Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Light French Corset from Corsets and Crinolines

We went to a fabulous reenactment over the weekend and while we all had a great time, it became pretty apparent that a few things need to be made really soon. One of those things is a new corset for me since my last one just doesn't fit well anymore. I mean, it does still fit, but it's pretty loose now and the lacing is almost closed in the back (lost 10 lbs and gained a lot of muscle since making it) and the waistline is really low for a proper 1860's silhouette. So basically it was super uncomfortable to wear after a few hours and yeah, time for a new one. I think I'll keep the old one for 1840's use since the low waist works really well for that time period. 

I am glad for any excuse to make corsets so I started this one almost immediately. I originally wanted to try the 1868 L.H. Foy corset that has a fun separate hip piece for ultimate hip flare but the 1868 patent date bothered me. I'm sure the shape is just fine for the 1860's but I wanted something from really early in the 1860's. So I looked at Corsets and Crinolines again and decided to make the 1860 Light French Stays. 
I used the pattern diagram as a guide and drew the pieces out using my own measurements for length, width, etc. I made a few mock ups and the third one works so now I can put my pattern aside and waist for the busk to come in the mail. The pictures are from the second mock up, which was almost right, but needed to be taken in a teeny bit through the bust and waist. 

The front will have a 12" busk as opposed to the 14" busk I used in my last corset
The 1860's saw a really short, curvy corset. The bustline was not that high and the waistline hit right around the bottom of the rib cage. The hips were flared not just at the sides and back but sometimes also at the front, since full skirts springing from the waist did not require a flattened abdomen to look well. This pattern is quite a bit shorter than my other one and since there are so many seams and each seam is a curved line, the corset is a lot curvier than my last one, which had just one seam at the side for shaping, along with triangular gussets. 
The bottom edge needs to have the front curve refined

Very happy with the hip flare!
This pattern seemed oddly familiar to me as I worked on it and then I remembered that this actually was the first pattern I used for a corset! Back in the late 1990's when I first started getting interested in reenacting I bought a corset pattern and a dress pattern from a sutler at Billie Creek Village, and this is the same corset pattern. I guess everything comes full circle eventually!

I fit the corset using the methods suggested in the Laughing Moon Victorian Corsets pattern - I like to fit while wearing a good supportive modern bra, just to keep things in place while the fabric is pulled tight to fit around and below the bust. There will be a 4" or so lacing gap in the back.

I'm really excited about this corset and can't wait til I can sew up the real thing! Hope the mail is quick this week. ;) 


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