Friday, January 30, 2015

1890 Blue Silk Corset

As I shared in a previous post, I am participating in the Historical Sew Monthly. It's a project challenge every month, and I fully intend to participate in every challenge that I can this year! 

The first challenge is Foundations. It's the best place to start out a year, since no costume is complete without a solid foundation. In light of this, I chose to do my first corset! I have Corsets: Historical Patterns and Techniques and instantly loved the black and yellow corset:

After carefully drafting the pattern, I made a mockup and tried that on. It was perfectly the right size, so I set to work carefully cutting out all my fabrics: a stiff cotton inside, denim for strength, and blue 100% silk for the exterior. First I inserted the busk (the funky thing in the front that has the metal tabs on it). 

Next all the panels needed sewn together and the boning channels sewn on. This corset is a bit unusual as the bones are actually sewn onto the outside, rather than inserted inside the layers or even on the inside. Once that was done I put in the grommets on the back and laced myself into it. 
Almost a perfect fit!

See how the top is much closer together than the bottom? Yeah... that's not right.

Once it was made up here, as you can see in the pictures, the top of the lacing in the back was much closer that the bottom part. While it wasn't a massive issue, it bothered me enough to fix it. What I ended up doing was adding in a few darts on the side panels. While I doubt this is actually period, it worked to tighten up the top half so it fits a lot better now. 

Pre-darts, laid out flat! Really coming together!
Next was the flossing. Flossing in the original is the yellow embroidery. For mine, I wanted something that would really "pop" so it was highly visible. I chose an antique gold color, which looks amazing next to the navy blue silk. :) 
Such pretty flossing. :) 
On to tonight. I just finished it and tried it on!! I absolutely love it. It fits like a dream and makes me super happy!
SO pretty!!! :D

Here's the back, much better after fixing it. :) 

The Challenge: Foundations
Fabric: Cotton, Denim, and Silk
Pattern: Black and Yellow 1890s corset, from Corsets: Historical Patterns and Techniques
Year: 1890s
Notions: Grommets, flat steel boning, and 5 yards of corset lacing. 
How historically accurate is it? About 60% ish, the technique is correct I believe, but the materials aren't.
Hours to complete: (this is embarrassing) approximately 115 hours.
First worn: Just to try on, I'll be wearing it more as I can. :)
Total cost: About $40. Some of the fabric was stash, so I added in approximate cost for that too. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Edwardian Possibilities?

Oops, I may have fallen in love with another era. No biggie- I'll just put it on my ever-growing list!

The Edwardian Era was the period from about 1901-1910, during the reign of King Edward VII. I have seen it extended a couple years sometimes to include the years leading up to World War I (sometimes as far as 1919), however I like the nice round 1910 number. Although... for this year I could extend it to 1915, because that was exactly 100 years ago- also a fantastic round number!

I was initially struck by this gown, made in 1903 by the House of Worth (founded by the father of couture, Charles Frederick Worth. This dress was created a few years after his death, but the House was still the leader in couture fashion.).

The Oak Leaf Dress, 1903

The leaf decoration is what grabbed me first. Oh my goodness!! The embroidery! The ruffles! The leaves! The waistline! The shoulders! I am absolutely smitten with the dress... so I did some more research on it. 

The woman it was made for is relatively fascinating in her own way. Mary Victoria Leiter was born in 1870. Her father was one of the founders of Marshall Field and Co, an upscale department store, later acquired by what is now Macy's. So that's pretty cool right there! She was eventually introduced to London society and at the age of 25 (my age!!) she married George Curzon. Eventually, Curzon was appointed Viceroy of India, which made Mary the highest political position ever attained by an American woman to that point (1899). They were well-respected in India, and Mary was renowned for her fabulous taste in fashion as well as being a patron of the arts and a pretty decent agent for the Indian textile trade. Sadly, after a long illness Mary passed away at the age of 36 in 1906. 

Lady Curzon
Mmm....pearls... ;) 

As for reproducing this dress... it's going to happen at some point. It's absolutely stunning and looks like a fabulous project! Mine will have to be a different color though- yellow and I do not get along. I'm thinking a blue or a sage green...