July 17, 2014

interior view of 1914 eyelet corset

Last week I posted pictures of a beautiful 1914 corset. I mentioned that the orange pattern on the fabric was made by basting ribbon to the cotton eyelet. Here is an image of the interior of the corset.

The silk ribbon is very lightweight and doesn't provide any structure to the corset. It was simply basted in place following the lines of the eyelet. If you look closely you can see it's shattering in places. You can also see a dart used to shape the corset. The bone casings are secured at the waist and at the top and bottom of each casing. At the bottom of the image you can see how the casing sits flush at the waist but otherwise floats separately from the fabric.

There is a 1906 patent for a corset made with thin material finished with swiss embroidery. I've always wondered if it was possible to make a corset with such lightweight fabric, and this corset shows that it is. Corsets made with such delicate materials won't hold up to the rigors of daily wear, but sometimes it's nice just to have pretty underthings, not sturdy underthings. 

July 10, 2014

a teens corset from a single pattern piece

I prepared this lovely corset for the upcoming Kent State University Museum exhibit, The Great War: Women and Fashion in a World at War

© Kent State University Museum, KSUM 1983.3.52

Salmon colored ribbon was basted behind cream colored, cotton eyelet to create a striking textile. A double wide strip of the same colored ribbon was basted behind the lace at the top edge. 

© Kent State University Museum, KSUM 1983.3.52

Here is a close up of the fabric and the petticoat hook.

© Kent State University Museum, KSUM 1983.3.52

This corset is from 1914 and it epitomizes the long lines of the fashionable silhouette at that time. The center front is 20 inches long. That's long! The skirt reaches to mid thigh. The fabric was shaped with darts rather than cut into separate pieces. The darts have simply been pressed to the side all the way around the body of the corset.

© Kent State University Museum, KSUM 1983.3.52

The center back is 22 inches long. So long that darts were needed below the hip line for shaping.

© Kent State University Museum, KSUM 1983.3.52

The waist measurement of this corset is 25 inches. It's mounted with  2 inch lacing gap, so the waist of it displayed on the form is 27 inches. 

There is a wonderful write up about the exhibit at Worn Through. It opens July 24, 2014. If you are in Northeast Ohio be sure to stop by!

It was so fun dressing and photographing this corset. The pattern created by the contrasting salmon ribbon and cream eyelet looks so Weiner Werst├Ątte to me, and I've already mentioned my appreciation of that aesthetic. Also, I'd never seen a corset made from a single pattern piece. Gorgeous, right?

June 24, 2014

an excuse to wear stays

There aren't many places where one can wear a taffeta petticoat over panniers, stays covered in pearls, and a glittered ship perched on a pompadour and feel underdressed, but the Coney Island Mermaid Parade is one of them.

I did not bring a camera with me. Big mistake. But a talented parade goer shared this beautiful portrait with me, and I found the picture below on Gothamist.

This ensemble felt extravagant when I was getting ready but was nothing compared to the fabulous costumes on display once I arrived at the staging area. Look at these photos at the Village Voice to see some fine costuming. 

My favorite thing about this costume is that I knocked it out without a pattern.  I wasn't worried about perfection, there was none of the regular pattering, fitting, re-patterning that I normally do. I didn't even use a ruler. Fabric was just draped on a dress form then sewn together. The panniers were made first, then the petticoat was draped over them, and the stays were done last. They are reed sandwiched between two layers of linen, and a outer layer of cheap taffeta. They're just three pieces, a front cut on a fold and two sides that wrap around to the back. They work. I felt secure in them and I can easily rip the taffeta off if I need stays for another costume. Which I'm sure I will. Dressing up in 18th century garments is so fun.

I should acknowledge the long absence. I could make excuses, but we're all busy, right? I just couldn't seem to find the time to pattern, sew, and document. But the Corsets and Crinoline corsets aren't going to sew themselves so I have to find a way to make the time. Thank you for your continued interest!

July 2, 2013

taking the 1911 for a spin

I recently wore the 1911 corset. At the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. I did not dress like a mermaid though, maybe next year. My outfit was so normal that someone pointed at me while I was standing amidst fellow fellow parade goers riding the train to Coney Island and said, "You could wear that to work!" and except for the sailor hat they were right.

Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Just before this picture was snapped I thought about how I hand't had time to apply red nail polish so I turned my palms out and ended up with weird flipper hands. Brother.

I was surprised that such a long line corset was so wearable. I was concerned the long bones at the center back would get on my nerves, but they didn't. The best thing about this corset is that it doesn't scream corset. Since there is no exaggerated shape it doesn't call attention to itself, it just smoothes. It was 80 degrees, sunny, and humid, but I didn't feel hot and uncomfortable in the corset, though I do think the summer corset is cooler to wear in warm weather. It's been awhile since I've put a corset on and I forgot how when you take one off you still keep standing straight. I really need to do something about my slouching.

A quick word about the parade, if you have the opportunity to see it go! It is such a fun way to spend a day. So many crazy costumes and there is a pleasant, non-judgemental vibe. No one is going to tell you dupioni wasn't historically accurate or look down their nose if your trim is glued on instead of hand stitched. Everyone's costumes are appreciated. Even if it's just a sailor hat and striped shirt.

February 22, 2013

channeling my inner norah waugh

Can any of you guess what this is?

I'm sure it won't take many guesses. It's part of a project I'm working on at the Kent State University Museum. I'll give you more details soon!