Monday, June 7, 2010

Cable Tie Corset & Pink Baby Dress

For those of you who have inquired about my purely cable tied corset, here, at last, are a few pictures of how the front opening works.
This corset has cable ties and hook and eyes instead of a steel clasp busk. I made this corset in this manner so I could more easily nurse Malachi last year. Cable ties are more flexible than the steel used for busks so it was much more comfortable to get everything in position for a feeding. :) Even though cable ties are not as stiff as a steel busk, I still got a good shape with this corset and felt very supported. And I have worn this poor corset a lot. My new blue corset has a steel busk but is otherwise indentical to this pink one. The only difference I notice is that the shape of the bust in the blue corset has a lifted and seperate look to it (kind of reminiscent of regency era styles) and the pink corset has a bit lower bustline, and is more of a monobosom look. Actually, either look is appropriate to the Civil War era and can be documented in extant photographs.
Then, just as today, there were different styles of corests (today we have bras) that gave subtle differences to the shape of the person wearing them. To put in the front bones, I stitched the two layers of the corset together (a pink linen layer and a white twill layer, treated as one at the other seams) to create a casing for the front bones. I slid them in and then bound the top and bottom of the corset. To finish it off, I sewed hook and eyes to the inside of the corset, alinging the curved edge of the eyes and the curved edge of the hooks with the front edge. This way the corset closes edge to edge. There is a tiny little gap between the edges when the corset is worn, but that is normal. Steel busks often have a little gap between the edges too.

I am whittling away at my sewing list for this weekend. Today I cut out Malachi's new pink dress and so far have the basic dress sewn together. I still need to face the waistband, stitch the hem, and add a button and buttonholes to the neck and waist. The skirt will be trimmed with a narrow scalloped band bound in self fabric bias, just like the sleeves.
Did I mention I really don't like binding scallops?! WHAT was I thinking? At least I had good practice when I made my 18th century stays earlier this year and had to bind all those tabs by hand! Malachi's dress is inspired by this original dress that was on eBay a few years ago. This dress was also my inspiration for David and Judah's matching blue and white striped dresses I made two years ago. I really love the graceful little scallops. It is an adorable trim feature that I usually don't see on repro clothes, and, well, I like doing out-of-the-ordinary things. :)
That is also the reason why I am making Malachi a pink dress. Some of you may be asking why on earth I would put my baby boy in a pink dress. It seems there is a trend among reenactors to put their baby boys in more "boyish" colors or styles. I personally think this is way overthought and overdone. Did every mother of a baby boy try to make her baby more "manly" dresses in the 1860's? Obviously not. There is nothing wrong with a baby boy wearing a hunter green and navy blue plaid trimmed with military inspired red braid, but on the other hand, there is nothing wrong with a baby boy wearing a sheer white gown trimmed with ruffles and lace and tucks and insertion and embroidery. Or for that matter, a pink dress. Also, I've found no evidence thatpink was considered a girly color in the 1860's. In fact, at times it seems pink was actually thought more of as a boy color. I have seen several toddler boy dresses from the period that are varying shades of pink. Third, this style and color of dress would not be considered odd in the 1860's period, but is odd to modern people in this day and age. I have tried in the past to put my boys in more "manly" colors and prints and plaids but everyone still always thinks they are girls anyway.
So, let them think that! Malachi gets a pink dress this year. He looks great in this color and when I told him today that I was going to make him a new dress from this fabric, he squealed and scurried away with the yardage in his arms and I had quite a time making him give it back to me! In fact, when I found this fabric a few months ago Malachi was the one who pulled it off the table into the cart. I asked David what he thought, he shrugged and said it was a good color for him and that was the end of the conversation.

Pink is really such a nice color for boys! Little David's first reenacting dress was pink. Here is a photo of him wearing it three years ago. I was terribly proud of this little gown and of my little boy wearing it. :) Ah. Nothing like being a first time mama going to your first reenactment with Baby! It is one of the most pride-inducing activites to engage in. :P


  1. I love pink for boys! Prior to the twentieth century, it was considered a manly color because it resembled blood. True fact! :)


  2. Lovely dress and lovely thoughts from Mama :) I appreciate the explanation on your corset too! I have to file that one away for future reference!


