October 31, 2009

in case there is masquerade

Suppose you receive a last minute invitation to a masquerade ball? With a scrap of fabric you can knock out a mask and be certain no guest will be wearing the same thing as you.

A quick spray of 3M Super 77 on the mask, cover with the fabric, trim, and fold the edges back. If your like me you'll make your own mask because you can't stand the cheap plastic ones. Cover a wig head with Saran Wrap, paper maché the eye zone using Mod Podge so it stays flexible, then cut out the exact shape you want. A view from the inside.

This mask with a nice dress and I'm done. Happy Halloween!

October 28, 2009

gingham mock-up

The back fit is much better.

Yea. But the sides still need help.

It's also a little sad when the belly and the bust are the same shape. 

Both sides have the same wrinkle/fold. I was thinking that fold could be caused by the fabric riding up, pulling from below to cover an area that is too tight. I received a comment suggesting that I raise the hip gores to add flair to the high hip, so I'm going to do exactly this. 

See you soon with a 4th mock-up.   

October 27, 2009

re-patterned corselet

I can sort of see my usual hip forward slouch just looking at the altered pattern.

Based on your comments (Thank you again for the help!) I took an inch slice out across the back and side. Here it is marked.

The back section was cut out and the pieces taped together. Then I cut the side piece to the front seam.


And blended the seam line using the hip curve.

After I did this I decided 1 inch probably was not enough and took another 1/2 inch out of both pieces, and finally an extra 1/4 inch off the back. Please let this version fit better.

October 23, 2009

2nd corselet mock-up

I've achieved the desired boyish figure.

However, there are still problems with the back.

That's not pretty. The back princess seams look better closer together, and the added length at the bottom edge helps, but those wrinkles! I can't kid myself and say they will disappear when the corselet is pulled down by the garters. That should help, as will functioning shoulder straps,and fabric heavier that quilter's cotton, but I think what really need to do is shave a bit off the seam between the waist and shoulder blade. If I can get that area to fit as snugly as the front then maybe the top won't sag downward. I don't know. Fitting oneself is difficult. 

October 22, 2009

1925 mock-up

I'm permitting my flesh to fall into the corselet. 

I did this by altering the pattern roughly to my natural measurements. The waistline on the Norah Waugh's pattern is 31 1/2 inches, and the hips are 40. I believe the bust was 35 1/2, but I've already thrown away the excess part of the pattern that was written on. So this corselet was not for a woman with a slight, boyish, figure. I took a couple inches off at the bust and hips, and 3 1/2 off the waist, figuring I'd take more off the rest when fitting. I pinned the mock-up together on the left front side, where the hooks and eyes will be. Then I pinched fabric and pinned the excess while looking in a mirror. The area above the waist needs to be snug, I want to feel secure should I be doing the Charleston. Here's a side view.

What are those unattractive wrinkles at the side? And across the back too?

Too much fabric. I'll have to remove a chunk across the center of the side and back pieces. The gores are set a bit wide, and I also don't like how wide and boxy those two seams look above the  gores. As for fitting the elastic gores; I figured the elastic is there to allow movement, so the hips should fit correctly without any stretch. When the finished garment is made with elastic it will then fit properly have the added stretch for flexibility. 

The silhouette I'm aiming for is the last image on the Bridges on the Body Title bar. I should be closer after more pattern adjusting and a second mock-up. 

October 19, 2009

corselet pattern

The pattern has been enlarged on the copy machine, first at 200%, then 207%.

I was flipping through my copy of Corsets and Close-Fitting Patterns, by Mark Brooks Picken, published in 1921 by the Women's Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences, and Miss Picken writes, "The woman with a full bust and heavy shoulders should select a corset that is loose enough above the waistline to permit the flesh to fall into the corset and thus make it appear less prominent." I don't think there is a way to say that any more elegantly. I'm not certain what "heavy shoulders" are, I don't believe I have them, but full bust does apply to me. The one way I can think of to make sure the corset is loose enough above the waistline is to not squeeze the waist by reducing it too much. So I won't.

I looked through the fabric stash and am not finding anything I'm thrilled with. There is this silk blend that may work.

The sunbursts are about 1 3/4" diameter. I love the color, and the design seems vaguely 1920's, but more outerwear than underwear. That is actually the wrong side of the fabric. Here is the face.

That side looks too bold for an undergarment. But even using the wrong side I'm not sold. I don't think the fabric will be strong enough so I'll have to back it with something, which doesn't seem quite right for this corselet. And it's a brocade so I worry about threads catching and pulling. I might go searching for a lightweight broché. 

October 17, 2009

1780 stays properly laced

Here they are! 

Look at how the neckline becomes square when the stays are properly laced. Neat. The shoulder straps stayed in place, though they meet the back of the stays at an awkward angle.

The center back edges are pretty parallel, which makes me happy. The back armscye is a bit snug, which does not. The top back edge could have been a bit lower, and the shoulder straps a bit shorter. But now I have something more accurate to go on for the next pair of stays, rather than just guessing by flopping the straps back and looking over my shoulder in a mirror. Here's a view from the side.

Not bad. 

