A Corset For The Correct Look

Well, it’s been a while but I HAVE been busy.  Projects are complete but the sitting down to blog seems to hold me up.  Lately, tropical storm Debbie has been having her way with us and I thought this VERY rainy day would be a great time to catch up.

I have made my corset, and although it’s not officially part of the Vintage Pattern Lending Library 1912 Project, it seems to me a vital part of it none the less.  Personally, I feel creating period attire just doesn’t work if you don’t have the correct undergarments.  And although I was tempted to ‘modern up’ some of the designs we are receiving, I really wanted to stay true to the 1912 fit.

For my corset I decided to go with Ageless Patterns #1522/1910 Corset Nouveau (Bust 35.5 – Waist 23.5).

Ageless Corset Pattern

The pattern itself does NOT come with directions to speak of.  Enclosed is the pattern, a one page detail about corset construction (from Harper’s Bazar – September 19, 1897), a one paragraph sewing instruction (two if you count the French version), and a heavily photocopied illustration for some techniques.   This was fine for me as I’ve made period corsets before, but for a beginner, I would recommend ‘The Basics of Corset Building‘ by Linda Sparks as a reference.  Linda is the creator of Farthingales, the ‘go to’ place for corset supplies, classes, and wonderful online tutorials.   I absolutely love her book as it takes a beginner step by step through the building process.  Easy to read, easy to follow, I actually used her book for my first corset and still reference it when I forget a technique.

I traced out my pattern pieces from the original pattern and then adjusted the sizing accordingly for my shape.

Corset Pattern Pieces

Corset Pattern Pieces

On my first muslin I adjusted up too large and realized that I needed close to the original sizing – it seemed to make up bigger than expected.  I should have just left the bust size as is, as I did want to be laced in to a 35.5 inch bust.  I also went with lining my corset, a technique fully detailed in Linda’s book.  For all my fabric, I went with an imported coutil, a bit pricier than domestic, but worth it.  When purchasing coutil, look at the weave of the herringbone design – the tighter the weave, the more durable the coutil.  Yes, I think there is a difference, and yes, this is why a muslin is important.

Corset Outside

Corset Outside

Corset Lining

Corset Lining

Lining a corset is not difficult but is more time consuming than applying bone casings along the inside seams for your stays.  Although I went with lacing tape, usually I insert my own grommets, and cover them with stitching so as not to see the metal.  When I do set grommets, I never use hole cutting tools and always opt to use an awl instead.  The unique thing about using an awl is it pushes the threads apart rather than breaking them, keeping the integrity of the fabric intact.  Again, time consuming, but worth it.  There’s something about the process…. I guess you either love it or dread it.

Well this is my corset – sorry, but for now it’s on a display mannequin so the fit is a bit off:

Corset Front

Corset Front

Corset Back

And this is what I envision myself as looking in my corset:

Kate Winslet

I think what sold me on this particular pattern was the hip sections.  It actually seemed the closest to the one Kate Winslet wore in this scene from the movie ‘Titanic”.  I guess if Kate Winslet can pull this off, so can I (yeah, right…. as I chuckle to myself)!!



Filed under Corset, The 1912 Project, The Vintage Pattern Lending Library

2 responses to “A Corset For The Correct Look

  1. It’s so pretty! I like the lace around the top edge. =)

  2. Thank you for the tip about using an awl.

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