So Many Mockups! – Late 1860s Corset Part 1


Wow it’s been a long time! I’ve been sewing so much but I haven’t gotten around to blogging about any of it because I haven’t really finished anything enough to blog about it. But now I’ve done enough work on my 1860s Victorian crinoline era corset to show you all! It’s involved 3 mock-ups, which is pretty out-of-character for me but was necessary because I started from scratch with this one.

If you missed my last post (or just forgot it), this corset is going to go with my Costume College 2016 Gala Gown, which is going to be a 1867 ball gown bedecked with sheers and silk flowers and the like.

Mockup #1

I started out by sketching up pattern pieces based on my absolute favorite crinoline era corset ever, this beautiful blue silk corset from the V&A collections. It’s dated 1864, but its length makes it feel later to me.

V&A blue corset

Anyway, that first mockup went together remarkably painlessly, and it actually pretty much fit. (Just a note: my dressform’s measurements, even when adjusted to fit me, are pretty different from mine, so there is quite a lot of puckering in some of these pictures that isn’t there on me in later pictures.)

mockup 1, late 1860s corset

the first mockup, late 1860s crinoline victorian era corset

I played around with taping in my spiral boning and busk after doing some initial fittings. If you look closely, you can see where I marked raising the waistline and taking in the hip gore.

Mockup #2

After making those adjustments on my paper pattern pieces, I decided that I didn’t really want to deal with sewing gores at all and that sewing them in along seam lines would be way easier. So I went back to the drawing board and made mockup #2.

mockup 2, late 1860s crinoline victorian era corset

mockup 2, late 1860s crinoline victorian era corset

I really loved the lines I got in this version, but I wanted to bring them out even more. I also realized, stupidly, that I could incorporate the gores into the new pattern pieces and cut 2 extraneous seams out of the way. Keeping in mind that I’m going to be sewing this in heavy coutil, I really wanted to do everything I could to reduce the number of seams (without using gores, obviously).

Mockup #3

I used this drawing of the LH Foy 1868 pattern as a reference when replacing the gores with curved seams. Her piece B is split into pieces 2 and 3 on my pattern, in case you’re following along closely.

1860s corset pattern

As you can see, this new pattern moved me up about half a decade date-wise. The lines are heavily influenced by late 1870s corsets because they’re pretty, so this corset is kinda mix of time periods. I still hold that it could have existed in 1867ish.

mockup 3 pattern, late 1860s corset
here’s the ugly version of the pattern for my last mockup, before I made the final changes and traced the final pattern

Here are all the iterations of the pattern next to each other so you can see how the front of the bodice evolved. Honestly, all of them would make great corsets; I just wasn’t happy until #3.

the first mockup is on the left and then #2 in the middle and the final on the right
the first mockup is on the left and then #2 in the middle and the final on the right

And here is the final mockup!

mockup 3, late 1860s corset

There were very few fit issues, so I went ahead and traced the final version of the pattern, making only a few slight changes to the bust and waist along the way 🙂

mockup 3, late 1860s corset

Dying the Coutil

We skipped the brief interlude where I ordered the wrong boning for only half the corset so I had to go back and reorder all of it. Yeah, that wasn’t my finest moment. Luckily, ships to SoCal quickly 🙂

I ordered plain white coutil because I’m cheap, but wanted to spice it up a bit. I’ve also been wanting to look into dying fabrics, so I decided this was the perfect opportunity.

My sister and I spent the afternoon dying all the pieces. The front has a subtle ombre effect that hopefully will showcase all the hard work I put into the seams of the corset.

dying the coutil, late 1860s crinoline victorian era corset

Look for more information on the dying of the coutil and the actual corset later in the week! (Or just follow me on Instagram (@by_strings_attached) because I’ve been posting pics there all week.)

What do you think of my mockups? Which one did you like the most? I love hearing from all of you and will hopefully be posting more soon as I catch up on my backlog of posts that need to be written.

Please like, comment, and follow me and check out my Instagram!

As always, thanks for reading,

Samatha 🙂

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