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Corset? What’s the best one?

firsthays | Posted in Patterns on

Hello All, As a new sewer, I was thinking of doing a halloween costume, a Civil War, Gone with the Wind dress, I bought S3727, the blue plaid one if you’ve seen them. But I don’t know what to buy for the undies? Which corset pattern is best? easier? better instuctions? Any help would be welcome!


  1. damascusannie | | #1

    For a Halloween costume, just go get a body shaper and don't mess with the corset. Making a properly fitting corset is not easy, even for an experienced seamstress, takes about a week with dozens of fittings involved, and no one's going to know the difference anyway. You are going to be challenged enough making the dress if you are a beginning seamstress! I make historically accurate costumes for wearing when I demonstrate my old sewing machines. After eight years, I've yet to make a corset and only one person's ever commented on it--a professional corset-maker who wanted to sell me one. Annie in Wisconsin, USA
    ~~Doodlestein Designs Quilt Patterns
    ~~Finely Finished: Machine quilting worked on a treadle sewing machine.
    See patterns, quilting, and National sewing machines at: http://community.webshots.com/user/damascusannie

    Edited 9/10/2008 9:33 am by damascusannie

    1. firsthays | | #2

      all I have read says to have the proper undies in order to get the right look...I was thinking of just a regular bustier type bra that goes to my waist, but I also wanted to be able to tighten my look (don't we all!) LOL! I've been a quilter for a few years, and my mom clothed us as kids, I remember alot, but my first pair of pants turned out nice, and a pin tuck front shirt I did was hard to tell from store bought, a girl at work asked where I had found it! So I must have retained abit...I think the dress will be a challenge, but a good one. Finding the fabric(all 10 yards) is the hard part; I can't make up my mind between a light cotton print, or go all out and do a taffeta dress...Thanks again, I'll keep looking for an easy corset though, I want the feel of the Civil war to come through too.
      Thanks again!

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #3

        Farthingales is the best source for corset supplies and patterns, for the real thing. A good bustier pattern will be 2nd best, and good resources to follow, such as Sewstylish Red Carpet Ready issue, should help with a lot of the inner workings. Threads also has a lot of good info in many back issues. SewStylish is still available to order.
        Any good Longline bra would give you the look you are after, under your costume. They are very similar shapers to a corset anyhow. Most strapless dresses have the support similar to a corset, so that is also a good place to start looking. Hope this helps some. Cathy

      2. damascusannie | | #4

        More important than the corset is the crinoline hoop skirt. BTW--I think it's McCalls that has a basic Civil War corset pattern in their costume section. You can see me in my Civil War era costume in the "2008 PVM Demo" album via the webshots link in my signature.

        1. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #5

          I saw that pic. and wondered what you were wearing. I gathered it was a time period costume of some sort. Thank you for enlightening us. Cathy

          1. damascusannie | | #6

            Almost all of my clothing sewing is period costumes now. I have the fabric for a new Civil War and a new late Victorian. Because I wear them for demo-ing sewing machines, I use fabrics and styles that would have been worn for everyday, not the fancy ball gowns and such-like. Because of this, my CW hoop is not terribly wide since that wouldn't have been practical for a farm wife's daily wear. I have a couple of friends that are into re-enacting and I consult with them when in doubt. One worked as a costume and textile advisor to Maria Shriver for some of the special events and displays for California's sesquecentennial back in 2000. Anyway, I really trust their judgement on this subject!

          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #7

            I had the opportunity to construct a bedspread for Bellvue House in Kingston, back in the mid 80's. It was a heavy cotton damask coverlet, all handsewn, even the seams, with a reproduction ball fringe. It took me about 3 weeks after work to do but it was beautiful. Of course the Government agency that provided the material gave me scant enough material to match the pattern repeat. I doubt they even thought about that. I had to follow the reproduction instructions on stitches to use, and method. I researched it further of course. I had hoped to get more work from them, but cutbacks happen....Cathy

          3. Ocrafty1 | | #8

            Lucky you, to have made such a contribution to our history!  Do you have pix??? Please post! 

