It Looks Like A Rose! – Late 1860s Corset Part 2


I hope you are all having a wonderful week (and that you caught my last two posts about this project)! I’ve been working hard to finish the construction on my late 1860s Victorian era corset, something which has paid off! The ombre dying on the front pieces looks pretty amazing, if I do say so myself, and gives the whole corset a rose-like feeling that I think is appropriate for something that will go under a flower-covered Midsummer Night’s Dream 1860s gown.

my inspiration :)
my inspiration 🙂

Dying the fabric was a process, mostly because my sister and I had basically no idea what we were doing. I’d read all the articles I could find on the internet, but honestly we mostly ignored those instructions and just went for it. Other than kinda staining my ironing board cover when pressing one of the darker pieces, I think we succeeded.

dying fabric, late 1860s corset
our test swatches drying

We used the RIT liquid dye in the color Wine, but we decided after some test swatches that we really liked the lightest color possible more than the darkest (and that we were feeling pretty impatient).

dying the fabric, late 1860s corset

Our setup had the high-class sophistication of paintbrushes and plastic gloves from the drug store, all on top of the very sophisticated table cloth *cough* garbage bag *cough*. We also had the super fancy clothes line of twine tied to bushes with random clips from the junk drawer. Cuz we like to keep it classy.

dying the coutil pieces, late 1860s corset

We started out by dying every piece the lightest color we could get it. We dyed half the remaining fabric super dark and half of it just as light, so that we would have options when I got around to cutting out the hip gore (which I hadn’t yet because I was fussing with its fit).

After fussing with myself about how I wanted to dye the ombre, I used the spray bottle to rewet the four front side pieces. I used a paintbrush and less-diluted dye to paint in the ombre, lightly on the more center pieces and more darkly on the outer ones.

If that didn’t make any sense, here are the pieces after they dried.

corset pieces dyed and ombre, late 1860s corset

And a close up of the ombre.

fabric dyed with ombre, late 1860s corset

I ended up cutting the hip pieces out of the darker fabric to match the darkest piece on the front, something I’m actually really happy with.

Putting the corset together was simultaneously a total pain and easier than I thought it was going to be. Sewing some of the boning channels was a trial, but overall I feel like it went together okay. I’ll see how quickly it falls apart and get back to you on the construction lol.

rose late 1860s victorian crinoline era corset

This was my first experience with steel boning. I have to say, I’m a little on the fence. I honestly don’t feel like I have enough experience in corsetry (this is my fourth honest-to-goodness corset and only my second well-fitted one) to appreciate the difference between steel and plastic boning. My only other well-fitted corset is my pair of 1790s stays, though, so those are really heavily boned and probably not a fair comparison.

rose late 1860s victorian crinoline era corset

Sorry if I just totally offended someone more knowledgeable than me. I can say that spiral steel is definitely more fun to work with because of how it bends in 4 directions. I’m glad I actually got to sew some curved channels and utilize that quality in this project.

rose late 1860s victorian crinoline era corset

I do need to add at least one bone to the side back seam because it’s totally rippling which is pissing me off. I might also add one or two more along the waist. Who knows?

It also will obviously benefit from flossing so that it can’t scrunch up so much…

gah that rippling!!
gah that rippling!!

Overall though, I’m so freaking impressed with myself with this project. To think that this is the first real project I’ve ever done without a pattern is just unreal for me. What am I doing self-drafting Victorian corsets?

rose late 1860s victorian crinoline era corset

Through this process, I have definitely realized how much more comfortable I am with flat patterning than draping. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around how you would go about draping a corset on a dress form—or a real person for that matter. Transferring measurements onto paper, taking measurements and putting those down on paper with a ruler, sketching in seam lines by hand—that makes so much more sense to my brain.

I cannot wait to get started on the rest of the undergarments for this project! After making so much progress on the undergarments for my 1793 Charlotte Corday recreation, I feel like I might actually be getting good at this.

I’ve also started working on a mockup for the bodice for my Corday gown! I totally screwed up the fitting and second mockup, though, so I have to go back and retrace my steps before I can show you all anything. I’ve also finalized a sketch for the gown that goes with this corset and selected my final inspiration photos, so that’ll be up on the blog soon!

Thanks so much for reading all the way to the bottom! What do you think of my corset? Do you have any advice for or insight into making Victorian corsets?

Please like, comment, and follow (here and on Instagram) 🙂

Have an amazing day!


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