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

Ribbonwork Flowers

I don’t know if it’s a costuming thing, but I’ve always been fascinated with embellishments.  Last year’s fad had flowers on all sorts of accessories.  Jacket lapels, purses, t-shirts, shoes, nothing seemed quite finished without a flower on it.  And I jumped right in and started making crafty little flowers.  They were cute and easy to make, but of course I had to take it a step further.

In my search, I came across the book ‘Ribbonwork – The Complete Guide’ by Helen Gibb, and I was hooked.  This was better than chocolate… well maybe not quite.


Ribbonwork is not to be confused with ribbon embroidery.  While both are surface embellishments made with ribbon, ribbon embroidery involves actually designing directly on a surface with ribbons.  Ribbonwork uses  a variety of ribbons to make flowers and leaves and then each is arranged and attached on whatever surface you choose.  Following Helen’s easy to understand guidelines I was able to work through many lovely creations.

Then, at one of my ASG meetings, a gal showed up with a gorgeous bloom that she made at a shop called ‘The Ribbonry’ in Ohio.  Well, I had to have one of these.  There was much discussion about the kits and how a few thought them pricey, but I felt they were reasonable considering silk ribbons are not cheap.  I took the plunge and purchased The Bohemian Poppy Kit in Vermilion for skill level (1) beginner, a plus for me.


I LOVE my flower!  It measures approximately 6 x 6, a fairly nice size.  There’s a pin on the back so it can go wherever, but I think I’m saving it for my 1912 hat.  We’ll see…..


Filed under 1912 Hat Challenge, Crafts, The 1912 Project

Edwardian Underthings – Folkwear #203

Well with all the 1912 sewing inspiration, I decided I needed to make the proper undergarments to wear under all the fabulous fashion patterns yet to arrive.  I had Folkwear Pattern #203 in my stash so I set to work with additional fabric that I purchased when making the Princess Slip.  The fabric is a soft, white, 100% cotton lawn that was just dreamy to work with, and it now makes a perfect ‘trousseau’ set.  I decided to make the camisole and open drawers, omitting the petticoat.

Folkwear #203

Folkwear #203

I don’t know how period correct it is, but it looks absolutely adorable.  I made little tucks and used the same lace beading and blue ribbon for the neckline to match the slip.  The pattern directions actually called for insertion lace, but I only had about 5 inches left after my slip was complete, so….  tucks it is.


Next up… the corset.  Just waiting on a few more stays.

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Filed under Folkwear Patterns, The 1912 Project

Ladies Afternoon Wrap (aka) Is Est Quis Is Est

It is what it is!

For my first official challenge with The Vintage Pattern Lending Library, 1912 Project, I received the Ladies Afternoon Wrap #0291, originally released February 4, 1912.

Ladies Wrap Pattern #291

This is an absolutely gorgeous pattern that I may attempt to tackle with a different fabric, but for now, my version will just have to be my muslin.  I should start at the beginning….

I had on hand a red and gold (cheap) brocade that I purchased when I was working on a local production of “The King and I”.  By local, I mean no budget and I volunteer…   It’s a pretty color with an interesting design, wonderfully drapey, and the reverse side of the fabric would be fabulous for the arm detailing and belt.  I decided not to line mine and after cutting out the pieces (do not follow the cutting directions on pattern) I went to work.  The pattern is straight forward and easy to follow, but remember I said MY fabric was cheap, so every easy task was made difficult from this point on.

I made the darts in the main pieces where marked, but I opted not to cut them open in the back as my fabric was already starting to fray like crazy.  Yes, I did all the tricks you’re supposed to do to prevent this but my fabric just refused to cooperate.  I just pressed the darts to one side and it worked fine.  Next, the sleeve detailing.  Oh won’t it be pretty with the gold reverse print against the red?  But now that it’s going together, the reverse is looking really orange, so on to plan B, rip it out and go with the red fabric on red.  Still looks pretty but boy is it fraying.  I’m starting to get discouraged.