  3. Very Cute Dress for you boys!

    Was it hard to make the corsets? I am not exactly "Sewing Savy" so to say. But i would dearly like to try for i am making a Regency Dress.

    In Christ

  4. Okay...I just about died reading how Malachi reacted to getting his new dress in that fabric! So precious!!!!! I think your boys are darling and I love that you have them reenact with you both..a lovely family event :-)

    I keep thinking that Rowan would look smashing in all the dresses you make your boys...I need to make something like that :-)

    Lots of love,
    Sommer..hope you are have a good week!

  5. Sommer, what size does Rowan wear? Let me know and I'll make her a CW dress like this. . .I have many yards of this pink left over and since it really isn't the best choice for adult clothes, I don't know what to do with it all. :P Let me know her modern clothing size and her waistband measurement, and measurement from the top edge of her shoulder to her waistline. . .I need practice making clothes long distance anyway, so if you would be willing to let me try, I'd be ever grateful! :)

    Millie, I don't think corsets are hard at all! Some of things that could be more challenging to a pure beginner is sewing curved seams for a corset like mine, or putting in gussets for earlier style corsets. Since you are making a regency dress, I think you would like Mrs. Chancey's pattern for Regency Undergarments from Sense and Sensibility pattern ( She has a beautiful pattern for short stays included in this pattern that is easy to put together. Her instructions are clear and she is always available to answer questions if you run into a problem while you are sewing. The short stays are a good starter corset and will give you experience sewing in gussets, putting in boning, binding edges and making eyelets for lacing holes. This will give you great practice for making a full length corset (one that goes over the waist and hips).

  6. What pattern did you use for the dress? Or did you draft it yourself? I love it. It looks great.

  7. Thanks for posting your corset. It's almost as if you knew that's what I was working on today :). I'm going to fiddle with the front a little tomorrow; I just got the rest of the boning in now. I think I'd definately like to try your pattern! Gussets and I aren't getting along, and I have more than enough supplies left over to make another. Later. After this. LOL!

  8. Stephanie, these dresses are SUPER easy to make. A plain, basic one takes only a few hours start to finish, including time for handsewing the hem and buttonholes and the bias band/piping around the neckline.

    I use a very basic raglan shape for the bodice. Mrs. Clark has a free pattern for a chemise that is cut the same way - you can use her instructions for a chemise, scaled down to whatever size you need, cut off at waist level. Gather the neckline to a fitting bias band or piping, make a back opening, gathered the bodice edge to a waistband (finished width of 1" or so) and the skirt is just two rectangles with a hemmed placket in the back, gathered to the waistband. Stitch on a waistband facing to make everything neat inside, hem, and add a buttonhole and button at the waistband and antoher at the neck.

    Jenny, I think you will really like the Dore corset! The fitting instructions in the LM pattern are superb. I always had trouble fitting a corset til I got this pattern and followed their method of fitting. I've never had a bad experience with this pattern! I will get it off to you asap - though it probably won't be til Monday after we get back from our event.

    And oh! David talked to his mom last night and she wants to come down to Jacksonville for the day on Sunday with us, so we all will be there, probably arriving around 9:00 or so. :)

  9. Thanks for showing and explaining the corset! It looks like something I might be able to do if I ever decide to - which is great. I was rather afraid of these things, but you make me thing it's doable. :-)

  10. Oh my Sarah! What a wonderful treat :-) I will gladly let my daughter be a guinea pig for your long distance skills ;-)

    I'll measure her after her nap and send you those details in an email! Oh, I'm so excited!

    Lots of love,

  11. Thanks for the instructions. It is very cute!

  12. Oops. Now I see how many mistakes I make in my English if I write quickly and excitedly... like misspellings of words I normally know how to spell correctly. Please bear with me! :-)

  13. My gosh I never knew that just the use of simple cable ties, you have managed to keep your corset all working for your little one. That seems really a great invention to me. Hope Newton likes this invention. ;)


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!