Friday, December 5, 2014

Halloween 2014

My dearest friends of the Internet variety,

I had the great pleasure of meeting quite a few of you at Costume College this past August.  Many, many thank yous to everyone who volunteered!

I'm going to start this post with a bit of advice for all college-bound costumers. TAKE STUFF WITH YOU!!!

You will get to your dorm. You may or may not have any space to store costumes or sewing supplies. It doesn't matter. You will make room. You will have a costume to wear for your first collegiate Halloween. Alternatively, should you have brought fabric and notions, you will make a costume to wear for your first collegiate Halloween.

If you, however, do not take my advice, you may find yourself asking/begging your unsurprised mother to please ship your costumes to you.  Expect the following note on the shipping label:

From: An incredibly lovely and indulgent,
not to mention busy, mother
Thanks, mom!

My inspiration for this outfit came from this print from 1909, which I found in my research for Gibson Girl era golfing way back in February in preparation for a CGW event.  I didn't finish the outfit in time and went to the event in my (not historically accurate) Edwardian costume from Halloween 2013, but I finished the skirt in time for prom (May) and got the vest to a wearable point in time for SDCC (July).  The blouse I used in the Halloween 2014 iteration of this costume is a lucky coincidence from my muggle closet.

Harrison Fisher, 1909

Hark, What Light Through Yonder Window Br--Oops, I'm Outside
Adi (Costume, Model) and Fury (Photographer), 2014

Please excuse the inaccurate silhouette.  I am wearing my Victorian corset.  I haven't made an Edwardian one yet.

Fun fact: college campuses make great settings for photoshoots.  College bookstores, not so much.

I should like to add that the vest was not actually finished when I had my mother send it to me.  I added the buttonholes (by hand!!!) and the buttons on October 30th.  Yup.  I have a great work ethic.

(I did wear this outfit, minus the blouse and the buttons, at Costume College for the Fantasy Tea and at SDCC, so this is not a very recent project... oops.  Disclaimer: the blouse is from my new favorite store.  I made the skirt and vest.  And the underpinnings.  'Cause I have priorities.)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Delicate Company - Part 3

The last post about the Delicate Company weekend a few weeks ago will highlight the not-so-delicate aspect of the group.  Note: most (all) of the "indelicate" photos showcased in the post are staged.  There were no laudanum addicts or ladies of the night at the weekend.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Delicate Company - Part 2

In my attempts to remain in the immersive experience, I only took photos sporadically.  Which is why I have pictures from the first immersive night and second full day, but not the first full day and second immersive night.  (I specify immersive nights because we ate at a restaurant near the house on the actual first night when we arrived and then hung around in our wrappers while we got to know each other.  Oh, and then, as we retired for bed, the ladies used me as their doll to play dress up.)

On the first night, we did a Jane Austen murder mystery to get ourselves used to being in first person.  It was super fun because everyone already knew the characters we were portraying - chosen randomly from picking out of a hat - so we actually had things to talk about that we thought our characters would be talking about.  (Because the weekend was an event for people who may not have already had a first person impression, most of our attempts to be in first person were stilted at first because we still weren't sure exactly who we were and what we knew about...)  


Friday, June 13, 2014

A Weekend of Delicate Company - Part 1

For all that it was supposed to be an immersion event (as in, no modern conveniences), I took a lot of pictures.

But first, let me set the scene: the weekend was held at the Shapley Ross House, which was built around 1820 and lived in continuously until some time in the 20th century, the exact date of which I have forgotten.

(Side note: the Shapley Ross House is named after the original owner/builder, who was  "the wealthiest man in Lincoln County and was recorded in the tax records owning two mills, over 1000 acres of land and 25 slaves"(Delicate Company).  His name was Shapley Ross.  I thought "Shapley Ross" was the names of two different families that owned the house over the years, but nope.  End side note.)

The house is not actually that big.  It has two floors, with two and a half rooms on each floor.  The two sides of the house are mirrors of each other.  The half room on each floor is the entrance hall (on the first floor) and a strange staircase landing / bedroom hallway (on the second floor).  That is all.  It is not a stereotypical plantation mansion or anything like that.  But my goodness it was gorgeous and perfectly decorated to give it a period feel.

