Sunday, February 10, 2013

Edwardian Corset

My project for HSF Challenge 3#: Under it All is an early Edwardian S-bend corset. I had a lot of fun making this. Usually my historical underpinnings are simple, functional items — a few tucks or a tiny touch of lace is all the embellishment I'll use. They're not meant to be seen, right? Underwear from the turn of the century was very ornate and embellished, however, so I decided to go all out on this corset. It has lace and flossing and floppy ribbon bows. I love it!

I'm wearing the corset with the self-drafted combination undies that I made last year to wear under my Titanic dress.

Truly VIctorian 1903 Edwardian Corset front

Truly VIctorian 1903 Edwardian Corset front detail

Truly VIctorian 1903 Edwardian Corset side

bust detail

back view

Truly VIctorian 1903 Edwardian Corset

The Challenge: #3: Under it All

Fabric: less than 1 yd of white cotton coutil, small amount white silk taffeta for binding and garters

Pattern: Truly Victorian TVE01 — I can't say enough good things about this pattern. It was easy to follow, well-drafted, and the sizing was spot on. The only major adaptation I made was in the seam finishing. The pattern calls for the curved seams to be unfinished. I wasn't entirely comfortable with this so I flat-felled them instead. I wish I had added a waist stay tape, but I didn't think about it until it was too late to do it without taking the corset apart. I also left out the extra padding that the pattern calls for, since I have all the built-in padding I need to obtain a true Edwardian shape.

Year: 1903

Notions: size 00 grommets, lacing cord, white spring steel boning, garter clips, 40" of 1" wide elastic, 2 yds white silk taffeta ribbon, 40" of white cotton lace, 40" of 1/4" white silk satin ribbon, silk thread for flossing

How historically accurate is it? Very historically accurate. Truly Victorian patterns are very well-drafted based on original examples. In researching trimming and embellishment, I came across several period examples that had very similar shapes and seamlines. My construction methods were all based on what I was able to observe from period corsets. Even the flossing pattern I used is consistent with originals.

Hours to complete: approximately 20

First worn: will be worn in April 2013

Total cost: around $100

This corset is going to be the foundation for my turn-of-the-century evening gown, so the silhouette was the most important consideration for me. This corset pattern gives a lovely curvy shape that gently adjusts the wearer's posture to give the fashionable S-bend silhouette of the period. It achieves this by allowing the bust to settle into a soft, rounded shape, while pushing the ribcage forward and the hips back. It does all this while being surprisingly comfortable. The frilly embellishment was just icing on the cake, but it certainly helps me feel more like a true Gibson Girl. 

Here is one historical example I looked to for guidance on the embellishment:

1903 Corset from the Metropolitan Museum (more pictures here)

The one technique that was new to me was the construction of the garter straps. They were easy to make, but gave the corset a very professional and period-correct finish. I'll be posting a tutorial soon!


  1. That is SO beautiful!! I absolutely love the lines and what you did with the trimmings.
    I just cut out my mock up of this last night, so I'm so glad to see your beautiful version! Very well done. This is my favorite era for corsets :)

  2. This is so pretty and fits you so well. It is exactly how I would like to make one look! I also have to say I enjoy your blog too, I only just found it, and it is very new, but I love it already!

  3. This corset is so gorgeous! I can't wait to see what will be worn on it!

  4. Oh how pretty! It almost seems a shame to cover it with a gown, but I'm sure that will be equally beautiful when finished. :)

  5. Wow, I love this! You really nailed the silhouette with it!

  6. I have a long is that busk? I'm getting ready to make this corset, but I can't figure out how long the busk is supposed to be.
    Theresa :)

    1. I used a 12" busk, which is the length I usually use for my corsets. I am short-waisted though, so you might need a different length. I would suggest making a mockup of the pattern, as there are several options for the height in front, and the height you choose will effect the busk length. If I recall correctly, I used the highest option (underbust corsets don't make any sense to me). Hope this helps. Happy sewing!

    2. Ok, thank you! I'm short-waisted as well...and would not do well with an under-bust either :). I think that is how long my busk is in my CW corset. Would it be too much of a imposition if I ask you to mentor me through this project? I may need to ask a few more questions because I have difficulty sizing things to my figure, and don't have a lot of extra money to run through! I won't take up too much time, just nice to have a resource. I am just prepping/pricing now, won't be sewing until January.

  7. I'm really interested in the chemise /undies that you drafted. Is there a tutorial for that somewhere?

  8. Absolutely stunning! Keep up the good work!!

  9. I'd really love to see how you did the garters. I'm getting ready to make some myself for a 1901 corset, and really like the way yours look. I know you talked about doing a tutorial, but I don't see it anywhere. All of the pieces look beautiful!

  10. Your blog is so great !!! Your corset is just perfect ! I wish I could make one for myself too *-*