Oh, that pesky Pfalzgrafin corset… It’s technically dated to 1598, by virtue of being found on the body of Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Sabina von Neuburg, who was buried then. It would be really-amazingly-super-conveneint if it was older, wouldn’t it? Seriously. I’ve really got an itch to do something from the middle of the 1500s. I’ve started the little chemise (I’m even trying to embroider the darn thing), and I’ve been messing around with recreating the Pfalzgrafin pattern based on the Basic Conic Block.
I’ve been doing some background work for a project, and I had to do up a Conic Block for Lizzle. Her body is a leeeetle bit stylized, and she’s particularly got a relatively wide shoulder and upper back (like a swimmer), and she has a distinct curve at her upper back (a swimmer who spends too much time hunched over a desk, maybe?). Anyway, here’s an adjustment to the Basic Conic Block draft for situations where the upper back is significantly larger than the back bust measurement.
I realize that instructions are far more helpful when you can print them out and put them on the worktable while you’re using them. I also realize that pages upon pages of full color photos do not a happy printer make. I’ve made a not-so-chatty (yes, I actually can edit) PDF version of the Basic Conical Draft directions, redone with black&white line art.
Now that I’ve got all the photography done, it’s time to pick up where we left off in The Basic Conical Torso Block (Part 1). We’re completing a basic torso block that we can use for the simplified, conical torsos popular in Renaissance, Elizabethan, Jacobean, Pompadour, Colonial, and all other eras between the Sixteenth and Eighteenth centuries. (She says, throwing as many keywords into one sentence as humanly possible.) One block, three hundred years of fashion – how can you lose?
For several hundred years, beginning where the High Middle Ages met the Renaissance and continuing through the eve of the French Revolution, fashion treated the female torso as something of an inconvenience. The breasts were flattened, first by bands of wool or linen, later by corsetry and boned bodices. The sides of the body were straightened and the tum controlled. The torso became a conic shape. In some decades, like the 1590s, 1690s, and 1780s, it’s a very long cone. In others, like the 1640s, it’s a very short cone that disappears into skirts below the bust. During these times, a very basic conical torso block can be used as a basis creating custom patterns.
My life, and probably yours, gentle reader, would be much simplified if, perchance, our predecessors of the fifteenth century had taken a few moments to write a book on their patterning practices. Alas, they did not. Nor did our predecessors of the sixteenth, seventeenth, or eighteenth centuries, gosh darn them. I can’t tell you that I know how they did it, either. (Sad, but true: though I freely admit to lying whenever it’s convenient, I’m basically an honest girl.) What I can do is share the method I’ve worked out for my own use over the years. Who’s in? ;)