For our Skills Week this term we learnt how to make an 18th century corset. This involved various processes which we went through with Jenny, and then did ourselves in order to create our own corset for a chosen model.
The process began by measuring our models, and then choosing a mannequin and padding it to match these measurements. This meant cutting pieces of wadding and loosely tacking it to the mannequin in order to build up the layers to the desired size. We then assessed the pattern layout for the corset and began to cut on the stand, which is a method i have never used before.
Once the pieces had been measured and cut out in the calico, we could lay them out onto the actual fabric and then tack them together so there was a front and a back piece. This gave us a total of 8 double layered pieces of fabric which would all eventually be sewn together to create the final corset.
We were also introduced to ‘boning’, which is used in corsets to keep the structure together, and essentially pull in a person’s waist to give them that desired corset effect. This meant we had to draw on all the boning channels, which were the slots that the synthetic whalebone would slide into. Originally corsets would use real whalebone however today is is unethical and unaffordable so there is a synthetic alternative on the market which is also relatively bendy and can be cut by scissors which is really useful.
Once the pieces were tacked together and boning channels drawn in, we could use the overlocking machines to neaten up some of the edges and to bind the two layers together. This was also done by stitching along our outer lines, and boning channel lines on the new Bernina machines.
Once the double layers had been sewn together to create 8 solid pieces, they all needed to be lined up, pinned together and then fitted on the model again. Once any adjustment had been made they were all sewn together to create one big piece.
The last stage I got up to was tacking in the eyelets and stitching the second lot of boning channels. Once that was done all I would need to do is attach the shoulder straps and then bind the edges.
The week really challenged me as there were a lot of new techniques I hadn’t used before, but I am really pleased with how far into the process I managed to get.