Reverse Fabric

Reverse Fabric

I stitched the back seam then stood back and admired how I matched the print (ooh and aah), is this going to work after all?  The collar went together like a dream and the drapey effect is perfect.  Cool, this IS going to work!  Now on to the edges…   I swear the edges were the bane of my existence for a week.  I probably over thought it all, but I like the inside of my garments to look as nice as the outside.  Starting at the front (big mistake) I first tried to roll a small hem by hand but didn’t like the way it was looking.  Ripped it out.  Then I made a bias strip from left-over fabric and attached it to the outside ends bringing it to the inside (think of binding a quilt edge), but it was looking too heavy. Ripped it out.  The fraying at this point has me in tears and on my first drink.  I found some gold trim in my stash and decided to attach it to the inside edge (as close as possible because I’m slowly losing my fabric and why did I start with the front?!) and brought it toward the outside to make a hem.  I thought the gold would be a nice touch…   it’s not, but it’s on.  My front panels are now 2 inches narrower than they’re supposed to be –  I’m really not liking this anymore.  I will NEVER wear this, I’m not wasting my tassels…. My new mantra ‘This is my muslin, this is my muslin’.  On to the second drink.

Wrap Front

Wrap Front

The back went much better.  I used the same gold trim but attached it to the outside edge and brought it to the inside and stitched it (like hem tape) and I was rather pleased with the results.  And, no, it’s not because of the second drink.

Wrap Back

Wrap Back

My pattern review is as follows:

Pattern Description/Sizing

Vintage Pattern Lending Library, Ladies Afternoon Wrap #0291, Size 32 inch Bust

Did it look like the photo/drawing on pattern envelope?

It actually did…  although I had problems with my choice of fabric, any issues were my own and not the fault of the pattern.  It draped beautifully.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Once I got past the initial incorrect pattern layout, yes.  The collar section, once sewn, said to attach to neck edge but did not specify to right or wrong side.  I opted the right side because I then applied trim/edging along outside and turned the seam allowance and trim to the inside.  Is this correct?  Not so sure but it worked for my method.  Also, I felt the sleeve edge directions were a bit strange, but it worked out to be one of those details that you just follow blindly and ‘aha-light bulb’ it all works.

What did I particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

On a scale of 1-5, I would give this pattern a FIVE – I loved the drape, and depending upon belt and tassel options, it can be made to suit formal attire or dress up a pair of jeans for a night out.  It’s deceivingly versatile.

Fabric used – don’t go there…

Pattern alterations/design changes.

Although I am a larger bust than the 32′ stated in the pattern, the dart placement worked out fine for me.  Very forgivable design.  The only adjustment I made was to elongate the front and back sections by about 2 inches.

Would I recommend this to others?

Absolutely!  Especially for someone wanting a simply elegant piece to dress up an outfit, or a wonderful canvas for an ‘art to wear’ project.  I think with a bit more clarification regarding some directions, this can be a great beginner pattern.

In conclusion – Would I sew this again…. yes, but definitely with a different fabric.  Taking a cue from Tim Gunn, I WILL make it work (at a later date).  I’m actually having such a blast with all of this, missteps and all!  Thank you, Janyce and Kim.


Filed under E0291_WRAP, The 1912 Project, The Vintage Pattern Lending Library

I Love My Princess Slip!

Now on to Part II of my Princess Slip #E0336, from The Vintage Pattern Lending Library.

Well it took a bit longer than expected but I am absolutely pleased with the results.  After reworking the front bodice to accommodate the lace insertion techniques (Thank you Martha Pullen), I was ready to work on the rest of my slip.  I needed to add a bit to the back to match the addition on the front so I added a scant 1/4 inch to each upper portion seam allowance, extending to about 1/2 inch at the waist, and left the hip measurement as is.   I basically followed the directions for sewing the back together, although after attaching front to back at the shoulder seams, I opted to put the lace trim on the sleeve BEFORE I stitched the side seams together.  This enabled me to do a very narrow french seam along the sides so the cut ends of the lace are secured inside.  I finished the neckline edge with lace and ribbon so the top can be adjusted as needed, and a few buttons up the back, Yippee…

Slip Front Bodice

Next up – the flounce.

I cut the fabric as directed and stitched a narrow hem along the bottom.  Next I cut off about 3 inches of the bottom and applied insertion lace between the two pieces.  For the pleating I actually marked the bottom and top of the strip at regular intervals and folded each pleat over and basted in place.  Then, as suggested by Theresa , I starched, and pressed, and starched some more (Thank you Theresa..  it really benefited from the extra starch).  Once I was sure it would stay where I wanted, I applied insertion lace along the upper pleated portion and then attached the whole thing to the hem of the slip – well la-de-da, it really looks like a slip now.

Slip Hem with Insertion Lace

Slip Hem with Insertion Lace

My pleating isn’t nearly as trim as the pattern illustration, but then again, I’m not nearly as trim as the pattern illustration…







The Vintage Pattern Lending Library, Ladies Princess Slip #E0336, March 24, 1912


Pattern was listed as 36 inch bust.  The measurements seem to be correct, although I adjusted the pattern to suit my shape.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on pattern envelope?

