November 17, 2014

The Late Victorian Corset: Part 2

So, when we left off I had discovered the Corsets and Crinolines pattern was exactly 10 inches too small for my measurements. I was all worried that I had a lot of math to do. In actuality, this was the best discovery I could have made because it made re-sizing the pattern very simple! Since proportionally the corset was perfect for me, a 10" difference between the 30" bust and the 20" waist was the same as the 10" difference between my 40" bust and 30" waist. I decide to see if that meant all I had to do was add a half inch to each side of each pattern piece. One inch added per pattern piece, 5 pattern pieces, 5 additional inches per side of the corset equaling the ten extra inches I needed! Easy math is my favorite kind :)

Here is the pattern after I added the 1/2 inch to each side, another 1/2 inch for seam allowance and then 1 inch to the top and bottom of each piece to play with how tall/long the corset would be. I like to be extra methodical with corset making so I don't screw anything up, so you can see I have numbered and highlighted the top of each piece in blue.

Measuring the new pattern resulted in the measurements matching my own quite perfectly. The waist of the first pattern turned out to be a little less than 20", which was fine as I would like the new measurement to be around 28". Some waist reduction is always nice! I decided to dive in and try on a very basic mock-up of my new pattern.

So here is the mock-up. Made of only one layer of thick muslin, I know it is not a perfect representation of how the corset will behave when made of a stronger material. I did add boning at the seam lines, inserted the busk, and added a grosgrain waist tape to approximate some of the final structure. I basically made this mock up to test if the pattern would work at all. Miraculously, to my surprise and delight, it was nearly perfect! The corset fit very well, other than the fact that it closed in the back, which I have to imagine will no longer be the case when it is made out of a stiffer material than the muslin which stretches more than a coutil or twill will. I am hoping when I make the real corset that the thicker and stiffer fabric will mean the whole thing shrinks just a bit. I may take off a 1/4 inch somewhere in the pattern too, just too be sure it doesn't meet in the back. There is nothing wrong with having your corset meet at the lacing in the back, it just isn't as historically accurate and allows less room for adjusting just how tight or loose you want to be laced.

I also redrew the lines at the top and the bottom of the corset, as you can see with a blue marker above. Mostly I had to remove the one inch allowance I had added to the pattern for adjustment.

I know it is a bit of a risk not making a second mock up out of twill (hopefully I can find a herringbone twill) to see just how much a stronger (less stretchy) fabric changes the fit of this corset. The pattern went together so easily that I won't be too terribly bothered if this corset somehow comes out too small or too big and I have to make another. Its not like stay making where you have to sew a trillion straight lines only to afterwards find out something is wrong and it won't fit! That is true frustration!

 In fact this corset goes together so easily I am already thinking of making another one if this one works out. I should make a summer corset next but I am leaning towards a bright colored satin instead just for fun! Today I am off to the fabric store to buy twill, boning, and hopefully a nice black cotton lace for the top edge. Look for another corset update later this week!


  1. Yay! How wonderful that your test corset fit so true to size. That must be a fabulous and very confidence inspiring (for the final product, I mean) moment. I'm seriously in awe of your awesome sewing/design skills, dear gal.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Thanks as always Jessica! I was very pleasantly surprised it fit! I hope the final does too!


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