It has been awhile since my last post, largely because I have spent the last two months working on a new Victorian wardrobe for myself. I have had plans to make an early 1870’s gown and undergarments for a long time and I have finally begun!
One of the most important aspects of this new wardrobe was designing and making a corset from this era, as it is needed to provide the correct shape for the outer clothes. I finally decided on a 1880 style of corset that I could use fairly safely for the 1870’s.
I used the pattern drafting tutorial at Foundations Revealed to drafted my own pattern based on my measurements. This tutorial is perfectly suited to creating Victorian style corsets.
Norah Waugh’s “Corsets and Crinolines” 1880’s corset pattern provided a guide to panel shapes and placement. There were 5 panel pieces on each side: Front, Side Front, Side, Side Back and Back.
I used two layers of white coutil, with the boning sandwiched between the layers. I added a floating lining of white cotton lawn. I used a combination of spiral steel boning and flat steel boning, with the flat steel being used on either side of the eyelets, behind the split busk pieces at the centre front, and directly next to the busk pieces. I used a straight busk, rather than the spoonbill busk in “Corsets and Crinolines”.
When cutting out the pieces, it is a very good idea to number each panel, mark the waistline, and mark the upper/top edge on each piece.
For the construction of this corset, I closely followed the instructions by Sidney Eileen on making a basic two-layer corset. For that reason I won’t detail all the specifics of what I did, but instead give you a general overview.
Step One: I began by sewing the busk in place. (How to insert a busk – by Sidney Eileen).
Step Two: Making sure I matched the waistline marks, I sewed all the panels together. The coutil lining layer was also attached at this stage. The end result is that you have two halves of a corset, that can be joined by the busk pieces.
Step Three: I attached some 1 inch herringbone tape for the waist tape. (How to add waist tape to a corset – by Sidney Eileen.)
Step Four: The boning channels were sewn, and I also added some herringbone tape along the centre back edges (in between the layers), to act as a support for the grommets. The bones were also inserted here.
Step Five: I corded the front panels, as was often seen in this era. Having tried on the corset beforehand, I now realise that this cording was not just decorative, but provided extra support to the fabric as it holds the bust in place.
Step Six: Next I set the grommets (Size 0) with a grommet setter, and laced the corset using the standard Victorian style of lacing. (How to lace a corset – by Sidney Eileen.)
Step Seven: I did some featherstitch embroidery on the boning channels at the sides, and did corset flossing to hold the bones in place. (How to Floss a Corset – by Sidney Eileen.)
Step Eight: The floating lining was pinned in place, with the raw edges at centre front and centre back turned under and handsewn down. The binding was sewn on the outside through all thicknesses and then turned to the inside to be handsewn down.
The very last thing I did was to handsew some lace, threaded with ribbon, around the top edge of the corset. Very Victorian!
Here are the finished pictures! I can comfortably lace the corset down to 28 inches at the waist, and I have used this measurement for making the rest of my Victorian wardrobe.
My next garment in my list to make will be my Victorian chemise.
Sources and Relevant Links
Image Source: Augusta Auctions.
Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh – buy on Amazon
Draft Your Own Corset Pattern – by Foundations Revealed
Corset Making Tutorials – by Sidney Eileen
Feather stitch embroidery – by Rocksea & Sarah