Monday, 2 December 2013

Red corsets

A Victorian corset has long been planned but since I am taking the hard path it isn't always prioritized. However, after picking up and finishing Sarah Chrismans book "Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present, and Myself" inspiration was renewed.

I have long since decided that my intended corset would be burgundy, simply because I love that colour. The coutil is dyed but I had some concerns about whether the colour would be historically accurate or not. An internet search alleviated my fears though. For the time period I am aiming for, colourful corsets were not unheard of.

So, no longer any doubts about the propriety of a red corset. Additionally I now have a lot of inspiration for embellishment. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Planning for yet another corset

The edwardian corset just finished was my second corset ever and the improvement from the first one is substantial. Next on my list is a victorian corset to go under a future bustle dress. Since the victorian corset has the silhouette that most modern ones are based on it probably wouldn't be too hard to find a finished pattern to use. But why make it simple? A challenge is always fun and historical accuracy is something we aim for. So why not use an original pattern?

I went to this website with original pages from an old fashion magazine from the Netherlands. In 1884 they included the pattern to a corset I would very much like to recreate:

I like the overall look of it, and especially the gores. It would be interesting to see if it is physically possible for me to reduce my waist (my previous corsets suggest otherwise) and for that I have understood that space for the bust and the hips is essential.

I found the pattern and went ahead to make a small paper mock up. Here it is seen from the side and I must say that I am absolutely digging the curves. The pieces suggest that there is seam allowance added to them. It is not easy to make sense of it all when the instructions are to small to read and in dutch. So to scale it up will prove difficult.

This is the fabric that will be used. It is the same herringbone coutil as in the edwardian corset but dyed burgundy. I have no idea if this colour is historically accurate, but lately I have had a thing for it.

There are a lot of questions when dealing with this corset. How much seam allowance is added? How will I scale it up, are all the bones marked on the pattern, will I make single or double layer? As soon as my exams are over with I am going to find out.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Finished Edwardian corset - HSF 19

 "What might a decent Edwardian woman possibly be doing in the woods wearing only her underwear?" you may wonder. Well, her own home was a bit futuristic and not suited for the photo shoot.

After a lot of work and difficulties it is finally completed, my 1903 corset. A few weeks ago I decided that it indeed would fit within the Historical Sew Fortnightly nr 19: Wood, Metal and Bone. That really motivated me to finish it.  

I am very happy with how it turned out, I think it is beautiful. I had hoped that it would reduce my waist somewhat more but the measurement ended up matching my natural waist perfectly. I am starting to believe that I cant reduce my waist with flat steels and to get the look of a nipped waist I had to change the bones in the side seam to spirals. My next corset will have only spiral steels so that will be interesting to compare.

 The garters were fun to make and made the corset feel much more complete. They were put together using a very nice tutorial from Bridges on the Body.

The shoes are a pair of imperfect Gibsons from AmericanDuchess. Beautiful and comfortable.

Front view. The lace is handmade by myself.

Back view.

Side view.

 Inside. Most of the boning channels are made from strips of brocade coutil. I simply couldn't fit as many bones as the pattern called for so some of the channels are single rather than double.


Hip pad and bust pads placed to go under the corset.

The Challenge: Nr 19 - wood metal and bone

Fabric: White herringbone coutil

Pattern: TVE01

Year: 1903

Notions: ½ meter of coutil, busk, 7 m flat steel, 1 m spiral steel, 3-4 m red satin ribbon, laces,  26 grommets, 1 ½ m elastic band, 4 garter clips, cotton fabric and stuffing.

How historically accurate is it? Concerning pattern and materials, I would say very. The things I do have doubts about is the red colour, the garter clips and the lace. Mostly machine sewn with polyester thread. 85%?

Hours to complete: This is the second version of the corset, and I would estimate that I spent around 20h.

First worn: I walked with it under my coat to the forest to take the photos.

