(Images courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council)
Picking this item up was incredible. It's weight, stiffness and shape were more than I expected. The panels coiled away from me even as I laid it on the table and tried to get it into a good position to be able to study it. The curve of the front sits atleast 6" from off the table.
It's my first time at the Bath Fashion Museum Study sessions and I think I've asked to see everything all at once. I've only a 2 hour session and I've got something like 8 items to get through. Which, with even my mediocre maths, only makes 15 mins per garment. I'm beginning to think I might have bitten off more than I can chew.
But I have my tape measure out at the ready and my sketch book ready to take down the basic design points and measurements.
This garment is so well made.
Nothing like the hastily tacked together dresses that were worn over it.
The boning channels are immaculate and look like they've been stitched through the actual whalebone. I don't understand it. The bones must be so tightly driven in, that the run of stitching doesn't sink in between them but sit up on top. How did they do it? I've read that it took men's strong hands to be able to stitch a corset and I've never understood why when you do the stitching on the fabric first and then push the bones in after, but this is something else. This is beyond my imagination. The corset is about 5mm thick and as stiff as if it was moulded that way. I can feel extra boning under the lining at the front and the weight of each tab. In my previous experiments the tabs always feel slightly loose and weak compared to the rest of the body, the shorter bones coming in from the side not ever being as stable as the ones that run down from the top of the corset and into the tabs. But these tabs were a force to be reckoned with. They were as firm and strong as the rest of the corset. Beautifully made, beautifully crafted and beautiful to look at. If there was any reason or desire I'd have to time travel it would be to see the makers at work and see how they did this.
My 15 minutes worth of drawings and research.
I have booked another appointment to go back and have another look at this particular corset.