Sunday, 22 February 2015

HSF February: Blue - Mid-Victorian Corset

Now that the Regency ball is done, I've had time to work on my next project: an 1876 corset of blue silk, inspired by this one from the 1850s:

Now, obviously this corset is from the 1850s, and mine is from the 1870s, and I'll also be wearing it under my 1840s gown. Unfortunately I am a student and I don't have the resources to make as many corsets as I would really like to, so this is the way it has to be. The shape of the 1870s corset is quite similar to that of the earlier versions, and I've modified it a bit in order to get it closer to the intended silhouette. Moreover, the construction is not so different: it, like the 1850s corset above, has two bust gussets, a dip at the center front bustline, deep, low hips with a lot of flare, and a sharp curve in at the waist. I unfortunately don't have the bust required to pull off such a beautifully curvy silhouette, and my bust gussets can't extend so far down towards the waist, but there's evidence for shorter gussets, too, in corsets of all the periods I mentioned.

It is re-drafted from a pattern in the 1876 issue of De Gracieuse, which is all in Dutch and lacks a high-resolution pattern online. Yay! (It's the bottom left-hand corset in the image linked above, but it won't be as long in front and it won't be quite so curvy at the bust - in fact, it will look a little more like the bottom right-hand corset.) Before the Automobile has actually made the same corset in the past, but I think our two versions will come out looking significantly different. It's always interesting to see how the same pattern morphs and changes on different body types.

I don't have photos of the mockup on me, but here are shots of it lying flat:


As you can see, I had to extend the waist a fair bit (about 2.5", actually - but I think I might take a half inch out again and extend it up at the top instead) as I have quite a long torso, both in modern terms and compared with smaller Victorian dimensions. I only extended it on one side, because I still need to cut a proper mockup in coutil, bone it with actual bones instead of loosely-stitched-on cable ties, and use a busk and full-length lacing (the only lacing strips I had on hand are very short).

Thus, I consider this part way between a draping session and a first mockup - it was really just to get the pattern right, and now I'll begin actually fitting it.

Mockup 2.0 will be done in coutil with some sort of plain-weave fashion fabric because this is the only way to get a really accurate read on how the final corset will behave. Like the final corset, the pieces will be roll-basted into slightly domed shapes before being stitched together, to help them conform to the curves required of them without wrinkling.

I believe I underestimated the time this will take, as my last corset was the red 1890s, which had no gussets and thus needed only one mockup after the initial re-drafting process. Altogether it took only a week from drafting to flossing; I've already spent three-ish days on this one. So it might not be done in time for February's challenge, but I'll give it a shot, and at least post my progress.

More soon!

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