Pretty Pink Corselet: Part One

Been sewing, not writing. But I suppose that’s obvious from a quick read-through of posts! Today I’m doing a bit of both! My most recent sewing has been 1920s related as we have a dress making workshop coming up at work, plus several Gatsby-esque fun events happening in the near future.

After making my first 1920s dress in mid-August, it was quickly apparent that I needed some proper 1920s undergarments to wear with it. Fast forward to today and I finally got around to just that.

corselet front

About as un-sexy as you can get from a modern point of view!

A bit of searching turned up a few vintage patterns, plus the rather amazing blog, Bridges on the Body, which discusses the 1925 corselet patterned in Corsets & Crinolines by Norah Waugh. I scanned that pattern and enlarged it as described on the blog, with the only change being that I did the enlarging within my graphic program (GIMP) and saved the file as a pdf that I could print out as a poster. That saved some time, but I still needed to check the full size pattern against me to see what other alterations were needed. Ultimately, I ended up adding 2″ below the waist to each pattern piece and just crossed my fingers…

I actually did some test fitting with a bit of ivory twill and it fit well enough that I was able to use that as the underlining for the final version. Some scrounging through my stash produced this pale pink satin-y striped damask, probably a rayon blend. The damask and the twill were assembled as one and all the seams were felled.

corselet fabrics

For markings I used a combination of basting, heat-sensitive ink, and also wax transfer paper – the black lines across the seam allowance above are from some of the transfer paper and indicate the boning channels across the stomach. I haven’t gotten to those yet but the markings are ready!

corselet back

Corselet back view, with the non-matchy-matchy elastic gores

I ended up teaching a sewing lesson for a few hours today so total time on this project is a bit tough to estimate. I think it was about 8-9 hours so far, starting with scanning, enlarging and printing the pattern. During that time, I managed to get the full corselet assembled, using the damask/twill combo for the main body and 2 layers of flesh-colored powernet for the back gore. I wish I had something that matched better but I couldn’t beat the elasticity of the powernet. It also meant that everything so far has come from my stash! 1.25″ shoulder straps were created with a single layer of the damask with a short extension of 1.25″ white waistband/pajama elastic. I have enough to also use for the garters but haven’t found the hardware for that.

corselet closeup hooksThe hook & eye tape worked almost perfectly… I had a package on hand and it measured 18″. It was maybe .25″ short but barely noticeable so I opted not to worry about it! The only glitch with the hooks/eyes was folding back too much of the front edge before sewing the eye tape. When the corselet is closed, a narrow strip of the tape is visible. And although it’s annoying to look at, it is still perfectly functional so I didn’t take the time to redo it.

The top binding is a single layer of 2″ wide bias-cut damask and since it only needed to finish the edge and not confine boning, the single thin layer worked perfectly.

It was challenging fitting myself (and no, I took no pictures of that craziness!) but since the opening is on the left front, it is doable. The straps were marked (and sewn) in place as indicated on the pattern, but as you can see from the full length shots, they seem a bit awkwardly placed. I’ll likely move them towards the sides, at least on the front.

The corselet definitely needs garters (and stockings to attach them to) in order to work properly. It fits great when I pull it down, but as soon as I move, it starts to creep up. Hopefully I can find some garter hardware tomorrow and finish the bottom edge. Then this might be the quickest corset-like garment I’ve ever made!

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