The house has museum quality reproduction and antique furniture, but feels like a home.  No chairs were roped off to keep people from sitting on them and we could explore anything, dig through any drawer we felt like.  I would randomly open a cupboard to find extra linens or open a drawer in a vanity to find period hair clips, combs, and pomade.  Karen Duffy, the docent of the Shapley Ross House and the hostess of the Weekend of Delicate Company, did an excellent job to make the house feel like a home for the weekend.

This post has tons of pictures of a house, which may not interest everyone, so I'm putting it under the cut... 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I leave tomorrow for A Weekend of Delicate Company, an immersion event being held at a historical home in Missouri.  I'm super excited!  I'm also very disappointed with myself, because I did not make the new dresses I planned to make according to the Epic Master Plan Schedule of Tasks.

I realized sometime between finishing my corset waaay back in January and finishing my hoop skirt waaay back in February (and finishing a petticoat... which I guess I never blogged about.  Sorry about that.  I have been extremely neglectful of this blog.) that I can either focus on school work or on sewing.  When I am occupied by one, I forsake the other (to the detriment of my grades or the progress of my sewing projects).  Since I am a student first and a costumer second, I chose my schooling over my sewing.

Since the AP exams almost a month ago, which was essentially the end of my academic high school career (with the exception of a few essays for non-AP classes), I have had a lot of free time.  In that free time, I could have potentially finished every item on my Epic Master Plan Schedule of Tasks.  I debated doing a monthlong sewing marathon (there were a lot of items on that list), and ultimately decided not to do so because I knew the quality of whatever garments I finished would be very low and the whole endeavor would be a waste of time and fabric because I would not be happy with the finished products.  I'd rather take my time and complete good quality garments without having to adhere to a deadline.  So instead, I read books and relaxed and went to Hawaii with my class and went to graduation rehearsals and got sunburnt and then finally graduated.

I did complete a few smallish projects and do costume-y things (look for more on these in the following weeks!):

  1. 1860s chemises and drawers (I might only have one outfit to wear during the Weekend of Delicate Company, but at least I'll have clean underwear!  I haz priorities.)
  2. Elizabethan Franken-smock and blue linen stays (and my Foundations special studies class)
  3. 1860s skirt (yes, a single skirt! Whoohoo!) and shawl
  4. Prom skirt (and prom photos, because why not?)
  5. Ft. Tejon Civil War event
  6. Bodice block-making
And here's a picture from my recent high school graduation for no other reason than because I think this post needs a picture.

Photo by Mr. Bleimeister
I have a moderate-sized stash to be used up this summer, so I will have more to post about in the next few months!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Blog Award!

I'd like to give a heartfelt thank you to the Mouse Borg Queen of Mouse Borg Designs for nominating me for the Liebster Blog ♥ Award.  I'm flattered and honored that you think so highly of me!

In the spirit of the reason Mouse Borg nominated me, my nominees for the award are also teens, Bascha and Theresa over at Two Teen Seamstresses, and Privatepen of Ruffles not Rifles.  I'm pretty darned impressed with them for balancing making impressive costumes (and handsewing!) while balancing high school work loads (and college apps, 'cause that stuff is eeeevil).

Nominees, upon receiving this award you must:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Nominate other blogs, preferably ones with less than 200 followers.
3. Answer the questions asked by the one(s) who gave you the award.
4. Make a list of questions for the other nominees to answer.

Mouse Borg's questions for me:

What first got you interested in costuming?

Steampunk!  I went to a Steampunk 101 panel at Comic Con 2012, which taught me a bit about the components that go into a generic Steampunk costume, then wanted to make my own Steampunk costume for Comikaze a few months later, in September of junior year.  I looked at tons of blogs for inspiration and ideas and they taught me a lot about costuming and the historic elements of Steampunk costume.  And then suddenly I found myself obsessed with historic costume.  I'm not exactly sure how it happened.

How old were you when you began sewing? How long ago was that?

