Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A New Style of Corset - 1860's

The blue twill corset I made last year was worn, literally, to pieces. I managed to make it work for the last Civil War function we attended, last November, but it is really impossible to make it work again. Plus, due to the fact I have lost some weight, and the corset has stretched, has caused there to be almost zero "gap" in the back. Major discomfort.

I debated making a new corset using my beloved Laughing Moon Dore corset pattern, which I have used the past five years. I picked up Simplicity 2890 at a 99 cent pattern sale a few months ago though, and having heard good things about it, decided to try something new.

Simplicity 2890 consists only of two main pieces - a front and a back - and the major shaping for the bust and hips is achieved through the use of eight gussets. This corset was designed by famous corsetiere Kay Gnagney of Originals-by-Kay and she has posted some helpful advice in fitting and making this corset over at The Sewing Academy.

Following her helpful advice, I chose and cut the size I thought would best fit me. One thing I had to take into consideration was the cup size. From what I've read, this Simplicity pattern is designed for an A or B cup. Gusset size is easily changed and very customizable, so I just made my own bust gussets for fit. They ended up shorter and more "petal" shaped than the ones in the pattern. Each persons gussets will be different from someone else's.

Besides the gussets, the only thing I had to change on the pattern was taking in a bit of width from the front hip gusset and taking in the side seam at the top a bit. That's it! I'm used to drastically having to alter patterns to fit me so I was pleasantly suprised to find how good of a fit I got with this pattern right off.

This corset seems so little compared to past ones I have made. There is not much to it. It is short and curvy and the waistlines hits at the bottom rib. My last corset was mildly uncomfortable after hours of wear because it dug into my waist, which I had positioned at the smallest portion of my waist. My lower ribs are wider than my waist, but it is a period placement for the waistline. I could already tell a huge difference between the fit and feel of my last corset and the mock up of this one.

I have my shell all sewn up and am awaiting the boning and busk so I can finish it up. I am trying to make this as inexpensively as possible so the corset is 2 layers of stash fabric. The inner layer is white cotton duck left over from a project last year and the outer layer is gray linen. I know that linen was not commonly used by the time of the American Civil War but I chose the fabric I had that had the least amount of stretch and were the most firmly woven.

After this I have a new ballgown to make before a dance and dinner on April 9th. I hope I can get it all done before then!



  1. I've made this one too and I like it a lot! I actually am making the drawers and chemise from that pattern right now. I don't know how I get confused but the chemise instructions keep confusing me.

  2. Ooh, can't wait to see it!

    Very best,


  3. I'm very glad for this little 'reveiw'. For my next corset I'm planning to use this pattern. I've only had one corset in my life and its a gored one. Never the less I'm hoping to try a gusseted one. Now I just have to hope I can master the gussets. :p So scary. :-/

    My sister has made the drawers in that pattern. And I'm helping my cousin make the chemise. So I think our $.99 was well spent. lol

    April 9th...are y'all attending the ball in Galesburg or some where else? We were origianlly planning on attending the one in Galesburg. But our cousin won't be able to make it and they were our ride so up the crick that plan went. lol Oh well. I didn't have a new 'party' dress done anyway. And my little sister is also lacking a period dress due to extreme amounts of growth which appearently comes with turning 11. :S lol Still hoping for my white sheer this year tho. :D Never the less we are hoping to hit the military time line event at New Salem. Although I am alittle confused because Christian Jebb is supposed to be there, but he's also listed as going to the ball on the same day which is quite perplexing as I don't think he'd drive all the way up there and back in the same day as this event, but anyway that's kinda beside the point. :P

    I am very much looking forward to seeing your up-coming ball gown. I'm sure it will be most lovely. :)

    God bless you and yours,

  4. I am making the chemise right now and have the drawers cut out and ready to go. I have been a little scared to try the corset but you guys make it sound easy. Where is the fitting advice at on the Sewing Academy?

  5. Duh I just found it! Thanks for you help anyway!

  6. I'm glad you found it Patience! The Sewing Academy is a gold mine of information. :) I use the "search" button there and read old threads may more often than I post and read new threads.

    Brooke, aw, I am sorry you won't be able to make it to Galesburg. The event at New Salem sounds sooo fun though! I didn't know there was an event going on there the same day. Mr. Christian Jebb will be one very busy dude, I suppose. :)

    The gussets were really not hard to put in, however I did not follow the pattern instructions to insert them. I always had horrible trouble with gussets until I read about the method Katherine of Koshka The Cat used for her 1820's corset to insert the gussets. Soooo much easier, and quicker and with a very nicely finished appearance. I wish you lived closer! It would be so fun to get together for sewing days once in a while. :)

    The chemise from this pattern is definitely on my to-do list this spring. I love how it looks and my old ones have been heavily used the past 3 seasons and need replacing.

    I hope the ball gown comes out okay! I know what I want, in my head, but making that transfer from mental design to physical reality may be a challenge. :)

  7. Sewing days would be a total blast. :D When we're trying to fit things Michelle's always like we need Sarah Jane. lol :P

    I'll definately read about Katherine's method of putting in gussets...

    The chemise was alot easier to construct then I'd imagined. I'm always afriad of things with shaped yokes or whatever, but both chemises I've made with them were fairly easy!

  8. We NEED to get together to sew one of these days then!

    Thanks for the good review on the chemise pattern. The yoke was having me a bit worried, too (haven't done a shaped yoke that before).

    I wonder if the esteemed and genial Mr. Jebb will is still living in Sprinfield? If he is, perhaps he will go to New Salem on his way up to G-burg. I wish we could make it to New Salem that day too but I think it would just be too far for us to go to both. :(

  9. I think Mr. Jebb is still living in Springfield...not totally sure, but from what I last heard he that probably is what he's doing.

    That's sad it'd be to far to y'all to hit both that day. I miss seeing y'all. :-/

  10. I just made my first corset using the laughing moon dore corset pattern, I loved it but this looks easier, I had to alter the dore pattern to fit me quite a bit, less sections two alter would be much easier, mabye I'll try this one next time.

  11. I used this pattern last year with zip-tie boning and I thought it was SOOO comfortable! I used a twill that strectched a little more than I would have liked, but the pattern was easy to make, fit, and wear. I hope you like it!

    I'm not sure what we'll be attending this year, due to Baby Girl, but I hope we'll make it to SOMETHING! It's so much fun!

  12. Jenny, I was thinking this may have been the one you made! I'm glad you shared your thoughts on the pattern! I hope to finish the corset today and am hoping it will be what I want it to be. With corsets, you never *really* know if they are going to work until they are done and you can try them on "for real". :) This pattern seems to have good reviews though, so I'm glad!

    I hope you are able to make it to an event this summer or fall! Galesburg is usually mid to late August and Baby would be a few months old by then. . .ooh, whatever you could make it to would be lovely. :) And I know she would be adorable in a long white infant gown and lacey bonnet!

  13. Hi Sarah,

    I've never attempted a corset but this pattern seems to be pretty user friendly if I ever decide to make one. Thanks for the run-down on it! BTW, did you get the email I sent you? I used the address in our church directory so I'm not sure if it's still valid or not, but I wanted to at least let you know I had sent one. :) Take care!

  14. Interested at how you found the fit. What size did you cut. Becuase I'm looking at this pattern to sew up but I'm size 14 in everything but my hips which are two sizes up.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!