1890s Symington Corset – Fitting

Hooboy, so I started this corset a while ago. Back in July 2019 when pandemics didn’t exist, I thought I might have time to make a new corset to wear with my Captain America Bustle for Jordan Con in April 2020 (haha lolsob lolsob lolsob.)

I’ve been a member of Foundations Revealed for quite some time, so I’ve been reading about making corsets for years, but still wore my same old Victorian one (made in 2014!) under everything from 1830s-1890s. My body isn’t particularly squishable in the waist, so even though there are differences in the corsets over the years, no one is really going to notice that it’s not the perfect silhouette.

So in July I started with the Foundations Revealed free article for drafting a corset (I’m not sure if it’s still free after their site migration), but partway through my draft I realized I had screwed up a measurement. When starting over, I decided to use a different drafting tutorial for a Symington corset (behind the paywall). I really don’t have a good reason for this. I think I decided I’d rather use the draft for a purposely-historical corset rather than a more generic “victorian” shape?

Here was the first draft and it certainly looked pretty!

Pro-tip: Label the hell out of your pieces. If these get flipped over or upside down and they aren’t labeled, good luck.

I generally prefer to draft my patterns without seam allowance, but it’s also a pain to draw it in on every mockup piece on the fabric (especially since I cut corset pieces single layer). So here I added it only to the sides, but drew it on the paper to remind me it was there. A bit wonky, but it worked.

And sigh, mockup time. I used some heavy mystery canvas fabric from Fabmo, and no I didn’t bone it. (Yes, a proper corset mockup should use boning. I generally can learn enough from the unboned mockup to make at least the first round of tweaks.) Having stripes on the mockup fabric does make it really easy to make sure your grain is correct, so that was a nice bonus.

Yes, I am shaped like the world’s faster hourglass (aka a cylinder).
Other pro tip: Take the time to make one pair of lacing strips if you are going to make any corsets like ever.

You can see it was giant over the bust. So that got cut waaay down and taken in. Something like 1.75 inches? Despite this being “drafted to my measurements” no body block is taking into account how short my torso is. Unfortunately that made it hard for me to keep the nice swoopy U shape there, so that kindof got lost.

The corset is also way too loose (it is closing with no effort) and a friend on Instagram noticed the back piece looked way too big, so I removed a solid inch from that piece. I also raised the back a bit. You can also see a few faint black lines where I slightly took in some pieces and slightly let out the back hip. My goal in doing fitting changes was to leave all the rectangle pieces as rectangles while only adjusting the curved pieces, since that seemed to be more true to the original corset draft.

Next version, this time with some boning. To do boning in a corset mockup, I just run a stitch down the seam allowance using large basting stitches to form a channel. The large stitches are important since I generally need to rip them out to make another round of alterations.

Hey, not bad! I don’t have a picture of the last round of pattern changes, but I’m guessing it was minimal from here (raising the underarm, trying to get rid of the sticky-out bit on the stomach).

And then it was October 2019 and I realized I needed to get back to work on my actual bustle gown, so I put away the fitting pattern. And then there was a fucking global pandemic (WEAR YOUR FUCKING MASKS PEOPLE) and my bustle gown was abruptly no longer needed. So in March 2020 when I got the tiniest bit of sewing mojo back, and came back to this corset, as all the hard boring parts (e.g. fitting) was already done, and it was time for the part I liked, aka the sewing! Which will be discussed in the next post.

This entry was posted in 1890s, Corsets, Symington Corset. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 1890s Symington Corset – Fitting

  1. Nice article! Thanks for sharing. Very helpful to me.

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