Friday, June 29, 2012

An Antique Edwardian Corset c. 1912

At Shelley Peters' workshop last weekend I had the privilege of trying on one of her antique corsets. This corset dates to about 1912. It is in remarkably good condition, with just a little browning from age.

You can see the boning stops
at the hip on the sides.

The busk gets wider at the bottom, though
it is not exactly a "spoon."

This trim looks very similar to the machine
embroidered cotton trim you can still find today.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shelley Peters Sewing Workshop and an S-Bend Corset

Imagine my surprise when I found out there was going to be a corset making workshop in Las Vegas. Let's just say my husband almost drove off the road when I opened the email and shrieked... Oops.

It was last weekend and it was great. Shelley Peters, of The Widow Peters' Kansas Mercantile, came and did a two day workshop. She was so helpful and patient and came with all her supplies so we got to shop too! The other girls that came to it were fantastic and it was beyond awesome to meet other ladies in Las Vegas who love to do this too. 

And here I was for so long on my lonely little sewing island :)

So on to the sewing!

I chose to do an early Edwardian S Bend corset. Why? One of the other girls was going to make one too, which gave me the idea, and even though I haven't finished my worsted stays, I wanted to make something completely foreign to me and use the opportunity to learn from Shelley, versus just making something I already know how to do.

We used the Truly Victorian 1903 Corset pattern and it went together like a dream. The first day was spent making a muslin. I have never put so much time into a mock up. This was my favorite part of working with an instructor: my patience increased ten fold and I paid attention and really thought about the process instead of just the outcome.

The muslin was marked like the pattern paper,
with multiple sizes and lengths marked.

The blue line is my adjustments to the pattern.
I found it rode too low over the hips and in front
so I couldn't sit down.

Shelley showing us the lining
on her polonaise.

Day two we worked with the coutil, making the real thing. This Edwardian corset uses one layer of coutil, boning tapes, each set with two bones, and cotton bias tape to bind the top and bottom. The bones are flat, not spiral steel.

The gores were set in and topstitched.

Pretty topstitching! So neatly done! Yay!

Post busk, pre bones and binding.

I got distracted here and stopped taking pictures. Working too hard! One note, regarding the boning channels: this corset pattern was designed for a larger lady, while the two of us making this corset at the workshop were on the small side. There ended up being issues with enough space for the boning. If you make this pattern, and you are thin, expect to have to monkey a little with the boning pattern to fit in enough support.

Here's the (mostly) finished product. Mostly, because I want to trim it and make it frilly. It also needs it's pads - the S Bend shape is highly dependent on padding. The straight front adds to the illusion as well, unlike the curved front of earlier victorian corsets, but the pads are essential. That is why, in the pictures below, the bust and hips are loose. The corset is supposed to be snug at the waist and then you pad the rump and the bust to get the curvy, pigeon shape so associated with the early 20th century silhouette.

11:00 at night! Look at those dark circles!
I have a new respect for people in
sweat shops lol

Shelley had me hold out the back to
show where the pad would go.

I'm still deciding how to trim it.

Since I have been home from the workshop,  I made up my pads, as they are in the Truly Victorian pattern. I'm happy with the rum pad, though it needs some frilly trimming, but the bust pads are just not enough, in my opinion. I think I will have to make up some kind of bust improver to be tucked into the front to give more of the pouter pigeon look.

I chose this 1/4 inch cotton twill drawstring
because it isn't bulky under the corset.
It is also not slippery, unlike the pretty ribbon
I was thinking of using.

The bust pads from the pattern.
They are supposed to go under your bust to fill in the space
between your boobs and your ribs and the corset,
creating a smooth front.

I will shortly be making up some kind of bust improver, perhaps a soft one like this to tuck into the front, or a boned one like the picture below to really add some shape! A frilly, ruffly, corset cover will also improve the silhouette.

Here is a great article from Foundations Revealed, in reference to the S Bend silhouette and the corsets, padding and posture that contribute to it: The S-Bend in Context