The Lady Adventurer

Costuming shenanigans

Elizabethan Pair of Bodies

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My corded corset is based on the effigy pattern in Tudor Tailor and Patterns of Fashion. Like the original from Queen Elizabeth’s effigy, mine spiral laces up the front, has shaped back seams, and triangular straps.  I did shorten the front point, so it wouldn’t stab me if I sat.

It’s made of two layers of cotton twill, which is actually fairly lightweight.  It’s corded with the same cord that I used to lace it up.  There are also 1/4 inch bones in several places, to help hold the tabs down.

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This is corset 2.0.  The first version used the exact same pattern, and cording, but was made with a looser weave linen, and the bones popped out over time.  So in this version, I chose to floss the ends.  Flossing is a Victorian corset technique.  But then, steel boning is a Victorian corset thing, so I suppose it’s fitting.  After I did the flossing, I overcast the grommets in the same color. Not only is it pretty, but I find it helps keep the grommets from pulling out.

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I’ve used grommets alone, hand bound eyelets and and overcast grommets.  I think for corsets I will continue to use overcast grommets, because I like that they pull the fabric from a wider area.  There is some historical evidence that occasionally, people would put round bits of metal like washers underneath their buttonhole stitch for eyelets, so I don’t think it’s that much of a historical stretch.  If it was for a garment that was meant to show, like on the back of my blue linen dress, I would definitely use hand bound eyelets.  They are daintier, and probably faster once you get the hang of it.  As far as grommets along, I wouldn’t use them again.  They don’t look right, they distract from an overall appearance of period-ness, and worst of all, they often pull out of more loosely woven fabric.

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Of all the pieces of my Renaissance costume collection, this is the one that I think really made my look go from basic faire garb to a more period look.  The character I go for is middle class/ lower middle class, which means period wise, I could choose to just wear a stiffened kirtle, and forgo the corset.  However, as a dancer, I need a bit more support.  When I used to wear bodices, I’d tuck my skirt waistband underneath the waist of the bodice (dreading the chemise muffin between the skirts and the bodice) and at the end of the day, I’d have all these red prints from the skirts along my waist.  The tabs on the waist of this corset, plus the fact that the skirts go over it, not under, makes this an incredibly comfortable thing. for a day at faire. Plus, once you have a corset, it’s much much easier to make fabulous dresses to go with. =)

~Sarah


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