Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Corsets and Crinolines’

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!

info (Source below).

1880’s corset in herringbone woven cotton, trimmed with dark red cotton embroidery and machine embroidered edging. (Source below.)

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.

Pattern

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.

A late 1880's corset. From Norah Waugh's "Corsets and Crinolines".

A late 1880’s corset, from Norah Waugh’s “Corsets and Crinolines”.

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”.

These are my pattern pieces, without seam allowances included,

These are my pattern pieces, without seam allowances included. The front was cut twice with a seam allowance on all edges, and then once with the centre front on the fold. All other pieces were cut 4 times with seam allowances added.

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.

Construction

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.

The only seams not sewn are the side front seams.

The seams being sewn. The lining is attached to the outer layer on the centre back seams (far left and far right). The side front seams are the next ones to be sewn in this picture.

Step Three: I attached some 1 inch herringbone tape for the waist tape. (How to add waist tape to a corset – by Sidney Eileen.)

The waist tape is being attached to each seam allowance so that no stitching is seen on the outside.

The waist tape is being attached to each seam allowance so that no stitching is seen on the outside.

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.

The boning channels have been sewn in.

The boning channels have been sewn in.

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.

1880 corset cording

In order to cord the very tightly woven coutil, I used a large needle and an awl (and two grippy silicone thimbles) to pull the cotton cording through the channels. The cording channels were all handsewn.

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.)

Grommets and lacing completed

Grommets and lacing completed, the back view of the finished product.

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.)

The corset flossing detail

The corset flossing detail

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 lining is pinned down and the binding attached, ready to handsew down.

The lining is pinned down and the binding attached and turned to the inside, ready to handsew 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.

The front view

The front view

1880 corset side

The side view

My next garment in my list to make will be my Victorian chemise.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: How to Draft a Corset – Regency Corset

My Regency Journey: Corset Construction

A Victorian Bustle

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

Cording Tutorial

Feather stitch embroidery – by Rocksea & Sarah

Read Full Post »

Stays (1770-1790)

English Stays (1770-1790), made from red silk damask, Victoria and Albert Museum.

My last pair of 18th century stays took about 13 years to finish, and by the time they were finished they didn’t fit me, so I have decided to make another pair.

I finally decided on a half-boned style, and used this pair of red silk damask stays (from Victoria and Albert Museum) as a starting point.

Stays of this era were designed to conform the body to an inverted cone shape, with a round bosom and a much smaller waist. They were also quite elongated, to draw the body upwards, and therefore came up high under the arms. The armholes were placed further back in the garment and, along with the shoulder straps, were designed to force the shoulders backwards to create the desirable “small back” posture.

My dear Louisa, you will laugh when I tell you, that poor Winifred, who was reduced to be my gentlewoman’s gentlewoman, broke two laces in endeavouring to draw my new French stays close. You know I am naturally small at bottom but now you might literally span me. You never saw such a doll. Then, they [the stays] are so intolerably wide across the breast, that my arms are absolutely sore with them; and my sides so pinched! – But it is the ‘ton’; and pride feels no pain. It is with these sentiments the ladies of the present age heal their wounds; to be admired, is a sufficient balsam.

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, The Sylph (1778)

I really like this style of stays, with the round, broad oval neckline and the way the bones are wrapped diagonally around the body. It looks very flattering for the 18th century figure!

This project fits well with the Historical Sew-Fortnightly Challenge #12, hosted by Dreamstress.

Pattern

The pattern I have used is based on the 1780’s pattern from Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh. This one is very similar to the one pictured above – in fact it may be the same one, despite the minor styling differences apparent in the printed pattern.

A pattern for 1780's stays, from Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh.

A pattern for 1780’s stays, from Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh.

Beginning with my measurements and a piece of paper, I drafted my pattern up, using the Corsets and Crinolines pattern as a guide to panel shape and grainline. I used eight panels: 2 x centre back, 2 x side back, 2 x side, 2 x front.

