Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Edwardian corset and pattern review

For my birthday last spring, I splurged and bought myself something that I've been lusting over for years - one of the gorgeous corset patterns made by Atelier Sylphe.  After a lot of waffling over the many beautiful choices, I finally picked corset ref W since it has such an amazingly curvy Edwardian shape, plus it looked like the construction would be relatively simple since it didn't have as many pieces as some of the other patterns from this period.

There aren't a lot of instructions included with these patterns - just some notes about the corset materials and measurements, plus a page of diagrams showing the construction method for the seams.  But for me, that was plenty, and I didn't have any trouble with assembly since I have made a number of corsets in the past.  However, if you are new to corsetry, the pattern designer gives you links to several of her incredibly helpful online tutorials, like this one showing you how to set in bust gores.  She also provided about 20 additional photos in an online download showing the original corset from every angle imaginable, both inside and out.  I really loved that!

The pattern itself is beautifully drawn and very accurate when assembled.  My only tiny complaint is that the boning length was not marked on the channels in this pattern, and since it appears that some of the bones in the original were shorter than their channels, it would have been nice to know exactly where they ended.  Another thing that I wanted to point out is that different pieces of the pattern have different seam allowance widths, which I found to be a little confusing at times if I wasn't paying close attention to the pattern after I cut out my fabric pieces.  Personally, I think it would have been easier for me to cut down the paper pattern to the exact measurement of each piece and then draw my own more standard seam allowances, but that is easy enough to do on you own if you aren't used to the specialized seam allowances that are common in corsetry.  I really appreciate how accurate the designer was by including information like this in regards to selvages, but unfortunately, it was a little over my skill level since there were no written instructions specifically telling me how to make each seam for each piece. But I think advanced corsetmakers would love it, and it's simple to change for the rest of us.

I made my corset with a layer of coutil and a layer of silk brocade treated as one.  There are boning casings on the inside of the corset, and it is boned with spiral steel.  I built my version almost exactly like I made my 1910's corset.  My favorite part of this project was finding some beautiful antique lace with silk ribbon beading for the top of the corset.  Good lace is so hard to find, but such a wonderful treat when you stumble across the perfect piece.  

I did not alter the proportion of the bust/waist/hips on this corset at all, but I did enlarge it by a few inches just by making slightly smaller selvages on a few pieces and adding a bit to the CF and CB edges.  I also added 1" to the length of the torso since I am long waisted and have to use this adjustment on almost everything that I make.  The only other change that I ended up making is to cut down the length of the bones in the front so that they don't go all the way to the bottom edge of the corset.  During the final fitting, I discovered that the bones dug into my legs when a sat down, so it was much more comfortable to raise them a bit, and it didn't change the shape of the corset at all.  

I was a little disappointed at first that my corset didn't create the extreme waspy shape that you see in the original, but I think I have finally accepted that corsets can only do so much. There are some body types that are more naturally suited for that sort of exaggerated hourglass look (I'm looking at you, Beyond the Automobile!), and I'm sure years of waist training would probably help too, but even the best corset pattern in the world can't work a miracle on an average modern body.  But this pattern still creates a gorgeous shape, is comfortable to wear, and I'm thrilled with the final results!  I definitely recommend this corset pattern to experienced corsetmakers or anyone who is ready to "level up" a bit.  I thoroughly enjoyed making it, and I hope I get a chance to try out more of the Atelier Sylphe corset patterns in the future.  


Caroline said...

What a beautiful corset pattern. I love how you shaped the lace at the center. Lovely, as always!

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much for the review! I have an Edwardian corset in the "wishful thinking" stage and have been struggling to decide what pattern to use. This was extremely helpful.

Lady Rebecca said...

I don't know what you're talking about - that corset gives you an amazing shape! And it looks really beautiful, too.

Anonymous said...

Your sewing, as always, is meticulous and absolutely stunning. It looks like a museum piece! I've always wanted to try an Atelier Sylphe corset pattern. Alas, corsets are one thing I've never successfully tackled, so this will remain on my wishlist until I get (lots) more practice.

Black Tulip said...

Wow, what a stunning corset, and so beautifully made. I love what you've done with the lace at the centre front - so effective.

Anonymous said...

I think it has such a lovely shape! The fabric you chose is quite pretty as well.

The Laced Angel said...

Ooh, thanks! I ordered this pattern a while back but haven't gotten to it yet. This is really useful info. It turned out beautifully!

Isis said...

It looks Lovely and a very nice review too. :)

Musings of a Couturiere said...

Gorgeous! Now I want to buy that pattern as well!
Every time I search Etsy it pops up and I drool for a couple minutes and wistfully move on.
Kudos on your lovery corset creation!

eva´s kleidertruhe said...

Your corset is beautiful! Love the fabric and that lovely antique lace!

Unknown said...
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Rowenna said...

Beautiful piece! And even though the fabric choice and lace are beautiful, what I'm really drooling over are your precise and perfect boning channels and shaping!

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