I thought about calling this “the lazy corset” Because I basically skipped any pattern alterations whatsoever! I got the pattern from Foundations Revealed and it was taken straight from an original that, according to the measurements, was exactly my size. The article is a very interesting read as the corset is in the author’s size as well which allowed the author to directly compare the original corset to her recreation and see how it affects her shape. I wanted to give it a try to, and I did!
This was a really interesting experiment but I’ll get to my reactions in a minute. First some details:
- The pattern is from the pair of articles on Foundations Revealed titled respectively “Reconstructing a Teens Era Corset” and “Reconstructing a Teens Era Corset 2.”
- The fabric I chose was a slighty waxed, mattress ticking-style cotton. I was looking for an inexpensive alternative to coutil and this fit the bill. It has a herringbone weave and is very stable. It is lighter than the coutil I have used in the past which also interested me as the author of the article above mentions how light the coutil of the original was, in comparison with today’s fabric. I got this at Tissus Reine here in Paris.
- All the boning, the busk, lacing cord, heavy duty hooks and eyes and the garters came from Vena Cava. I looked for a French alternative but couldn’t find what I needed and so I went with my usual UK supplier.
- polyester grosgain ribbon for the waist stay.
- Lace also from Tissus Reine (poly?? cotton?? not sure)
- The lacing strips are temporary. My grommet kit is in Ottawa (I think) so that will have to wait a bit.
A lot of things with this corset are new to me. My last one I, for some reason, decided to use two layers of coutil which was way overkill so this single layer corset was a great way to explore the alternative. The corset pieces were seamed together and the seam allowances clipped a bit. The boning channels were made up as tubes of fabric(with wrong sides together) and the seam allowances clipped as well. The wait tape was pinned into place following the pattern and the casings sewn down along the seams covering all seam allowances. An interesting feature of this corset is that while the boning does not extend all the way down the corset (so that you can sit down!) the casings do. I cut my casings on the long side out of scraps of fabric and just left the extra hanging until I was ready to bind the thing. While the instructions called to bind and then apply the lace, I did it the other way round so that I got those diagonal stripes at the top.
So how does it fit? Well it’s interesting…
I’m pretty happy about the fit over the hips. It laces almost all the way closed which is not what I expected considering the measurements of the pattern. It could be the fabric stretching but it’s actually loose over the hip area so that there is space to sit down. I just think I’m squishier than I had thought!
The waist stay actually sits above my waist and this may indicate that I’m wearing it to high. This is how it naturally sat though, and forcing it down would have to happen only through strategic lacing and exerting the right amount of pressure here and there. I haven’t tried it on again since this thought occurred to me but I’ll post back when I have. You can clearly see there isn’t enough room in the bust and this, which I completely expected, is also one of the bigger challenges with this style. I don’t feel I should add much more to the upper edge, rather that I should make more space below the top edge. The bustline of this era is still low although not as low as it had been even in 1905. From what I have seen 1910-1912 is a period of change and at this time the high waist of this era reaches its height.
so while this was a bit of an experiment to see how an “off the rack” corset of the period would work for me, once again I feel that I expect a more custom fit than can ever be achieved straight away.
So I am considering what to do next. I want to use this as part of my entry in the Your Wardrobe Unlock’d Double Period Project (my unfinished entry in last year’s convinced me to start early). So I do want to make sure i have the right silhouette with the garments I make for on top. With that being said I am now considering if I want to alter this a bit. I have a couple of inches extra of the lace so it shouldn’t be to much of an issue to add more space to the top edge if necessary, and the side front edge actually has a horizontal seam at the waist which makes for a very convenient place for alterations. If I do decide to alter it, I’ll take off the top binding and lace entirely, rip out the boning casings the cover the top half of the side front, and remove the side front pieces all together. I’ll then re-shape the top piece, probably do a couple of mockups and then re-cut and sew it back together.
But before I start hacking into it, I’m going to play with lacing it lower and trying out blouse-y shirt mockups to see what kind of silhouette I get with it as is. Hopefully this is my first step to a Double Period Project prize! (And if not I’ll have a cool Titanic era outfit!)
A couple more pictures here.