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The Vintage Dressmaker (1)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fabric and Notions for Early 1920's Underbust Corset

The article in "La Mode Illustree" uses the term "coutil" for the choice of material. The term litteraly translates to "ticking" in the English language. "The fashion Dictionary" by Mary Brooks Picken defines "coutil" as "firm, sturdy type of drilling made of hard twisted yarns, usually cotton, in twill or figured weave. Used for corsets, girdles, etc. French word for drill or ticking."

"Drilling" or "Ticking" reffers to a medium weight fabric wth a twill weave. A twill weave produces diagonal lines or ribs in the fabric. "Drill" includes fabrics like jean and khaki. "Ticking" often uses two colors to produce a stripe, such as pillow or mattress ticking, used for such purposes because its tight weave prevented feathers from poking through. A "figured weave" could include a brocade, damask or jaquard of suitable weight.

When chosing your fabric for a project you must first concider it’s purpose. In the case of constructing a corset you would need a sturdy, medium weight fabric that breathes well against the body and has little to no stretch to it in order for the corset to accomplish it’s purpose of restrianing the figure. Try not to get caught up in what some corset supply websites lable "corset coutil". Where it is an excellent fabric for corset making , because of its lable can be VERY expensive and isn’t, and shouldn’t be considered the only authentic or suitable choice.

This is a white cotton blend brocade with a floral and peacock feather motif that I chose to construct my corset from:

I have gathered all my notions including a metal busk, 1" wide elastic for the garters, 4" wide elastic for the bust gussets, 6 garter clips, spiral steel boning, eyelets and laces. All of which I obtained from various eBay vendors.

I am so excited to get this corset cut out and start putting it together!

Early 1920's Underbust Corset Pattern

I played around for a while with a tight fitting princess seam slopper and considered the possibilities for a early 1920’s corset and then I stumbled on this lovely corset pattern in a French 1920 "La Mode Illustree" magazine and it was exactly my measurements!

What are the chances?

I used Google Translate to read the text related to the pattern in the magazine and it gives very little instructions as to assembling the corset, other than to cut out the pieces, mark them and sew them together!

It does talk about the benefits and cost of different types of boning but does not name a preference. The article discusses spiral steel, feather boning and whale bone, verifying that all those materials were still in use, at least in France, in the 1920’s.
I drafted the pattern according to the one in the magazine, marked it, double checked the sizing, tweaked it a little, added seam allowences and this is what I came up with:

In addition to these pieces I will need to cut casings for the boning channels.