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02 October 2012 @ 05:59 pm
Late Victorian Mockup  

Hello!  I am working on my third corset.  I posted my first one here in 2009 and made a second one soon after.  I am running into some fitting issues that I hope you guys can give me advice on!

So some quick background: my end goal here is a corset to wear under steampunk/late victorian outfits.  I don't really want to start making any dresses until I have the proper foundation.  So anyone who knows their 1890's corsets will be particularly helpful.

I started out by looking at 1890-1900 corsets, taking my measurements, and drafting out something that sort of looked correct, pretty much the same method I used to pattern my first two corsets.  Result of that first draft below.

Mockup #1

Yay first mockup!  On the whole, pretty good.  But as you can see, it laced completely closed and still had room to spare.  I also really wanted a much more dramatic shape to the waist (I think it is sometimes refered to as the hip spring?), but before I started mucking about with the pattern, I wanted to see what more boning and adding a waist tape would do.

Mockup #1 with more!

Waist tape added, and extra boning channels between all the ones that were already there. There is definitely a difference, and I like the support to my bust, but the waist didn't change much. On to changing the pattern for mockup #2.

Mockup #1 changes

While I was still wearing the mockup, I marked out some changes I wanted to make.  Mainly, I raised the bottom edge, changed the bottom angle of the first two pieces of the pattern, and took in the waist by about 4 inches total.  I tried not to really change much of the bust or hip measurements.  Below are those changes in paper/pattern format.

Mockup #1 and #2 patterns

So the top is the pattern I used for mockup #1, no seam allowance included.  Bottom is the new pattern, with seam allowance.  Here is where I really hope more experienced eyes can help me.  The pattern was made from just eyeballing a bunch of 1890's corsets and trying to make the general shape to my own measurements.  After taking in the waist, pattern piece #2 looks funny to me.  Should the left seam be straight instead of the right side?  I also feel like the waist line isn't quite consistent from piece to piece.  Should I be able to draw a straight line through all the pieces and have the waist match up?

I made a mockup of pattern #2 out of some light blue brocade, and very dark green satin.

Mockup #2 Light Side
I love the shape!  Very pleased with the look of the waist, bust line is pretty close to what I want, and the ribs don't feel too tight.  But there are still some kinks to wonk out, like the hips being too big (not very visible in the lacing gap since I had just loosened that area, and while I can just about close the waist gap in the back, it's a bit too uncomfortable for me, so I need to add an inch back in.  Or just take away from the bust and hips I guess.

Below is the same mockup as above, just inside out.

Mockup #2 Dark Side

The hip is laced very loosely here, but even when I had it closed, I got the strange poking out at the center front bottom.  I feel like this is a problem I have seen with other corsetmakers, but I am not making much sense of the advice I am seeing.  Is there a way to get the pattern to shape like these corsets, curving inward and sort of cupping the belly instead of sticking out from the body at that point?

Mockup #2 Goof

This last picture is to illustrate a particular issue I am having with the angle of the front seam. The first mockup didn't slant like this, and I specifically tried the second one on inside and out, and with different lacing methods, and so there is very definitely a tilt to the center seam. I was worried that maybe my body is just shaped funny after all, but the angle of the tilt changed directions when I tried it on inside out, so that means that there is something wrong with the garment, not me. I really feel like I sewed the seams carefully and identically, and made sure all the pieces were with the grain when I cut, so I don't think that I just fudged the sewing process. I feel that maybe one of the fabrics, perhaps the brocade, just isn't suited to this purpose, and is stretching in a strange way. Neither of the fabrics is very substantial. Do you think that trying the same pattern again in a canvas or twill will fix the issue?

Lastly, I feel like I am not getting very much bust support.  Will taking a bit out of the total bust measurement be enough?  Should I aim to take more out of the front pieces, or the back?  Or are more bones/cording the solution here?  Or is it likely because I am using cheap zip ties for the mockup boning, and everything will be perfect when I use proper steel or spiral

Mockup #2 Yay!

A more succinct list of questions:
1.  Looking at the pattern pieces, does anything scream out to you, begging to be fixed?
2.  Same question, but for the mockup?
3.  Should I make the waist any bigger, or just change bust/hips to match the waist so I get an even lacing gap?
4.  How do I get the center front bottom to stay close to my body?
5.  How do I keep the front busk from being tilted?
6.  Usual recommendation for more bust support?