I think it was the summer between fourth and fifth grade - my sister and I took a weeklong sewing course over the summer.  I got a machine for the course, but then didn't touch it much until eleventh grade for anything other than small projects.  Seriously, I think the coolest thing I did in those six-ish years was make knitting/sewing bags for my mom, my grandma, and myself.  Maybe I made a poncho for my doll.  Then I got into costuming, took a corset making class, and now my sewing machine has its own spot in my sewing corner (*cough* half of the living room *cough*).

Do you have any bad sewing habits? If so, what are they?

I don't iron enough.  Also, I hold pins in my mouth, which I've recently learned is a very, very bad habit to get into because of the dangers of swallowing pins accidentally.

Name one piece of sewing related equipment that you wish you owned.

A better iron and a bigger ironing board.  That was two pieces of equipment, but whatever.

What is your favourite thing about costuming?

Oh, definitely wearing the costume and bragging about how, "Why yes, I did make this myself."  In terms of the actual sewing part, though, I enjoy making bodices.  They're the funnest thing to watch come together.  Also, I love doing research.  I spend more time researching the fashions of different historical periods than I spend doing my homework.

Which part of costuming do you most dread?

God, mockups.  I hate making mockups.  I like fitting them just fine on other people, but I dislike fitting them on myself, and for somme reason, I dislike making them.  Even bodice mockups.

Do you sew many everyday garments, or do you only do costumes?

At the moment only costumes, but my Muggle wardrobe is sadly lacking so I'd really like to make myself from nice outfits.  Wearing a uniform everyday to school really does a number on your sense of what it acceptable to wear outside of the house.

How has costuming affected your life?

I can't watch period dramas anymore, unless the costumes in them are done really darn well.  Otherwise, I just end up yelling at the characters and informing my fellow movie-goers how inaccurate the costumes are.  (My family and friends find this to be very annoying.)

If you had unlimited time and money, what would you sew?

Gah, everything.  More underwear.  Waaay more petticoats.  You can never have too many petticoats.

My questions for Bascha, Theresa, and Privatepen are:

  1. What period was your first love or your introduction to historical costuming?  Wanna share a picture of your first costume?
  2. What period do you find most difficult?  Why?
  3. How have you balanced school work and costuming and a social life?
  4. Looking back at all the costumes you've made, which are you the most proud of?
  5. Where do you see yourself five years in the future, in regards to costuming?
  6. How does your family feel about your hobby?
  7. What is one piece of advice you can give to someone new to the hobby that you wish you'd gotten when you were just starting out?  (Or, alternatively, what is one piece of advice you got as a newbie that you'd like to pass on?)
  8. What is your dream fabric to work with?
  9. If you are comfortable with doing so, give us one random fact about yourself that you've never mentioned on your blog!
That's it!  Mouse Borg, thank you very much for the nomination.  Privatepen, Bascha, and Theresa, I wish you all the best!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Vista Civil War Event

I just came home from a great weekend.  Seriously.  I'm exhausted right now, but I wish I were still there.

I went with the Historical Citizens Association and enjoyed the amenities of my friend's tent and parlor.  (Our little group portrays the civilians of a little town that has been destroyed by passing troops.  We don't have quite have the money to rebuild, so life goes on in makeshift homes (ie, tents and flys).)

I don't have many pictures of the event because I was trying to limit myself to period activities and conversation (succeeded on the first, failed on the second, but mainly because the company was full of like-minded women that enjoy the social time) and so I didn't want to take out my small SLR (but SLR nonetheless) camera.  (Next time I'll get a small disposable camera for the weekend that I can quietly slip it out of my pocket when I want a picture and not have to deal with the very electronic sounds of modern cameras.)

I absolutely had to get a picture of my hair.  Way back in November, Miss Betsy of In the Past Lane had a giveaway.  I was soooo excited to receive my new hairnet and bookmark in the mail.  (I bugged my parents for days with "Has a package arrived for me yet?!?")

Photo by Betsy C. (In the Past Lane)
The bookmark has faithfully been serving me in my very modern copy of Anna Karenina, which is about ten years post-period and take place on an entirely different continent, but which allows the bookmark a great deal of publicity (one of my English classes this semester is entirely focused on Anna Karenina, so I take the book with me to class).

