From the Archives is a series where I show my earlier works - the good and the bad. The idea is to eventually use this as a portfolio, and it also gives me a chance to re=look at what I've previously made.
This was my first foray into historical costuming back in 2005-2006. I wanted to make a semi historically accurate costume for the Renaissance Faire (set during Queen Elizabeth the First's reign) and that began with the underpinnings.
The corset is made from bleached cotton muslin and cotton duck cloth for the lining. It's boned with plastic cable ties and uses a wooden ruler for a busk. Cotton double fold bias tape is used for the binding.
The pattern was created using my measurements entered into the Elizabethan Custom Corset Generator.
I wore this under various costumes to the Renaissance Faire up until a few years ago when it finally became too small and my dedication for historical accuracy lessened. Overall, this was actually incredibly comfortable to wear and it gave me great posture. The trick it to not tie it too tight. You know those movies and cartoons that always joke about how corsets are too tight and too painful? Well they're wrong. It was only a specific period of time in the mid to late 1800s that corsets were meant to be pulled ridiculously tight to give the tiniest waist possible. Throughout the rest of time, they were used to smooth and give the body the "right" shape for whatever was fashionable at the time. They were basically spanx.
During the Elizabethan/Renaissance time frame it was fashionable to have a "cone" shaped torso. This meant the bust was lifted, and and the waist was smoothed out so that the upper body looked like an ice cream cone - not an hour glass (which is where the super tight corset pulling comes in). In the second picture, you can see how the wooden busk helps create the cone shape down the front of the corset so that it doesn't nip in at the waist, like it would naturally. This also means that while it's pretty comfortable to wear standing up, don't try to bend over! The wooden busk also prevents a person from bending at the waist, so the only option is to bend at the hips. But apart from that it's pretty easy to forget you're wearing it while running around a festival dressed as a pirate for the day.
I'm Sarah, a textile, history and sewing enthusiast. I talk about contemporary and historical fashion, sewing, patterns, tutorials, home decor, and anything else you can make with a needle and thread. I love books and am happy to talk your ear off about historical clothing.
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