adjective:old fashioned, out of style, unfashionable [from French, the past participle of démoder "to go out of fashion," from mode "fashion"].

the concept

1910s corset
A corset to wear under my 1909 afternoon dress

the fabric

white floral brocade
white floral rayon/silk brocade

the pattern

Drafted by Bridget

the result

1910s corset

what's on the dvd player?

Howards End

useful links

Corset, 1905

Corset, 1915


Hunnisett, Jean. Period Costume for Stage and Screen: Patterns for Women's Dress, 1800-1909.

Olian, JoAnne. Everyday Fashions, 1909-1920, as Pictured in Sears Catalogs. New York: Dover, 1995.

Waugh, Norah. Corsets and Crinolines. London, 1954.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

If there had been a plague of locusts sometime during the making of this corset, I wouldn't have been surprised. The actual making of the corset hasn't been plagued by bad luck, but the getting of the supplies sure has!

I ordered most of my supplies from Grannd Garb. Got my order, everything seemed sunny, until I noticed that the boning tape wasn't in the box. Contacted Grannd Garb by email, they were really nice, said they'd send a replacement right away. Then about two days later I noticed that they had shipped me spiral instead of spring steel bones for the 4 center back bones. Checked my order -- I definitely ordered spring steel. Contacted them by email, no response. Hmmm. Went out of town for a week, got back -- the replacement boning had arrived but no boning tape. Send email. Wait three days -- no response. Send another email. No response. Call -- very nice woman on the phone said they showed the replacement boning tape had been sent, hadn't gotten my emails. Sent another replacement boning tape right away -- received very quickly. All is well. Go to case the remaining bones and put them in on Friday night, get to the side back and realized I hadn't ordered enough boning tape. Argh! Hit head, get grumpy, use bias tape instead for the side back bones. Lordy!

The construction all went swimmingly -- while I was waiting for all my supplies I edged the top and bottom with satin bias tape (which I've found is available prepackaged, although I can't always find it at every fabric store) and put in the grommets. Then cased the bones and sewed them down -- I'm definitely glad I put boning on both sides of the seam allowances as I feel like it's created a lot more structure.

So voila! I'm very happy with it. It definitely DOES shape my body very differently than my Victorian corset (so yes, Heather and Bridget, you were right -- I DID need to make this corset) -- there's far less waist compression but more compression on the hips. I can already see the late 1900s and teens dresses working really well over this, and maybe even early 1920s. You can see that we obviously got more compression out of it when we were fitting, but I don't want to wear it much tighter and end up being uncomfortable. I also made the back lacing gap wider than I normally would because I've been losing weight lately, and I want it to fit if I change sizes.

1910s corset1910s corset

posted by démodé 12:47 AM

Thursday, March 18, 2004

It's beginning to look like a corset! It's scary to put together a corset because you can't check the fit as you go -- you just have to trust that it will all work when you put in the lacing holes and lace it up. When Bridget and I fitted this we really tightened the hell out of it, and I was just laughing as I held up the corset to my body and saw just how much compression we ended up with.

Next up will be clipping the seams and then applying the rest of the boning. I'm planning to press the seam allowances to one side so as to strengthen the seams, then case the boning separately and apply a piece of boning to each side of each seam. One thing I'm wondering about is whether I should trim the seam allowances so that they lay under the cased bone, or should I leave them as is (about 1/2" wide) and stitch them down to the corset? Or (further thought) should I trim the "underneath" seam allowance to reduce bulk? Any thoughts?

1910s corset1910s corset

posted by démodé 9:49 AM

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Do you think there's such a thing as sewing addiction? I was out of town for a week, which meant no sewing, and then busy the first few days after I got back -- and I was feeling stressed about not being able to work on this. Finally last night I had some time to sit down and sew for a few hours, and now I feel all relaxed and at one with the world!

I got so far as putting in the stud side of the busk and the center back bones (got my replacements from Grannd Garb). There was a bit of unpicking and redoing as I figured out the spacing of the center back bones and eyelet holes -- that's one of the annoying things about sewing. When you screw something up, you can't just throw it out and start over -- you have to rip out each tiny little stitch (carefully so you don't mark the fabric) and THEN you can finally redo it!