The hairnet has not until this weekend been able to be so admired (and it's all my fault).  I wanted to do it justice by photographing it in the correct context, when I was wearing the correct hairstyle and clothes and that meant I had to wait until the next event when I would have the correct hairstyle and clothes.

Well.  It was worth the wait.  I got so many compliments!

Sunday morning, I did my hair and had breakfast in a friend's parlor in my undies (ugh, soo inappropriate, I know.  I must make a wrapper.  Fortunately, my friend was in a state of undress as well, so I didn't feel too immodest.  The one gentleman that came over whilst we were so attired covered his eyes).  It happened that I was wearing striped stockings.  The ladies commented that my striped stockings and the striped ribbon of my hair accessory meant I now have to make a striped dress.

I wore a borrowed Garibaldi blouse and a borrowed belt, but managed to whip out a skirt in time.  Sadly, the skirt lacks the trim I'd intended for it.  (And I am now boycotting JoAnns.  Their prices are not supportive of my budget.)  I've read that a Garibaldi blouse would typically be considered street attire only for young women, but could be worn in the comfort of one's own home by a greater range of ages.  (Oh, look at that, I'm a young woman.)  The breadth of my hoopskirt would push me into the upper middle class/wealthy range and if I used nicer materials, I would plant myself firmly in the wealthy range.  (Not too shabby, considering I was aiming for upper middle class.)

The event is held at the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum, which has tons of old machinery just lying around.  The civilian town happened to be tucked in a little corner with a lot of old tractor-type-things.  Not the most period setting, but easily ignored.

And the curse of the inability-to-take-serious-photos strikes again!

Saturday night was tons of fun.  The museum provided spaghetti dinner for a small fee and then there was a dance afterwards.  I broke my six-year streak of vegetarianism with the sauce at the dinner, and then made up for it (emotionally, at least) by dancing the first few dances.  The number of men-willing-to-dance to women-willing-to-dance worked itself out such that I had a partner for each dance I stayed for.  Our little group then retired back to my friend's parlor to play some period games in the lamplight.

I met lots of new friends and I'm very upset that the next two events fall when I'm going to be out of town and the weekend before my AP exams.  Sadness.

(Also note that I'm counting this as my first Civil War event because the real first one was miserable.  I felt utterly out of place.  It's amazing what the correct outfit will do to one's enjoyment of an event.)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Immense Hoop Skirt of Immense Proportions

My hoop skirt is huge.  No, not huge.  Immense.  Titanic.  Enormous.  Gargantuan.  Monumental.  Astronomical.  Ginormous

It's 117 inches (3 1/4 yds) in circumference.  I could hide a small country under there.

Shaping the skirt was fairly difficult and I ended up with more forward thrust than I intended, as you can see in the picture below.  The back slopes gently until it is almost vertical, but the front continues forward on an angle.

Each hoop bone is threaded through a little channel thing in a specially woven tape and then set in place with a copper "spot."

I've spoken online with people who have had problems with this kit.  For most of them, the problem lay with the spots, which they said would come undone with the movement of the cage.

I can't pretend to know exactly what went wrong for each of the unfortunate women who put hours of effort into the cage only to be disappointed.  However, I can attempt to describe in some detail my experience with the spots.

First, the little baggie of spots contained just as many broken ones as it did useable ones.  The broken ones didn't have long tines like the usable ones, and would not have been able to wrap around the hoop bone.  I separated the contents of the bag into usable and unusable spots.  When I ruined a usable spot (and I ruined quite a few before I got the hang of setting them) by bending it incorrectly or failing to catch the bone, I would move it to the unusable pile and try again with a new usable spot.

Second, there's a rhythm to setting the spots.  My personal rhythm was to bend the top tine around the bone, and then the bottom.  I could set most of the spots in only three or so movements: bend the top tine, bend the bottom tine, pinch around the entire thing.  Once I found my rhythm, I tried to stick to it to build up some muscle memory and improve my efficiency.

Third, it's very important that the tines are bent around the bone so that they "grip" the bone.  Usually the rhythm I described above would work, but on the occasion that I failed to set the spots properly, I would undo the tines, remove the spot, and try again with a fresh one.

