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The Vintage Dressmaker (1)

Monday, December 5, 2011

The 1920's Underbust Corset Part 1

First let me say this... "Downton Abbey" has made the official anouncement that they will be back for a third season set in 1920-21!! Wa hoo! I am going to make it a goal to have some patterns finished, published and for sale in time for you all to play dress up for the season three premeire! (deep breathe, and holding...)

I love the show, not just the costumes, Julian Fellows is an amazing writer. His characters are so complex and believable and make very unpredictable, painfully human choices. He has a talent of keeping you in suspense and yet delivering exactly the out come you desired in the end, without romanticizing it to the point of unbelievable fairytale dribble.

THAT being said (clears throat, slides soap box back under the sewig machine and wipes hands clean on apron), let’s get back to this corset for goodness sake!

I often laugh at myself for always picking the most difficult path possible just for the rush of the challenge. This corset its difficult indeed, and therefore all the more rewarding is the sigh of accomplishment when it is complete! Double reverse curves on both sides of the front and back! Bwahahahaaa!! Not just decorative seams, these seams need to be functional and able to withstand the stress that is required of a corset.

I started with the easy seams. side front to side, then side to side back and pressed them open and trimmed to 1/4 inch, for both right and left sides of the corset. Then I spent the rest of the day reading and researching the most comprehensive way to accomplish those double reverse curves. It goes above and beyound the average conture of a princess seam and I marvel at the fact that the pattern was presented in a home sewing magazine of the 1920’s. I think in this day in age we rely too heavily on others to do things for us and in combination with technology, we know more facts, but know how to DO less. It’s ever so slightly dangerous!

The most comprehensive explanation I found was in the book "Couture Sewing Techniques" by Claire B. Shaeffer on page 54 (This is a brilliant book everyone should have for polishing their fine sewing skills).

First of all you need to stay stitch 1/2 inch in along the seam edge of both pieces. Then with your best friend the steam iron, press and steam the seam under along the basting line of the center front piece of the corset, carefully manipulating the fabric as you go. Baste the folded edge of the center front corset piece to the basting line on the side front piece of the corset and baste the two pieces together as seen in these photos. I used red thread to you could see it more clearly.

Next, gently unfold the seam and machine stitch the two pieces together down the lovely dotted line the basting stitches have made as seen in this photo:

Ah! What a fabulous seam! It makes me giddy!! Strong , beautiful and ever so lightly difficult!

Now use a water soluble marking pen to line up and transfer the fastening points on your busk to the center front pieces of the corset and stitch the two pieces together leaving openings for the fasteners to fit through.

Remove any basting stithes.