For the record, I felt very secure in these stays. I wore them for about 7 hours, and other than my ribs becoming sore at my back near the end of that time, there were no problems. I couldn't lift my arms, but way-back-when a lady wearing stays like this would have had servants doing the lifting for her. And I could not take a deep breath, there will be no desert hikes in these stays. To roughly approximate (very roughly) the late 18th century silhouette I wore the stays over a wide-hipped dress, and under that I wore a 1950's crinoline. Not a square dance shaped one, but a long Dior-esque one that's flatter across the front, with the fullness on the sides. A friend laced me in, we took these pictures, then went to lunch. So I wouldn't be a spectacle, I tossed an embroidered tank top on over the stays. As we were walking home a man stepped out of a thrift store, pointed at me, and said, "Eighteenth century! European!"  so I guess the rough approximation worked. 

October 15, 2009

corset? corselet.

Page 90 of Corsets and Crinolines. "Corselet in thin pink cotton broché, with elastic inserts. It fastens down the left side with hooks and eyes. (c. 1925)"

This one concerns me. The slim twenties silhouette is far from my natural shape. I'm worried I'll look like I'm wearing a sausage casing. There. Now that I've put all my fears out there let's get on to the fun things about this corset. Excuse me, corselet. 

Garters! Garters are not just to hold stockings up. They are needed to anchor the corselet down so it doesn't ride up and break the smooth, slim line. Since garters are pointless without stockings I'll have to find a pretty pair. Also, no grommets. After my recent grommet setting issues I'm looking forward to a grommet break.

I'm thinking of not reducing the waist on this pattern. The waist line dropped during the 1920's, and the line from bust to hips was less curvy. Look at these two 1925 dresses from The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dress, 1925 Paul Poiret (French, 1879-1944) Designer 
wool, silk: Length at CB: 45 in. (114.3 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Alfred Rheinstein, 1950 (C.I. 50.117)

Evening Dress, 1925 House of Worth (French, 1858-1956) 
 silk, glass, metallic threads 
Gift of Mrs. Harrison Williams, Lady Mendl and Mrs. Ector Munn, 1946 (C.I.46.20a-c)

I'd wear either of these dresses today. But not without the proper foundation. The difference between my waist and hips is 13 inches without a corset. If I reduce the bust and the hip measurements, but keep my natural waist measurement I may have a shot at the garçonne silhouette. If anyone has made this pattern I'd love to hear your experiences. Did you reduce the waist, or not? One row of hooks for the eyes, or two? What fabric did you use? I can use your help!

October 13, 2009

the need for servants

It's impossible to lace these stays up alone! The spiral lacing at the back can not be tied by oneself, neither can the back tying shoulder straps. Live and learn. Here's a photo of the stays being worn, albeit with the shoulder straps loose and the back laced as much as I could by twisting and looking in a mirror while pulling the ribbon.

Not bad. I could use some panniers to even out the hips, but that project will have to wait. I'll take side and back views, and give a full fit report, when I wrangle a friend into properly lacing me in. My biggest thought is thank goodness I bumped the neckline up 1 1/2 inches.

October 9, 2009

1780 stays done!

The last stitch was taken and knotted at 6 pm yesterday evening. 

And here they are from the inside.

I thought I shaped the seam allowances so all the ends would have been tucked under the binding, like they are along the top edge, but clearly I wasn't as precise as I should have been. But I do like the converging stitch lines on the center panel. I'll lace it up an photograph it on this weekend. In the meantime, the statistics. 

2/3 yard - cotton Toile
2/3 yard - lightweight denim
2/3 yard - cotton batiste
3 1/2 spools - thread
32 - 3/16" grommets
15 2/3 yards - 2.5mm basket reed
10 2/3 yards - 1" bias trim
7 yards - 1/4" cotton satin ribbon

number of seams picked out - 6

October 7, 2009

almost there

This is the last picture of the in stays in progress.

The next post they'll be finished. I swear.

October 5, 2009

in the tabs

I was overly optimistic. There was no crazy weekend sewing, just a steady three additional hours. 

I'm still sewing the front of the binding on, then stitching the back side down separately. On the front of the stays the width of the binding around the edge is roughly the same as the width of the binding along the seams. It's wider in the back. If I was going to attach both at one time I would have to make them the same width. Next time. 

October 2, 2009

one weekend more?

I may be a bit optimistic in thinking that if I stitch like crazy I can finish the binding this weekend. 

I have to stay optimistic. I have been working on these stays for almost three months. Three months. I reminded myself that in 1780 a servant would have been sewing in a cold room with crummy light so I really shouldn't complain. Just keep stitching.

October 1, 2009

small stitches

Still working on the binding. I hit the tabs, and after sewing the binding around one I decided I'm only going around each of those things once. My pseudo backstitching the bias to the stays, then stitching it down separately on the other side, is probably the most labor intensive way of finishing. So I'm leaving the tabs for now and started sewing the other side of the binding down. Here's the inside view.

That looks so sloppy to me. No matter. Here it is from the right side. 

And here you can see the binding pinned in place and the reed I added at the center back poking out near the top.

The center back trim is finished. The reed feels secure in the bias, it only wiggled a bit at one spot, so I think it will add the strength intended. I would have much more completed if I hadn't taken an evening off to pattern a dress. I had to though. I was going blind focusing on those tiny stitches.