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In Search of the Perfect Elizabethan Corset (Payre or Pair of Bodies) - Part II

Ye ole corsets from In Search of the Perfect Elizabethan Corset (Payre of Pair of Bodies) are starting to show signs of wear. Time for new ones.

As always, click on thumbnail to see larger image.

Scroll down for more information and pictures.

To begin with, I start with a new pattern using the Custom Corset Pattern Generator from the The Elizabethan Costume Page.

  The first step is measuring.

This measuring tape has a built-in slot on the side of the case which secures the tape for accurate measuring. When the red button is pushed, the tape snugs up a consistent amount every time.

Here is a list of the measurements that are needed and guidelines on how to take those measurements. The only thing I do differently from this list is to start the underarm measurement 1 inch above the top edge of the side of the bra.

The other measurement that is needed when working with Margo's patterns is the front shoulder-point-to-shoulder-point measurement.

 

  The measurements are input into the Custom Corset Pattern Generator (CCPG) and the pattern instructions are printed out. The pattern instructions are used to draw the pattern on a cut-up brown paper bag. This photo shows the pattern.

 

  Since I know, from past experience, that the pattern produced by the CCPG does not match my waist measurement, less 2 inches of squish, exactly, I make the necessary adjustments to the pattern. The specific alteration is 1/2 inch off of the waist. See the new center back line which starts at the upper left corner of the pattern and is 1/2 inch to the right of the lower left corner of the pattern?

 

  Here is the altered pattern with the excess paper removed.

To modify the pattern further for a back lacing corset with a 2 inch lacing gap.

  A line is drawn 1 inch from and parallel to the center back line of the corset pattern. I tried to make it more obvious by using a red pen.

 

  Here is the altered pattern with the excess 1 inch folded back out of the way.

Corset number 5 - 18th Century Stays

Pattern: Stays from J.P. Ryan

Size: 12

Fabric: two layers of natural linen canvas from Burnley & Trowbridge.

Boning: cable/duct ties from Home Depot.

Binding: white cotton muslin.

Notes:

I cut this corset out in October of 2007 but I didn't get around to actually sewing up the pattern until the Spring of 2008. Before binding the corset, I laid the corset over the top of a brand new pattern produced by the Custom Corset Pattern Generator.

  What was I thinking?

Well, actually, I assumed that since the bust measurement was so spot on, that the waist measurement would be also and I made waist alterations accordingly. As you can see, it wasn't. I will be reworking this corset later, but first, I just HAD to sew a pair of Effgy bodies.

But first, here is my furry pattern weight.

 

Corset number 6 - Vernon Bodies

Ok, so I just said I HAD to sew a pair of Effigy bodies. It started out that way. Really, it did. Except I got a little over eager and cut the slash for the tab at the side when I was cutting out the rest of the bodies. Well, when I got to sewing all the channels, the slash for that tab ended up at the wrong place. So, what's an AR person to do? Cut another set of pieces for Effigy bodies and cut the tabs off of the existing bodies and turn it into a hybrid Vernon/Dorothea von Neuberg bodies.

As always, click on thumbnail to see larger image.

Scroll down for more information and pictures.

  Machine bound Vernon bodies. The method for machine binding a corset can be found here.

 

   
Front
Side
Back

Pattern: Tudor Bodies Pattern from The Tudor Tailor

Size: 16 (UK size) Here are some really helpful size charts for figuring out sizes when using patterns from The Tudor Tailor.

Fabric: two layers of natural linen canvas from Burnley & Trowbridge.

Boning: cable/duct ties from Home Depot.

Binding: white cotton muslin bias (recycled from a former farthingale.)

Notes:

I only made two changes to this pattern, other than the necessary alterations to make the pattern fit me. More information on the method of sizing this corset pattern using the Custom Corset Pattern Generator can be found here.

The first change was to cut the straps on the bias to help the straps hug the shoulders. There is also a strip of 5/8th inch elastic bridging the gap between the strap and the body of the corset.

The second change was to design this corset to be convertible to a back lacing corset, for weight fluctuations down the road. To do this, I simply cut the back with a 5/8ths inch seam allowance rather than on the fold. Um, now, with the way I attached the tabs, it is not so convertible.

For a corset with unboned tabs, it is extremely comfortable. But of course, I have never tried it on with the full Elizabethan get up. Since Lady Margaret (my dress dummy) is not as picky as I am about the weight of heavy skirts pressing against down against the top of her hips, she gets to wear this corset.

After the above pictures were taken, Lady Margaret was dressed in her new corset. Heh. Lady Margaret has been wearing the old corset 24/7 for the last few years. Those torpedo boobs of hers appear to be permanently squished.

Corset number 7 - Effigy Bodies

This one is the real deal.

As always, click on thumbnail to see larger image.

Scroll down for more information and pictures.

  Machine bound Effigy bodies. The method for machine binding a corset can be found here.

 

   
Front
Side
Back

Pattern: Tudor Bodies Pattern from The Tudor Tailor

Size: 16 (UK size) Here are some really helpful size charts for figuring out sizes when using patterns from The Tudor Tailor.

