I am beyond excited, I started work in earnest on "The Domestic Lady's Dressmaker" today. I have great hopes and plans for this book, but mostly I want it to exist to help living historians to be able to re-create appropriate garments for daily wear/work. I am inspired by Janet Arnold's "Patterns of Fashion" books, Nancy Bradfield's "Costume in Detail" and the great "Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail" by Lucy Johnston, so I wanted to include all the things I always wished I had when recreating dresses. Each dress will have a pattern draft, a sketch with notes and photographs with more notes. This is my first go-around and I want to share it with you so feel free to download the file!
While looking through all the tempting boxes in the storage after setting up my "No Lady of Leisure" exhibit at the Kingfisher Chisholm trail museum, I found a scrumptious little number. Of course, I was the only one at the museum who was so totally enthralled over a plain drab little brownish corset. Here was an item I had coveted for my research on working class dresses for literally YEARS! It was a corded corset and it appeared to be just about right for Oklahoma's landrun time frame. After explaining to the staff what a find it was, they shared my joy with me. When it was announced the Historical Sew Monthly was going to have Foundations as the first challenge- I knew what I was going to do- and had a sudden desire to drag a few people along with me. So the Corded Corset Sew-Along was born on Facebook. I am leaving it up and open during this year's HSM if someone wants to join in!
I had already pulled a pattern from the corset with the museum's blessings, but my first order of business was to redraw and re-size it for myself. This involved adding nearly an inch to each piece.
Next came cutting it out and putting it together. I had studied several methods of cording- draw through, and sew in. I decided sew in would give me a much firmer corset, and since the only boning was center back and the busk in the front I wanted to make sure I had maximum support. I had read the Dreamstress post on her black silk corset and it pretty much made up my mind on my cording method. Busk went in first, first row was marked and off we went on cording.
The corset was put together a bit different than any I had created. Fronts were sewn together, then the side front was sandwiched around the edge of the front so that the seam was enclosed. This would be repeated for back and side back. The front half and the back half were then joined after all the cording was in place by a flat felled seam at the side. My first time was a bit too loose(supported but closed completely) so I took out the side seam and took it up so that I had some lacing gap.
The next step was to bind the bottom edge with twill tape, and then add the shoulder strap (only one layer) which is topstitched to the back side of the corset. The top edge is then bound with twill tap in one continuous piece around top of corset and shoulder strap. Add eyelets in the back (the original were metal) and buckles in the front (my test run may get buttons) and you are good to go!
Now to complete my challenge here is the good stuff.
The Challenge: January- Foundations
Fabric:- Tan cotton twill from the stash
Pattern: Taken from an original held in the Chisholm Trail Museum in Kingfisher OK.
Year: Late Victorian- we are guessing about landrun time 1889-1890's
Notions: Cotton crochet yarn (sugar and cream) busk, thread, two pieces of boning, cotton twill tape
How historically accurate is it?- Probably fairly close I'd say 85%- pattern is correct, fabric is plausible- I used larger grommets and a nylon cording until I can find something better.
Hours to complete: I would say I have about 12 hours in it-
First worn: Just for photos but I am looking forward to using it at museum events.
Total cost: Fabric - about a yard at $6, grommets/busk/boning $15, other notions (thread, yarn, twill tape) $5 - so around $26 total?
WickedStepmother spends most of her time in her castle, and trying to control her minions, to little avail.