The panel pieces all cut, excepting the shoulder straps which I cut and fitted at the very end.

The panel pieces are all cut, excepting the shoulder straps which I cut and fitted at the very end.

Four layers of material were used in this pair of stays. The outer layer was a cream/pale yellow cotton damask. The two interlining layers were a white cotton duck. The inner lining was a white cotton lawn. I used 6mm plastic boning with a tiny bit of 12mm plastic boning in the centre front. The embroidery was done with plain cotton sewing thread.

Construction Steps

In order to construct these I referred mainly to How to Make an 18th Century Corset but I have also detailed my progress below.

Step One: Draft the pattern up on paper, using your measurements. Do a toile to fit it to your body, marking any alterations on your pattern. Cut out the pattern pieces.

Step Two: Sew the panels together. I pressed the seams to alternate sides (rather than pressing each seam open) in order to alleviate stress on the seams.

The top layer is damask, then there are the two interlining layers of cotton duck. The lining was sewn in at a later stage.

The top layer is damask, then there are the two interlining layers of cotton duck. The lining was sewn in at Step Seven.

I found it easier to piece together the back, side back and sides first and then do the fronts separately until I was ready to put in the boning. This is because the front panel has boning that goes in different directions, rather than just up and down.

Step Three: Sew boning channels and then add boning.

One side of the back, with the centre back, side back, and side panels sewn.

One side of the back, with the centre back, side back, and side panels sewn together. Some of the boning channels are sewn. I am beginning to applique the ribbon on the seams here as well.

Step Four: Apply ribbon to the seams. I used nylon ribbon, as it was thin and of a similar thickness to silk ribbon. The boning should be inserted into the channels before you apply the ribbon, or else you may sew the channel shut by accident! I used a simple running stitch to applique the ribbon on, as this appears to be what was used on the extant pictured above.

The centre front panel, with ribbon being applied.

The centre front panel, with ribbon being applied.

Step Five: Add embroidery or other embellishments. Whilst a great deal of embellishment was not frequently used for stays unless the front was to be seen as a stomacher, some smaller amounts of embroidery (usually straight or curved lines) was occasionally used. I generally embroider my stays because I enjoy doing it and I think it looks pretty!

The central splays of boning is slightly different to the original, as the size of the panel is a little different. I have embroidered an 18th c. stylised set of buds and flowers between each. Note that the horizontal boning at the centre front is continuous and goes behind the vertical boning. Using two layers of interlining helps as you have two separate layers to run the crossing bones.

The central splays of boning are slightly different to the original, as the size of the panel is a little different. I have embroidered an 18th c. stylised set of buds and flowers between each. Note that the horizontal boning at the centre front is continuous and goes behind the vertical boning. Using two layers of interlining helps, as you have two separate layers to run the crossing bones.

The detail of the central embroidered flower.

The detail of the central embroidered flower, using mainly backstitch and running stitch.

Step Six: Hand sew eyelets and add lacing.

Step Seven: Attach shoulder straps. I did this as one of the last things, as I wanted to be able to try it on first so that I could fit the shoulder straps properly.

Step Seven: Piece together the lining panels and lay the lining layer to the inside of the stays. You can do this step earlier so that the eyelets go through the lining fabric, but I folded under the raw edges of the lining and handsewed them just inside of the eyelets. (You can see this on the finished pictures below.)

Step Eight: Cut the tabs after fitting it to your body. Cutting the tabs later in the process saves them from fraying everywhere or getting damaged in the construction process. I used a buttonhole/blanket stitch over the raw edge of the stays, and then added the binding.

I used twill tape for binding and sewed one edge down to the right side before folding the rest over and handsewing it down on the inside.

I used twill tape for binding and sewed one edge down to the right side of the stays before folding it over and handsewing it down on the inside. You can see the blanket stitch visible on the raw edge.