The top five hoop bones are set a bit differently in front (and then they are covered by the leather strip).  For this step, I watched the instructional video that came with the kit a few times to get the hang of how the staff at Wooded Hamlet does it, and then I copied exactly what they did.  There's really no trick to this step.

The slight misshapenness of the top of back in the picture below is due to the process of attached the tapes to the waistband.  Those buggers like to move around and they're hard to wrangle thanks to the hoop-y-ness of the hoop skirt.  My advice: mark really well exactly where the tapes go and then make sure they are pinned in place!

And now, for something completely different.  It's also really hard to take a picture of something when your dog is doing his hardest to sit in front of the camera.

How did I test the durability of my hoopskirt?  I wore it while doing typical teenager things (dancing around the house and sitting on the couch watching TV - the two extrema of motion).

It survived the night.


The hoop skirt shall henceforth be known as "that collapsable thingamajig."  My sister has a talent with words.

TARDIS Corset Construction Detail

I finished my TARDIS corset in time for my birthday a month ago and then flossed it sometime the next week.

I tried to show how much shaping the corset gives by taking one of those pictures where the corset lies flat except for the bust and hips area, which flare up, but the corset didn't cooperate nicely.

The construction method is basically the same as for my brown underbust corset that I made last year and that I've been using as my only corset since then.  Basically, the corset is sewn together, the seams are pressed open, and the boning channels are applied directly over each seam.  (This is different from the technique I used on the gold overbust, which was just to pressed the seams to the side, sew them down, and insert the bones directly into the seam allowance.)  I've decided I prefer using the boning channels technique.  

For this corset, I also included a waist tape.  I did it so that the bottom edge of the twill tape I used matches up with the notches that indicated my waistline.  I have no idea if this is the correct way to go about it or if the waist tape should be centered over the waistline.  Eh, whatever.

Though the flossing on the inspiration extant corset is all at the top of the bones, I flossed at the bottom. This is partly because I added the trim directly over the top of the bones and thus, couldn't actually reach the bones to floss them and partly because most of the bones I bought from Richard the Thread were just a smidge too short and I wanted to make sure that the boning would stay up near by bust, where I need the most support.

(I forgot to explain what flossing is in terms of corsets.  I'm sure some of you are wondering.  Flossing is a functional decoration that holds bones in place and adds to the longevity of a corset (it would keep the bone from wearing through the fabric).  I'm using sturdy materials - coutil and whatever the boning channels are made of - that are specifically for corset making, so I'm not too worried about the bones popping out, but the inspiration extant corset has flossing (as do basically all extant corsets) and see explanation for why I flossed the bottoms of the bones #2, above.)

I used this article from Foundations Revealed to give me the X pattern that I saw on the inspiration extant corset.  This might be sacrilegious to say, but I used plain ol' white thread.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing special.  No embroidery thread.  No industrial grade buttonhole thread.  Just thread.  The same thread I was using to sew the corset.  And hey, it still looks nice!

I got this ribbon-threaded look (which I've learned is called beading) with the lace and ribbon by  passing a thin length of ribbon through a lace trim I bought for the Edwardian costume.  It's a cool look and it's probably what makes the corset look so TARDIS-y.

Heh.  For the waist tape I used twill tape I had in my stash.  It's a fairly thick tape for some reason, so I was worried about it being too bulky.  I apparently went out and bought a thinner and whiter twill tape to use instead, but I completely forgot about it until I was going through my notions box yesterday.  Whoops.

The twill tape is held on only by stitches of the boning channel.

I'm really proud of how neatly the hand stitching I did to attach the trim came out.  I like how straight the stitching is.  *Smiley face*

The picture below shows what the back side of  the flossing looks like.  The four parallel lines to the left go around the bone.  The thick line to the right is a series of stitches entirely through the fabric that holds the bone in place, and the few little dots in the middle are my initial anchoring stitches.

