Corsetmakers Course

With my new subscription to Foundations Revealed, I am following the corsetmaker’s course to construct Laughing Moon #100 Silverado corset. I plan to do a very detailed blog of the process for future reference, though many of the steps that are in depth on FR will just be mentioned.

I initially decided to use the Dore pattern, but Farthingales’ profile view decided it for me – I want more of a cupped breast for the FR challenge ideas that I am pursuing.

The Silverado course starts with taking exact measurements of your body and comparing them with the actual measurements of the pattern pieces. I put on my best fitting bra and made sure the straps were evenly supporting my boobs. I carefully measured in front of a floor length mirror and my resulting sizes gave me a 14 bust, 18 waist and 12 hips. I followed the recommended 75 mm reduction at the waist and 50 mm everywhere else, as well as the 15 mm seam allowance listed on the pattern, as well as a 2 inch gap in the lacing.

I cut the above sizes out of the (photocopied) pattern and sewed mockup number 1.


Made some changes, tried larger cups, went back to smaller cups, added a gore to the hips, and moved the gore to between pieces 13 and 14. My pattern pieces now look like this:

My cotton duck mockup is practically disintegrating around the edges from being handled, so I will cut and sew one more mockup, which will be used to flatline the lining of the real thing. I haven’t picked out a fabric to make it out of, but I’m considering several fabrics for the exterior, then I will pick out a pretty matching lining.

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FR Challenge

I am sort of reconsidering the shape aspect of the challenge. Since I like using plastic cable ties for boning, I am thinking I can use hot water to permanently change the shape of the ties. My initial thoughts are making a duct tape dummy, putting the finished corset on it,  pouring boiling water on it to soften the stays and let it dry on the dummy to take that shape. I don’t know if this will work, but I think it will be a cool experiment.

I found this example on farthingales’ that shows a comparison of the Dore and Silverado corsets and a silhouette like the Silverado would give me the opportunity to test this idea.


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Foundations Revealed Challenge

With my new subscription of Your Wardrobe Unlock’d and Foundations Revealed, I checked out their competitions and I think I want to make another corset. Yes, I am way late on getting started, but if I do this, it will give me a deadline for this corset instead of a vague “in the future” to improve on my last corset. I am going to start by looking through the dresses I already own and designing a corset that can be worn with something I own, rather than making a dress to match the corset. The categories for FR are shape and ornamentation and it covers corsets and other foundation wear.

I could make an Elizabethan pair of bodies or an Edwardian S-bend in the shape category, or a Victorian or modern corset in the ornamentation category. I don’t think the shape of the latter would be anything special and therefore I’d be going for ornamentation with Victorian-esque styles. Or, I could make a proper pair of flapper underwear to totally flatten my bust for shape.

After looking at patterns and pictures, I decided to buy Laughing Moon’s Victorian underwear set (LM100) from Truly Victorian. It has the Silverado and Dore corset patterns of which I’ve heard great and bad stuff about. I feel competent enough to make a good result regardless of any problems along the way. In addition, my friend and my mother are also going to make corsets along with me, so that will be cool. Now, I’m left to decide how to decorate this corset.

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Your Wardrobe Unlock’d & Foundations Revealed

My miscellaneous projects have brought me time and again back to Your Wardrobe Unlock’d: The Costume Maker’s Companion, 1700-1920 and Foundation Revealed: The Corset Maker’s Companion, so I have signed up. I am quite excited at the wealth of information at my fingertips!

I had previously reviewed every free article on FR when I was working on my mint green corset, but there was so much information available across the web that I didn’t sign up then and there. Now, in my searches for Elizabethan drawn thread work, I came across an LJ post of some lovely drawn thread cuffs which leads back to YWU. This was irresistible, I had to have it and I immediately signed up. Theoretically, YWU’s date ranges are just outside of my major interests (1500-1600), but there is still wealth enough to make it worth my attention and money.

Now, back to the drawn thread research!

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Properties of Fabric

For my next project, I’m going to make new stockings. My previous pair were made of cotton and stayed wet on rainy days. So I’m doing some research on fabric properties to compare the best possibilities for my new stockings. Below are short summaries of a few types of fabrics, both natural and man made.

