Well, not quite at the Stampede... but at a Stampede breakfast:)
I finished this corset cover a month or so ago, and it has been sitting on my dress form since. The side seams are sewn by machine, and the rest is completely done by hand. The lace is vintage and given to me by a family friend, as well as the buttons.
Calgary Stampede is always a fun time of year around here, so we thought it would be fun to get pictures of this at the pancake breakfast! Unfortunately they normally have hay bales, but they didn't have them this year. But I think the pictures turned out well anyway!
I have loved the look of corset covers for years, I love the shape and detail of them. While mine is relatively plain compared to some historical examples, I am so glad that I was able to use the beautiful lace that I was given.
Corset covers were usually made of thin fabric to fit under a bodice, and weren't fitted for much of the 19th century. They were lavishly decorated with lace, ribbons, pin tucks, and embroidery. They were normally light colours as well, to make sure that they didn't show through under sheer bodices. They were made to help smooth the lines from boning in corsets, or were used in the summer like undershirts to go underneath sheer muslin dresses.
When it comes to the books in my collection, I have been extremely lucky. I have been given so many books by family friends and other people who have already gone through a costuming or fashion program.
Out of all of my books (I have quite a few...), these are some of my favourites. There are so many more that I would like to eventually collect (Norah Waugh and Janet Arnold being some of the authors that I have seen are necessary in a costuming library), but I am so pleased with what I have so far.
The books that I use for inspiration and help fall into a few categories. First are the books that are specifically for sewing. Of those, my favourites have to be the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking, Corsets, as well as The Art of Needle Craft. The Art of Needle Craft was published in the 1930s, and a beautiful little textbook! It shows different stitch types, and has helped me with my embroidery products. The American Duchess book has been so popular among historical costumers, and it has so much invaluable information! I wish it would have been out when I made my first costume, since it was an 18th century era dress. Corsets is a book about historical corsets, and how they were made. I haven't so far used any of the patterns, but I am definitely planning to use them, and I love looking through the book for inspiration.
The second category would be the books about history. I have tons and tons of history books, since that is something that I am fascinated by and love to learn about. I narrowed down my favourites to the ones that are more about clothing through the eras. One of my first books about this, and still one of my favourites is The Survey of Historic Costume. This books is massive, and has at least a few pages for pretty much every era. It also shows modern designs that are inspired by history. Another favourite of mine, which is much newer, is my Charles James book. I have many, many favourite designers (Coco Chanel, Dior, Zac Posen, Alexander McQueen, and so many more), but right at the top of the list is Charles James. He had very sculptural designs, and the best thing about the book is that it gives a glimpse into what goes underneath the dress. I also have a great little book about the Regency era. Unfortunately it only has a few pages about the clothing, but the book does talk a little about everything. The next few books could belong in a few categories, but I decided to put it into this one because they do have great bits of information in them. I love the books by Megan Hess, especially Coco Chanel. Along with the information, it has beautiful pictures throughout.
Another category is all of the inspiration books that are just pretty coffee table books. Some of these do have costume photos in (I have tons of movie books because I love movies so much), and others have nothing to do with clothing. Out of all of them pictured, I have a few that I look through a little more often than others. One favourite is the Grand Budapest Hotel coffee table book.It has costume sketches from Milena Canonero, one of my favourite costume designers. I also love Amber Butchart's book on how movie costumes have influenced the fashion world. It includes Marie Antoinette, In the Mood for Love, Moonrise Kingdom, and many other favourite movies of mine. I also am often inspired by interior design books, such as Sibella Court books (Nomad is my personal favourite to look through). Her books are fantastic to look through since her designs are inspired by different countries. I have always been fascinated with places like India and Mexico City, and I love seeing little objects from these places. The last movie book that I look through constantly is the one for Crimson Peak.
The last category is magazines. I love sewing magazines (the ones that come with free patterns are the best), but I also read Porter and Vogue obsessively.
Where you do you get your inspiration?
I am so thrilled because I have finished a second piece to the puzzle that is my bustle-era dress! I have been working on each section of the ensemble from closest to the skin to the outer layer- first were my combinations, now the corset, and I am currently working on the bustle and petticoat.
The corset was made entirely of scrap fabric. I was gifted the fabric that I used as the outer layer, and I thought it was stunning! Unfortunately there wasn't very much of it, but there was the perfect amount for this corset. The lace that I used is the same vintage lace that I used at the neckline of my combinations.
This is fully boned with heavy-duty cable ties, and I used grosgrain ribbon for the boning channels. I also used the same grosgrain ribbon as a waist stay, which is basically just a strip of tightly woven fabric that goes at the place with the most stress- the waist. It keeps the corset from stretching out too much.
Although it is not historically accurate at all, I used grommets for the laces in the back of the corset instead of hand-sewn eyelets. This was partly for strength, and partly to save some time since I am very excited to get started on the actual dress. Even though they aren't accurate to the time, I think it looks quite nice.
Since I had so little of the fabric left, I only bound the top of the corset. The bottom just has a narrow hem instead.
The busk is from a Canadian company called Farthingales. They sell corset and historical undergarment making supplies, as well as other things. They were so easy to work with, and my busk came very quickly! I am so pleased with the colour that I chose as well.
I made my way over to the Bhatia Cloth House for the first time last weekend, and I am so thrilled with the things that I found!
The Cloth House was really beautiful and they had tons of gorgeous fabrics, as well as sarees and other fancy dress. The costumer service was really lovely, and I can't wait to make my way over there again to pick up more fabric!
I do have plans for all of the pieces that I picked up, but the only plan I will tell you about is for the mens suiting.
Not only did I pick up fabric from the Cloth House, but I also ordered a few patterns not long ago. The 1940s pants are what I will be making with the mens suiting wool, and there is so much of it that I am hoping to also get a pencil skirt or blazer out of it!
Both of the patterns are from Simplicity. I have ordered a few patterns from Simplicity now, and they have always been great. The patterns have come quite quickly every time as well, which is very nice when ordering things online!
And there is more!
My boyfriend just got back from Vietnam, and he brought me back such beautiful things! He had an Ao Dai (traditional clothing from Vietnam) made for me, and I was given the extra fabric left over from that along with another chunk of fabric!
Stay tuned for lots of exciting new projects!