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Unread 12-04-2010, 05:50 PM   #1
BsWN
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Hand-Stitched Corset?

Is it possible to make a hand-stitched corset?

I've been planning to do a more Victorian dress for a while, I don't have a sewing machine (yet) so I was wondering if it would be possible even though I don't have one. I'm trying to start off simple, simple corset, and I found a rather simple tutorial on bustles, or I'm still investigating hoop skirts and such.

And if it is possible, any tips on materials, technique or shape?

Thank you for your time ^^
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Unread 12-04-2010, 07:59 PM   #2
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Definitely possible Most victorian corsets were machine sewn but they were worn at all social levels and hand sewing was cheaper. Even today some couture garments are hand sewn because of the quality.

And corsets/stays had to be hand sewn in the centuries before the invention of the sewing machine Some of the most magnificent clothes ever made were entrely hand sewn and hand woven and all braid etc made by hand.

Anyway if you are looking at historical corsets I really recommend getting hold of Corsets and Crinolines by Nora Waugh for patterns. They are scaled so you can make them up at that size to get a quick cheap test

You'll want to get practicing stitching as you will want fine and strong stitches. Running and back stitch are the ones you'll want to master most.

I would recommend an 1830s style corset or stays as that will get you a nice hour glass shape but be easy to hand sew as the originals were hand sewn It's the very start of the Victorian era (1837 is when Victoria was crowned) and has the big poofy skirt and sleeve shape
The dresses would also have all been hand sewn
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Unread 12-04-2010, 08:07 PM   #3
Mangochutney
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People DID make corsets before the sewing machine was invented. Smart-assery aside, it is definitely possible and no more complicated than making one by machine, though naturally it'll be a lot more time-consuming. Find a pattern you like and follow the instructions. For any seam that will be under tension, which is pretty much every vertical seam in a corset, you'll want to use a backstitch for strength. Binding and trim can use whatever works best.

The material you want to use will vary on the kind of corset you're making. Most Victorian corsets need an interior layer of firm fabric to cinch and hold their shape better--coutil is the 'classic' fabric but by no means the only one, and it's more expensive and rare than some other perfectly acceptable options. Even back then, people were using all kinds of fabric. You probably want to use twill or a medium-weight denim, because they're easy to find and fairly cheap to experiment with.

As for boning...hit the hardware store. Cable ties (the wide zip ties) are cheap, light, and need no extra equipment to use other than a pair of sturdy scissors. They're remarkably close to whalebone, as it turns out. Works a treat. And did I mention cheap? If you want to keep making corsets you might find it worth your money to try out steel boning eventually, but probably not for your first go.
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Last edited by Mangochutney : 12-04-2010 at 08:09 PM.
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Unread 12-04-2010, 08:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Satine View Post
I would recommend an 1830s style corset or stays as that will get you a nice hour glass shape but be easy to hand sew as the originals were hand sewn It's the very start of the Victorian era (1837 is when Victoria was crowned) and has the big poofy skirt and sleeve shape
The dresses would also have all been hand sewn
God I love these things so much. I always figured that girls in this time didn't care about being pretty anymore. Living in a new corset is the best way to reshape your body to something absolutely gorgeous. Just remember that aesthetics are a bonus. Corsets are primarily designed for function. If it doesn't work, it's no good. Cheap good looking corsets will set you back $20-40 but the really luxurious modern ones can be about 10x that. Choose one that's right for you or as you wish...Make it yourself. I'm looking forward to seeing what you make.

Just please...Don't reshape your body to insane sizes like a a waist that is less than 2/3 your hip. I appreciate the vase/hourglass shapes as much as anyone but there's a point where a small waist looks absolutely frightening.
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Unread 12-05-2010, 02:29 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by DaemonForce View Post
Cheap good looking corsets will set you back $20-40
Those aren't corsets. Those are a match which you can use to ignite a few twenty-dollar bills. The boning in those will be plastic which softens so easily that mere body heat can deform it, and it will re-shape into something both uncomfortable and ugly. Cable ties are plastic too, but they're of a different sort that doesn't behave the same way.

It's awesome you're going to make your corset even without the sewing machine. The lowest you can expect to pay for an actual usable corset is about $100, and you'll be paying a good bit less than that in materials for your own.
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Unread 12-05-2010, 03:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangochutney View Post
Those aren't corsets. Those are a match which you can use to ignite a few twenty-dollar bills. The boning in those will be plastic which softens so easily that mere body heat can deform it, and it will re-shape into something both uncomfortable and ugly.
Really? So the common cheap vinyl is no good? I have key people in certain places that can make durable luxurious corsets but the only ones I gift to friends are custom semi-pricey leathers. By doing this I would think it's clear the message I try to send to these girls is that they have some work to do. I don't know about the rest of these except that they're made of what I call "show" material and that's why they look good. I wouldn't trust those for reshaping or support. o.O

I guess the general consensus is that one material is for work and the other is for show. You would probably say one is fun and the other is functional.

Also this is amazing.

Remember that the younger you are, the softer your lower ribs happen to be and the easier it is to reform them with a corset. It's not going to crush you. It should feel like a very snug hug all around you. It slims your waistline, forces very strong posture, breathing becomes easier, the appearance of them is very alluring and it just screams SEX in all directions.

The only downside I can think of is that you might feel weak if you stop wearing one after while. It's a very powerful support and it's sad that so very few girls have any interest in them these days. I can picture the shocking words thrown around when one of these school brats finds out a friend is wearing one. :/

"ZoMG isn't that bad for you?!"
"Doesn't that hurt?"
"Can you breathe?!"

