Friday, June 21, 2013

Lace and lacing - 1876 corset

So last month my dear friend from the Before the Automobile made the most beautiful corset that I have ever seen, and I instantly decided that I must have one too!  I was pretty unsatisfied with the natural form corset that I made at the beginning of the year because it wasn't curvy enough and it hurt my ribcage if I laced it tightly.  So instead of altering that old corset, I decided to try this whole new pattern instead.  Plus, it would work for the HSF "Lace and Lacing" challenge, so I couldn't resist giving it a try.

But I also didn't want to spend any more money on corset supplies, so I cobbled this together with supplies that I had in my stash by recycling two failed corsets and a ratty old girdle (which explains the oddly wide boning in some places).  Unfortunately, I think some of the compromises that I had to make ended up hurting the final results.  I moved the boning pattern around and omitted some of the boning channels because I was short on boning, and as a result, my version of this corset wrinkles like crazy. But the corset does seem to be a little bit curvier and it is a lot more comfortable, so you win some, you lose some, right?  I'm just crossing my fingers that the wrinkles won't show when I'm fully dressed.

Anyway, if you would like to try this pattern too, maybe you can learn from some of my rookie mistakes.  Here are my thoughts about it:
  • The side panel of this corset wraps around the body from the upper back to the lower belly, which pushes in your sides and makes your waist look smaller from the front.  Cool, right?  But those wrapping pieces also makes it prone to wrinkles, and I never could figure out a way to make them go away.  I think part of the problem is because of the way I cut the grain on the side piece. I followed the grain markings on the pattern (or at least, what I thought were the grain markings), and it resulted in a side piece that is somewhat on the bias when assembled.  If I was making it again, I would ignore the grain markings and make that piece so that the waist was on the true straight of grain when assembled.  
  • The wrinkling on the side might also have been fixed if it was boned more heavily.  If I ever make this pattern again, I'll put in as many boning channels as will fit in the front and side body pieces.  
  • This pattern is INCREDIBLY short waisted.  I added two inches to the torso, and I could have easily added another inch or two.  The bust gores are quite low on my corset, which is causing even more problems with wrinkles since the gores hit below the breasts and there is nothing there to fill them out.  I ended up having to reduce the size of the bust gores to compensate for this, but that also reduces the hourglass effect.  If the bust had hit me in the right spot, the pattern still would have been too big, but at least I could have padded the cups out and made it work.  If I padded them at this level, I would have ended up with saggy granny boobs.  Not pretty.
  • I raised the top edge of the corset by half an inch for the busk panel and first bust gore.  When my friend made up this pattern, she discovered that the top dipped in a good bit at the center-front, and I wanted mine to be more straight across.  I was worried that the dip would make it not as supportive, but I think hers is a prettier shape.  I'm not sure if I would keep my alteration if I made it up again.  Maybe if I got the but gores to hit me in the right spot, it wouldn't have been necessary to raise the top edge.   
  • The gores on this corset are very easy to set in and adjust, which makes it a wonderful choice for somebody who is nervous about gores (like me!).  I ended up merging the back hip gore with one of the side panels and added a seam there because I thought it would be easier to construct that way, but the gores really weren't hard to set in at all, and I don't think I would bother with that alteration again.  
  • I added some extra width to the hip gores, which helped exaggerate the hip-spring at the top of the hips, but I ended up with too much room at the bottom.  I could have curved the hip seams in at the bottom and it would have made the bottom of the corset smoother and made the lacing gap more even.
  • I had to cut off an inch from the bottom front of the corset to make it possible to sit in it.  It's not uncomfortable now, but it still buckles a little when I sit, so I probably could have raised the bottom even more.  
  • This pattern does create a really nice rounded belly effect that was so popular at the time.  I also bent my busk quite a bit to make it have a spoon-like shape over the belly.  
I definitaly like this corset more than my last one, but it still needs some tweaks to make it perfect.  I don't have time to mess with it any more right now, but I think I'll invest in more boning and prettier fabric and give it another stab at some point in the future.  For more info about the pattern and PROPER construction techniques (vs. my hack-job), check out the amazing Before the Automobile blog.   


Aurora said...

"make that piece so that the waist was on the straight of grain"

Always a good rule of thumb for drafting up corset patterns, I've never seen one work that had the waist off-grain.

Qunn said...

It looks nice, despite the things that still need to be tweaked. It will be fun to see what you have to go over it! Can't wait for pictures.


Lauren said...

You're much too hard on yourself. I think it's gorgeous! I know we're our own worst critics, but honestly I didn't notice any wrinkles until you pointed it out, and even then, it's not bad. I think it's so pretty!
And kudos to you for recycling pieces from other corsets :)

Black Tulip said...

Short-waisted AND a good hip-spring - music to my ears! Added to my "one to try" list. I have to agree with Lauren, you're being far too self-critical. It's lovely, and the trim is just the perfect complement to the style.

Gebreidesjaals: Knitted Scarfs or Scarves said...

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Anonymous said...

loved your blog!

Kelsie said...

I fell in love with Before the Automobile's corset as well, but the pattern pieces make NO sense to me. Can you give some advice on how you pulled out the pattern pieces from that tangled mess of overlapping lines?

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Unknown said...

Did you use the Cuirass Basques pattern from Ageless Patterns or did you copy it from De Gracieuses? Also can you talk a little how you placed your gores? I am in the middle of sewing this and love the way your gores ended up looking. Thanks! It turned out beautifully!

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