Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Finished 1884 corset - HSF 16

Finally! The corset is completed and photographed and will now be submitted to the historical sew fortnightly, challenge 16 - Terminology. Since I have been working on this piece for so long there has been multiple challenges where I wanted to post this, but here we are at last. I feel a bit sad about only making a corset for this challenge though, not taking the chance to make something more interesting. Anyway, enjoy the pictures and you will find the details further down. Pattern alteration and construction have been covered in previous posts.
Original illustration

Wearing my lovely Tavistock boots!

Tightening the laces just before the shoot. 

The Challenge: nr 16 - terminology

Corset – Originally an unboned, quilted, front-lacing under- bodice worn informally (1770-1820), any boned, stiffened, waist compessing undergarment (1820-present).

This is a steel-boned Victorian coutil corset and would thus fall under the latter category.

Fabric: About 1m of herringbone coutil dyed burgundy.

Taken from the dutch fashion magazine De Gracieuse 1884 For alterations, see this previous post.

Year: 1884

Notions: Busk: 6,5m of spiral and flat steel boning, 26 eyelets, laces (5m), silk thread for flossing, 1 m lace.

How historically accurate is it? I think I did pretty well with this one. The pattern is definitely accurate, although I altered it quite a bit. Materials are correct apart from the spiral steels which were not invented in 1884. In my (limited) experience this kind of shape could however not have been achieved with flat steel only. Brightly coloured, double layer corsets were quite common as I understand it. I have not found any source regarding how they were constructed though, so there I am reaching in the dark. All in all I would estimate 85%

Hours to complete: Did not keep count, but somewhere in the range of 20-30h, not including mock-ups.

First worn:
Around the house and for the photo shoot.

Total cost: All prices given in GBP

Busk 6,85
Coutil 9,65
Red dye 10(-ish)
Boning 7
Lace 1,95
Eyelets 4,47
Laces 1,75
Silk thread 4

Monday, 1 September 2014

1884 corset - Construction

The two previous corsets I have made so far have both been single layer corsets with boning channels pre-bought and made from coutil respectively. And I have got to tell you that I loathe sewing them to the inside of the corset. So for this project I had decided to make a double layer corset. I had read about the so called welt/folded seam- method and was very keen on trying it since it seemed to be quite forgiving when it comes to fluctuations in the width of the seam allowances. However, I could not quite figure out how to combine this technique with the bust gores that are supposed to be inserted into seams. The issue kept me awake for a few nights. In the end, after cutting out the pieces, I decided to sew the first three panels of both the outer and lining layer together separately and apply the double layer method as described by Linda Sparks in her Basics of Corset Building. Once the panels were sewn together I inserted the busk, aligned the shell and lining layers and then put in the bust gussets (one layer only).

Seam allowances pinned down, gore outline traced. Ready for insertion.

Bust gore top stitched into place 

The first three panels joined separately, aligned on top of each other (not a perfect match I have to say) and boning channels stiched.
Once that was out of the way the following panels were added to the corset using the welt seam method and this worked like a charm. Fast, easy and neat. Before I knew it the sewing part was over and it was time for eyelets. and boning

All assembled!
Though, before cutting boning I put the corset on to adjust the top and bottom edges
Edges trimmed and outlined.
For boning I mostly used spiral steels and placed them according to the original pattern. Flat steels were used in the back. The edges were then bound with self-made bias binding and every single bone was then flossed top and bottom. My fingers really hurt after that! 

Flossing 13 bones per half top and bottom = 52 triangles

I knew that the flossing around the top edge would be covered by the lace so I did not spent as much time on that. For the same reason the binding is sewn down by machine here while it is hand sewn along the bottom.
After that the only thing left was to add some embellishment in the form of black lace along the top edge.

Boned, bound, flossed and the lace pinned on.
Proper photos of the finished piece will have to wait until the next post though!

1884 corset - Pattern alteration and mock-ups

I now I have not shared a lot of the progress with the 1884 corset here, but boy has it been a journey! In terms of corsetry I definately consider myself a beginner and this was to be my third corset ever. My corset-career started of with a pre-bought kit for with a simplicity pattern and after that I went on the the truly victorian s-curve corset. This time I have to say that I really stepped up my game by choosing av pattern from a contemporary fashion magazine (links to website and pattern here).

Dealing with the pattern alterations was difficult, but I daresay I learned a lot. The pieces for all of the patterns in the magazine are fitted onto only two pages and my pattern can be found on the sheet below.

Quite a jumble right? So the first thing I did was to outline the pieces I needed.

Somewhat more orderly. For the first mock-up I simply enlarged this pattern to fit a busk I already had lying around, cut it out in a cheaper fabric and put it together. The result? Waay too big, no waist reduction (barely an hourglass shape) and no support for the bust. The bust gores started just above my natural waist.

 After this failure I put the project on hold for a very long time and did not take it up again until I signed up for foundations revealed and read an article about scaling patterns with photoshop. Being a proper nerd I thus set out to learn photoshop.

Using this method was awesome because it gave me the possibility of cleaning up the pattern pieces and aligning them on the computer without fearing that the scaling got fucked up (I am talking to you MS Word). So, after the first go with photoshop I had something that looked like this:

I then scaled the pattern to approximately fit my hips. I also cut it horizontally and increased the distance between the waist and underbust to compensate for my extremely long torso. At this point I started to suspect that the pattern was intended for someone with a body type vastly different from mine. Before doing a new mock-up from the pattern I reduced the waist measurement, mainly around the third panel from the left.

Mock-up no. 2

The fit was greatly improved with this mock-up and I started to feel enthusiastic about the project again. There were still some issues though. The mock-up closed in the back so it would have to be further scaled down. There were also still issues with the bust gores, they started too far down and were too wide which meant that they still offered no support whatsoever.

Moving on to mock-up no.3 I went back to photoshop, simply marked the whole pattern and reduced it to 95% of its size. I then even further increased the distance between the waist and underbust to get the gores to sit right. Once the pieces were printed out I again reduced the waist by hand.

Mock-up no.3

This time I was very happy with the fit. The gap in the back was acceptable, I liked the shape it gave me, it fitted smoothly over the hips and it supported the bust okay. After this I felt ready to move on the the real fabric with just minor alterations, like raising the underbust another inch and making the front gore a bit smaller.

That was all for this post, next one will be about the construction of the real corset!