December 31, 2010

joy in corsetland

I'm almost the proud owner of a Singer treadle sewing machine.

This is a picture from the original manual. My machine-to-be was manufactured in 1905 and will look just like this one, including the seven drawer cabinet. I just need to figure out how to get it to my house and up the staircase!

December 24, 2010

frustration in corsetland

Sometimes, even when double checking everything, mistakes are made.

Ugh. This is not the 1844 corset, which I should have been working on, but another one instead. I marked the waist line and carefully lined the waist tape against it then anchored it place when I sewed the bone casings on. But look, one side I lined the top of the tape to the mark, the other I lined the bottom to the mark. I didn't catch this until it was time to insert the busk. Dang it. I am going to do my best to rise above this aggravation and forget about sewing for a few days.

Here's wishing you all a wonderful holiday season!

December 20, 2010

post edwardian corset on the body

Thank you for all the compliments about the Titanic era corset. How nice!

I had a request for an image of the corset on a person to see how it sits on a body as opposed to a dress form. Good idea.

The top edge of corset sits below the bust and the bottom edge skirts the very top of the thighs. Look at that curve down the back! I love that line. Here is a view from the front.

Such a smooth, long line, silhouette. Even with the hips completely covered the model could jump around because the center front is open below the busk allowing a good range of motion. The original had a hook & eye placed 1/4 inch below the busk, which I eliminated on the reproduction. Had I included it I don't believe it would have closed the front enough to significantly hinder movement.

I haven't worn this corset myself so I can't give more information about how it wears. I should make an effort to do that. But first I'll try to get some more sewing done on the 1844 linen corset.

December 15, 2010

titanic era corset and pattern

This is the corset I made and wrote about for Foundations Revealed this past June, enough time has passed that I can share some of the images here. Yea. I started with an old corset in terrible condition found on ebay, and after drafting a pattern from it this is what I came up with.

Here is a picture from the auction listing.

Not pretty. In addition to the general grubbyness seen here, the garter grips were rusty, bones were poking through casings, and the steels along the center back were bent. I probably would have been disappointed if I paid more than the $20 I bid. There was no information about the corset when I purchased it, so to help date it I made a timeline that illustrates the changing silhouette from 1900-1919.

The shape of the corset is almost exactly like the silhouette from 1911 on the timeline. Based on that, on the cut and construction of the original, and allowing for the fact that the corset's owner may or may not have been on the cutting edge of new trends, I'd say the antique corset I bought was produced between 1910-14. The original was made of plain cotton drill, but I spiffed mine up a bit by using cotton mattress ticking and the prettiest cotton lace ever. Because I like to show my work, here is a view of the interior of the corset.

I was so happy with the way this corset turned out. I'd been wanting to experiment with mattress ticking for awhile and it worked quite well. Here is the pattern if anyone is interested in constructing this corset.

This pattern will fit on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper and is a high enough resolution that it should enlarge well without pixelling up. If you do sew a corset from this pattern I'd love to hear how the pattern worked for you. And to see other interpretations!

December 1, 2010

a carved busk?

The illustration and pattern of the 1844 corset show a busk that would have been made of wood, or ivory, or baleen. Often busks were carved and given to a lady as a token of affection. This one from the Nicholson Whaling Collection at the Providence Public Library is one of my favorites.

© Providence Public Library (identification number 008)

I love the naïve quality of the artwork. It's carved on whalebone and you can see future Sailor Jerry's tattoos on this busk. Here is an older one made of wood that was carved in 1783 and is part of the Pinto Collection at the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.

© Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (accession number 1965T600)

Below is an even older metal busk from the 17th century belonging to The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute.

© Metropolitan Museum of Art (accession number 30.135.32)

Look at the detail of the tiny portrait carved in the metal. Nice.

Notice how they are all decorated? I feel like I should jazz mine up with something. To fit the mock up I can use a couple 1/2 inch wide steels, but for the finished corset wouldn't a decorated busk be nice?