Corsets from different periods mold the body into very different shapes, which is why it’s important to wear the correct corset for the correct time period. My grandmother used to refer to undergarments as “foundations” and indeed, real corsets – the ones meant to change your shape – are exactly that. You can’t create the correct period effect with your costume without first having the right foundation.

More after the jump. (more…)


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It’s nice to see a project like this finished and someone very happy with their custom garment. I’m quite pleased with the way it turned out. It is pretty, while being very sturdy. She’ll be able to get wear out of it for some time. We sized it so that it will still be wearable after some weight reduction.

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Dress pics after the jump. (more…)

I’ve been enjoying Fashion Revealed’s Tumbler page of corsetry, hose, shifts, slips, early bras, bustles and hoopskirts from (mostly) various museum collections. You might too!

2001.373.1ab_FThe above corset is a lovely silk number in the Met‘s collection.

The Rogues have just returned from the annual SLO Renaissance Festival where bras were definitely not in fashion! We were trussed into our bodices (and in some cases also a corset) that were designed for maximum cleavage, not modern bra separation.

Corseting may have been the norm, but there were apparently exceptions. Anthony Castellano at ABC News writes:

“… four linen bras [were found] in an Austrian castle dating back to the 1400s, proving that women wore bras more than 600 years ago. It’s such a revolutionary find because fashion experts thought the modern-day bra was only about 100 years old after women became tired of tight corsets.” (more…)

(Early Century Combination from the FIDM Museum Blog – not the 1912 Slip!)
So the 1912 Project began and I was so excited. I couldn’t wait for my first pattern. But there was much admin and organizational work to do and I had to be patient. Eventually (about 2 weeks ago) I finally got a pattern. Not the Group 24 pattern, but the Feb Challenge Pattern, a slip (#0336). I have to admit I was disappointed. I’d seen the available patterns and had my heart set on a beautiful coat. The slip seemed dull and like nothing I’d ever wear.
One of the first things I do when I see a pattern for a particular period is do a little research. So I asked myself a couple questions:
  1. Since women in 1912 were still corseted, what would the slip dimensions be?
  2. If I were to make the slip, did I have the proper foundation garments?
  3. When did women start wearing slips in the first place? What happened to corset covers and petticoats? (more…)

Close up of a Victorian chemise under a waist cincher corset. Despite what “bodice ripper” romance novels may tell us, very little bodice ripping actually happened in Victorian times. Not through all those layers! A lady in say, pre-1856 (when the crinoline was invented), wore a minimum of a chemise, corset, corset cover, possibly 5 stiffened, flounced petticoats (infrequently washed and highly unsanitary), her dress or skirt and blouse and probably a coat or shawl because she was cold. Oh, and pantalettes, if she should choose (though it was considered vulgar to speak of a woman’s nether limbs, so don’t ask her). These were two separate legs tied at the waist, no crotch). Try ripping through all that bub.

A corset was never worn next to the skin. A woman would want to protect her investment in complicated and double sewn canvas (or preferable coutil – a tiny-weave herringbone, that didn’t stretch) and bones (first wood or whalebone, later spring steel). A chemise would protect the corset from her skin and her skin from the corset. To some extent. The chemise, depending on her station in life and her capability to fund a full wardrobe, might have been her nightgown as well.

Lest my tangent continues… This particular chemise is made of fine lawn. It is very full and gathers into a narrow neckline. It falls to the knee and is decorated with delicate lace at neck and armhole.


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