Wednesday, January 2, 2013

a natural form corset

So I'm sure most of you know about the very cool Historical Sew Fortnightly project that is going on in 2013.   I wasn't sure if I should join this one because my project calendar is already packed to the brim, but it just looks like so much fun that I can't resist!  I know I won't be able to do all of them, but if a project that I already have planned happens to correspond with a challenge, then I figured I might as well join the party!

So luckily, the first challenge happened to line up perfectly with a goal that I had already set for myself for the last week of 2012:

 #0 (the bonus challenge): Starting Simple - due 31 December NZT.  Finish a project, make a very simple garment, or something you have made before.  

I'm not sure if a corset counts as "very simple", but it was something that I had made before and I knew I could knock one out before the New Year.  I also have several new Victorian dresses that I am wanting to make in 2013, so it seemed like it would be a good idea to get the corset out of the way early so I could focus on the dresses when I am back at work and have less time on my hands.

So I looked at a variety of patterns of corsets from the years 1875-1885(ish) and made paper mockups to compare the shapes and see which one I liked the best. The paper mockup on the far left is a 1877 corset from a de Gracieuse pattern diagram. It makes a pretty shape, but it was way too high-waisted to work on my body.  The middle one was the 1880's corset from Corsets and Crinolines, but I decided against this one because it didn't seem very curvy.  The one on the right is the 1880's "exotic" corset from the book Corsets.  I loved how curvy this one was, so I decided to give it a try.

I enlarged the pattern to 113% so it would come closer to fitting my waist measurement, but I didn't make any other changes to the bust/waist/hip proportions, and I followed the pattern as precisely as possible.  However, I am tall and pretty long-waisted, so I had to add 2" onto the torso to make the bust hit me in the right place.  I also had to remove 2" from the bottom edge in front because it was so long over my belly that it buckled when I sat down.  I'm guessing that this corset was meant for a lady with a higher waistline than mine, but I don't like having the tightest part of the waist hit at my ribs, so I deiced it was worth making some adjustments.  

Even though I didn't change any proportions other than the length, I was surprised at how non-curvy my corset turned out when compared to my paper version.  To be honest, I'm a little boggled by it considering how little I changed the pattern. The only thing that I can guess is that the extra length makes the curves less apparent, or maybe I'm just not busty enough to fill out the top as intended.  But even though this corset didn't turn out exactly how I had hoped it would, I still think it'll work fine for my projects this year.  The shape will be nice and smooth for natural form styles, and it also reminds me of the long and lean corsets from the 1890's like the one on the right.  It'll be a good foundation garment to have in my closet.

My corset is made with silk brocade and coutil treated as one layer, and the spiral steel boning is held under tapes on the inside.  The original corset was boned with cane, so I left off some of the boning channels on my version since the steel is so much stronger.  However, the missing boning caused the top to wrinkle under the bust a little, so I added cording in that area like the example from Corsets and Crinolines to add a bit more support.  I still need to add flossing, but I'm going to put that off for sometime further down the road.  Maybe that can even be my entry for challenge #4 - Embellish!  


Augustintytär said...

It's really truly beautiful! I love that it's not a solid silk and the cording looks fantastic!

The Dreamstress said...

Lovely! I've been planning to try this corset for a while too.

Welcome to the project. I can't wait to see what else you create!

Sarah said...

This corset is such a pretty shape, and I love the details you added! Lovely work.

Thread-Head said...

Your little paper mock-ups blow my mind. What a fantastic idea! The finished corset is gorgeous.

Rachelle said...

Ooh, might have to try making my 1913 corset using a double layer, would like something pretty. Though being my first it's going to take rather longer than yours.

Caity said...

Wow that's amazing! You make it seem so easy...

Pioneer Little Europe said...

THAT, is a piece of art.

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