If they only knew how important posture really is.
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Unread 12-05-2010, 04:42 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by DaemonForce View Post
By doing this I would think it's clear the message I try to send to these girls is that they have some work to do.
...okaaaay.

BsWN, a matter of technique: check out the corsetmakers community on LJ. And remember that those nice pointy-toed Vicky boots are practically made for addressing a sharp kick to the junk of anyone who suggests that you ought to wear a corset because you're not up to their standards as you are.
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Unread 12-05-2010, 06:54 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Mangochutney View Post
remember that those nice pointy-toed Vicky boots are practically made for addressing a sharp kick to the junk of anyone who suggests that you ought to wear a corset because you're not up to their standards as you are.
I thought about telling you what kind of girls pestered me for advice growing up but then I realized you're absolutely right. I should never have had any interest in the affairs of women whatsoever and just stare off blankly into space when a girl cries to me that her hips are too big. All girls are naturally pretty, diet right, have incredibly high self-esteem, an amazing posture and strength to handle having those gigantic tits they were all blessed with...

Yeah I'm just going to shut my mouth when the next girl wants to know what I think of her because she's definitely psychic too. I should probably go find a guy since we're all just mindless and heartless bastards that don't care about anything anyway.
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Unread 12-05-2010, 12:34 PM   #9
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Let's recap for a moment. The question at hand:
Quote:
Originally Posted by BsWN View Post
Is it possible to make a hand-stitched corset?
Your helpful information thus far:
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaemonForce View Post
corsets will set you back $20-40
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaemonForce View Post
breathing becomes easier
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaemonForce View Post
it just screams SEX in all directions
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaemonForce View Post
gigantic tits
I think it's safe to say that you're not actually a very good resource for someone looking for advice on hand-sewing a Victorian corset given that you know nothing on the subject. Wouldn't you agree?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaemonForce View Post
Yeah I'm just going to shut my mouth
Smart lad.
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Unread 12-05-2010, 02:29 PM   #10
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Thank you, Mangochutney. ^^ I'll be sure to keep this all in mind. I think I'm going to go experiment with some of my brother's old shirts <.< >.>

This all doesn't sound too hard, but I think the hardest part would be getting the right measurements.

Once again, thank you, I seem to have developed a passion for pretty dresses XP So hopefully I'll be able to make one. =3
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Unread 12-05-2010, 04:20 PM   #11
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Here are some good tutorials

They were written by the woman who talked me through my first few corsets, so I can testify she knows her stuff and I still refer to them when I can't get hold of her on the phone. The 'Quick Pictorial Guide' is pretty useful, and the pattern she uses (I believe it's the Simplicity one) is a pretty good starter if you're not quite up to Norah Waugh.

The Simplicity pattern requires a reasonable amount of... fiddling (Our general consensus was that somehow, after the pattern had been made and scaled to size, some bright spark decided it needed ease added to it. When it's a corset. So expect it to run large and be prepared to go a size smaller than you expected to ^.^) but it more or less works out of the packet. Norah Waugh is EXCELLENT, but A. expects that you know how to scale up and adjust a pattern and B. the patterns are taken from historical garments, which were made for people who quite possibly had tight-laced their whole lives. I'm a very 'modern' shape, so I have to make quite a lot of alterations to Waugh's patterns.

Also, it's important to remember that during the 17th and 18th centuries, only male tailors made corsets, even when dress making moved into the female domain, because you needed really strong hands. In other words; bring a thimble, your fingers will thank you.
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Unread 12-05-2010, 08:53 PM   #12
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Really? So the common cheap vinyl is no good?
Please don't use vinyl for a corset! It does not breathe AT ALL, and wearing a close fitting, non-breathing garment is asking to turn into a big sweaty mess--especially since the OP is talking about making this corset as a foundation garment, to have more layers worn over it. Then there's the fact that (in my experience at least) vinyl just doesn't seem to have the correct structure--it has a slight stretch (bad for corsets) that something like coutil does not (thickness =/= strength). Finally, it's tough to find vinyl that doesn't look like cheap crap that should be covering a booth at a cheap diner. Yes, good vinyls and imitation leathers do exist, but they're less common and more expensive.

Anyway, about the OP's corset project, well, I don't have much new to add other than that I admire your patience, and patience you will need. One thing, though, corsets can be a bitch to fit. You will need to make a mockup. You will probably need to make several, it is a slow process, and with hand sewing it will be glacial.
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Unread 12-05-2010, 09:38 PM   #13
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Thanks again, ^^ I figured that it'd take a while. Does anyone have any tips on how to attach a skirt to the finished corset (which I won't have finished for a very, very long time O.O)?
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Unread 12-06-2010, 05:52 AM   #14
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I find it's much, much easier to make skirts and corsets as separates and wear one on top of the other. If you use the same or very similar fashion fabrics, the overall look is often quite good - most people can't tell it's not a dress.
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Unread 12-09-2010, 08:56 PM   #15
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Corsets are better when they're handmade in a lot of cases, it allows for finer, smaller stiches where it matters (Like gussets, etc.). I've made many, many corsets over the years on both machine and by hand. You might want to start off with something like a waist cincher if you're just learning at first. Also, I swear by artificial whalebone for the boning. Won't rust, offers great support and remains flexible. Avoid costumey like patterns, there are many excellent corset patterns on the market right now.

And a good corset when purchase will set you back $300-$600 typically, but they'll last you a lifetime. We stock Gore Couture in a company I own and they're all custom made corsets by a designer that's been doing them for a good many years. They're really worth the price I've found. Even at the $100 range I find the quality very lacking.
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