If you are constructing an outfit for a Renaissance Faire or other 16th-century event such as an SCA Event and want to have some inspiration based on what people were actually doing in the 1580’s one fantastic source is Philip Stubbs book “The Anatomie of Abuses“
Philip Stubbs (c. 1555 – c. 1610) was a preacher and writer in Elizabethan England. He was a Puritan because he seemed to be desperately worried that someone might have been having a good time somewhere. There is no known picture of Stubbs but if you picture him as a 1970s tv evangelist, perhaps in more boring clothing you might be at least close to the spirit of the thing.
If you are using PDF patterns instead of printing them out consider using a projector. A projector can make cutting a pattern out very quick. I have been using a projector for some months. I have a 1080p projector that in my case is mounted to the ceiling of my workspace and pointing at a work table. When I want to cut out a pattern I load it up on my computer and connect to the projector via an HDMI cable or Wifi.
First of all, you do not need a sewing machine to make a corset. People sewed Corsets, Stays, and Bodies by hand for hundreds of years until the first sewing machines hit the market (in about the 1840s) and probably even for some time after. That being said most modern makers will want one.
If you want to make a corset on a very constrained budget it is possible to do. It is of course possible to spend several hundred dollars or more on supplies to make a corset you do not have to do so. In this blog post I intend to explore how to make a corset for cheap. I do assume that you have access to a sewing machine, iron, marking chalk, and tailor’s shears. If you do not have a sewing machine see if you can borrow one from a friend or check your local public library
When making a corset, one thing to consider is how it will be stored in a closet or drawer. You can use a skirt hanger to clip onto the top. Or you can add a pair of loops of ribbon to the inside and then hang it on a regular hanger in your closet. These can be just hidden out of sight when the corset is worn.
On Monday I was looking at the /r/conneticut when K posted saying she was in town on business and didn't want to spend the evening staring at the walls of her hotel room. I was planning a night of sewing so I invited her over. She had wanted a corset for some time, so we made her one.
There are a lot of options for boning a corset. Which one you should use depends on a few things. First of all what type of corset are you making? If you are trying to make a more authentic historical corset vs a modern corset it will dictate what you use, as of course will your budget. If you are going to spend hundreds of dollars to buy Duchesse Satin Silk you probably will also be willing to spend more on your boning. On the other hand, if you are making a corset by cutting up a few old pairs of jeans (Which totally can work) then there is nothing wrong with using the less expensive option.
When making a corset you will have curved surfaces around the bust and hip areas (and maybe other places) Pressing those in the making is a bit of a trick. A tailor’s ham will provide a curved surface to press it on. What I like to do is this.
Stand the tailor’s ham up. I use two small 3lb weights of the kind one might use for a workout. Other things work as well it is just important that it stay put in the orientation that you want it in. In this case with the small end up.
I then lay the corset on top of the tailor’s ham. You can use standard sewing pins to pin it into place so that it stays in the correct position.
Then press it with a hot iron and a lot of steam. A spray bottle can often help here.
When making a corset one of the first choices you will have to make is what fabric to use. (you can also use leather, and Xyla Foxlin made one out of wood, but both of those are beyond the scope of this blog post). When choosing fabrics there are several questions one should start with:
If you are making corsets it is inevitable that you will end up with a shelf full of books. Here are a selection of books from my bookshelf that relate to corsetry. (I also have a fair number of online resources and have been known to get books from my town library)