Regency corsets, I’ve decided, are shockingly complexticated little beasties. I mean, they look all simple and they represent a time when, officially, corsets were somewhat démodé (except for how pretty much everyone was still wearing them). The pattern is easy enough. The construction is easy enough. There’s one central wooden busk and all of 14 pieces of bone in this thing. And yet…. I do believe that this is the most subtle and sophisticated setup of light-weight stiffening techniques I’ve ever seen. I’m a little in awe….
I’ve been a huge fan of jumbo plastic cable ties as corset boning for a long time. The only real downside to them is that they can get sharp corners when you cut them, and those corners will eat through fabric over time. I used to file them down with a nail-file, but that takes time. There’s a faster, easier way….
So I was out trimming the privet hedge the other day, like you do (she says, sounding perfectly British about the whole thing) when I stopped to think, “Gee, I wonder if I could bone a corset with some of these clippings? I should give that a try…” So I did.
Yet another dry, dusty pile of academic writing… This time, the topic is the corsetry/torso support of the 16th century. I find the full history of the artificial silhouette totally fascinating, and I’m geeked beyond belief on the actual genesis of the corset. In the 16th century alone, a bunch of different devices are in play. Corsets, obviously – who doesn’t know about the Pfaltzgrafin and Effigy corsets by now? Wardrobe warrants also list stomachers (for Tudor gowns) made of pasteboard covered with tapheta – that’s certainly stiff enough to smooth the front of the torso into the signature tudor inverted, featureless cone. By the end of the period, warrants talk about busks made of whalebone and wire, quilted with sarconet. (How does that fit into a channel in a corset?!? Or does the end of the era, with it’s open-fronted gowns, turn back to the same infrastructure used by the earlier tudor gowns with stiffened stomachers? I have my theories, obviously….)
So here is…. Everything I know About 16th Century Corsetry,
File this one under “possibly useful to some one, at some time, somehow”: this is a series of pictures of corsets I’ve made over the last several years. Each one shows me standing in profile, next to my dress dummy. This makes the changes in my shape imposed by each corset fairly obvious, and the pictures all together give you a pretty good idea what different types of boning and styles of corset can do for a girl.
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…
This is a corded petticoat, meant to be worn in place
of a farthingale under middle class costumes. The base of the skirt is
cheap cotton broadcloth, and it is stiffened with 3.8″ cotton upholstery
cord filling held in a channels created with 1″ wid…