By the way, ten points to Hufflepuff to that freshman in the art studio that recognized it as a TARDIS corset.  I respect you and your nerdom.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wooded Hamlet Cage Crinoline Kit

I finished my hoop skirt just a few nights ago.  I'm very far off my sewing schedule (thank you, internet) and so I'm absolutely stressed out at the moment in terms of making things.  (But I mended a few things on my Darth Vader gown, which made me feel productive, so yay!)

Like I said in this research post, I used the Wooded Hamlet Cage Crinoline kit.  Most people say the kit is ridiculously hard to assemble, and even the staff at Wooded Hamlet recommended I watch the accompanying DVD several times before so much as starting to construct it.  

The kit has a reputation for being a bitch to put together but being a beautiful cage once complete.  As I have made no other hoop skirts, I have nothing to compare the experience against.  The kit has its tricky moments, but I'm fairly sure all hoop tutorials have their moments as well.  I was surprised with how little sewing the kit requires - I had to attach the buckle to the waistband, finish the bottom of the tapes, and then attach the tapes to the waistband.  That was it.  The rest of the hard work was done with pliers.  (Fortunately, having started my artistic career in metalworking, I'm pretty darn handy with a pair of pliers.)  The hardest thing was setting the first few spots, the little metal crimps that hold the bone to the tape.  I almost gave up a few times, but actually enjoyed the experience once I got the hang of it.  (And I set 224 of those things, so I got a lot of practice.)

I owe a shout-out to my wonderful friend who helped me cut out all 29 bones and then stayed after school (perhaps the most telling sign of true friendship) to help me spread the bones out on the tapes.  (Coincidently, she's also the same friend who looked lovely whilst I derped out over here.)

Setting spots while watching movies

The artsy pictures are courtesy of my little sister

The challenge: #4 Under it All (which is the best name for an underwear challenge and I now think of my undergarments as the Under it Alls.)

Year: 1857ish to 1864ish

Historical accuracy:  10/10 for materials used, not quite so for construction methods

Hours to complete: The Little Princess, Atlantis, the first half of My Fair Lady, about 3 episodes of Phineas and Ferb, about 20 minutes of The Usual Suspects, and HOURS of punk rock radio on Pandora.

First worn: just for fitting/fiddle-y purposes

Friday, January 31, 2014

Mid-to-Late 19th Century Corset

No Throwback Thursday yesterday because I'm all out of pictures (for the moment.  I'll have to go digging through old boxes to find more).

Instead I bring you: the corset-that-was-supposed-to-be-an-1860s-corset-but-I-changed-it-and-decided-to-make-an-1880s-corsets-because-it's-more-comfortable-and-I-wanted-a-blue-corset-and-I-can-because-that's-the-beauty-of-an-independent-studies-class. 

Do you recall the independent studies class I'm taking this year?  Do you recall that I'm supposed to be recreating an 1860s ensemble?  Good, we're all on the same page.  Adi, why on earth did you a) make an 1880s corset instead of an 1860s corset ('cause there is a difference!) and b) why did you make it blue?!?

Before I get to answer my own question, let me show you my research!  Because researching is fun and it is what I do in my spare time.  

According to a study of Édouard Manet's Nana by Valerie Steele in Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, custom made corsets in fine fabrics and lovely colors were strictly for those who could afford the price:
"By 1855 some ten thousand workers in Paris specialized in the production of corsets, and in 1861 it was estimated that more than one million corsets were sold annually there.  The majority were mass-produced, made of sturdy materials such as cotton twill with metal boning, and sold for between three and twenty francs.  There were also custom-made corsets in silk with genuine whalebone stays that cost from twenty-five to sixty francs, and lace-trimmed luxury corsets that cost up to two hundred francs.  The majority were white or off-white."
Conclusion: the average 1860s corset was boring.

For the sake of comparison, I've divided the corsets below into "typical," "atypical," and "very atypical" for the 1860s based on Ms. Steele's research.


c. 1865 front lacing corset

Cotton corset, 1866-67, at the Met.

Cotton corset, c. 1862, at the Met.


Embroidered cotton corset, 1860s

Silk moirĂ© corset, 1860-70, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Very Atypical

1860s wool corset

Corset, 1860-1870

Hmm, no blue.  

