1895 Winter Project

Iz and Lucas in the Snow-1a

I have  done a lot of earlier Victorian (1876-86), but i have not really ventured into the 90ties ( though I did make a 1895 Ripple jacket for my Christmas outfit last year), so the Belle Epoche ideas had been brewing awhile here…

and then, a few moths ago, I saw this on Pinterest

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I mean –  huge skirt ridiculous lapels, mega-sleeves, a very ugly hat – how can you not love it!? I immediately pinned it onto my 1890ties board and started planning…

It was a longer project i planned to do more or less over the Christmas break here – I don’t celebrate it, but many of my clients do, so there is a bit of a free time to carve for my own projects there:-)  I wanted to make  as many bits as I could in the gaps before the commissions and hopefully shoot it with a wintry landscape, should we be so lucky as to get any snow here.

starting ith the foundations..

Corset.

I already had a corset cut to a Symingotn pattern ( patterned by Cathy Hay) – I made it for my wedding 3 years ago, when I was just starting my corsetry adventure, and so it doesn’t fit particularly well (  the back laces form () at the back, never a good sign.. ) Still, it survived 3 years of extensive use, and it looks nice and is very , very comfy…

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my old ‘wedding’ corset in coutil and silk

Since I now had an excuse to make a new one, i set down to work. I redrafted the same patter to fit me better, and this time made it a one layer affair in a lovely  mink coutil from Sew Curvy. I also decided on external bone channels – and you can see the details on construction in the little video I put together – Here.

The blue flossing and external tape worked well with the mink colour and I put some antique lace at the top too.

It fits nicely and is comfy, and once it is properly seasoned ( worn for a bit, so that it adjusts to my body) i bet it will close in the back. Both corsets are 27″ waist.

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The petticoat was easy – I used my old antique one:-)

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To get the proper width of the hem, an underskirt was often worn too –  there are a few existing ones , and whereas some are made in cotton, there are a few made in silks, with rather nice lace – a very elegant affairs!

I  hunted out some nice lace on etsy and used leftover silk from my Regency gown

I used up 12 metres of that lace… all gathered and sewed in two tiers – to the hem and to the flounce

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The skirt was next. I used a Truly Victorian Pattern for the Ripple skirt and it worked a treat! I made mine in boucle wool, with stiff cotton lining.

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 The blouse – well, in this instance i ran out of time a bit and used a blouse I found on ebay, from Cotton Lane. Thy make pretty neat shirtwaists, that are not too different in construction from the proper stuff – and as I dislike sewing shirts etc, I simply plan to alter this one – I will remove the sleeves, cut out the pin tucked panel and the cuffs and sew them onto a proper, leg of mutton style sleeves in the same cotton. I will need to re-insert the collar too, to fit my neck better, but altogether I think it should pass muster – will update this post once it is done ( february, as want to wear it for the next market! )

 And then it was time to think about the coat….

 I wanted to make it in green wool and line with cotton. When I went wool shopping i was irrevocably drawn to the wool I used for mu 1876 February dress – lovely , napped fabric, soft and warm. I couldn’t say no…

 The lining was a rather pricey cotton flanelett – light, but soft, with a slight nap, to keep me war,

 Other ingredients included  rabbit fur,  linen interlining for the lapels and collar, tape for channels and lovely buttons made by Gina B.

   Looking at many original coats and patterns from the era, it is easy to notice that the coats dould me made either with bodice and skirts cut separately or together. I decided on the former – and adapted a pattern for the skirts from one of the coats shown in this book – 59 Authentic turn of the century patterns 

The bodice getting ready… I adapted a pattern of my old Victorian bodice and played with a mock up untill I had the correct shape of the lapels… took a few goes…

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The ‘sleeves of doom’ were quite a challenge. I found  a pattern for the sleeves in the same book and played with them – they consisted of a normal sleeve, lined, and a puff . the sleeves are cut on the bias, to achieve the fitted forearm, and the puff is interlined and stiffened with layers of net…

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the undersleeve

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the puff with net being attached

 But the net and pleating wasn’t enough to achieve the desired look. shoulder supports were needed.

 I found a few pictures of them, and in the end settled on the wire  and tape ones. they go inside the puff, and are tapes are sewn onto the undersleeve.

