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Creations of a Corsetiere
16th century-inspired Bodys 
26th-Oct-2009 01:43 pm
Sewing - machine
It was a project taking over four months, but I finally finished my bodys. It is part of a new costume I'm making which is due in a little less than three weeks. The bodys were the trickiest part of the costume, and I am glad that they're done.

For the record: I know the bodys might not be 100% accurate, historically speaking. It was never intended to be 100% accurate. Let's just say that the costume is 16th century inspired, and leave it at that.

Follow the LJ-cut to more pictures and description!

I based my pattern on the Reconstructing History pattern number RH203. I used canvas, boning tape and flat steel bones to construct a first mock-up.

Bodys, mockup 1

Nice, but not adequate. The side-bust would prove a problem, as stuff was already making a run for the exit there. My tummy was doing the same thing, so that needed extending as well. The side seam is in the right place, but the pattern is too loose to generate enough lift. I adapted the pattern and made a second mock-up, using the same canvas.
You can see I use tape to tip the bones for my mock-ups.

Bodys, mockup 2

More lift is achieved, but not enough to my tastes. Excuse the wrinkles, these occur because the bones aren't stuck in the channels but escape at top and bottom. The side-bust is a lot better in this version, and the angle of the shoulder straps is fine. The straight front that was fashionable in this period is clearly visible already!
Time for mock-up#3!

Bodys, mockup 3

(Please excuse my expression, I was trying not to breathe)

Third mock-up in rosewood linen, fused to coutil. I wear a 17th century pink linen petticoat underneath.
Guess what? Canvas stretches. How much? Well..

Front gap!

About eight centimeters at the front bust. Coutil, on the other hand, doesn't stretch, so that's a lesson learned!

For real historical means, I'd probably have to redraft the bodys, so they'd close completely in the front. But I was lazy, and the silhouette was right, and it's a larp costume anyways. I figured I could make a stomacher and hope I'd lose weight. I've started a rather rigid work out schedule, so that hope is real. I tried out some poses with the bodys, and wore these for a weekend during a 17th century historical larp underneath a dress I made for the occasion. This dress is kind of a mock-up for the real dress, so that was a good learning experience as well! (PS: I love the cleavage!)

Back to the bodys. After a weekend's wear (30+ hours), I could analyse the problem spots of the bodys, mainly that I hadn't tipped my bones correctly and they were starting to wear through the channels! I actually removed the bones poking into my armpit during the event. To its credit, the bodys performed admirably without them as well.

Bodys - post wear

The bone channel, shredded by the sharp bones. I also tried an alternate method of binding, which turned out very nastily. I'll never try that again.

For the real thing, I bought a coupon of 70cm of dupioni silk (€ 8,40) in a lovely pink hue that people already know from my character. I used the exact same pattern for the bodys as for mock-up#3, and recycled the bones from this third mock-up. I cut the (badly-tipped) ends off, re-using the bones and reshaping and retipping the ends. We used a dremel to shape the ends and tipped the bones in polyester resin, hanging them vertically to dry. For mock-up#3 they'd dried lying down, leaving sharp edges.

I'd never worked with silk before (except for a silk chiffon skirt with aggravated me to no end), but this dupioni was a dream to work with. Fusing to the coutil was as simple as cotton. It bent and folded just like wool, responding to the iron's heat and pressing just as well. I love a fabric that behaves. I heard tales of 'railroading' that scared me, but I never had a single thread move out of place. Here's some pictures of the construction:

Sewing front facing

Sewing the front facing down, using a special foot that keeps a certain distance from the edge for perfectly straight stitching.

Binding, detail

The machine-stitched eyelets using an eyelet plate, alongside the satin binding (e-bay). The eyelets are placed just so for spiral-lacing.

The binding I sewed down by machine, but on the inside I stitched it down by hand. I had two helpers for this:

Our little helpers

And then it was done!

Bodys, done!
Bodys, done!

The finished bodys, flat.

And here's the pictures while I'm wearing them!

Bodys, frontBodys, sideBodys, back

Note: I changed the shape of the back panel because the bottom edge of mock-up#3 was painful on my back fat rolls when I sat down. There's nothing like larping in a corset to check the fit!

More info:
Bones: 20 flat steels (4 in back, 2 on side seam, rest in front)
Fabrics: 1 layer of coutil, fused to silk dupioni.
Eyelets: machine-sewn using an eyelet plate.

There's a more extensive description of the project on my own journal in eight installments, with 60+ photo's of the process and elaborate descriptions of my pitfalls, the dress, the inspiration and the perspiration.

I'd love to hear your comments!
26th-Oct-2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
Awesome! Lovely shade of pink silk too :-)
26th-Oct-2009 07:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's definitely very pink. ;-)
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