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Corded Effigy Corset



This is a corded effigy style corset. The idea of using cording
instead of a more normal boning belongs to Jen, who did a lot of research in
that direction in the course of her
Italien dress
. The pattern for this corset more closely follows the actual
effigy corset than the effigy style corsets I have made in the past. The corset
is made of two layers of cotton broadcloth, and stiffened with hemp cord. Some
parts of the side back, which do not provide support to anything crucial, are
stiffened with jute packing twine (I ran out of hemp at an inopportune time).
Where hemp is used, there are two strands per channel. Where jute is used, there
are 4.

Results and Notes:The corset provides more than adequate support,
as you can see above. It is also extremely easy to move and bend in (I can do
backbends in this), and does not seem to have any serious effects on my attempts to breathe. The effigy pattern is generally far less restrictive than the standard issue back lacing corsets that some people prefer, but the corded effigy seems even more so. The only problem that I have noticed so far is that the line of the corset deformed in the face of rather extreme heat and humidity, as seen
in the picture to the right. However, I should note that when I say, “rather extreme”, what I mean is that it was 97 or so at faire that day, and I was overheating in a big bad way, so I stuck a hose down the back of my dress and turned it on. Hemp seems to lose some of it’s rigidity when soaked through.

Would I do it again?: No. I don’t think I’m willing to
rely on just hemp for boning in the more rigid, later elizabethan styles like
the effigy. I will most likely make up another “working class” corset with the
boning running straight up and down, solely done up with hemp. I will probably
also try to do up an effigy boned with reed, which is significantly less floppy
than hemp cord.


  1. Liz
    Liz June 18, 2013

    Though you used Elizabeth’s early 17th century-style bodies as a base, I noticed that the shape of your corded bodies (especially in the picture of you in your fabulous green gown) matches the looser, soft-bosomed look of some earlier portraits from the reign of Henry VIII like the portraits of Henry’s wives and his sister, Margaret. I know most bodices of that era were likely stiffened with glue or just very tightly fitted, perhaps over linen wraps, but your corded stays really do give the right look! Your corded stays look very comfortable and supportive. Great idea, lovely work!

    • missa
      missa June 18, 2013

      Thanks, Liz. That corset was also ridiculously comfortable to wear – I could touch my toes or literally do back bends, and the hemp never dug the way other types of boning can. It’s still in a closet somewhere, I believe. :)

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