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I must admit that try as I might, the pleated effect seen on the original escaped me ( I almost got there with cartridge pleating but realised in the end  that i would have to have more fabric – and a different shoulder support, possibly with the wired running in the other direction, so that the pleats fill in between… just a theory.

 Still the sleeves did work out quite well…

   time to attach the skirt to the bodice… the bodice was boned on every seam and has a waiststay as well.

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planning the waistsay

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Thebuttons were next – they are decorative items, as the coat closed with hooks and eyes under the fur trim:-)

The hat was simply an adapted hat  from my 1876 frock – i simply drew the line at  making an ugly hat and decided to temporarily re-arrange an existing one – and since the brim was wired, it was easy to shape it differently, add feathers and a bow:-)

On the day we used a new backdrop for some of the pictures ( no snow here, alas) for a  cheesy Victorian postcard look, with the props being a few things we picked up on ebay – antique sledge and skates 🙂

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 it was time to get dressed – and  I realised a bit of a mistake as soon as i put the coat on – the skirts were voluminous and heavy, squashing the shape of the  Ripple skirt, and dragging on the floor 😦 so that’s another thing I will need to sort out before a proper outing – cutting the hem short and probably adding a bit more stiffening to it too, to help it flare out.

 Apart from that I am very happy how it all turned out – and hope we will see some proper snow at some point to take better pictures!

  as it is – the results below:-)


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  The cost.. ouch…

 corset – materials and labour – approximately £300,

 underskirt  – lace – £90, silk £30, labour £90 – £210

 ripple skirt – fabrics  – £50, labour – £150 – £200

 coat – fabrics and notions – £100, labour £300

 cheap blouse – £35  😉

 total – approx £1000….. plus the hat…

 Altogether  it was not the most expensive but not the cheapest set either – but it is comfortable, stylish  and more or less practical ( once you get used to the enormous sleeves) so I will be wearing it quite a lot for the markets etc, I think:-)

  And yes, I do love the sleeves… Power dressing!!!! 🙂 hope you like it too 🙂

 usual credits – Dressmaking – Prior Attire

 photography – Pitcheresque Imagery

 corsetry supplies – Sew Curvy

 Buttons – Gina B Silkworks, 

 Wool – Bernie the Bolt

 cotton lining, notions – Tudor Rose Patchwork

 Fur – GH Leathers 

Sophie’s Wedding dress

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It is always a pleasure to make clothing for friends – and even more so if it is the wedding dress they are after! And since apart from he historical bits ( Prior Attire) we also provide bridal gowns ( Prior Engagement)  it was a pleasure to be asked:-)

We have known Sophie and Chris for several years as we tend to attend the same events – they are accomplished musicians and provide music from medieval to modern times ( Blast from The Past). indeed, they were also our musicians of choice when we organized the Spectacular! Spectacular !ball ).  Over the years we have become good friends – and it was with joy that I agreed to making Sophie’s wedding dress.

Sophie was no stranger to our bridal fashions – indeed you will see her modelling a part of our Winter Bride collection back in 2013

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The first stages was agreeing on the styling, foundations etc. Sophie created a secret Pinterest board where she pinned her inspirations and we discussed the choices. in the end we ended up with a simple and yet surprisingly elegant design. Based on late Victorian fashions, the dress was basically an evening outfit from the late 1890 – a simple bodice and a flowing skirt, both decorated with elaborate lace.

Since Victorian fashions need a corset, a corset was the first to be created…. here at the fitting stage – we decided on a white sateen, with a gentle blue flossing. The corset needed to be providing the correct silhouette ( the whole dress may serve  Sophie as an evening Victorian gown in the years to come, perfect for  her work – concerts etc), but be comfortable enough so that she can stay in it all day, dance eat and enjoy the day.

 

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a modified TV01 pattern was used, white sateen, busk, flat and spiral steels from Sew Curvy

 

Over that a bodice in champagne satin was assembled ( lined with cotton lawn and lightly boned), with a back lacing and a rather stunning lace going over the neck and shoulders

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first fitting of the bodice

 

The skirt of the silk satin and lawn lining was next – here  at the first fitting, with lace pinned up. It as worn over a lacy and fluffy petticoat – an original one I lent Sophie for the wedding.

