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23 February 2011 @ 04:56 pm
Pint Glass To Hourglass Shocker  

Fabulous va-va-voom hourglass proportions are only possible when you corset a squishable,
plus size figure. The best that a slimmer figure (like mine) can ever hope for is a slight
difference at the waist. Right?


The story so far

To recap, Mock-up #1 was a faithful recreation of a rather lovely Symingtons pattern from the 1890s, and it had one overall problem: despite having a lovely swoopy shape along the top, the sides of this design are cut so low that it caused a lot of muffin top under the arms.

Mock-up #2
With help and suggestions from you and others, I altered the pattern and tried again. I lengthened the pattern a little, because it needed it all around, and reduced the width of the pieces at the front bust, where it was too big.

I kept the swooping shape at the sides to see if I could make it work, and tried giving it more room in the bust at the sides and back to allow more room for that flesh that'd otherwise spill over and form the muffin top.

In fact, I gave it no reduction at all at the bust or hips, which is unusual for me. Corsets should hug the figure all over, or so I believed.

sparklewren had actually suggested giving it ease under the arms (ie making it bigger than my measurements) to allow room for the displaced, laced-in flesh to go to and the otherwise-a-muffin-top to sit in, but I was skeptical, so I didn't do that.

So, re-cut and re-made with no reduction except at the waist, this is the result.
Not bad! The muffin top is almost gone, and suddenly I have more curve, because duh, if you don't reduce the bust and hips by 2", they're 2" bigger, meaning your waist looks 2" smaller. More hourglassy already. (I still need to reduce the bust some more too.)

Mock-up #3
To see if I could get rid of the muffin top altogether, I altered mock-up #2 to add more room at the side back and back at bust level - so now I'm taking sparklewren's advice and adding ease. Literally, I just added a couple of elongated triangles between the pieces at the sides and back, adding a vast total of almost 2" each side at the bust level, fading to nothing at the waist. (I'm also still working on reducing and shaping the bust too.)

This is the result.
Looking good, right? But here's the cool part. Not only is the muffin top disappearing without me having to raise the line at the sides at all; I can also lace it tighter. MUCH tighter.
Why is this a big deal? Lady Curzon and I have similar dimensions, except for the waist. For all the Oak Leaf awesomeness, the one thing that bugs me is that I didn't have the hourglass figure for this look, my figure being modern, athletic and pint glass shaped. I know I'm nitpicking and I can't expect an Edwardian waist in this day and age, but the silhouette is strikingly different because of the bigger waist, and it makes the outfit a 9 instead of an 11, if you see what I mean.
Photo © Bath & NE Somerset Council

Photo © Kathy Lear
I made my Edwardian corset with the absolute minimum waist I could stand - 26" - and while I'm deeply proud of my achievement and aware that I'm asking a lot, I'm still not happy that the silhouette made the result fall short of full Edwardian awesomeness.

Twenty six inches has mocked me ever since. It's a paltry, beginner corset-wearer's 3" reduction. I don't like limitations of any kind. I grudgingly made these 1890s mockups to fit a 26" waist. So imagine what happened after I took the photos of mock-up #3, and then, just for fun, pulled on the laces.


This is one of approximately 456876 photos I took after achieving (for me) an unprecendented 24.5" waist.

Plus size ladies, I know this is nothing compared to
the results you get, but trust me, I felt like Mae West
in this photo. (Do excuse the state of disarray.)

I honestly did not think this was possible with my figure. By giving room in the bust and hips, there's more room for the flesh to be displaced and spread out - even on a distinctly unforgiving, non-plus-size figure like mine. In making that room, the bust and hips get bigger, making the waist look smaller. And by giving somewhere for the flesh to go, I can even lace the bugger tighter.

Take-away number 1: Only put reduction in the waist, and put EASE in the top half of the corset, especially at the sides and back.

Take-away number 2: Sparklewren is a genius. Listen to her.

This is why Foundations Revealed is written as a collaboration between 24 different writers, and why their readers can get great results faster: isolation does not work. None of us know it all. Teamwork works. Thanks, guys.

PS. For a heck of a lot of great corsets, check out the Double Period Project on that site now. Fifty three corset and costume entries in a very big competition; so much eye candy, you can't take it, and it's all free to view for everyone. Enjoy!
J.H.Holliday, DDS: Wizard Squad!!doc__holliday on February 23rd, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC)
Yup. This is how I draft for my tighlacing clients. It helps to get your measurements with a full breath in your lungs.
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 23rd, 2011 05:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the confirmation, K. I totally did not get that this would work on a slimmer figure - yes, you allow for displacement of flesh etc on a bigger figure, cause they're squishy and manipulable into the hourglass silhouette, but I always thought that'd be ludicrous and uncomfortable/painful on smaller sizes - there'd be little there *to* displace. I felt so inadequate. Now I know better. :)