            I love to work on heriloom stuff.  I have a client who loves to buy antique clothing and then brings it to me to try to alter, usually by adding vintage lace to side seams on the blouses. She wants me to make her some clothing from the early 1900's this fall.  I can't wait!!!

            I went to an auction a month or so ago and purchased a young girl's traveling suit (about a size 14 girls), from about the 1860's.  It is made (I think) of wool gabardine, with a silk collar and jabot. The silk is in really bad shape, as is the lace, but I love it anyway. There isn't a button on it; only hooks and eyes. I'd love to recreate it.  This auction was dreamy!  I bid, but lost, on a wedding suit that was in mint condition....looked like it was made yesterday; no snags, holes, or smell...It was perfect....and my size.  It was burgundy satin, with lots of pin tucks and shirring.  It sold for over $400...and was well worth it, but more than I could afford.  I settled for this suit, and also bought 2 corsets ( and I can fit in them), a hat, and a box with lots of good stuff in it.  Unfortunately, there was a dealer there and it was really hard to win bids on anything.  Some of us gals got together and would distract him, so we could get a few things.  LOL.  He deserved it!  I would have loved to have gotten the feathers that were there!  They wore them in hats and on gowns...It is so rare that things like that come up for auction around here....and in such wonderful condition.


          4. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #9

            I had a mouse problem, and the darn thing ate and bed and bred in the box that held my precious photos of my early portfolio and my entire fabric file! A right nasty mess. That is when I started moving things into rubbermaid boxes! The next time I have a chance to tour the house, I will check and see if it is still there. After 25 yrs, it may still be. I may come across a pic in my Mom's stuff someday, and then I will post a pic. I hope she had one still.
            I had the chance to tour the Canadian Clothing Museum, just outside Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was magical. They constantly change the displays. They have pull out drawers full of stuff, so you can look up close, but are still safely away from fragile textiles. Wonderful. The best part is for kids. The front entrance has two boxes of dress up clothing for the kids to play with. The staff keep an eye on the kids while parents tour. They get to learn and play!
            You were very lucky to get your hands on such lovely clothing. It is hard to come by. There are a lot of collectors and resellers after it. The museum curators as well. Cathy

            Edited 9/11/2008 10:23 pm ET by ThreadKoe

  2. sewchris703 | | #10

    For a Halloween costume or where authenticity isn't all that necessary, I find that a bridal long line bra and bridal hoop slip works well. I'd still make the other undergarments. You still might need one or two petticoats over the hoops. Not only do they help with the silhouette of the skirt but they hide the lines of the hoops.Chris

  3. geriroyer | | #11

    If you really want to try your hand at making a corset, the one I would recommend is the Laughing Moon Dore pattern. The pattern can be found at http://www.lafnmoon.com. The pattern comes with the corset, chemise and drawers patterns. I've made several of these and can usually get them finished in a couple of days - if life doesn't interfere.I have been a docent at Sutter's Fort in Sacramento for over 20 years now. I wouldn't go without the corset now. I find it more comfortable than my modern day bras at times.

    1. Josefly | | #12

      "I find it more comfortable than my modern day bras at times."Really? My first thought is, how could that possibly be? But is it because the corset holds your body, mainly your back, in a comfortable way? Maybe you have to stand straighter, or something?

      1. geriroyer | | #13

        First, let's just say I'm not a small woman by any means. I wear 26-28 in modern clothing and a 46DDD in modern bras. That being said, when I wear my corset, it supports my back and does help with posture. Since it doesn't have shoulder straps, it doesn't dig into the shoulder area. I'm not a tight lacer but it gives me enough support that I'm not jiggling all over the place. I'm the head cook so I'm always lifting heavy cast iron pots and it really helps my back.

        1. Josefly | | #14

          I wondered if it was a posture-enhancer. Good explanation, and thank you for taking the time.

        2. damascusannie | | #15

          I've got a friend with a very bad back and she wears corsets all the time for the back support. Like you, she doesn't lace tightly, but the stays help her posture and support her low back.

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