Wednesday, October 13, 2010

17th c Bodies....

I am finding 17th c bodies to be deceptively simple in construction. The pattern on Drea Leed's Online Corset generator is a single cool is that? The original ones were made of 3 pieces tho, each made separate and then whip stitched together to assemble. This was so that if a person's weight or proportion changed, they could simply unpick the sides, and add a different back piece, as alot of them were front closing. This front closing type leaves NO ROOM for adjustment, they must fit perfectly, and come tightly together in the front, with no space. I wonder if they laced them over a busk???? hmmmmmm.....that is an interesting thought isn't it?? In any case, Marguarite is a dollye, and hers need not be 100% accurate, which, on her smaller scale, is why I am not cutting this pattern into three pieces, I am leaving it one. Another interesting thing about 17th c corsets you all may not know, or realize, is that they are meant to give a rigid FRONT to the body, and so they are normally only boned in the front. They are supposed to be extremely comfortable to wear, if they are not, then you are not wearing the bodies correctly. They do not 'suck in' anything, no matter how tight you lace them, the small waste you see in paintings and the like, is merely an illusion created by the long extended front point.

I cut each of my 3 fabrics with no seam allowance, as they will be bound around all edges. If you are going to make one along with me, cut your pieces out on the straight of grain!

At first, I was going to use the stitching channels recommended on Drea's pattern generator, but after I got this far, decided I really didn't like the look of it. It has channels on the sides, that I have not observed at all on the Effigy or Dorthea bodies. Those both are boned in the front and very back only, so I decided to pattern my channels after the Dorthea bodies. I also realized, that 1/4 inch channels are just too large for the scale I am working at, they take up too much space, and just don't look right.

My daughter's school ruler is just the right size for my busk, so used it for reference, and as you can see, the 1/4 whalebones on the left in the picture are just way too large. No matter WHO tells you they can be easily cut, has no idea what so ever what they are talking about. You can cut them with scissors, but baleen is a brittle substance, and they crack along their 'own' matter how sharp your knife or scissors are. Trust me, I thought I would be able to cut them in half lengthwise, to use in 1/8 channels, but nope~ no can do Kimo~ Sabe! So now picture me ransacking the house, trying to think of something I could use....all my reed I have in various shapes, is all 1/4" and larger. Then I found a drawer of bamboo skewers.......mmmmmmm. I think they will work perfectly! They are tough as nails, absolutely rigid, and most importantly, small enough to give me the correct period look I am after~ note the pic of the Dorthea bodies I am modeling them after. If you enlarge it, you can see that using the larger whalebone, while being exactly period correct in substance, will not give me the correct form or ratio of boning channels per inch. And who knows, since there are only 2 surviving corsets of this era, I suppose someone could have used bamboo in one....perhaps!

This is my first draft of the placement of the boning channels, modeled after the Dorthea above. There will be 4 channels on each side of the back opening, just like the original, and 26 channels each side of the center busk. They will be shaped down below the bust cup, just like the original. Marguarite has a very flat chest, but likes very much the idea these will give, of her indeed having a little something there :)

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