Total cost: Very hard to say, I have not been keeping tabs. Probably more than 500SEK/80USD.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Edwardian corset: disaster!

I've been working hard on my corset for the past to day, neglecting everything about school. Today I came to the point where I would try it on properly for the first time and guess what? The bloody corset is way to small! Just closing the busk is hard work. I must say that I am very disappointed and would very much like to throw the whole thing away. Perhaps I will let it rest for a few weeks, scavenge it for the parts that can be reused and make a new one. Probably go up a size or two. Might need to order some new coutil though...

Monday, 2 September 2013

Edwardian corset: Lining, boning channels and lace

So, it's been a while. Everything concerning sewing has pretty much been put to the side for the summer. But with autumn comes a less strict schedule and I am back in business. I did finish the dress for the wedding though, a post about that one is coming up.

When I last wrote about the TVE01 corset all the pieces were cut and the busk inserted. Since then I have acquired a thin cotton fabric to use as a sort of lining, cut it and sewn it together. The instructions that came with the pattern did not mention any kind of lining och finishing of the seam allowances but that felt wrong, I want to make things neat inside and outside. The lining is held in place with the boning channels. It is just aligned with the outer coutil layer, wrong sides together, and the channels are sewn on.

Inside of the corset. Lining with a soft floral pattern visible and one boning channel basted in place.
Speaking about boning channels. Oh boy.. The pattern calls for tubular boning channels in a width available only in the US. Reluctant to order from so far and afraid of additional taxes I settled for twill tape from the UK. Upon arrival I noticed that the roll in my hands had the wrong width and could not be used for the corset. Perhaps it was for the best, twill tape apparently isn't any good at holding steel.

These difficulties called for some thinking and I ended up cutting strips of coutil left over from a previous corset. They are quite difficult to baste on but they will do the job. I am up to this point done with the channels on one side of the corset and just couldn't help but to add the binding. Because I at the moment am in love with all things burgundy I chose to add a little colour to the corset. I couldn't find any ½" bias binding in Sweden so instead a bought a rather wide ribbon and used it to bind the edge.

The corset laid flat.
The binding from the wrong side. It is sewn down with slip stiches and some fiddling produced a neat corner. 
 And so for the lace trim. It's not completely done yet but I could not help but to pin it on and see what it looked like. I was not disappointed.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Planning for a 40s-ish dress

So, I've been invited to a wedding a month from now. It will actually be the first wedding ever that I attend were the bride and groom are friends of mine rather than family or friends of my parents. It is all very exciting and what better to do than to make a dress for the occasion? I have long felt that a 40s dress is missing from my wardrobe and while reading a blog written by a Swedish photographer I found just the one.

For when I make mine I am going to change the collar though and I will probably make it out of green silk.

Basic sketch

This is what I am aiming for. Hopefully I will be able to whip up a pattern this week and start looking for the perfect fabric. Somewhere in between working full time, commuting and crocheting..

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Supplies and half a corset

After a long and tedious wait both my orders for corset supplies have arrived! Trying to get away with as little as possible I ordered from both VenaCava and SewCurvy but it is hard to tell if I succeeded because they handle the postage in different ways. Anyway, all of the things for both the edwardian (TVE01) and the victorian (which I haven't even decided on a pattern for yet) corsets are now here and I can finally start with the real job. I am very pleased with the white coutil. So thin, yet so very strong and both the colour and  the herringbone pattern are beautiful.

Coutil, lace trim, flat steels, twill tape, busks, spiral steel, eyelets and laces.
Because I had to wait for the materials but was filled with inspiration and corset enthusiasm I had previously prepared by copying the pattern. I have little experience with both bought patterns and patterns with seam allowances included but while working with the mock up I discovered how hard it was to cut and/or trace the pieces when the pattern piece was cut out. So I tried a different approach and copied all pieces to one piece of paper, all on grain and with appropriate distance from each other. Thereafter they were all traced onto the wrong side of the fabric.

