My gown for the Renaissance Faire this year is based on a style from John William Waterhouse's Ophelia painting*. While a lovely style, I can't pull this off without something to firm up the torso. My solution is to wear a Victorian corset underneath to give a smooth line. I'm using the late 1880s corset pattern from Norah Waugh's Corset and Crinolines. It is a scaled pattern which requires sizing up (read my article on the method I use here), but I've worked with scaled patterns before and been pleased with the results.
For materials, I will be basing it on a corset in The Kyoto Costume Instititutes's Fashion; a light blue corset with white stitching, flossing and binding. I've purchased blue cotton twill for the body of the corset, and am using white silk thread for the stitching/flossing.
This is my first real attempt at making a corset of this shape, and I can't say I'm not a little nervous about it. But, it seems that the hour glass corset shape is one of the more popular ones, and there is a lot of literature online on fitting and constructing similar styles. So, I'm not totally on my own with this one.
June 6, 2004
I made the muslin toile a week ago, and haven't been able to try it on yet because I didn't have a pair of lacing strips (very handy things; see this site for more informaiton). I tried the corset on today, and was quite surprised that it was actually big on me--quite big in the bustline! I've either been loosing weight or wrongly sized the pattern up. After two more fittings, I finally struck the right balance between taking in excess fabric and leaving it loose enough to comfortably hold the bustline. I also added a few pieces of boning to the toile during the 3rd fitting to give me a better idea of how the corset would actually fit. It's amazing what four pieces of spiral steel boning will do! I'm pretty happy with the changes I made, but I want to cut out a new toile and fit that just to make sure everything is going smoothly.
*Artwork courtesy ARC.
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