I also basted all of the pieces together and put fraycheck on the edges. There was a Fraycheck Incident that I don't really want to talk about (got some spots on one of the brocade pieces, but when I showed it to my husband he couldn't see anything until I pointed it out, which means it passed the "can you see this if you don't know what you're looking for?" test).

posted by démodé 10:50 AM

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I spent most of the evening figuring out how I was going to cram all of these pattern pieces onto one yard of 45" wide brocade -- not fun, lemme tell ya. I finally realized I was going to have to cut it on the cross -- please don't tell me if that's going to totally screw up my corset, because I don't want to know. I was actually surprised to find that the straight grain was stretchy while the cross wasn't, so I'm hoping it won't be too much of a crisis. Plus I was able to cut my 60" wide coutil on the straight grain.

Once I finally finished cutting and marking (I love having an artist husband with a light board in the closet) I began assembling the pieces. The first thing that I needed to do was to create the center front and center back pieces. Got the right center front busk in place -- sewed right sides together along the center front line with spaces for the busk loopy things and sewed that side into place, but still need to do the studs on the left. I started to do the back when I discovered that Grannd Garb sent me four 18" spiral bones instead of spring steel bones, which are the bones for the center back pieces and really can't be spiral! This wouldn't be such an issue except that I discovered that they forgot to ship me my bone tape, which I emailed them about a day or two ago -- they are sending a replacement, and I feel bad about telling them about another mixup. Normally I'd also be irritated at having to wait for the right bones to show up, but I'll be out of town for a week so I can handle it.

I also started to zigzag all of the egdes (ordered some fray check from Clotilde -- whoa does the brocade ravel! -- but it hasn't arrived yet), but didn't get all the way done.

Terribly undynamic photos of the corset pieces laid out:

corset in progresscorset in progress

posted by démodé 11:38 PM

Monday, March 01, 2004

Yay! Fabric and supplies have arrived! Thanks for all your feedback (in the lost comments) on fabric choices. I hemmed and hawed for a while, decided that the cherry blossoms were too boring, the stripey paisley brocade was too busy, and the pink & white stripe would be a hassle (matching stripes, wearing a corset cover for white blouses/dresses) -- so I went with a small floral brocade from eQuilter.

Ordering corset supplies was annoying -- AlterYears and Hedgehog Handworks required that I have time, during business hours, to phone in my order; Farthingales had everything in metric measures and didn't have all the boning lengths I needed; so I finally ended up going with Grannd Garb. Now I have everything here but of course had to work until 10 tonight, so I'm chomping at the bit waiting to get started! I'm not good at waiting...

posted by démodé 10:58 PM

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Okay okay! After my fit of indecision, I have decided to indeed remain focused on making this dress for the GBACG Gibson Girl event in late April. I've loved this dress since I first saw it, and I'm really interested in starting to build a 1910s wardrobe, so this will get me going.

The first point of order is the corset. I was going to futz on through wearing my standard mid- to late-Victorian corset, but I have caved to pressure from Heather and Bridget that I really need the teens corset as it will shape me very differently. Teens corsets are much longer over the hip than earlier corsets, plus they do less waist reduction (here's an example of one from 1915). Of course, I was mostly lured into making the corset when Bridget told me she'd help me make the pattern, based on her own 1910s corset. Yay for help!

So Sunday I trekked out to Bridget's house, where she strapped me into her teens corset (luckily we are very close in size). We made a muslin based on that corset which we fitted while I wore her's, a process which required me to be in her corset for about 4 hours. I can say that it was actually quite comfortable, but WHOA did my internal organs feel weird when I took it off! The main things that we're changing from the standard teens look is a bit more bust coverage (I'm a big proponent of the "strap 'em down" philosophy) plus we're doing a bit more waist reduction (less of the tubular look). Bridget will be making a new version of her corset at the same time as me, so it'll be helpful to have someone to confer with as I go along (the only other corset I've made is my 18th century stays).

We're almost done making the pattern, so now I've got to get busy and pick fabric... so it's poll time! I want something that's pale enough (color-wise) so that it can go under any color (especially white), so I was thinking of a white/ivory brocade:
- I like the stripey effect on this one -- here it is in solid white and in white and ivory
- I also like this classic blossom pattern

... but then I came across this pink and white taffeta stripe, which would be too cute (but would the pink show if I wore say a white cotton blouse over it? But then I could always make a corset cover...).

Decisions decisions! What do you think?

posted by démodé 2:56 PM

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