Something I hear all the time in regards to the shape of the 1860s corset is that it is comparatively shorter on the hips because women's  hips would be hidden by their crinolines, so there was no need to smooth them.  The Corset: A Cultural History by Valerie Steele mentions that:
When the crinoline was in style in the 1860s, fill skirts made almost anyone's waist look relatively small, and most corsets were relatively short.
Since I didn't want to buy or draft a pattern, I used the same I used for this one.  I fixed the issues I had with it (namely that the bust was too big and the waist too long), and cut it down at the top to de-overbust-ify it.  The result was not pretty.  

(Please ignore the ceramics students in the background.  I share the studio with a ceramics class that meets at the same period.)

Ugh.  There was absolutely no bust support going on (which is a problem when you consider that a corset is first and foremost a supportive undergarment and is basically the historical equivalent to a bra) and the bottom felt awkwardly short on my hips.  To make it worse, the pattern pieces themselves are actually the paper embodiments of Frankenstein.  They have been cut up and taped back together so many times during the overbust class and then again when I revised it that they were barely working together. 

Time to rethink the whole deal: did I really want a short corset that would only work for a portion of a decade in history?  In terms of historical accuracy for my class, the answer would be yes, that is exactly what I want.  However, I realized that Adi, the person, would not be happy with a corset that is limited to the 1860s, especially considering the cost of making a corset with the proper materials.  I needed a corset that could work for a variety of styles in the mid-to-late 19th century period.

Then I remembered this gem that I'd seen a very long time ago:

Blue silk satin corset, 1884, at the Chicago History Museum
Without even mentioning what it so obviously resembles (and which I can't tell those of you who don't recognize it because of the whole no-mentioning it bit), I liked it because it has the longer hips I was looking for, it looks very supportive, and it's fun: it's a historical object that ties in strongly to a modern object related to a certain TV show I like.  Basically, it gives me free range to make a fun, but historically accurate corset (even though it's accurate for a period other than my target), that I will get a huge kick out of wearing.  

I sat down with my old pattern pieces, some blank paper, and a french curve template and trued up the pattern, adjusting the bust and the hips.  The paper pattern pieces are so beautiful now, I could weep with joy.  And it looked good when I made the second mockup.  The bust felt supportive and the hips flared out wonderfully.

Yay!  With the success of the second mockup, I was finally ready to buy the materials I needed.  (A note to readers in Los Angeles.  Richard the Thread is worth visiting in person when you need corset supplies.  The staff is so friendly and helpful and suddenly know me by name and know where I want to go to college and are rooting for me.)  

Though the 1884 corset is blue silk satin, it has been worn away to black in some areas, which is probably what makes it so similar to the certain objects I refrained from talking about earlier.  In order to keep the same color scheme going, I used blue dyed coutil and black bias binding.  The main difference is the use of trim: the 1884 corset uses a strip of the same blue silk satin fabric finished with an embroidered scalloped edge along the top, but I used some lace I had left over from my Halloween costume that I threaded skinny black ribbon through (there's a technical term for this kind of trim, but I don't know it). 

I'm ridiculously happy in this picture because making the corset was an extremely nerve-wracking experience, considering the failure that the last corset was.

(I should mention that I'm technically not done with this corset since I still have to floss it.  I'll be posting a more in-depth summary of the construction of the corset at another time.)

Also, since it's done on time, I can submit it as my first(!) completed Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge.  I'm using a steel busk closure in front and metal grommets in back.  Steel busks were invented in 1829, but were not common until after 1850.  (So basically, I'm using the fact that I can get into this and lace myself up without assistance as innovation.)

The challenge: #2 Innovation
Fabric:  Blue coutil
Pattern:  It started off as Simplicity 9769 the same way humans started out as just a few cells in the right place at the right time in the primordial soup of early earth.
Year:  1884
Notions:  White and black thread, busk, spring-steel boning, lace and ribbon, boning channels, twill tape
Historical accuracy:  Fairly decent.  Read this post again if you've missed that bit.
Hours to complete:  Twenty-ish.
First worn:  January 30, 2014

This corset has the honor of being the last garment I made as a minor and this post has the pleasure of being the first thing I'm posting as an adult.