Some of the historical patterns I do for Scroop Patterns are based on one specific historical garment. The Selina Blouse and Kilbirnie Skirt patterns, for example, started out as a single blouse and single skirt that I own, and then were expanded into extra views inspired by other patterns from the period and garments sold in catalogues. The Rilla Corset is based on the best selling corset in NZ in the period the pattern covers.
The Persis Corset, on the other hand, is an amalgamation of a number of extant corsets in NZ & US collections that I was able to study, and design features taken from corsets advertised in mail order catalogues of the era.
My goal was to create a pattern with a period accurate silhouette, period accurate construction techniques, and my favourite aesthetic elements. So the Persis doesn’t represent a specific corset, but the idea of a corset from this period.
It’s the product of almost a decade of research. I knew I loved this era of corsetry, and that, as a transitional period between two iconic styles, it wasn’t well represented in patterns. I also knew it’s a rather tricky era of corsetry, and I wanted to be absolutely certain of my patternmaking skills in this era before I published anything. Some of the things that ended up in the Persis were from corsets I looked at for the Rilla, but decided were too early. Some of them are from very recent research.
Unfortunately my photo agreements for the corsets I studied in person are ‘for personal use only’, but I can share some of the other inspiration with you!
Corset advertising 1907-10
One of the huge influences for the design lines were WB corsets, particularly a number of models that were introduced in late 1907 and heavily marketed in 1908-9.
I was able to study a Nuform corset like the one in the ad above in person, and used the design lines from the Erect Form line as inspiration.
You can see that these have a much longer silhouette than earlier Edwardian corsets, and much more restrained curves.
Here’s how the fashionable figure was described by W.B corsets:
Here’s how Thompson’s Glovefit advertised and described their corsets of this period:
And now, let’s contrast what we see in those advertisements with this W.B advertisement from just two years later, in 1911:
Notice how much slimmer the hips are? And that the curved bottom edge has completely disappeared?
There was a moment in 1909-10 when straight hemmed corsets and curved hem corsets were sold side by side. This is Canadian mail order company Eaton’s selection from Fall-Winter 1909-10:
And then going back in time to the start of the Persis date range, here’s a Warner’s corset advertisement in which the extremely curvaceous early Edwardian silhouette is very much in evidence:
Of course, in addition to the extant corsets I studied in person, and the advertising descriptions I looked at, I also looked at corsets in museum collection and corsets that were sold on auction sites. Even if I couldn’t see them in person they could provide valuable hints about the materials used, the boning layouts, the way corsets were trimmed, and the seaming.
I love this example. It shows how curvaceous corsets from ca 1909 were, even as the marketing advertised the ‘straight line’ and ‘sheath’ effect.
This is dated ca. 1905, but I suspect it’s 1905-9
Here’s a fascinating example of a summer corset in mesh:
This example from the Manchester Art Gallery is dated earlier, but is an excellent illustration of a non-light coloured corset of this era. There aren’t many examples not in pale shades:
Hope you enjoyed that little peek into the inspiration behind the Persis Corset!