Corset Update: Opening Up Shop

And, one day before the next exam, I am back with the long overdue corset update: Tonight I finally got around to ironing my fabric (yay!) and the altered and finished master pattern is waiting to go onto it for cutting.

I will be using a yard of sateen for the lining, and another yard of light trouser-weight cotton twill for the outer layer. For a corset, this may feel a tad too light at first; but then many extant Regency stays and corsets are somewhat on the light side as well. A very prominent example of this aspect are Juliette Récamier’s infamous wrap stays:

Empire-era wrap stays, worn by Juliette Récamier (Musée Galliera, c. 1800).

That being said, I could have also gone with two layers of sateen, according to the pattern’s fabric suggestions. But my sateen is a bit flimsy. On the bright side though, this quality will come in handy when tracing the cording pattern to the fabric. ;)

In the meantime, the rest of the corsetry tools and ingredients has arrived as well. They complete the small collection of items I have shown you in June. Now, we are all set to go…

The rest of the corsetry tools: two pre-cut flat steel bones, 2 meters of spiral boning, a pair of needle-nose pliers, fine steel wire cutters and a tapered awl.

And, for the first time ever, I have involved my dad in a historical costuming project. He was a great help when it came to selecting the right tools to work with hardened steel. He suggested I get a decent bolt cutter for the spiral boning and has promised me to be on the lookout for one at the hardware stores. Until then, I will be using a pair of fine steel snips from the jewelry-making department. :) Another thing we agreed upon was getting some of this amazing stuff: heat-shrink tubing.

Heat-shrink tubing, 6-8 mm wide.

I will use it for tipping the spiral steel bones, after finding this amazing tutorial by Kim of “Steam Ingenious”. This unusual method also got dad’s seal of approval when I showed it to him over coffee. He pointed out that it would stop the cut tips from rusting which is not something one would want in a corset. Sometimes  I really think he would make an awesome historical costumer. :)

I am also excited about finding out what he will say, once the corset is boned and ready to go. I am hoping to get to this point by the end of August. And, of course, I will keep you posted about the progress. Wishing you all a wonderful week.

Love, Nessa

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6 thoughts on “Corset Update: Opening Up Shop

  1. Michelle H says:

    This is so enjoyable following your projects, each step of the way. I can no longer do this work, myself. But I still wish I could so I’m living vicariously through you. I’m also a devoted Jane Austen, Regency-ANYTHING… :) fashion, literature, history. If I were much younger I would have tried my hand at something like this too. A truly fun experience watching your efforts. Best of luck.

    • Nessa says:

      Hello Michelle. Thank you very, very much for your comment. :) It is touching to hear that my attempts at making Regency costumes are so well received. Since I am still more on the novice side of historical sewing, all encouragement is more than welcome. It helps me to keep on learning and improving at doing what I love. It was wonderful hearing from you.
      Much love. :)

  2. Mimi Matthews says:

    I have been meaning to comment on this project, Nessa. I love all the technical details to it. Years ago my mother and I made a sort of corset /bodice so that I could dress as a peasant wench at the Renaissance Faire. We didn’t have a pattern so my mom played it by ear and we ended up using some sort of synthetic boning from the fabric store (which had absolutely no stiffening value at all!). Your project is fascinating to me because it is just so much more professionally done. I can’t wait to see the results!

    • Nessa says:

      Thank you for your comment, Mimi. =) I am very glad you like my way of going about this project. But the professional touch is mostly owed to a very well-researched and well-annotated pattern. For my first pair of stays, I used synthetic bones as well and, alas, the support of that pair was not the best, either. But there are other ways of using plastic boning, especially for corselets and boned bodices of later eras, where the wearer requires lighter support. In earlier eras, including the Regency period, reed was also used as a light alternative to baleen or the steel bones I am using for this project. :)

  3. avantgarbe says:

    Saw this post and thought you might find it interesting – http://romantichistory.blogspot.com/2015/08/sewing-in-gussets-and-busk.html

    The lining is double layer everywhere except for the gussets, where you slip stitch the lining to cover the raw seams. I think I will definitely do this on my corset too, since I also ended up with a pattern that would be 16 gores between the outer layer and the lining! The prospect of only sewing 8 gores sounds infinitely more attractive. Can’t vouch for the accuracy of this method however.

    • Nessa says:

      Ohh, this is very interesting, thank you. :) I will try it next time, since most of the gussets are set by now. I’ve opted for hand-sewing them, which took ages but was good practice. The most annoying part though was ironing the narrow edges and poking the gussets into the right place. ;)

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