The extant stays pictured above have areas where the binding has worn away to reveal the raw edge sewn over with what looks like a blanket stitch. I was interested to try this technique as I wondered if it helped keep a narrower bound edge. It certainly helped with reducing the fraying as the binding is completed!

Finished!

Outside all finished

Outside all finished

Inside all finished

Inside all finished

And tried on!

Back view

Back view

Front view

Front view

The other HSF items to cover are firstly historical accuracy, which was pretty good. Obviously the stay pattern was made to fit me, rather than an 18th century women that has been wearing stays her whole life, so the pattern is slightly different in shape to extant ones of the period. The fabric I chose was semi-accurate as cotton was in production then, but often linen was used for stay making. Secondly, the number of hours it took to complete are hard to calculate, as many hours were spent pattern drafting and making a toile. I began this project four months ago, but didn’t work on it solidly through that time. I am guessing 50 hours? Maybe more? Thirdly, it was first worn to a Three Musketeers Ball the day after it was completed! And lastly, the total cost was about $60 AUD.

My next post will be on my 18th century chemise made to go underneath.

Related Posts

Stays from the 18th Century – my first pair of 18th century stays

My Regency Journey: How to draft a corset pattern – a helpful beginning to drafting a pattern if you have never done it before.

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: from Victoria and Albert Museum online collection

The Sylph, by Georgiana Cavendish – read online

Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh – on Amazon

How to make an 18th Century Corset/Stays – by La Couturiere Parisienne

Read Full Post »

A bustle c. 1885 from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

A bustle c. 1885 from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Today I am sharing with you one of my earliest costume pieces I have made; a Victorian bustle.

Bustles were used during the late nineteenth century, first developing from the crinoline during the late 1860’s. By the 1870’s and 80’s they were the height of fashion. The bustle was primarily for increasing fullness at the tail and supporting the weight of the skirts which were draped there. There were many caricatures of the time about the absurdity of the fashion, just as there had been about the wide skirts and the tall wigs of the eighteenth century.

By the late 1890’s the skirts were changing shape yet again, to the more A-line shape of the Edwardian era.

This particular bustle was copied from a picture I had found in Norah Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines.

A Victorian bustle

A Victorian bustle

I used a combination of wire and boning to provide the shape, which was not ideal because the wire cut all the fabric after only a few wears. I plan to replace all the wire with thin solid plastic boning at some stage.

The back of the bustle has a sort of “cage” to strengthen it and allow for adjustment. It is surprising how much weight in the form of a dress it will support.

The 'cage' of the bustle, laced together with ribbon.

The ‘cage’ of the bustle, laced together with ribbon.

A bustle is a fairly easy foundation garment to make without the need for a pattern or instructions. Whilst there are many different sorts of bustles, mine was essentially a tube of material. There is a thinner panel of material that runs from the waist to the ankle and rests against the legs. The second panel is the same length but wider and boned to make it bow out, making the bustle-shape. The two panels are attached at the top with a waistband or tie of some description to hold it around the waist. A ‘cage’ or some frills or even padding can be added if desired in order to increase the proportions of the back.

I am keen to begin expanding my Victorian wardrobe, so stay tuned for more costuming posts as I begin sewing some articles from this particular era.

Related Posts

Panniers: An 18th century reproduction of a Sacque-back dress – another one of my very early costuming efforts.

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh – buy on Amazon

Read Full Post »

A typical Grecian statue

A typical Grecian statue

In Regency times, the prevailing fashion was for a Grecian look, and contemporary ideas on Grecian fashions were largely formed by examining Greek and Roman statues and other historical pictures. This meant that long, columnar, flowing dresses, with a short waist and a relatively natural bust were the principal fashion ideologies of the day. In order to aid the bust in its ‘natural form’, it was supported by stays which were designed to lift and separate the breasts, rather than compress them.

