I’ve always been fascinated by historic corset patterns. In my opinion, it’s very sad that the pattern makers of the 19th century didn’t write lots of books telling us exactly what they were thinking when constructing their patterns. But the corset patterns they left us do contain huge knowledge about pattern making, we “just” have to wrest it from them. So I was excited to challenge myself with a new historic pattern for the Foundations Revealed Competition.
I wanted my version of the Symington corset to have a recognisable Victorian silhouette and yet be a spectacular modern evening piece. So I included the low (natural) bust point and sloping shoulder line that is typical for the Victorian era. I also distributed the waist reduction more evenly around the body than is common in modern corsetry, where most of the reduction is taken in at the sides. However, I flattened the belly section, because I’m no fan of the pronounced belly of the Victorian era. To achieve the modern look I styled this corset as an outerwear piece, using a beautiful silk jacquard fabric.
The pattern making for this corset was quite a journey! It was the first time I had to do two mock-ups for one corset, mostly to get the bust fit right. Before I made the first mock-up, I graded the pattern to my size. I also raised the back, to cover any potential muffin top and moved the straps to the sides to create that sloping shoulder line. The first mock-up fit reasonably well at waist, hips and back, but the bust fit was a disaster. The bust support was about zero and the bust was also falling out at the sides. It took quite some time of thinking and experimenting to fix this issue. In the end, I raised the neckline at the front and under the arms, took the bust seam in over the bust point and most importantly moved the tips farther to the sides so the bust got better support from the sides and couldn’t fall out there anymore. I’m really proud of the bust fit on the final corset! I just love the smooth transition from bust to waist and how the corset creates a nice cleavage without pushing the bust up.
After I got green lights from my second mock up, I could start constructing! My corset is made of three layers: stabilized silk jacquard, coutil and a floating lining from cotton fabric. I used the single layer construction technique, where I treated the coutil and silk as one layer and roll pinned them before attaching them to the corded panels. The corded panels are made from stabilised silk satin and coutil. This was the first time I tried cording and I was a bit nervous, whether I would be able to create the parallel seams on my home sewing machine. But after a bit of practice and with the help of my zipper foot, cording was much easier than expected! I’m totally in love with cording now. The corded corset holds its shape wonderfully, has almost no wrinkles and even adds a little bit of padding to bust and hips!
Altogether I’m very pleased with the end result and I think it’s one of my best corsets so far. It’s very comfortable and fits well and I’m sure I’ll wear it to many evening events. For the photo shoot, I combined the corset with a tutu from my wardrobe in honour of this year’s ballet theme. I even did a bit of dancing on the bridge, to the amusement of the passers-by!