Sunday, September 28, 2014

Corset Musings

I've been working on my 1880's ensemble for a while now.  You've seen me work my way through all the bottom pieces (bustle, petticoat, skirt), but I've been really hesitant to start on the top pieces (corset, bodice) because, well, those are hard.

It's pretty easy to fit a skirt.  Waist and hips measurement check?  Okay then, good to go.  But a bodice and a corset is much harder (and I'm not just talking about my old nemesis sleeves).  A corset is a shell of yourself which has to support you and confine you while not hurting you in any way. Without resorting to spandex, that's tricky.

And, I'm doing something new.  Last year I made an 1880's corset for my somewhat-steampunk outfit, using the Truly Victorian pattern that I've had for ages.  And it was fine, though it made me more flat chested than I am in real life, and made my lower back ache after a couple hours of wear. This time I had Dan duct tape me up, to literally create a shell of myself.  Today I turned that shell into a pattern (meaning I drew some lines on it and cut it into pieces. Though to be fair, deciding where to put those lines took a lot of time and trouble.).

About half way through this process I was talking to Dan about why I was so hesitant to start, why I'm hesitant to continue, why I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing and he said something like the following. "So you're telling me that you've never done this [method of drafting] before, and much of they way you're going to construct it is different than the last one, but you're expecting this to be perfect the first time?" And my response was, "After my mock-ups, yes."

That's a problem.  My lovely husband reminded me that expectations can be set too high.  That no one ever achieves perfection, especially from a first try, and that this process is about learning, not achieving.

Anybody want to come stencil that on the wall for me?  Or tattoo it on my forearm?


  1. Have no fear of perfection -- you'll never achieve it. -Salvador Dali. That's a little more flip than necessary but amusing nonetheless. :-)

    1. Thanks Erin! My go to for that reminder is also this:

      Have you seen it?

  2. Count me in the "straight seamed corsets flatten my chest and also hurt my lower back" club :( I had an epiphany earlier this year that perhaps a gusseted corset with minimal boning over the back of the hip might be a better option for me, so I made one (It recently got worn for roughly 6 hours on a train excursion that included a delicious meat-and-potatoes meal and walking around town and was quite comfortable! And also my rack looked great).

    1. Thanks for the tip Crystal! I'm also thinking about using spiral steel in the back instead of flat. And plenty of gusset room for my hips!