 

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the lace was  arranged and pinned over the bodice at the last fitting

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and then it was down to hours of stitching the thing on 🙂

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A shaped green silk sash/belt completed the look.

 

On the day, since we were invited to the wedding too ( yay!) I arrived early to help Sophie dress…

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and once we were ready, the fun could begin…..

The wedding was a truly amazing day – relaxed, full of love, laughter and happiness, with great company, excellent food , moving speeches, and, needless to say, fantastic music…

Pictures below by Pitcheresque Imagery – Lucas was providing a back up photography on the day, a few more snaps here..

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It also turned out that Sophie had all of the important three from us too – something blue ( flossing), something old ( antique petticoat) and something borrowed ( the petticoat – and my own bridal veil).

Lovely natural make up by Sarah’s doo-wop-dos

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all together – a fantastic day was had by all – congratulations to Sophie and Chris!

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Mid-Victorian corset project – and pattern review

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a few months ago I got some fantastic check wool that just screams 1860 or whereabouts, so I knew I would need to make the undergarments first. So using our usual Stitch and Bitch session with Sew Curvy, I decided to tackle the project then. The pattern was bought, the plan was hatched – and I set to make it happen. I had two aims in sight – firstly, to make the thing so that I could wear it with the future Dickensian  frock; the secondary aim was to check whether the pattern runs true to size and if I could use it as a foundation for the off the peg corsetry range for that period – I am a fairly standard size 12 ( with bigger boobs but that’s easily accounted for), and experimenting with other corsets, patterns and sizes it usually transpired that if the size 12 was ok for me, the other sizes ran true and worked ok on my models/clients.

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On receiving the pattern  I realized the construction is relatively simple – and very similar to late Regency corsets I have already dealt with. Lots of gores, so fiddly, but  not too badly. I was a bit surprised when I studied the pattern and realised that the pieces does not actually end up looking like the picture on the front, but hey, was ready to give it the benefit of the doubt..

And so the size 12 was cut out in calico, with the gores as suggested for my measurements.

The mock up was ready in no time…

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And that’s when the problems started. True, you don’t expect mock ups to fit perfectly  straight away and there is always adapting, tweaking etc going on.  This one however, if it was to work at all, needed serious re-engineering…

1.  what struck me first was that it closed shut t the back – although it was supposed to have a wide gap…

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2.  It was evident that much more boning was needed – but that is not an issue, was expecting it with chest my size.  What I did not expect however was  that it would move my boobs sideways, hiding them under my armpits…. well, at least trying to.

3.   I also didn’t expect  a corset to make me look pregnant…

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notice that huge gap in front – despite being laced shut in the back, there was loads of room in front … so much, that I could actually stuff a tailor’s ham under it…

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Amazing.

Needless to say, my waist remained as it was – with a minimal reduction of 0.5 inch – despite  the claims on the instruction  – ‘ This type of corset was to reduce the waist. Note the wide gap at the back- this is normal spacing.’  Hmmm… fail,  I think…

At that point  one thing was certain – this is not a pattern to use for standard sizes corsets. If it was taken from an extant garment, then the garment was intended for a person with narrow hips and protruding belly ( maternity maybe ?), and replicating it in different sizes would mean replicating the weird proportions  on a bigger or smaller scale.  The side boobage overspillage could be controlled with playing with the gusset shapes and sizes, and in fact you can see period corsets of this type still sporting straps, like their predecessors – adding straps would most certainly help control the issue. As would actually adapting the whole front panel and cutting it in two, with a curving seam – as shown on the  cover picture. As a matter of fact, that seam features on every other picture of a corset  printed int he instruction/information leaflet – so it is a bit puzzling that  the actual pattern doesn’t reflect the construction.

I was almost ready to give up and not to waste my time on a project that I wont be able to use for my business – but  a cuppa and a nice Danish pastry restored my spirits a bit ( was suffering from a rather bad cold that week too) and  I decided to  have a go –  stay with the pattern and just adjust the gores etc to make it wearable.

 

The following changes were made:

1.  bust gores were adapted to entice the boobs from under the armpits and to stay more or less in front of me.

2. waist was reduced, side  seam made curvier to accommodate my hips and displaced blubber 🙂

3. front gore and panel was adapted to limit the pregnant look.

And with these changes, I decided not to waste any more time and make the thing.

