It has been a little while since my last post. Productivity has not been very high. I started a full time job and had to abruptly move house. But once all that was somewhat settled, I was eager to start on a new project. Ever since watching Downton Abbey and other shows such as Howard’s End, I have rethought my feelings towards Edwardian fashion. I also dipped into the 1890s on a half scale project and was excited to look more into this sort of period.
So I decided to go for a turn of the century look. I’m no expert in this time period and I also struggled with finding good sources. There seemed to be a wide variety of outfits around this time. However I decided to go for a simple skirt and blouse early Edwardian look. But of course, as with every costume, I had to start from the inside out!
I searched everywhere for Edwardian corsets and such looks. I finally settled on a pattern in Norah Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines. It’s a pattern for a straight front corset from 1901. It was the closest in date to what I wanted.
I scaled that up and made a mock up.
This pattern was a pain. As you can guess from looking at the seams, it’s not beginner friendly. I think I bit off more than I could chew.
While the corset construction was fairly straightforwards, which I managed, I wasn’t too sure about the fit. I only realized how far off it was when I remembered that the diamond shape is BAD. What I mean is when the center back lacing leaves a diamond shaped gap. This is something someone with experience knows how to fix.
I know there must be some seam fiddling to fix it, but the pattern pieces were already terrified so I just left it as it was. Obviously it doesn’t give me the ideal shape, but I think it’ll serve the purpose. Plus it’s not a corset I’ll be wearing often.
So let’s get into the construction! Perhaps this might be helpful to someone.
After scaling up this pattern, I cut each piece out of the outer fabric (some leftover blue duchess satin), cotton twill and then plain cotton for lining.
I flatlined the satin to the twill, by hand, to make sure they were as flat as possible. I find smaller pieces like this often shift when I try to flatline them by machine, as my machine has a small surface. I didn’t, however, flatline the top of center front edges and the edges themselves. This was to allow me to use the twill as a seam to set in the busk.
The second step was to set in the busk. I ordered mine from Sew Curvy and also used her tutorial for setting in the busk (tutorial here). It was fairly straightforwards to follow. Instead of using the seam allowance, I used the twill. I sewed the twill to the satin with the busk gaps, and sandwiched the busk sides inbetween them.
Then for the seams, I moved from the center front backwards, leaving the hip gores until last. I basted all the seams before sewing them by machine, I found this helped a lot with these aggressive curves. I also ironed all the seams as I went, clipped and trimmed the seams allowances. I wasn’t going to use them as boning channels.
In Corsets and Crinolines, Norah Waugh only draws on the boning pattern in the back pieces of the corset, but draws the boning on the picture of the finished corset (refer back to the photo of it up top). These don’t quite follow the seams. Working closely with the image, I positioned strips of bias binding to acts as channels, making sure they mirrored each other on either side of the corset. I hand-sewed these channels down to avoid top-stitching.
Then I cut synthetic whalebone to the appropriate lengths and filed the edges, then inserted them into the boning channels. I made sure that they were half an inch short on both the top and bottom edge.
To insert the lining, I sewed the top of the corset with the right sides together. Then I flipped them the right way, ironed and top stitched so that the lining wouldn’t show.
Then I pulled and pinned the lining into place, matching the inside seams of the corset to those of the lining. Then I turned the raw edges inwards of the satin and then the lining overtop. I pinned them in place and hand sewed it down.
To finish, I added eyelets to the back. Because I wanted to finish this quite quickly, I used metal eyelets, but I fully intend to replace them with hand-sewn ones soon. I used an awl to make a hole and then scissors to enlarge them.
Then I hand-sewed lace trim to the top edge and it was done!