Ok, so you know I’m gonzo about le moulage, right? It’s basically a princess line dress, with no ease. That makes it a pretty accurate model of a specific human’s torso. But what the heck do I do with that information? I’m working with two remote clients right now, and they’ve sent me back their moulages (with notes – nothing is perfect the first go). For Haley, I need to draft a regency style corset for her Elizabeth Bennet inspired dress. Here’s how to go from Moulage (or any other princess-line sloper you’ve got handy) to the least moulage like thing I can think of – an 1820s corset. ;) Let me start out by saying that this is a pattern that you really can draft as a rectangle with a couple wedges for fitting. I just abhor doing anything the easy way. ;) Also,this isn’t technically a draft – it’s a block manipulation, which is kind of the Picture Pages version of pattern making, and that appeals to the visual learner in me….
The corset itself is relatively simple. It has a Center Back, Side Back, and Front pieces. The major shaping is done with two bust insets and one hip inset. There is also a strap piece.
If you take too much out of the hip area of a corset, two really bad things can happen. First, you get a really unsightly bulge at the bottom of the corset – like a low-hanging muffin-top. Second, and more practically, sitting becomes problematical. The corset is pushing all your fluff downwards. When you sit, though, your fluff tends to push upwards. It gets ouchy….
Oh, gee, missa, is that all?
Ok, here’s the logic: I can reshape that upper potion of the shoulder all I like, and it’s a freebie – since I’m not crossing any areas of negative space, it’s just a style line. (ie, a seam added for visual interest, rather than shaping. When I add to the other edge of the side piece, I know I have to subtract some from the Front piece.
The bigger issue is that I’m removing chunks of the corset below the waist. The cumulative amount of those chunks will be the size of the hip inset. The hip inset will be added right where that straight vertical line has been drawn in the side panel. That line goes slightly above the waist – so this corset will move the waistline up slightly from it’s natural location in keeping with the silhouette of the time.
I’ve also shaved off a hair here and there along the back princess seam, just to make the curves flow more smoothly like the original does. Since this is a corset, I don’t feel the need to compensate for that anywhere. ;)
Here’s the problem: We actually want to remove all the bust shaping above the waist and hip shaping below the waist, and redo the shaping with insets. (Remember how I said this could easily be drafted from a rectangle? It really can be. But I’d have to, like, measure. I’ve already done that once to make the darned moulages, so I’m on a math diet for the rest of the project… Teehee…)
I’ve also dropped the armscye (on the side piece too – sorry!) so that it’s not right up in the armpit. That can chafe…
I want to make sure that my insets begin below the normal bust point. The idea is to support the breast from underneath, rather than to squash it violently. (That’s a different era. Corsets from this era are supposed to make you look youthfully buoyant, rather than corseted. There was a huge return-to-nature-0r-at-least-greco-roman-classics movement following the French Revolution, and corsets were one of the symbols of the bourgeoise.)
The pieces are not exact replicas of the original, because they still reflect the body proportions and metrics that I’m inheriting from the moulage. But they’re true to the basic geometry of the original – they’ve got the same sort of flowing, gentle curves for shaping.
For the bust insets, I did a little measuring and determined that I’d removed 4″ from the original moulage at bust level. I cleverly drafted a triangle that is the length of my bust inset lines in height, and 2″ at the base. (Because I need two of them, and 2 x 2 is 4.)
For the hip inset, I determined that I’d removed 9″ from the original moulage hip. I drafted a triangular gore that is the height of the hip inset line and has a base of 9″.
The strap was made by piecing together the bits of shoulder cut from the front and the back, and coercing them into a straight line. I’ll be cutting this on the bias, so it will have some stretch to it.
Mischief managed…. ;)