I used a cheaper fabric – but still a lovely and authentic one – strong cotton drill.

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preparing for gore insertion….

 

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gores inserted – the corset has 2 layers, so there was 16 gores to insert…. joy….

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all layers with gores , ready to be sewn together…

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the backs with lacing channels

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marking the channels with disappearing pen ( love it – the marks fade relatively quickly so it sort of forces you to deal with the project now and then…)

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busk inserted, all pieces in place. the gores are flosses with blue thread at the corners for extra safety

 

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sewing boning channels – some were just sewn between the two layer, some were an added tape – the tape also secured the gores a tad more. just in case…

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ready to bone!

then eyelets  were added and I was able to try it on, just before it was time to drive back home…

The result – Well, there was some improvement. Boobage  less shy, staying more or less put – not ideal, but better than before.  Back – now sporting a wide gap as it theoretically should.  Pregnant look – better, though still could do with improvement.

 

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I must admit that although it started looking more or less ok, It was not very comfortable – and still not really getting the waist reduction I am accustomed to. I am rather squishy, and can reduce my waist y about 7 inches with no major problem – here the reduction was just about 2 ( which is a standard), but not a comfortable one – my hips still felt constricted. I did not particularly like the wide gap at the back either – and the back panel could do with some additional boning.

And so, when I got back home I decided to make one more change to it  – basically to  diminish the gap, and by doing so adding more boning to support the corset better  there.

I cut off the lacing bit  and added a  narrow panel there – just enough for 2 bones that , unfortunately spoiled the decorative  look of the diagonal boning, but it has made a huge difference in wearing the thing –  it is still not the coziest corset ever, but as least I am confident I can wear it for a spell of time.

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Then all the bones were flossed, edges bound and it was ready to put on and take some photos….

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the outside, finished…

 

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and the innards

 

For the photos I improvised  a vaguely mid Victorian hairdo, put on my chemise and long drawers, stockings, shoes – and decided to play with a cage crinoline I recently bought from a friend… the results below… 🙂

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And so, as you can see, not  a complete success, but at least a wearable item. I am still not very happy with it, and so I foresee a next round here  Will pattern the darn thing myself,  and will cut the front panel in two, as shown on the period illustrations…  it wont happen immediately, as i have a business to run, but one day, we should have words together , this type of corset and I  🙂

 

credits:

all sewing notions, fabric, boning etc – Sew Curvy

photography – Pitcheresque Imagery

 

 

Corsetry experiment – 1884 patent by C.W. Higby

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1884 patent by C.W. Higby; US Patent #294620

Now this one was a true adventure – and an intrepid one, for someone with my limited corsetry experience!  But when the challenge was announced on FB by the corsetry website, Foundations Revealed, I simply couldn’t say ‘no’ to it as I liked the lines of the particular corset in question. I must admit I regretted that decision a few times as the date for the article got closer – but my regrets stopped the moment I started working on it.

So, to take the things from the beginning.  As I said, I am not a particularly experienced corsetiere – I have made in total maybe around 30 corsets or so, and about 20 of those in the last year – but in these cases I was working from a selection of ready patterns. Yes, they needed adjustments and tweaking, but  generally the proportions and scale were there. I have never made a corset pattern on my own, though I have made loads for historical outfits and especially for the bridal side of my business – bodices, skirts, coats etc.

This one was a very different proposition. All I had was a drawing of the corset, a drawing of the pattern and an explanation of the patent online – http://www.google.com/patents/US294620. That’s it.  The rest was up to me.

Knowing that my own experience might not be enough, and also that I would need help with fitting the corset onto myself, I came up with a very cunning plan and decided to work on the item during one of my visits to Julia Bremble – a friend who runs ‘Sew Curvy’, a corset making and corsetry selling company in Oxfordshire. Her studio is great, both spacious and peaceful, and we seem to work well together, “stitching and bitching”. Also, since Julia is a professional corsetiere, I would have an expert on hand to nudge me in the right direction. So, one lovely morning in May, I packed my sewing case and drove over to Oxfordshire, and the work began…

What we know from the patent’s description:

  • The most visible feature was the lacing at the sides – I have seen corsets with side lacing, like the maternity ones, but the lacing was usually vertical. Here the side lacing is diagonal, curving gently.
  • The inventor states his aims clearly: the corset is to fit well and comfortably, allow for easy movement of the body and for adjustments, all the while being able to support as required of a corset.
  • Boning – diagonal cording or boning or any other suitable method is encouraged. From the picture it looks like boning /cording is placed more or less in the middle of each main section, and at the edges of the lacing parts.
  • No mention of the waist tape.