I fully understand and will not be hurt if most of these questions can be answered with "Use the proper construction materials you fool!" 

Thank you guys for any advice you can give! 
unclrashid: tailsunclrashid on October 3rd, 2012 05:45 am (UTC)
I can't answer all of your questions, but will respond to the ones I can, and also add some comments about things you did not ask.

Firstly, I see a great deal of assymetry between the right and left when you wear your mockups. Are you sewing with very uneven seam allowances, or do you have one leg longer than the other or maybe a slight scoliosis? If that is the case, you may need to fit the left and right sides of your corset individually to get a proper fit.

Secondly, you marked the waist so it dips lower in front, so your pattern shapes do match how you marked it. That brings me to the overall shape. Even though the pattern pieces don't really look like it, when you wear the grey and the black mockups, it looks a little bit like you have made a hybrid between a standard corsent and S-curve corset. But at the same time it looks as if it has tipped your pelvis in the opposite direction that an S-curve does. Altogether, there seems to be a great deal of torque and twisting going on. All of this may be related to the assymetry noted in point 1, or may be it own issue with the waistline and fullest points of the corset not matching up with those places on your body.

Thirdly, some of this "hybrid S-curve" effect may come from the way you have the bones at the front converging as they go lower, but it's late and I don't have time to hit the reference books, so I might be way off on that one.

Regarding questions 4 and 5, some of it is shaping the pattern pieces, and some of it is because as you make the waist tighter, it pushes some of your flesh down lower making the tummy pooch out more. And you don't actually have a busk in there, yet. Adding a rigid, curved spoon busk may actually shape the lower front more to your liking. Another part of this issue that I don't think I've ever seen anyone address on this list is that some of the shaping of the 80's and 90's corsets was due to the whalebone being steam-molded on a form like a corset-shaped hat block, so that also means we find it harder to produce that kind of shape without using the same tech.
skeletonscloset: Roosskeletonscloset on October 3rd, 2012 06:08 am (UTC)
Will you keep it a front lacing corset? That is really cool and unusual.

What I noticed in your pattern and mock-ups is that bottom of the second front pannel and third front pannel point towards the front. I think this causes the front to stand off this much. I would reduce the bottom of the second front pannel. make it run more straight down (not completely staight down just a little less pointed towards the front)

For the bottom of the third pannel I would make the side that would be attached to the second pannel a bit less at the bottom, and add what you take away there to the part of the third pannel that will be attached to the fourth pannel. I hope I am making sense!
Anna: Margayrabid_bookwyrm on October 4th, 2012 03:36 am (UTC)
1890s corset pattern pieces are usually less nipped at the waists than yours are, from what I've seen. Rather, they curve pretty steadily inwards from the top to the upper hip, and only begin to cup the body on the lower hip (and the bust, on the front one or two seams). I would strongly recommend checking out Jill Salen's Corsets if you can - there are three or four 1890s corsets in there. I believe I posted some tracings (and my alterations) from one of them a few years ago. I'll go see if I can find the post...

A busk, in particular a spoon busk, will probably help the belly issues. You could also shift some of the flare of piece two from the front edge to the back edge. Here's how I would do that: I would trace the piece from the waist down (no seam allowances), including grain line. Draw a line perpendicular to the grain about halfway from the waist to the bottom edge, and cut along it (cut the bottom completely off). Put both halves back on the table (it may help to tape the waist section down so it doesn't flutter around) and slide the bottom section "backwards" a inch or so, until you can draw a more vertical line from the waist to the front point. The redraw the lines from the waist to the hip so they're smooth and even. You will probably need to re-true the seam lines, since the front seam will get a bit shorter and the back seam will get a bit longer. I wouldn't recommend eliminating all the forward flare.

I really don't know what's going on with your twisting. It definitely looks like it's in the corset, rather than you. Maybe your brocade isn't as stable as you thought? Fabrics straight off the bolt are not always true, and washing doesn't always fix it.

Good luck!
Anna: Margayrabid_bookwyrm on October 4th, 2012 03:40 am (UTC)
Voila! Black and Yellow Flossed Corset (1890-1900).