I ended up going with Past Patterns 708. It’s probably a little late for the era, most evidence points to something more like the earlier regency patterns. But I like that it had a busk and was strapless, and I thought I would get a leeetle more waist definition with it compared to a more regency-esque pattern.
Then I realized it had 16 gores (8 for the outer layer, 8 for the lining) and groaned a bit. (Currently wishing I lived closer to Sewing Empire, so we could have a gore-sewing party together…)
Let’s just get this out of the way:
hahahahahahah I mean, the top of this would be amazing for a burlesque version of the little mermaid, complete with floppity-shell-bra-top.
Ok now for more specific comments:
Holy jesus on a pogo stick I hate sewing gores. Never having sewn gores before, I used the instructions from the Foundations Revealed article for Wrinkle Free Gores & Gussets (requires paid subscription), thinking it would be magical and I would be the master of gore-town, defeating gores with a single swoop of my unicorns-and-fairies wand.
All my gores looked like this, where I didn’t catch the point:
Or this, where I caught the top too much on the second side and the stitching comes through:
Or this, where I did both!
Apparently I am going to have to try a new technique, or sew all of them by hand.
After sewing one front panel, I held it up to my front, and realized that it was practically a burka on top with how much it covered. I compared the pattern back length measurement to my 1850s corset, and found it was 16 inches vs 13 inches. So before sewing any of the pattern pieces together I took a 1.5 inch tuck out of each panel. Note to self, check pattern measurements BEFORE cutting, this is not your first rodeo, plz to pretend like you know what you are doing.
Now for on the body.
The back actually looks pretty good! Nice even lacing gap. It’s bigger than it looks, since the lacing strip has a big overhang. I may take a smidge more out since I prefer a wider lacing gap, since the corset will stretch a bit as I wear it.
Hips are not bad either (which makes no sense, since I cut a size 16 all around, even though according to the pattern I was a 16 at the bust and waist, and a 12 at the hips. I had decided to cut it all out evenly and take it in the hips later, but apparently this is not needed).
I’m going to take 1/4″ out of the front hip gores for now, and will figure out if it needs anything more in the next mockup.
Ok, now for the front.
(I meant to tape the bones onto the front before putting the corset on. But forgot. So you get this janky tape mess.)
WHAT is going on with the bust?
I was a bit concerned about this to begin with. The corset pattern tells you to cut out the piece corresponding to your cup size. I am a 32 D in real life, but I am actually wearing a bra that fits. I’m pretty sure most women are wearing the wrong bra size (please check out A Bra That Fits if you haven’t been fitted recently! One of my friends has become a bra fitting evangelizer which is pretty awesome so now my entire circle of friends is wearing correctly-fitting bras. LIFE CHANGING.).
So a 32 D could be similar-ish to a 34C or 30DD. In the extreme, a 38A. Like, a friend of mine used to wear something like 32D, but after we measured her properly she found out she is a 28F – so what size corset would she cut out?
So if a pattern maker is going by what-most-people-think-a-D-cup-is, it might be wildly inaccurate. Like what I just put on.
I also realize now I’m not sure how this is supposed to fit. The bottom red line is approximately where my underbust is, and that is 1/2″ above the bottom of the gore. I think it’s ok for the gore to end below my bust, since by late 1830s the silhouette is more smoothed out than the extreme lift-and-separate of the regency era.
I do think this whole gore section needs to be scooted more towards my side? It feels like the gores are way shifted toward the inside of my bosom and not centered well.
The top red line is around the the fullest part of my bust. I think the corset top is supposed to end here, but that gives me a 3″ gore which seems incredibly short. I know I’m short, but I don’t think my breast height (is that even a thing?) is correspondingly short.
The busk is not touching my chest at the top. Part of this is because of the hacky tape job, but my chemise is also tight enough to hold the busk away from my sternum, so there is no way this busk is actually going to touch.
Pinning in the top on the above picture, I’ve actually pinned a good 1.75 inches out of the top of this corset on a single side. Sheesh! But that also shows how much this is looking like an overbust corset which is Wrong.
Now to hunt down what someone wearing a corset like this actually looks like. Unfortunately a corset on a mannequin is not going to be helpful in this endeavor.
Also, I’m in dire need of a selfie stick for better photos. Seriously, I think that thing was invented for sewing bloggers. And more lighting in the room besides a single lamp (except the darn room was built with no overhead lighting, so the only solution is more lamps. Seriously, who builds a room without overhead lights?)