Traced pieces. Bust and hip gore excluded.
 I did not dare cut the two layers at the same time so up until now only half of the corset is cut out and I have also sewn it together. It is an absolute joy to sew and it is turning out very well. The fact that all of the seam allowances are stitched down gives it a very neat appearance.

Half of the corset with busk inserted.
It might not be visible in the picture but I have also added a waist stay. It is basted on from the inside and the plan is that once the boning channels are added they will keep the waist stay in place so that the (not so pretty) basting can be removed.

The next steps will be to cut out the lining and put both that and the other half of the corset together. And of course to crochet like a maniac. I have made progress with the trim but I will need more than twice the amount I have.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Crochet trim

I have searched high and low for the perfect trim to go with my edwardian corset and not found the right thing. Sure, there are a lot of suitable lace trims on ebay but the P&P are often more costly than the item itself and the shops in my area have failed to present the perfect one. So why not make your own? After some googeling i found a free pattern (link) for a trim with a lovely antique feel and with the possibility of weaving a ribbon of contrasting colour through it.

I am in no way experienced when it comes to crocheting, my grandmother made an attempt to teach me around the age of ten but I probably lacked the patience. I did learn the basics though and instructions are easy to find online. She did also leave me with some yarn and a needle so I set about trying out the pattern which was easy to follow and turned out well. The yarn was way to coarse to produce an elegant lace though, so I went to my grandmother and was kindly given a ball of the finest yarn she had.

First try. Waay too large.

So, for the two hours following my return home I have been working with the lace trim. It is emerging in a good size and looks very elegant to me but working with it does leave me with somewhat lazy eyes. I will have to wait and see if the colour works with the coutil and if it does not I am considering tea staining the finished lace.
The result so far. My fingers are aching.

This small part of the project will most likely take a lot of time and there is no guarantee that it will cost less than buying a trim would do. But so far it is quite entertaining and  will result in something very unique.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Edwardian corset: mock up

How can one but to love television show such as Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridges? Well I certainly do and thanks to them I have developed a deep love for the edwardian era. This particular era is known for the typical s-bend silhouette, so where better to start than with a corset?

After hearing many positive reviews about the patterns from Truly Victorian and specifically about the TVE01 1903 Edwardian corset above I went ahead and bought it. I am now among those who praise the patterns drafted by Heather.

So far I have managed to put together a mock up. The size used is one corresponding to a 3'' waist reduction and after trying it on I believe it to be spot on. The mock up is made with the fabric MINNA from Ikea. It is a sturdy fabric available in several colours that is easy to work with. I do believe that it would work very well for a finished corset without stretching but i do not dare to risk anything and have already ordered a herringbone coutile.

For my first fitting I did not add any boning and it was a total disaster. After that I was prepared to pick a larger size and make a second mock up. Luckily I decided to sew some boning channels on it and inserted zip-ties left over from a bustle I recently made. That made all the difference in the world and proved that I had indeed picked the right size. There is a considerable gap in the bustline but from what I have gathered this is historically accurate and the patterns includes bust pads that will help fill it out

This picture is from the second fitting. I have not added quite enough bones so there are some wrinkles which I think will smoothed with the additional padding. The reduction looks quite extreme but it is really very comfortable, much more so than my previous victorian corset. The pressure is all in the waistline and nothing on the ribcage whatsoever. 

At the moment I am patiently awaiting packages of supplies from VenaCava and SewCurvy. In the meantime I will alter the pattern so that it is not quite so high and maybe let out the hips some. I have high hopes for this corset. 

A fresh start

So here I am again, blogging. It has been several years since I stopped writing my old personal blog. This time it will be something completely different, a blog about my greatest hobby.

I have been sewing for several years now and am for the moment completely immersed in various projects, most of them of historical nature. A couple of months ago I finished my first corset and more are to come. On top of that (oh I am one for puns) a victorian late bustle ensemble is planned, possibly with some kind of steampunk-twist.

Stay tuned!