Yes, in regard to the main body of the slip, the pattern is dead on.  The directions for the flounce called for 3 strips – 9 inches wide by 36 3/4.  I think to get the pictured effect of all the tiny accordion pleats, a bit more fabric could have been used.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Yes, although I didn’t follow them for applying the insertion lace.  To sew a seam, add insertion, then rip out the seam, and then sew under the raw edges seemed a bit too time consuming.  It may be the most authentic/period correct way to go about it but I used a machine method as described in my previous post.  I would also have liked to see more thorough directions for the back closure.  Not an issue for a more advanced sewer, but it may present a problem with a novice.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

On a scale of 1 to 5 – this is a FIVE – I loved it!  I especially loved the fact that with a bit of imagination, it was so easy to modernize.

Fabric Used – White Cotton Lawn

Pattern alterations/design changes I made

I needed to adjust the pattern to accommodate my larger frame, and I added sets of tucks along the upper bust.

In conclusion, this was a fun pattern and I adore the fact that a few in our talented group went with a shorter, wearable dress version.  I would recommend this to a sewer of any skill level.  For the more advanced, it’s a great pattern to perfect some skills and for a novice, a wonderful canvas to learn with.

Next adventure – The Afternoon Tea Wrap, and hopefully, a hat for Kim.


Filed under E0336_SLIP, The 1912 Project, The Vintage Pattern Lending Library

The Slip Pattern has arrived!

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I AM a sewing junkie.  The e-mail arrived from The Vintage Pattern Lending Library with my downloadable pattern for the 1912 Princess Slip #E0336.  Yes, I jumped around like an idiot.  Picture Steve Martin in The Jerk raving like a nut, announcing to no one in particular, ‘The new phone book is here, the new phone book is here!”….  that was me…. only with a pattern.  Get the picture?

Well, with taped pattern pieces in hand, and some lovely laundered white cotton lawn, I set to work.  Darling hubbie is in the garage working on a base for my sewing table (I think after all these years he’s tired of me hunched over the kitchen table), so it gave me the entire Saturday to really get moving.  I’m not great at this blogging thing, and I will post pictures of my progress, but if you can suggest hints to improve this along the way, I would deeply appreciate it.

First, I redrafted the pattern to apply my insertion lace utilizing tips I learned from Martha Pullen for machine application techniques.  I didn’t adjust the pattern pieces as using these techniques would yield an additional 1/2 inch in the seam allowance and another 1/2 inch with the insertion lace.  3 seams equaling 3 inches would give me more than enough room to cover my larger than 36 inch bust.  The addition to the 3 seams were also perfect to accommodate my larger than the pattern waist as well…. but we won’t go there.

The 4 front pieces were cut at 1/2 inch above the first lace placement line and I built the upper bodice from there.

New Cutting Lines Marked for Front

Front Pattern Pieces Cut

To attach insertion lace to fabric:

– Place fabric and lace right sides together (lace on top)

– Fabric extends 1/8 inch from lace

– Zigzag off the edge and over the heading of the lace.  This rolls the fabric into the lace

– Suggested Machine Settings – Length 0.5 – 1.0, Width 3.5 (almost a satin stitch)

Sewing Insertion to Fabric

Seam Edge After Application

The zigzag stitch rolls the fabric into the lace leaving a secure and clean edge.  Then I pressed the seam edge toward fabric and top stitched close to the fabric edge.

This Is What It Looks Like

And This Is Part I

After sewing the 4 main pieces together, the fit seemed a bit roomier than I had anticipated so I added a few tucks along the top.  Then I applied a row of insertion lace along this, fit a new upper band, and then another row of insertion.  I read a few sewists in the ‘1912 Project’ had issues with the side seam not running straight under the arm but with the way I’m building the bodice/front, I don’t think this is going to be an issue for me.  I’m basically patching all my pieces together, over sized, and then I’ll trim as needed.

This morning I hope DH goes back to the garage….  I’d like to work on finishing the bodice.  I even think I have enough insertion lace to complete the bottom pleated portion – woohoo!


Filed under E0336_SLIP, The 1912 Project, The Vintage Pattern Lending Library

No Pattern Yet

Hoping to get a dress pattern for my first project….  One can only dream (sigh)

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Filed under The 1912 Project