What we don’t know – or at least things that were not apparent for me:

  • How many layers? 2, 3, or 4 including decorative fabrics? Possibly much depends on the individual – and lining was not always present in the historical corsets, mainly because they were worn on a chemise anyway.  I decided to go with 2 layers of coutil, so that the boning/cording is sandwiched between the layers, with a lining added later.
  • Seams – somehow it appeared to me that lapped seams would work better on the curved lines of this corset – as they do on the Edwardian corsets, yet I wasn’t sure if they were used in 1884. So lapped or standard seams? In the end, and after a longish discussion with Julia, I opted for lapping it.

Pattern:

I printed out the pattern from Google and had it blown up to more or less half my measurements. Btw – this was almost entirely the only bit of maths I did, and it was probably a dodgy one anyway… I drew the lines on the original printout, where I predicted the waist to be (the point of the hip gore was my reference). I measured each piece on the line, added the numbers up and had ½ waist measurements of the piece.  From that I realized that to match my measurements we would have to blow it about 4 times bigger.  So for the ‘mini me’ version, 200 percent bigger would just do the trick

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 The idea was to cut the pattern out, put it together and see if the pieces actually matched up. I traced the pieces onto patterning paper,

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 cut them out and used masking tape to attach them all together. A useful tip – cut the paper with the seam allowance, it will be easier to glue it!

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 What became evident was that the pieces matched well, but not perfectly – a few pieces in the front section were either a tad too long or too short to match smoothly – but not drastically. In principle, however, it worked.

The next stage was to cut out the corset in calico – but bigger so that it would fit a human being – I was not concerned about the precise fit, I simply wanted to see how the pieces worked together as fabric, on a scale I was a bit more familiar with. And so, I simply worked out that by making the pieces about half as big again, they should fit an adult human being.  This meant adding about 2cm all around to every piece.

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 Fortunately at that time Julia was too preoccupied with her own work (she was working on a lovely bridal skirt), or she would possibly have suffered a coronary seeing my ‘intuitive’ grading and sizing method. I must admit that maths and I are not the best of friends, and we try to avoid each other – for historical dressmaking this is just fine, and I love working with toiles, sculpturing the fabric to fit a body and then using the toile to adapt the original pattern. This method does not always work, however, and corsetry is one of those precise arts that do need at least some maths, so it is a bit of a trade-off. Here however, as I was just playing, I decided to give it a go.

I stitched all the pieces together, using ready-made eyelet tape at the sides, or punching the holes in calico – at the back I used an eyelet and bones tape that enabled me to have the back stabilized enough for the sake of the experiment.

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calico pieces stitched up

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and laced up

I held it against my body (as you do…) and realized that it was just a bit too big for me – but not too badly!

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A miracle! I actually had a proper toile there! I quickly stitched up the centre panel, taking an inch off it, moved the back eyelet tapes in by another inch as well, attached wide flat steel in the front, (a masking tape job), and asked Julia to lace me in.  It was still too big, but it was possible for us to work on it – marking the areas where we needed more room and the ones where we needed less…

At the same time, the shape created by the long lacing strip in front suggested that the pattern may be adapted and made into a nice modern corset, or maybe a steampunk one. So we left one half of the pattern as it was, true to its Victorian original, and started to play with the other half, eventually coming up with an overbust  shape that looks like a big heart in front .

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playing with the toile – one side is the original Victorian pattern, the other one is being built up into a modern Steampunk one…

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 What I learnt from the toile:

*The side back lacing panels need to be longer.

* It is still too big at the waist, but the back top and the hip could do with more space (1/2 an inch more at the top back and an inch at the hip).

* The sweeping curves are rather pretty….

Next step – adapting the pattern slightly and tracing it on the coutil, to make the sample corset in my size.

Planning boning channels too– I decided to go for boning as opposed to cording, and bone the corset in 4mm spiral wire in the middle of the pieces, with the 5mm going in the lacing at the sides, and  flat bones at the back lacing.

