January 22, 2012

1911 - fitting notes

Perfectionism can cause me to get lost in a fitting quagmire. Quagmires are no fun. Fortunately this corset doesn't have to be fit over the bust and it's not intended to severely reduce the waist, so the difficulties of pattering the bust curves and dealing with displaced flesh are avoided. One nice thing about this style, and the patterns we're working with for the sew along, is that we can easily change both the top and bottom edges to suit our needs. Require a bit more hip coverage? Leave the bottom edge a bit longer. You'll be tangoing the night away? Arch the bottom front edge over the legs like the second model from the left in the image below.

You can see a variety of hip lengths in this picture is from the 1911 Sears Catalog. The shortest version ends just below the bum, others continue for another inch or two. It also shows several options for shaping the top edge. That is a good reason to keep the extra inch added when tracing the pattern to the mock-up. After the corset is sewn the edge can be marked right on the fabric. Easy peasy. When I first tried on my mock-up the area above the waist was almost straight up and down, not the gradual slope from waist to bust we see on the models in the image above. When I let out the seams above the waist I not only could I breath again, I had the slight flare at the front instead of a straight, cylindrical shape. Surprisingly, the biggest change happened when I let out the back seam. That seam falls under the shoulder blades and is where a lot of flesh spillage can occur. So if you are fitting yourself by looking in a mirror remember that what you easily see in the front can be affected by what's not so easy to see in the back.

Those of you who have mock-ups that meet in the center back, take a tiny bit out of the center of each panel, say 1/4 inch. That will add up over the width of the corset resulting in a gap at the lacing. If you have a gap, but it's small, say just an inch, then shave a small amount off the center back edge, no more than 1/2 inch. That will allow a wider gap for easier lacing.

If the corset is comfortable everywhere but pulls wide open at the opening below the busk, let out the first seam from the hips down. If you had a bit of room in front just below the hip bone that's OK. The garters will help anchor the corset down and keep a smooth line.

When making alterations it's best to make one change at a time. For example, add to the hips, see how it fits, then reduce above the waist. When you make many changes at once overcorrection can quickly occur. As long the mock-up fits and is comfortable the finished corset will do the rest of the shaping.

I'm enjoying the steady work flow that I've achieved with this corset and am glad there is a schedule to stick to so I get bogged down in fitting. I'm also looking forward to cutting into the real fabric later this week. How about you? Excited to get to work on the real thing?


  1. It's taken a while, lots of putting on and taking off again, and a few scratches from pins, but I now have a mock-up I'm happy with. Yay! Thanks for all the fitting tips, Jo.

  2. I imagine that keeping up with all the questions (especially from beginners like me) has been very time consuming and probably even annoying at times, so thank you for all of your time and help. I know I'm learning a lot from participating and despite the occasional lacing/fitting frustration, the sew along has been awesome.

  3. Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying participating. It has been my pleasure to host the sew along. I'm learning too!