Edwardian Corset Mock-Up!

Do any of my fellow costumers here get what I call “costume anxiety?” It’s that point where you’re just like. Oh. Crap. Everything is messed up and it’s going to be even more complicated than I thought, and everything I need is so darn expensive and how am I ever going to fund this!! Well, heh heh, that’s kind of where I’m at right now! Let me start from the beginning.

Last week the corset pattern came, and I got some canvas from Hobby Lobby to get started on a mock-up.

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The first step was for me to figure out what size to cut the pattern, since it has pretty much every option on the block. I’ll be reducing my waist by 2 inches, so I figured 23 inches would be pretty safe. And they suggested adding a few inches to your bust measurement so you have more room to breathe, so I did that, making it 32 inches. Those lined up with their Size C so far. But the Size C hip measurement was 36, and mine is 33, so I’m between sizes there. Ah well, I guess that just means I have the proper late Edwardian slim hips! So before I cut out the pattern, I made transition lines from the size C waist to the Size B hip, making the hip pieces slimmer. Then I cut out the pieces and they all fit on one yard of my 60-inch canvas!

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You can see where I made the size transitions. You can see three lines at the top of the pieces, and only two lines on the bottom. Let me just say, after having drafted my own corset before, it feels SO NICE to make one with a pattern! I don’t have to calculate how wide each piece should be, or how long, or figure out where the waist is…. ahhhh. The Padmé corset served its purpose well, but it did have some issues. I made all the pattern pieces identical, when I should have made the front pieces straighter and the back pieces curvier. As a result, the back wasn’t curvy enough, so it made me slouch. Whereas with this pattern, the front pieces are pretty straight, and the back pieces are much curvier- which makes it a very nice straight-front Edwardian corset. (Victorian corsets are not like that, they kind of allow your gut to stick out… but that’s another story.)

Anyway, here are the pieces after I cut them out…

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Stitching the center front pieces together was a success!

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NOTE: To any new costumers out there, you would NEVER stitch the center front pieces together on a real corset. This is because the center front has a busk, which is kind of like a really tough steel stick with loops and knobs on it. So there are complicated directions for inserting that and everything. But mock-ups don’t have this step, so that’s why I stitched the center front.

Also, I’ve got stitching thick fabrics down to a science. Sometimes, when sewing through thick fabric, the needle might miss a few times and that makes your stitches ugly. So what you do is use a needle that works with thick fabrics- I believe mine is a 110- and you adjust the thread tension on your sewing machine so that it’s looser. There’s already a lot of tension between your stitches and the fabric, because the fabric is so thick. My machine had no problems sewing through two layers of canvas.

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Here’s the whole thing! I put the tape measure there so you can see how long it is.

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And after I pressed the seams (ironed them open).

Oh, and I forgot to mention, I’m making the corset underbust. They recommended doing the overbust if you need lots of bust support. Which I don’t, as I really don’t have much of a chest in the first place… as you have heard me ranting about many times… At least I would have fit in in the 20s. :/

So, what’s the problem, you may be asking. This is looking pretty good, what is giving you Costume Anxiety?

The problem is that it is not nearly wide enough.

Even though I was careful with the measurements and cutting, and I made sure to stitch along the 1/2 inch seam allowance, using the presser foot as a guide.

Even worse, I clipped all the seams by the waist (made those triangle cuts for flexibility), so I can’t let the seams out without having ugly holes! I SHOULD NOT HAVE CLIPPED THE SEAMS SO EARLY!

I’m not sure how it came to be so short. I measured the waist and it’s 19 inches, when it should be 21, because there’s a 2-inch lacing gap. The hips are fine, thankfully. I’ll need to adjust the underbust area too, because it’s not wide enough either. If I hold the corset closed around my body, the lacing gap is WAY too big. And fixing it is going to be a pain because of those stupid clips I had the brilliant idea to make!

My other issue is the grommets. (Those ring things that line the lacing holes in a corset.) I bought an awl, which is a device used to make holes in the fabric, but it can’t make the holes wide enough to put a grommet in. 6 bucks wasted… *sighs*

And I’ve looked at spiral steel boning online, and it’s REALLY expensive. Not only that, but this corset demands 2 bones for every seam!

In spite of all these setbacks, there are some positives. The proportions and overall shape of the corset are good. The corset only needs one layer of fabric, so I can buy coutil and that’s it. My dad has lots of tools so maybe we already have a bigger awl. And most importantly, I ruined a mock-up, not the real thing. This is why we do mock-ups, right? At least I didn’t ruin expensive coutil!

Here’s a picture of me trying on the corset, which does look pretty cool despite not fitting right. It’s super long, it’s about as long as a pair of shorts. Which is awesome.

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2 thoughts on “Edwardian Corset Mock-Up!

  1. Bonjour
    Bonne Chance on the corset. i am going to have a corset made but trying to figure out exactly
    what I want. Year, length over or under bust. I have quite a big bust an a large waist to go with it. Gah.,

    For research never forget the library. Even if you have a crap library there are inner library loans. You can even borrow from FIT in NYC I have done this before. I was surprised that my Oahu library had a large section on costumes over 5 shelves. I checked out quite a few books this week. I am researching corset covers right now. Before you were born I had a beautiful 1912 corset cover. I wore it for years then it got lost. I have not see one out there like the one I had. I am going to make a few of them.

    I have sewing patterns original’s from 1897 ~1990’s. I do plan on making a hobble skirt an a shirtwaist.

    Happy sewing Florida princess 🙂

    Like

    • Hi there, thanks for your comment! 🙂

      Yeah, my local library doesn’t seem to have very much regarding historical fashion or sewing patterns, unfortunately. But what I have found to be really helpful is this website called archives.org! I’ve gotten some pretty good information on there, mainly by looking at Sears catalogs from 1912. Those catalogs are like 1000+ pages long, because people would buy pretty much everything by mail order back then. So it’s really helped me understand how corset covers and petticoats and all that would be worn.

      That’s so cool that you have actual original patterns! I have no idea where people can actually get those. The closest I could find to an original 1912 pattern was a modified 1913 pattern.

      Like

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