose at the back hip, but easy to amend. very comfortable too!

At that stage I  said goodbye to Julia and Sew Curvy studio and drove back home, where I finished the corset the next day – black cotton lining was added and the bones were flossed in black. Then it was binding time and it was done!  If needs be, suspenders can be added at the front center and sides, but that can be done later once I decide whether to use it as an undergarment – or a modern top layer corset…

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As it turned out, it was over a month later that we were able to get any decent photos – and  surprise, surprise, my overindulgence in MMA and other martial activities  at the club meant that I lost some inches… The corset still fitted, but was a bit on a loose side. 😦
Even with the corset a tad too big, we got to shoot it and ended up with some interesting images.

First we shot in in the historical style – with black lawn chemise and drawers, with a matching blue ribbon.

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And later on in the evening,  on the way back from the movies, I  changed into leggings, black top and a wig – and we shot it with a cyber punk/comic/ Tron convention  in mind – the results below….

 

Black and Blue SciFiAngel Underlight Neon

 

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Black and Blue SciFiAngel Underlight-8

 

As you can see, it turned out to be a pretty versatile piece –  just a shame it is a tad too big now….   And as it is a bit too big, it has already been sold to a friend  who plans to use it for some steampunk events – so it is bound to lead an interesting life….

But I am not saying goodbye to the pattern per se – indeed I liked the gores so much, I have now purchased black and yellow lacquered leather – it will be made into a Hornet Corset:-)

 

 

 

 

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The Widow and the Bride – 1910 corset and a modern sheer

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Well, since I had the 1914 mourning dress sorted, I also needed proper underwear. I have never been particularly fond of the WWI fashions, but since we are getting more and more bookings for that period for the summer,  it makes sense to be prepared. Also, since the current WWI interest is going to last for another 4 years or so due to the centenary,  we are bound to be either booked for shows, or to make clothing from that era. And so,  I bought a pattern and decided to have a go at it next time I was due for our monthly Stitch and Bitch session at Sew Curvy.

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on my way to Sew Curvy – Cuckoo Lane in its spring glory!

PatternNehalenia patterns, 1910 corset – earlier than the WWI, but this type of corset was worn generally till at least mid decade if not longer – a quick look at other sources confirmed it, and so  the decision was made.  I adapted size 12 – with the bust from size 16, as specified by my measurements.

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materials – bits of cotton broche, black – remnants form other projects. Alas, it  turned out that they cane from different batches and one piece was darker than the other – but the difference in hue would hardly matter on an underwear corset.

boning –  flat and spiral steels enclosed in channels made with herringbone tape.

All components,apart from the lace came from Sew Curvy shop.

 

mock up first…

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mock up cut in calico…

 

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mock up boned using masking tape – stupidly I didn’t notice at that point that bones do not go all the way down, so had to trim them later… Irritating…

 

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mock up on! not too bad, just minor adaptations 🙂

 

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it felt surprisingly comfortable, and gave a much better silhouette than I had envisaged! loving the smooth fit over the hips.

 

Once I saw how flattering the corset can be, I set to making the real thing with renewed enthusiasm…

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pieces cut!

 

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and stitched together…

 

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seam detail on the outside…

 

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and on the inside… after the first trials the flat felled seams were a joy to make! the trick is to pre-press the seam allowance on the folding over piece – makes stitching it much , much easier!

 

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the innards…

then  eyelets were inserted…

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and then the boning:-)

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the whole thing was bound in cotton binding

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and it was time to try it on…. 🙂

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not too shabby!

 

very pleased with the fit – just need some nice lace to put on top, and the make and attach suspenders:-)

And while I was having fun with the  kit for my mourning kit, Julia was working on a sweet bridal sheer – a few taster pictures below, official photos not disclosed yet! 🙂

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sheer mesh, silk satin and lace – divine combo!

 

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it is progressing well 🙂

 

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getting there…..

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and done!

If you like the look of the sheer corset, check out Sew Curvy courses –  the was a recent course on sheer corsetry, but i believe the dates for the next one will be announced soon!

 

once back home I sorted out the suspenders…

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trying to puzzle them out was a bit of a challenge at first, but it is not rocket science!

 

and then added lace and a velvet ribbon, flossed the bones for that extra security and fashionable look  –  and the corset was ready.  Here worn over my late Edwardian chemisette and drawers, the stockings and shoes from American Duchess

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you can see the differences in the different hues of the broche quite clearly here…

 

Altogether, I am very well pleased with the thing – it is comfortable, gives a much better silhouette than I had expected, and above all, serves its primary function – this type of corsets did not aim a waist reduction ( though there is some!), but at streamlining the body, so that the loose, close fitting garments of the era ( hobble skirts especially) looked smooth, flowing down the body in a relatively undisturbed fashion.

In fact, I liked them so much I made 5 others, in different sizes, as a trial batch for our online shop ( news on that shortly) – we will be offering them as off the peg items alongside other corsetry items (  Regency, mid Victorian, late Victorian, early Edwardian) in standard sizes 10-18 🙂

The ones I made as a trial  were photographed one weekend in a WWI undergarment shoot  with Pitcheresque Imagery– a picture-full report on that here – and the teaser below:-)

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