Cotton is a natural plant fiber that is strong wet and dry. Cotton absorbs moisture.

Wool is a natural fiber from sheep that is warm and insulating but weak. Wool is elastic and highly absorbent, which causes it to dry slowly.

Silk is a natural fiber from silk worms that is strong dry and weak wet.

Linen is a natural plant fiber that is strong wet and dry. It is highly absorbent and dries quickly. Air is able to pass through linen fabric making it cool and comfortable.

Polyester is a man made fiber that is strong wet and dry. It is non-absorbent but dries quickly and may feel hot and clammy.

Nylon is a man made fiber that is strong dry but weaker wet. It is not very absorbent and may feel hot and clammy, but it is quick drying.

Rayon is a man made fiber from trees that is moderately strong, but weaker wet. It is very absorbent.

Tyvek/Olefin is a man made fiber used in activewear, linings and wicks water away, drying quickly.

Ingeo is a man made fiber that is typically blended with cotton or wool. It is water resistant and wicks away water.

Bamboo is a natural fiber that is light and strong with moisture wicking abilities.

Acrylic is a man made fiber that is light weight and warm. It is moisture wicking and quick drying.

Victorian Corset

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Everyone else is working on Victorian stuff lately and so I have been working on a corset as an “easy” break from my Florentine sottana. Turns out, it’s not easy or quick at all. I bought both Simplicity 9769 and Simplicity 2890 recently when Joann’s was having one of their $1.99 pattern sales. I’m using Simplicity 9769 because I like the lines of it. Since I wasn’t sure what size I needed, I got 9769 in the larger sizes, where my measurements put me. After putting together a mockup in size 14, attempting to modify and take it in with a wing and a prayer, I became utterly frustrated and acknowledged the need for the smaller pattern. After a trip to Joann’s, I came home ready to work on my :easy” project again. I was able to cut down the size 14 pieces to size 12, stitched it up and tried it on.

Amongst my frustrated googling, I found this awesome blog post: How to fit a Simplicity 9769 corset. Though I did not do mine the same way, I did pick up some great hints. Namely, instead of safety pinning my lacing strips on, I sewed them on and drastically improved the fitting process. I also LOVED her idea of masking taping my boning on for the fitting – a huge improvement over trying on my mockup without boning.

So the size 12 was not going to close around my hips, but the bust was great. Artemisia found her best fit by using different sizes of each piece, but I didn’t think that was going to give me as much room as I needed in my hips. Instead, I drew out the pattern pieces and merged larger sizes at the bottom with the smaller sizes at the top. This involved NOT mixing up the two different patterns and a lot of freehand drawing. I actually prick holes in the pattern and then use a marker to dot that hole, then freehand the lines and check it against my patterns. I have used this method for a while now because I didn’t like cutting the pattern out in one size, nor did I like placing the pattern on and trying to keep it from shifting while cutting. Fortunately, I have a good sense of shape and spacing, so my pattern drawings are very close to exact. I then rotary cut everything freehand. I recently heard of a french curve and would have picked one up at Joann’s but they didn’t have one, so I’m gonna stick with my sense of proportion.

My measurements are: bust 36″ (squished to 34″), waist 32″, and hips 40″. In the end, I used the following sizes for my pattern:

  • piece 14 – size 10 top, size 12 bottom
  • piece 15 – size 10 top, size 14 bottom
  • piece 16 – size 14
  • piece 17 – size 12 top, size 14 bottom
  • piece 18 – size 12 top, size 14 bottom
  • pieces 13 and 19 were one size

I’m ripping my mockup apart to save as pattern pieces and I will be cutting my fabrics shortly: mint green satin, white cotton duck, and cream cotton. The satin is something I picked up for no reason and noticed when I started thinking about corsets a week or two ago. The cotton duck is my go to for mockups and bodice strength fabric. The cream lining  I got at Joann’s today for $2.50/yard (ish). I wanted something all natural for my lining but couldn’t find anything with a shine, so I decided on a 1 inch cream satin ribbon for the bindings with the cotton lining. I also got a yard of a lace material for decoration inspired by this corset: I plan to drape the lace similar to a Victorian bustled apron.

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