Changes from eighteenth century fashion to this new form of dress occurred as early as the 1790’s, even though the Regency period in English history did not strictly start until 1811. These changes in fashion were somewhat influenced by the French Revolution but also by the more widespread revolution of ideas (called the ‘Enlightenment’) that was sweeping Europe at the time. These ideas concerned notions of freedom, human rights, and equality, which were associated with the ancient ideals of Greece and Rome.

Of course, any changes in fashions (particularly extreme changes) were always accompanied by comments and caricatures in the press.

In the 1790’s, the Morning Herald published a rather severe critique on the ‘new’ position of the breast!

The bosom, which Nature planted at the bottom of her chest, is pushed up by means of wadding and whalebone to a station so near her chin that in a very full subject that feature is sometimes lost between the invading mounds. The stays – or coat of mail – must be laced as tight as strength can draw the cord, Not only is the shape thrust out of its proper place but the blood is thrown forcibly into the face, neck and arms … and were it not for the fine apparel of our ladies we should be at a loss at the first glance to decide, by their redundancy and universal redness, whether they were nurses or cooks. Over this strangely manufactured figure a scanty petticoat and as scanty a gown are put. The latter resembles a bolster-slip rather than a garment.

(quoted in Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh)

Caricature by James Gillray (1791)

Caricature by James Gillray (1791)

In 1791, James Gillray published a caricature of Mrs Fitzherbert, who had been secretly married to the future Prince Regent (George IV) in 1785. Their marriage was declared invalid, as it did not receive the prior approval of the King, and the Prince ended up marrying Caroline of Brunswick in 1795.

The caricature was entitled, Patent Bolsters;- Le moyen d’etre en-bon-point. The translation of “Le moyen d’etre embonpoint” is “The way to be overweight”. It depicts Mrs Fitzherbert standing at her dressing table, about to tie a pad on her breasts to make her very buxom figure even more plump! Her stays seem to be the transitional sort, with tabs at the bottom but pushing the bust upwards to form the characteristic “shelf”, where the chin is sometimes hidden between the “invading mounds”!

As an interesting aside, the picture frame on the wall depicts the Prince of Wales (George IV), and both the crown on the frame and the tiara on Mrs Fitzherbert’s head are inscribed with “Ich dien” or “I serve”.

By 1811, the bust was still very “shelf-ish”, as a lady of distinction writes in the book, The Mirror of the Graces.

The bosom, which nature formed with exquisite symmetry in itself, and admirable adaptation to the parts of the figure to which it is united, has been transformed into a shape, and transplanted to a place, which deprives it of its original beauty and harmony with the rest of the person. This hideous metamorphose has been effected by means of newly invented stays or corsets which, by an extraordinary construction and force of material, force the figure of the wearer into whatever form the artist pleases. […] In consequence we see, in eight women out of ten, the hips squeezed into a circumference little more than the waist; and the bosom shoved up to the chin, making a short of fleshy shelf, disgusting to the beholders, and certainly most incommodious to the bearer.

(quoted in Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh)

I am sure there are myriads of references to this particular extreme of fashion – the bust shelf. But I suppose with every aspect of fashion, someone will always take it to an extreme! As I write, I have mental pictures of today’s young men who currently wear their jeans around their thighs – below their bottom! This might be a modern example of the fall of the male waistline! (And I don’t think that has ever happened in history before!)

Related Posts

Fashion Advice from the Pulpit – extremes of fashion in the 1400’s

The Rococo: The Extremities of Hoops in the 1740’s – extremes of fashion in the 1700’s

My Regency Journey: Corset Construction – making a pair of long Regency stays

Sources and Relevant Links

Caricature Image Source: from The British Museum

Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh – buy on Amazon

The Mirror of the Graces; or, the English Lady’s Costume, by A Lady of Distinction (1830 edition) – read online

Read Full Post »

Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh (1954)

Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh (1954)

This week I received a new book in the mail! Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh, was first published in 1954, and has been invaluable to costumers ever since. I have been desperate to get a copy for ages and I finally made the plunge for my birthday!

