$$ Budget: $19.00
- scrap muslin from stash for drafting
- $7.00 for 15-pack of 18 inch cable ties at Lowes
- $8.00 for one yard of cotton canvas
- $4.00 for one yard of plain cotton fabric
- grommets: free from my lovely friend Whitney
Time Budget: 20 hours
- Saturday afternoon 1: planning, modifying Dorothea paper pattern to my measurements, making lacing strips to try on corset
- Evening 1: transferring pattern to muslin, making muslin, trying on
- Evening 2: drafting modified pattern and boning layout
- Evening 3 – cutting out pieces, sewing pieces together
- Evening 4 – sewing boning channels
- Evening 5 – cutting boning to fit, inserting
- Evening 6 – grommets
- Evening 7 – hemming
- Evening 8 – getting straps finished off
The Simplicity 3782 pattern than I’m using doesn’t call for a corset, but instead to heavily bone the bodice of the dress itself. I was worried that the boning would show through my fashion fabric if I did that because my trim layout is simpler, and Whitney was leading the MSRF ladies in a corset workshop, so I decided to go one step more towards historical accuracy.
We all based our patterns off of the corset pattern based on the Dorothea extant garment in The Tudor Tailor. Whitney blew up the pattern to 100% scale on her printer so that we could each then tape the sheets into a pattern piece, cut it up along the adjustment lines, and expand or overlap it to get a pattern based on our measurements.
I made a muslin based on that pattern, tried it on, and went to town with a Sharpie editing it for fit. I had helped Whitney make lacing strips to pin on, and it made trying on the corset so much easier! Plus I got to play with her giant industrial grommet machine. 🙂
I got lucky with my pattern and only had to make one muslin with small edits. I used tracing paper over the marked-up muslin to create a custom pattern and add seam allowances. I then traced THAT tracing, and measured out where to put boning. In my case I had to raise the bust from the original and add 12mm boning channels to fit my 9mm cable ties. Whitney and the other ladies of the court ordered real steel boning and corset coutil fabric, but I had to get this done earlier and made do with what I could buy locally.
UPDATE: If you can use steel boning, I really recommend it. After a long, hot day at fair the plastic boning bends significantly and allows the bodice fabric to wrinkle. It doesn’t matter too much with my dress, since it’s a matte fabric with a nice distracting pattern, but with a solid or shiny fabric it would look messy. Also, if you are a lady more gifted than me with “tracts of land” it wouldn’t give you appropriate support. However, for a scrawny, cheap, time-crunched girl like myself the plastic boning was a reasonable option.
I boned every other channel. I don’t need all that much support, and I didn’t want to feel like I was wearing a plastic suit of armor. After cutting, filing, and inserting the bone I ran a row of stitching to keep it in, using my piping foot to avoid the bones.
I had never done bias binding before! It turned out a bit messy but good enough for me.
My mom saw it and exclaimed “doesn’t it hurt to pinch your waist in like that?!” The answer is – my waist measurement isn’t reduced at all. It’s just rearranged. My waist shaped went from slightly oval (wider side-to-side, narrower front-to-back) to something like a circle with a constant diameter. With the corset laced up, I look thinner from the front but the side view makes up for it. Also, the boning in the corset distributes the pressure of the underskirt and skirt waistbands in a way that makes their weight much more comfortable.