Project Journal: 1880s Steam Molded Corset: The Pattern

The previous post in this series compared the two mockups I created while finalizing the pattern for the new corset. This post let’s compare the pattern pieces themselves.

Since my inspiration corset is only shown from one angle in a single photo, I had to use other information to extrapolate information for the areas not visible in that photo. As I mentioned in my previous post, I began the patterning process with the 1880s corset pattern in Corsets and Crinolines. That, combined with observations of other 1880s corsets, and the information below from the V and A description of my inspiration corset, all helped inform my decision to have 6 pieces in each half of the corset.

This corset from the 1880s is composed of twelve separate shaped pieces and forty whalebone strips.

The image below shows the pattern pieces from my first mockup compared to the pattern pieces from my second mockup. At first glance they are basically the same, but upon closer inspection there are subtle differences. It’s the same idea I’ve been repeating in every post about this corset: the lines aren’t really that different, but the curves on them have been exaggerated (this is especially noticeable on pieces 1 (CF), 3, and 6 (CB)).

Untitled 2

Center front is on the left and center back is on the right.

You might also remember that I mentioned in my previous post that I had changed the two pieces closet to center back after the mockup. Here are the two original 5 and 6 pattern pieces from Version 2 compared to the newer 5 and 6 pieces from Version 2.


On the left, pieces 5 and 6 (CB) Version 2.1, as seen in the mockup. On the right, pieces 5 and 6 (CB) Version 2.2, updated after the mockup.

I think the change in the pattern pieces is pretty obvious when they are compared side by side. You can see the inspiration image of the back of an 1880s corset that prompted me to make this change in my previous post.

Determining where the boning channels would be was an essential part of the patterning process, due to the immense number of bones and their specific placement between seams on the inspiration corset. I looked very closely at the inspiration corset to determine where the bones would be located on the front pieces of the corset. For the back pieces, I used the mention from the V and A that the inspiration corset had 40 bones to figure out how many additional bones I needed after the front ones were planned and information gathered from back views of other 1880s corsets to determine bone placement. You can see that the pattern pieces from Version 2 have short vertical lines drawn on them to help me envision where the boning channels would be as I created the pattern. Once I was satisfied with the shape of the pieces and the location of the boning channels I was able to move on to the cutting and construction… more on that soon!


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