And happy birthday again!
(no subject) - doc__holliday on February 23rd, 2011 05:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - peacockdress on February 24th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Florasveethot on February 23rd, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
Lovely reduce-age. One of these days when I get the nerve to actually make a real corset (not just the corselets I've been sharpening my sewing skills on), I'm going to keep your hints in mind. I'm a plus-size woman and, yes, Miss Mae is my hero (but she really wasn't as big as one would think).
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Robynnecorpsefairy on February 23rd, 2011 06:45 pm (UTC)
That looks AWESOME. What a great shape!
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Sabrinamala_14 on February 23rd, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
Really interesting! Thanks for sharing. This is going to come in handy for when I actually get around to making my 1880 corset. :)
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I look forward to hearing about it!
Donnademi_x on February 23rd, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
love the pics, you look fab!
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you Demi!
liten_sakliten_sak on February 23rd, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
I know that feeling you get when you get that smaller waist :) Had basically worked with that method all along without thinking much about it. Now I will most certainly think more about it when drafting corsets. Thanks for very usefull pictures and info and congrats on the great waist!
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Dancing Bettaladyasenath on February 23rd, 2011 07:58 pm (UTC)
Agreed, even smaller figures need extra room to "displace"... if I get into one of my corsets that do serious reshaping, clothing items that normally fit just snugly in the hip area just won't fit... at all.
And I am a naturally decidedly un-curvy shape!
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you N, good to hear an experienced corset-wearer confirm it!
UrbanSeamstressmorgan_emerald on February 23rd, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
Lookin' good!

I actually have a similar experience: I am mostly skin and bones in the upper body myself (25" waist naturally, 33" bust) and have never waist-trained nor worn corsets much at all, but I found that I can easily -- as in: without discomfort -- get as much as 4" reduction if I add about that same amount to my high hip measure (mostly to the side & side front seams) and about one fourth to half that amount to the bust circumferrence (mostly to the side & side back seams). Combined with my naturally large and very abrupt hip-spring the result is almost ridiculously dramatic.
goldenwolfwitchgoldenwolfwitch on February 25th, 2011 05:52 am (UTC)
This is encouraging to me. I was looking at the reduction enviously. I've got a 24-25 natural waist (depending on stress levels) and a 32 bust, and I was sure that reduction was something that was impossible for me. Nice to know that it's not.
(no subject) - peacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - peacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
?sucrelefey on February 23rd, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC)
And you still have all your ribs. This flies in the face of the assumptions people make about how much torture Victorians endured to get those curves.
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:54 pm (UTC)
That's a great point, I was surprised how little discomfort I had in this last mock-up.
chobap on February 23rd, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
What a gorgeous shape!! I am really looking forward to the final :)
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you, working on it!
queenlisa88queenlisa88 on February 23rd, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
wow great tips, Would you recommend adding the ease in the top half of the corset to overbust corsets in general or just ones with lower sides?
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
I'd say it'd be worth trying in general - lots of peple have muffin top issues even in high sided corset shapes.
vlynniegvlynnieg on February 23rd, 2011 11:43 pm (UTC)
You absolutely MUST post pictures of the finished work!!!!
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
Will do!
inertia: framewaster60268 on February 24th, 2011 12:28 am (UTC)
ooh - i'm going to have to give this a go! were you able to wear the mockup for several hours without discomfort? i would worry that a lack of prior waist-training might make this uncomfortable in the long term.. but i guess i won't know how sqishy my waist actually is until i try it out.!
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:56 pm (UTC)
Yep, I was in it for over an hour, drove into town, walked around, came back, and it was pretty easy, all in all. And I'm not one for discomfort.
bestinterestsbestinterests on February 24th, 2011 02:32 am (UTC)
This is totally rocking my world! I am a straight up and down, all though I have a larger bust. So, I have assumed that I would have a corseted straight up and down too, only slightly smaller. To make sure that I understand:
Add ease to the top (above the bust measurement) and bring in the waist. Will that provide enough support for the bust? Same ease at the hip, or only at the bust?
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 25th, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC)
Add ease at the bust level, but only at the side back and back, and maybe some at the sides, and you'll find you can draw the waist in further. How far will vary from person to person, I expect, so it's a case of iterations in your mocking up, if you have the time. Getting the bust suppoort right is another consideration, although I see where you're coming from. Letting it out enough at the sides and back without compromising fit at the bust will be a case of trial and error for me, for now.

I didn't add ease at the hip, although I know Laurie does, and Laurie's very precise and very skilled.
Lauraeglentine on February 24th, 2011 10:01 am (UTC)
Mock up looks good on you, but how about your abdomen? Do you leave it that way, or do you try to pull it in? I am asking this because I am having the same problem with a corset I am doing right now. Tummy sticks out and I don`t know if spoon busk will help, or I should do something with the pattern?

Thanks for enlightening!
Cathy Haypeacockdress on February 25th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
I've left the abdomen as it is in the pattern - ie the pieces are fairly straight down over that area, but not altogether flat like an Edwardian. All the adjustments I've made for this aspect of the fit are at sides and back.

If you want to try to make it dead flat, start looking at later patterns and Google patents and see if you can figure anything out from the evidence.
(no subject) - eglentine on February 25th, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)