I hope to inspire and entertain you with a lot of sewing and a little of everything else!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Re-enacting Wardrobe: part 1: Corset

Yahoo! I finally managed to finish a sewing project! It is something I am pretty excited about: my first corset!
Modeled here by Rosie, my lovely (thinner than me) daughter! It has been cold here at night, so it is shown over her fuzzy blanket sleeper!
Long background story: I have always been interested in historic fashion and have wanted to get involved with a re-enactment group. You would think it would be easy to find in history-rich New England, but I haven't had luck finding a group that was civilian, since the military groups mostly "enlist" men. I finally found 2 interesting groups a few weeks ago. One is a Civil War Civilians group with events in my area. I am hoping to attend one in October. The other is a "Vintage Dancers" group that runs themed dances in Massachusetts and the New England area. They are hosting a Jane Austen Regency Ball on October 5 and my husband has agreed to attend with me. In our younger days, he liked to dance. I took dance as a child, but never liked "free" dancing. However, these are the old-fashioned "called" dances, like reels. I think I will enjoy those! I know I will like the dressing up part. So, before I could start a Regency gown or Civil War dress, I needed the "proper foundation". I choose a Butterick pattern that I had on hand, since I didn't have high hopes that it would turn out well.
Here's the back. As you can tell, it did turn out well!! I had a kit I had bought for about $15 on ebay that had the fabric, busk, boning, and grommets. I used the fabric and busk from it. The fabric is a tan heavy twill and it is lined with the same and each piece also has interfacing. For the boning, I bought some heavy-duty cable ties at Lowe's. They were cheaper and easier to use than metal boning, because I could trim them to the exact length. I ended up buying grommets and a setting plier, because the ones that came in the kit were not very nice.

Here's a close-up of the busk. The marks are just pencil. Funny story: the busk I had on hand was a little too long, but since this was a trial, I wanted to make do. I tried a hack saw and wire cutters, but couldn't cut it at home. I took it to Lowe's and a nice older man there used a heavy wire scissors to trim it. When he was done, he asked what it was. When I told him, he blushed and I said, "I bet this is the first time you cut something like this." My girls were so embarrassed!

The edges are bound with self-binding, which I stitched on by machine. This pattern is basically a Civil War style, but I think it will be OK for a Regency dress, too. Next time I try a corset, I will probably make the Laughing Moon Dore, which I have heard good things about and I'll make it from white coutil. But I am really happy with this one!

Here's the back with the grommets and lacing. It laces from the top down to the waist and from the hips up to the waist. I tried it on last night and it really works! It may not make me skinny, but it gives a smooth, curved silhouette! It was actually comfortable and I could breathe, but could not easily bend. It will definitely promote good posture.
Next, I will make a simple chemise to be worn under it and then on to the gown. I am hoping to have time to make a tailcoat and breeches for hubby, but time is short, so we will see. I am very excited about exploring this new hobby!!


Laura said...

The affect on posture is why 19th century medical literature extols the health benefits of corsets. :) I've been dabbling in a bit of historical fiction and thus have taken my Victorian fascination to a whole new level! I've been learning a lot about what was historically possible in what decades...

kim leavens said...

It's wonderful,,,I have always loved sewing and wearing costumes. The regency ball sounds like a lot of fun!!! I love http://sensibility.com/, she has a wonderful regency dress pattern with a lot of ideas. Do have fun creating for and attending the Ball!

TiramiSue said...

Lisa, it all sounds fabulous. Jane Austen, dancing and the fact your husband will go with you, sounds very romantic.
Sue xxx