While fitting my latest mockup (an 1838 single dart bodice with back closing), I realized I was choosing to wear my rather old corset made in 2002. This isn’t a bad thing as I love this particular corset – it gives a great shape and is fitted relatively well.
My beloved cream cotton brocade undergarment is my tried & true friend. It’s been worn for over a decade, time traveled thru nearly every decade in the 19th Century including quite dusty Civil War venues, and been worn in three U.S. states. This thing has history!
And this is what it looks like today…
Not too bad considering!
The poly satin ribbon binding is much stained around the top from sweating – and probably rubbing on colored underlining fabrics. Although, the high-quality coutil and brocade don’t show much staining at all. Simply a little dirty.
And it doesn’t smell because I’ve used the cheap Vodka trick (#16 in this post) over the years. – Spray bottom shelf Vodka (full strength or diluted) on sweat-stained areas to help eat away at the odor-causing bacteria. This doesn’t clean the fabric (of course, as indicated by my still-soiled corset) but does eliminate the odor.
The laces are still good and intact after thousands of cinchings. The busk – well… It pops open at the bottom as I’m first getting into it. But all the metal bones are in place and working well!
You can also see how much the entire corset has formed to my particular figure over time. It’s especially visible at the waistline on the sides. The bones have curved with my figure a bit, sit well and make for a very comfortable corset.
A note for those thinking of using plastic to bone a corset: it doesn’t work. The plastic material will deform from heat released by your body. It’s fine for the first wearing or two but that plastic will soon get horribly uncomfortable. Notice that my corset here has all metal boning. Even though the fabric has stretched & formed over my curves, the bones are still holding it in place. No warping. Think on this before deciding on plastic bones.
Update, Summer 2016: Apparently the synthetic (plastic) whalebone is getting strong attention nowadays. I have not used it but there are some well-known costumers who have and are getting great results. Until I’ve experienced working with it in projects and wearing those garments I will remain loyal to metal boning. Let me know if you like the plastic stuff.
I can’t really remember what pattern I used for this corset. It may have been my own custom pattern I drafted in fashion school.
The chemise is the old version of the Truly Victorian #102 Chemise & Drawers pattern. Heather changed it to have a shoulder opening and the sleeves are different as a result. For the one here I ended up taking large pleats/tucks at the hem line to bring the sleeve closer into my arm. This makes it easier to push the sleeve down into a tight bodice armhole.
The other “damage” to the chemise is the ripping right at the center front V. It’s simply the cut of the fabric that makes this point weak. I have reinforced it a couple times but it’s starting to rip further. Time for another chemise too…. (Fortunately, I made a new one in the Victorian Undergarments Class.)
You can also see how the cotton lace edging has shrunk over dozens of washings. I wash my chemise & drawers in warm and tumble dry. I suppose I could press the trim out but it won’t ever look as it did when newly made.
I’ve been saying for years that I need to make a new one from the same pattern and simply make some small alterations. Just so I have a new corset in this fit. I’ll get to it. Add it to the project list. For now, these trusty undergarments fit the bill.
How are your undergarments and old corsets holding up after years of wear?