1810 Stays, a lesson in Workshops and Boobs.

Now that I have your attention...

 So this past weekend was the much anticipated Burnley and Trowbridge 1810 Corded Corset workshop that was to be held in Williamsburg, Virginia.

First off, it was great to be back in Williamsburg and see my friends that I hadn't seen since August. And it was good to feel like I'm doing 'real' sewing instead of frying my brain on the damned shift.

The Friday started with just a brief discussion of the corset and then we got to measuring and pattern drafting. I really enjoyed this part because I don't do it very often and I really wanted good practice with this just for my overall skill improvement. There were a few quirks with the measurements.. and the pattern wasn't looking like it was supposed to. Lesson learned: Don't always follow the numbers directly. Sometimes eyeing it is better...

So the first day we got the patterns drawn and the back pieces cut. From there I did some of the eyelets so we could fit the next day....the first fitting went well enough. I had and continue to have some issues with the boob gussets. To summarize: TOO BIG, too small, TOO BIG, ok I think they might be ok.

Stupid me decided to over compensate the big gussets and make the next time much smaller...and without doing a fitting (it's too much like work, let's be honest. har.) I sewed down the gussets and their lining. The next morning...we did a fitting and no one said anything...but there just wasn't something right. I couldn't see because there was no mirror around and I just wanted to get progress done. I assumed everything was fine (from my view everything was ... um...up and at 'em if you will.

So, on Sunday, at 2 I do another fitting to make sure everything was good and that the shoulder straps were set to go. I was brain dead at this point and really didn't do ANY sewing that day it seems like. Well, we look. The back is laying wrong (don't know what happened there, and it's still laying wrong, but more on that later..but I think it has to do with my bum..) and the boobs are lifting and separating like they are expected to do in a corded corset. As Janea said, I had a great 1790s look...so a little wrong for a few years later...ripping out the gussets and remaking/pinning them, we finally have it figured out. And I sit now in my corset writing this blog...with proper gussets and a better fit.

The back is still messed up. As you can see the one side is visually laying alright, and the otherside is not. However, they both are icky feeling if you get up close. I've been talking to Angela and some others and picking my own brain and I'm going to try either 1. remove the spring boning and opt for spiral steel. 2. remove spring steel, move it further into the back, and then make the eye lacings heavily corded instead of boning.

I am also considering shortening my corset an inch or so and see if that helps. The corset I tried on at the workshop was much shorter than this one and it fit me really well...so that could be a helpful option. Though I do like the feeling of a longer corset much more than the shorter one around my hips.

Here are pictures of the front. I have to work on the right gusset..it's suffering from a case of 'Sad Boobs' which is an easy fix and I've basically already finished it.

Comparing these to 18th century stays and later corsets, it is such a different feel...I like it, for sure, but I really have to get used to that busk in the center.

And this is the side view.

I'm already considering my cording options, and in my usual 'let's make this as difficult as I possibly can on myself' fashion. I'm looking into more over the top cording. I'm taking influences from corded corsets in collections I've seen, a corded jacket from the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, and also my family's 1820 quilt. I know the 1820s is a bit late, but it seems that these types of corsets were still worn..as far as I can tell. And also the style is the 'fern-y floral' pattern. This should, hopefully, be a good exercise in my pursuit of flattering decoration. But more on that later. Now I have to fix the back, the gusset, and shoulder straps.

I have a lot to do this weekend.

In other news, I've just ordered some quilted cotton to make a petticoat from and also some squeal worthy blue/ivory striped silk taffeta for another delicious project....

but more on that later. ;)


  1. It sure does look good to me! Also seems to me that it should be hard to get a smooth back without the boning we're used to, so I probably would've said: "Nah, it's good!" :P

    Look forard to see how the cording comes along. Have a nice weekend!

  2. Ooh - I like the sound of this cording! And the corset is looking good so far - good luck with ironing out those last few problems.

    And blue and ivory stripe? Hmm ... you're not making what I think you are, are you? I won't say, I don't want to spoil the suprise for others if it is what I think it is! Though if it is, I might not be able to talk to you ever again because I want that thing and my skills are way too newb-esque to even brave it. *cry!*

    But really - can't wait to see what you've got planned!

  3. Regency corsets are a dream to wear. It's SO much more comfortable--but as with all corsets, they're not made for bucket seats. :)

    Your cording will smooth a lot out. I've seen some very lovely examples of corded stays.

    Koska the cat is always a great place to look:

    And Jenny Lafleur... She's got a lovely tutorial:

  4. Sounds like it's coming along. I'm sure you'll get the wonky back issues figured out. Do post pictures once it's finished :-)


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