Courtesy of the Museum of London
Reproduced by special permission
Click and click again to enlarge
The third photo I've been granted permission to show you is this (left - click and click again to enlarge). It shows the inside of a mid-Victorian corset - more recogniseable, perhaps, than those that have gone before - with the top edge on the right of the photograph.
It's lightly boned but heavily corded, has a spoon busk, and as you can see, unlike the corsets we make now, this one is stiffly steam-moulded into shape. It is my understanding that this was done by securing the (starched?) corset onto a hollow copper mould, through which steam was fed. The process stiffened the garment into a permanent shape, encouraging the fashionable silhouette by force. Judging by the many examples like this in the Symington collection, I can only assume that this was standard practice for mass production at this time.
We have a pattern for this one: pitufina was astute enough to notice that this is a corset design she's made many times - it appears on p80 of Corsets and Crinolines, both as a line drawing of the front and back when worn, and as a pattern. It hails, as far as we know, from c.1873; the image here (right) demonstrates what the fashionable lady might have worn on top.
A second museum visit like the one we enjoyed in London will be taking place on March 3rd 2011. We will be visiting the Bath Fashion Museum for a similar "study table" day. As before, you will be able to request what you would like to see, up close and personal, from the museum stores, and you will be able to take photographs for your own personal use. More details to follow in the next few days.
Complete "Advent Calendar" set of Museum of London photos