The book has some photos of extant undergarments, as well as some patterns drawn from extant undergarments. It also contains quite an amount of text describing the fashions of particular historical eras, and the inclusion of historical texts that mention particular aspects of clothing.

As I was perusing it last night in bed, I came across a very interesting quote by a Spanish monk, Fray Fernando de Talavera, in 1477. It concerns the alarming fashions of women of the day, who were seeking to make their bodies altered in appearance by the use of whaleboned bodies and farthingales.

Women's fashions at the end of the 15th century changed from the long, thin style of medieval dress, and began to become bigger around the bottom of the dress. This picture is from 1450.

Women’s fashions at the end of the 15th century changed from the long, thin style of medieval dress, and began to become bigger around the bottom of the dress. This picture is a female Parisian in 1450.

There is another dress which is very ugly, for it makes women appear very fat and as wide as tongues. It is true that by nature women should be short, with slender or narrow shoulders, breasts and back, and small heads, and that thier faces should be thin and small … and also that they should be wide and big round the back and belly and hips so that they can have space for the children they conceive and carry for nine months … But although this is true, the aforesaid dress greatly exceeds and more than greatly exceeds, the natural proportions, and instead of making woman beautiful and well-proportioned, makes them ugly, monstrous and deformed until they cease to look like women and look like bells…

And, of course, just in case no one listens to such sage advice, it is always advisable to try and do everything to make such fashions morally wrong.

Finally, such dress is very deceitful and ugly. It is in truth great deceit in a woman who is slender, hipless, and very thin, to give herself hips and a shape with cloth and wool; if carried out in moderation it might be overlooked and at most would be a venial sin. But done in such a way, without moderation and with exaggeration, it is undoubtedly a deception and a lie of great guilt and consequently a great sin…

I always find it fascinating that historically, people seemed to concentrate on how a person looks to determine if they are sinful. I am sure there were many other examples of sin in the world at the time, such as injustice and mistreatment, but they seem to be much less focused on. And the monk concludes:

Thus it is a sin when women who are small of stature wear chopines [see picture] to feign a height they do not possess, especially as Our Lord has willed it that women are usually short of body and smaller than men, since they have to be ruled by them as their superiors, or when they with rags, wool, petticoats or hoops, affect a width which they do not possess. There is no doubt that deception and lies are a mortal sin when carried out in the above evil and sinful manner; thus the padded hips and hoop skirts are very harmful and very wicked garments; with reason they have been forbidden under pain of excommunication.

These chopines are dated to 1550, and were initially designed to enable the wearer to keep out of the mud. However, by 1600 the height of the shoes had risen to 20 inches!

These chopines are dated to 1550, and were initially designed to enable the wearer to keep out of the mud. However, by 1600 the height of the shoes had risen to 20 inches!

I am sure the poor monk has briefly forgotten in what other circumstances deception and lies are a mortal sin, especially when carried out in an evil and sinful manner… Indeed, I can think of many medieval examples!

At every step of history, fashion excesses have been either denounced from the pulpit or ridiculed in the press. And I have always wondered why. I wonder if it might be an indication of how threatening change was to these people we read about in history. And when you think about it, people haven’t changed all that much! Think about how it feels when your boss proposes radical changes in your workplace… We are still all a bit resistant to change.

It makes for very interesting reading!

Related Posts

More extremes in fashion!

The Rococo: The Extremities of Hoops in the 1740’s

The Rococo: The Extremities of Hairstyles in the 1770’s

Sources and Relevant Links

Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh – buy on Amazon

Picture Source: Of a Lady of Paris, 1450 – from the Costumer’s Manifesto

Chopines – information from The Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art

Picture Source: Chopines of Tooled Leather, c. 1600 – with lots of other images of chopines as well.

Read Full Post »