Fabric: two layers of natural linen canvas from Burnley & Trowbridge.

Boning: cable/duct ties from Home Depot.

Binding: white cotton muslin bias (recycled from a former farthingale.).

Notes:

I only made two changes to this pattern, other than the necessary alterations to make the pattern fit me. More information on the method of sizing this corset pattern using the Custom Corset Pattern Generator can be found here.

The first change was to cut the straps on the bias to help the straps hug the shoulders. There is also a strip of 5/8th inch elastic bridging the gap between the strap and the body of the corset.

The second change was to design this corset to be convertible to a back lacing corset, for weight fluctuations down the road. To do this, I simply cut the back with a 5/8ths inch seam allowance rather than on the fold.

The fit for both the Vernon bodies and the Effigy bodies is identical above the waist, so both are equally comfortable and equally supportive. The difference is below the waist and my preference is still for the boned tabs of the Effigy corset because I know they will distribute the weight of those heavy skirts better over my hips. So, other than for the pictures, I will probably never wear the Vernon corset again. Lady Margaret got a new corset out of the deal, though, and she wears it well.

As you can probably tell from the write up found here, I was much more precise in my use of the pattern produced by the Custom Corset Pattern Generator than I have ever been before. And I owe all the ladies who have a attended The Bodice Workshops hugs and my heartfelt thanks for the way these corsets fit. Every toile that was done in The Bodice Workshops taught ME something about fit. I have been refining the technique over the last couple of years and I think I have nailed it.

The previous corsets I have made are just crap in comparison to the fit of these corsets. I laid an old corset (The one Lady Margaret has been wearing - it was most like the new Effigy corset since it laced only in the front and it still had straps) over the new Effigy corset last night I can see why I always had slippage. The bust is way too big on the old corset. That curved side back seam sewn to a straight seam on Margo's corset pattern does not suit me at all.

The new corsets are supremely comfortable. Part of this is due to the fit but part of it is due to that linen canvas I used. There is something about that fabric. The way it works with the boning and molds the body, with just the right amount of give vs. stiffness. And because it is linen, it will be so much more comfortable in the heat of summer than the cotton duck cloth I have used previously for corsets.

The upper edge of the back of the Vernon corset lays better. There is just a bit of gapping at the back of the Effigy corset. So, I may have to probably will redo the binding on the upper edge of the Effigy corset between the junction of the straps, stretching the binding a bit as I sew it into place.

Other than that, the only thing I would do differently next time is to move the point of the junction of the straps to the body of the corset further out by an inch on each side. That is a change that needs to made to the original pattern, though, before cutting the fabric.

The solution turned to be much easier than making a new corset. Keep reading...

The next version with be boned with reed. I have purchased some silk satin and some half bleached linen canvas from Burnley and Trowbridge. Both fabrics are a creamy yellow color and will look very nice with some chamois leather binding.

Today, June 13, 2008, I got some advice from an unexpected place that makes the Effigy bodies just rock. I was asking about the JP Ryan stays pattern on an 18th century list because I had noticed that the points on the upper edge of the corset were in the exact same postion as those on the Effigy bodies - which is way too close together. I had included pics of the Effigy bodies. Anyway, a couple of ladies on that list suggested that the front of the Effigy bodies looked like it was too high. Well, I kinda did too, but I needed some reinforcement. So, after playing with patterns all morning, I decided that cutting down the front of the Effigy bodies would not be a bad thing and would make the Effigy bodies more like other corsets I have done. I cut the front down by one inch. This also moved the point of attachment of the straps out another inch on each side- another good thing. So, I spent the rest of the day making the changes..

I also did that back neckline fix I mentioned above. I did a triple whammy. Since there is a center back seam, I did a dart - 1/8 inch wide at the neck line edge tapering to nothing 2 inches below the neckline edge. I stretched the binding about 1/2 from what it was when I sewed from the strap seam to the center back. I also ran some cording through the binding. The cording is anchored at the strap seam, pulled tight and tied it off. There is absolutely no gapping now.

BTW, the bust point on the JP Ryan stays is supposed to touch the arm tendon. I marked the tendon on my skin in four different places with black magic marker. (Isopropyl alcohol removes the marks.) The first mark was directly below my arm crease, the fourth mark was about where the armcye edge of my bra strap hits. The other two were in between the first and the fourth and all were equidistant apart. I tried on the revised Effigy corset all by itself and the the strap attachment covers the third mark. The top edge of corset itself is about 1/4 inch away from all the marks. Pictures were taken but I will not be sharing the pictures online. The pictures are kinda, um... fleshy. The pictures also illustrate the abundance of cleavage provided by this corset, which, fortunately, my smock manages to disguise nicely. ;-)

So, without further ado, here is the revised corset.

As always, click on thumbnail to see larger image.

Scroll down for more information and pictures.

     
Front
3/4
Sorta Side
Side

 

   
Back
Side
Sorta Side

Just for fun, here is Drea Leed's original Effigy corset recreation.

That's all for now.

Be sure to check back again.

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