20th Century

Every rose has its thorns

Remember my briar rose corset?  That thing is evil.  Well, technically it is  evil #2 (evil #1, of course, being pintucks)

I kinda knew from the start that making a straight fronted corset would be heinous.  I mean, just look at the advertisements for the things:

Graceless and illogical

How do you even make the human form look anything remotely close to that!?!  Not easily, that’s for sure!

But I tried my best.  I draped my pattern on Isabelle, following Waugh’s pattern from a real corset, which must have fit someone at some point.

Then I fitted it, or tried to.  It’s really hard to fit an anatomically improbable waist cinching corset on a natural figure.  I ended up doing about 6 fittings, and going through that many redrafts of the pattern.  The best luck I had with the fittings was fitting it over my nougat corset (which at least achieved some waist-cinching for me).

I didn’t take any pictures of the fittings because by the time I got the mock-up on and pinned I was so grumpy and flustered I forgot about the camera, and wouldn’t have wanted an image of myself even if I hadn’t!

At this point, you are probably wondering why I didn’t do a mock-up with boning, and a false laced back, and see how that fit me.  There are two reasons for this.  First, I hadn’t thought of my clever stunt-lacer yet, and two, have you seen the boning pattern on this corset?!?

Crazy boning patterns

Yeah.  Some of those bones cross four seams.  No way you are fitting anything once they are sewn in.

So, with a sort of pattern achieved, I just crossed my fingers, hoped, and went for it.

My sort-of pattern. Seam allowances are included, so the shapes look funny.

It totally didn’t fit.  Waaaaaaay too big.

Ouch.  Big thorn stab.  Time to rip apart and do some serious taking in.

(sidenote: I’m pretty sure this post wins the award for the most internal links yet.  Also the most over-use of italics.  Mr Carpenter would not approve.)


  1. I’m working on a 1903 corset of the same shape, from Truly Victorian, and that thing has been eye opening. The pattern includes bust pads (two of them) and also a massive bum pad that is worn underneath the corset. She writes that the corset only cinches the waist, and does not support the bust at all. All the padding is what creates the S shape – the body is not contorted to that shape. All that being said, it’s really funky! And without those padding pieces, it wouldn’t fit AT ALL.

    • Oooooh….that’s cheating!

      I know a lot of the shaping was achieved through padding, sometimes, but I have found quite a lot of evidence that many women wore these corsets without padding, so I’m not willing to completely go the padding route. And 1903 Emily had a very slight figure in her photographs, so I doubt she padded.

      Good to know about the Truly Victorian corset. I was tempted to order it, but will probably pass now.

  2. OMG … that sounds horrible, truly …
    I’ve flirted with this pattern of Waugh, too… but never imagine that it would fit so hardly…

  3. What I always do for boning my mock-ups is to use masking tape and tape them on the inside (I use cable ties for this step), then with the lacing strips basted on you can try it on and reposition them if necessary. Also, with corsets like this, I think you’d have better luck drafting them flat and not on a dress form. You will never get the shape right because although the seams might look like they’re in the right spot, when put together they will always “equal” and conform to the shape of the dress form. It’s a weird corset for sure, but good luck.

    • I worried about the drafting it flat vs. dress form thing, but when I compared my draped pattern to the Waugh original it was really close, so I’m happy that the draping wasn’t the issue. I did make some adjustments as I draped to encourage the S-bend figure.

      Thank you for the idea of the taped-on boning. I’ll try this next time.

  4. HAHA! “Mr Carpenter would not approve.”

    But there are some things that need italics…

  5. I just want to say: don’t give up, even though that was a big thorn stab.
    I’ve just finished making this corset and I must say I’m proud of the result. So you see, it is possible to make something out of this pattern 🙂

  6. Stella says

    Carly’s suggestion to masking tape bones on a mock up is great. When I made this pattern I did the mock up fitting without bones. Not perfect, but it allowed me to see whether the waist, bust and hip measurements were right, and whether the length was right. That’s actually all you need to know to fit this thing. Once you get it made up, it really is a lovely corset. One thing to be aware of is this pattern runs quite large in the waist, which you wouldn’t expect from the diagram. When I scaled it up I got a 29″ waist and boy, was reducing that ever a pain! My guess would be it’s this little quirk that’s giving you problems.

    Also, those V-shaped bones in the back? Leave ’em out. You don’t need them.

  7. This corset pattern is being saved for last in my project of sewing all the Norah Waugh corset patterns because I know it will take all of my corset making skills to pull it off. This pattern intimidates me!

    • Thank you for saying that! I feel so much better about my troubles with it now, because I respect your work so much!

  8. Thank you everybody for the suggestions! Where were you all when I started this corsets months ago and asked if anyone had done it and had any advice! My life would have been so much easier!

    • Stella says

      Sorry. I think that might have been when I was out of town and didn’t get much of a chance to keep up with blogs. 🙁

        • Stella says

          Thanks! I did. Hang in there with that corset. It’s a lot more comfy than it looks and it gives you a great shape.

Comments are closed.