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preparing the proper coutil, marking channels here!

Once traced, I cut the pieces out, pinned them together and started sewing….

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cutting out!

Channels first – I sewed them on the a and b pieces.

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sewing channels

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The side lacing strips were sewn along the edges on the wrong side, flipped over, pressed and a channel was stitched just next to the edge.

Busk was inserted into the front pieces and laid aside.

Pieces were stitched together using lapped seams (for a detailed tutorial I do recommend Sew Curvy’s DVD on corsetry – worked a treat for me!). This involved careful pressing on each piece’s seam allowance, then aligning and pinning – but though time consuming, it was a relatively hassle-free procedure.

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 Side lacing piece and busk piece were connected last – and we have the first quarter ready!

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The process was repeated on the other side piece

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 Back pieces:

and b pieces and the side lacing strip were sewn together first.

ImageWith the back panel, the long a piece needs to be boned before attaching the back lacing panel – it is the only piece with the boning channels closed up during the construction.  Once that is done, the back lacing piece is attached.   And the whole is repeated on the other side.

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back panel ready

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one back piece ready, the other in progress!

There are now 4 pieces – and they all need to be boned.

The boning I used, as mentioned before, were lovely 4mm and 5m spiral steels, and flats for the back lacing piece

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all pieces boned!

Once I had all 4 pieces boned, it was time for some eyelets. Quite a lot of them actually, as I used about 90 of them. Since it was an experimental sample I didn’t want to waste that many proper eyelets on something that might not work, so I dug out a little pouch of 100 yellow eyelets that looked funky and could go to waste.

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 Once that was done, the sides could be laced – and I simply had to go for the yellow Russia braid I had handy on the mock up…

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 The moment had arrived – I could actually try the thing on!

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side….

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front… and backImage

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hip unlaced – looks better!

The first impressions:

  • Very light and comfortable
  • Definitely not giving me my usual 27” waist – here  only a slight reduction, to 29-30”
  • It picked up the asymmetrical features much more than usual – I very rarely  have to adapt the corset patterns  because of my slight asymmetry, but here it showed more, especially at the back –my slightly asymmetric back muscles meant some of the boning at the back was a bit too low (see the back view ). So channels will have to be undone and re- stitched a bit lower in that piece.
  •  The corset had a bigger wrinkle at the back/side – I put it down to the lack of any boning along the seam of the two a pieces at the back – and decided to add 2 channels running parallel to the seam there.
  •  Hips felt a bit too tight and constricted when the side lacings were laced up – but loosening the laces resulted in a much better fit, and looked better too!

Not too bad. I readjusted the boning channels on the side and hip, and stitched additional ones on both sides of the seam between the two back a pieces

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more channels added!

Next step – flossing. At that stage I rather liked with black and yellow combination, so flossing was done in dark yellow cotton thread.

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flossing detail

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 I also decided to add lining – since it looks as if the thing may actually be wearable, I might as well make sure it feels nice if I decide to wear it outside the Victorian setting, (it does have a certain steampunk look to it, even in its original form!) so cotton lining was stitched to every part of the corset

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 Then there was only binding left to do – and adding some yellow lace I found in my stock. It was ready to wear!

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binding….

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all bound, lace added, time to put it on!

the result….

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side view, hip laced

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front view

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back – asymmetry much less pronounced

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front, hip unlaced

Impressions – as stated before, very comfortable, providing lots of support, but not giving as much pronounced waist as my usual corset does; Still, a perfect choice to wear around the house, for country dancing or  for riding too. – I have since used it for a Steampunk Amazones shoot , for riding sidesaddle and it worked perfectly!

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 The side-adjustment lacing is useful as the corset can be adjusted for a more energetic activity in seconds. It may also be used during pregnancy, I suppose, but since I have never been pregnant, I have no experience with which to compare…

Although made as a prototype sample, I think it is more than wearable – though for that purpose I will need to get better laces than Russia braid – I will either use black laces or white ones (and dye them yellow…. 🙂

What I have learned and would do differently next time.

