Monday, 20 May 2013

The Difference A Steam Makes:

This is just a quick post to show the difference a good steam session has made to this corset. I have steamed this pair of stays once before - when I wanted to start on the ribbons and was trying to get the ridges between the panels to calm down - which they did a little. But this time, the effect of it was much more exciting.

It's a good argument for using natural fibres really. I know some people say you shouldn't use cane in Corsetry because although it is a fibre that was used back in the 1700's it was tended to be only used by the poorer section of the society and that it would be better to find a stronger whalebone substitute. But going into anything that can't be effected by steam and heat takes away one of the stages of stay building.
Norah Waugh in her book: Corsets and Crinolines, mentions how they'd apply a hot iron to the whalebone to shape it and steam can help set wood and cane. In one of my previous posts, the researching of the various types of panniers, one of the types used 'Oval Cane' which obviously must've been steamed or fixed into that shape somehow as cane does not handily grow in an oval shape ready for panniers!
It's all just very interesting stuff...
These photos are of the latest stage.
- The under-arm section has been sewn on.
- The inner boning and centre busk has been sewn down.
- and it has recieved a jolly good steam.
Now all that remains is the Lining.

I've asked Bath Fashion Museum for permission to use yet more photographs, so I can do a blog looking into the techniques and pattern options used in lining the various corsets I have viewed, and once I hear back I shall publish that post.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

More Stays with the Under Arm Strip:

Dated 1750-1780, this corset is from the Snowshill Collection based now in the National Trust. It's inventory number is: 1349941. 
Interesting Features are:
- The sharp angled lines at the CF.
- The boning is quite obvious, maybe even chunky, in comparison to others. The indentation they have left seem far more outstanding than the three I've looked at in the Bath Fashion Museum.
- 10 Panels! There is a panel in between the very CF conical shape and what is usually regarded as the Side Panel due to the way it wraps itself round the rib cage and down to the front. You can see the extra ribbon as the cone shapes away and meeting midway at the CF point. You know, I don't think I've seen one with 10 panels before.
- Quite a wide and blunt CF point at the bottom and it is made up of the two panels meeting. 
- No straps.
- 6 inner tabs in-between the CF point and the CB tab.
- Fully Boned.

This is the back view of the Corset from the V&A, also featuring in Eleri Lynn's Book: Underwear - Fashion in Detail. They are British and from around the 1780's. 
Interesting Features:
- V&A list the fabrics - Linen and buckram, applied silk, chamois leather and whalebone, lined with linen.
- Circumference, bust = 86 cm, waist = 62 cm, hip (over flared tabs) = 71 cm.
- Length; front = 28 cm, back = 40 cm
-Half-boned, but I'd say a dense half boned. It's only really the front bust and a small angle at the CB that aren't fully boned.
- 8 panels with decorative blue silk ribbon.
- non-matching lace up holes and interestingly you can see the marks left from the lacing and in which way they were laced.
- There is also a shadow on the CF which suggests inner boning also.
- Straps

Here are just some old photo's of mine that I found from a trip to the V&A years ago.
It really is a beautiful corset - such neat tabs.

Under-Arm Leather Strip

This is just a quick post to look into the techniques of sewing the Under-arm leather strip on. I could have just gone through the photo's myself but thought I'd make a post out of it.

I'm currently on the stage of sewing this section of the corset, hence the sudden need to look into it closer.

Here's an image of piece I am talking about:

Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council

This piece is not exactly an essential piece of the corset - only 2 out of the 3 stays that I have viewed had this piece on it and one of those wasn't so much as a decoration as a slightly thicker binding trim. But I think it makes the corset look more stylised and if the comfort of the client is wished, then I'm sure it's a piece that would be wanted.
The hard wearing linen and rigidity of the boned corset would be very abrasive to the soft skin under the arm. This small strip of zig-zagged leather just gives it that smooth feel that would be far more comfortable to wear.

This image above is of a pair of stays (I just write 'corset' for the pure ease of it) in the Bath Fashion Museum and is currently not on display. It is the one I have chosen to base my hand made corset on.

Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council.

In the above image you can see that this strip has been sewn on by a top stitching running parallel to the top of the corset and then stitches holding down each individual zig-zag. In the photo above most of these bottom stitches have come undone but in the following photo they are more evident. 

Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council.
As I've already mentioned, only one other of the stays that I have viewed during my trips to the Bath Fashion Museum have had this strip and that one was barely a denser trim, but there is another image of a corset from a book that also has this more decorative strip on it's scye section. It is a corset from the V&A collection.

You can only see the corner of it in this image and is of a slightly different design, being more of an eliptical or inverted scalloped edge fhan the zig-zags of the previous corset. The zoom in version also shows the very gentle stitches that hold this piece down.

Well that's it for now - just a very basic post but it has helped me in my research of how to sew this thing on.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Update on Grain Discussion for the Side Front Panel.

During a quick research moment - with me trying to double check the methods used in sewing down the under-arm leather strip - I discovered that I could also get close enough to be able to see the grainline for the Side Front Panel.
So just thought I'd quickly post it up.

As you can just about see, once again, the grain tends to be going with the forth tab nearest the Side Back Panel. Although in this image that tab is slightly blurred and at an angle, you can see from the rest of the panel  which way the grain lies and how it runs in a similar direction.
Here is also the smaller version of the photo so you can see what you're looking at as a whole.

This corset is from the V&A and features in their book 'Underwear - Fashion in Detail' by Eleri Lynn an pages 80 and 81.
The passage beneath this corset reads:
' These stays are made of densely woven linen, high at the back and wide and low across the bust. They are made with 8 pieces with pale blue silk ribbon overlaying the seams...'

What is also interesting is that she gives some information as to how they might have been made up.
'The bones of these stays are cut very finely, in some instances as narrowly as 3mm. Cutting whalebone this thinly required a high degree of expertise and physical strength, which was also needed to PUSH THE BONES INTO THEIR TIGHT FABRIC CASINGS.' (Capitals mine)
I wonder where she got this information from or if it was deduced from the corset itself.