  1. The spiral boning works well, but more is needed at the back than is indicated on the original drawings.
  2. Chatting when marking boning channels can result in wonky channels – the front channels are slightly offset as a result…
  3.  I would use silk for flossing
  4.  …I would use better eyelets too; (The ones used here were without washers)
  5.  If I want to keep the side lacing laced up, I will need to add another inch on each hip…

Having said that, the next project will be making the steampunk version of this corset, so I may employ some different techniques and materials…

Many thanks for Julia  from Sew Curvy for help with fitting and expertise! 🙂

Corsetry fun – Stitch and Bitch July 2013…

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 I love a good stitch and bitch – alas I do not have a lot of people with whom you get the balance of stitching and bitching just right, not too much bitching, and just enough stitching is usually pretty elusive. Well,  with Julia from Sew Curvy, we can do it perfectly well. We chat , we sew, we compare patterns, techniques etc – and we enjoy ourselves a lot.

 We come from different sewing backgrounds  – Julia’s is predominantly corsetry, including bridal, mine is mostly historical costuming, including bridal and steampunk; which mean that we have enough in common to connect and enough differences to learn from one another. A perfect mixture.

 I have visited Julia’s studio before  on other occassions – i taught classes there and we already enjoyed a sewing session there, when Julia was kind enough to assist in making a 1884 Higby patent corset  ( a nice adventure, recreating an authentic pattern 🙂  and going from this:

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 through this:

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the mock up

 and finishing with this:

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 This time I was also on a mission – I wanted to have a go at the prototype of an underbust that Julia created. I wanted to make it entirely from the scratch, using the components available from Julia’s online shop. There was some debate about which fabrics to use – I do love the broche and sateens, ans was spoilt for choice – but in the end we settled on the luxurious red sateen, with an even more luxurious black lace.

 Having made up my mind, I set to work,tracing the pattern and cutting the fabrics, and Jlia was busy finishing some waist training samples  for her Etsy shop.

 I have to admit that apart from sewing and chatting a lot of lacing in was going on as well –  over the day both of us tried the waist training corsets, underbust samples, oversbust and the Edwardian ones. Obsession?

  we started with one of the corsets from my recent bridal collection

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too small for my bra size, but still looking pretty good….

And then Julia tried on my edwardian  number…

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Just by comparision, here is both of us, in our natural, uncorseted forms…

 me:

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and Julia:

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 and then on goes the waist training sample in black sateen…

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And another sample, this time in broche.

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It was interesting to see that the same corset created a slightly different silhuette on different body types – though it still fitted fairly well.

 

 

It was even more evident when we put on Julia’s personal underbust – a lovely piece in broche, with distinctive flossing.

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and me in the same piece – the corset closes at 22″ waist and I can only dream of such a number – but it looked pretty good at 26″ – just an inch less than my normal, comfort corseted measurement.

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After all that excitment of lots of lacing, it was time for lunch…

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well…..

just joking – what we did have was this:

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Julia’s superb egg mayo sandwiches and fruit as my contribution.

 After lunch it was time to get some work done in earnest…

 The red sateen was constructed ( i loved the eyelet setters there so much, I bought them straight away!)

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  Julia kept an eye on my frolicking wiht the corset, just to make sure everuthing was up to scratch…

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 and then helped me lace into half finished piece…

 

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Not too bad! a few minor corrections and I was able to get enough done before leaving the studio. I took the lace with me to stitch it on the corset in the evening though…

 The evening continued with more chatting, and a rather nice meal – with Pimms, obligatory for British summer! 🙂

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great local takeaway!

 Marley, Julia and Paul’s greyhound was his usual charming self too…

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 Next morning, it was time to get back to the studio – with a few hours to go before I had to leave, it was just enough time to finish the underbust. Here trying it on, without flossing…

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the back…

 that’s what the underbust looked at that stage..

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inside…

 Quick consultation resulted with choosing simple Vs as flossing pattern, and the result!

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nice and comfy!

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close up

 Very happy with this sample, not sure whether I want to keep it or sell it on –  but we did take stock of all the components that were used for it – and I think Julia and Sew Curvy might have a surprise for you – a ready made corset kit, everything you need to create your own piece!

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 At that point I had to pack up my toys and leave – but something tells me it is not the last of our sessions… 🙂

 useful links:

 Sew Curvy shop and facebook page

Clessidra Couture – Julia’s bespoke corsetry, page and website

 and my own humble bits, page, and website

  hope you enjoyed the corsetry oveload…… 🙂