Tag Archives: corsets

Sunday Inspiration: 1905 Corset, Suspenders, and Stockings.

I had scanned in several more pages from the 1905 Delineator when I was making up my S-Curve corset, so I figured, rather than getting lost in my abyss of a computer, that I might as well share them now!

Here’s a few little fun ads from 1905 that show some garments that go under what you usually see.  Make sure to read the ads, not just look at the pretty pictures, to get a good idea of what’s going on and what was offered in the period.


“…like all American Lady Corsets, it has the essentials for stylish form building, but the special purpose of this garment is to give a sweeping curve effect to the entire figure.  The lateral sections accomplish this by training the flesh from the front to the sides and back…”

It’s interesting to note these earlier S-Curve ads almost need to talk the reader into buying the “new” silhouette.  I’ve seen several of these in this era, and they’re always amusing.  Note that most often ads of the early 1900s and before emphasized shaping the figure by FOUNDATION GARMENTS rather than by DIET.  Once the 1920’s hit, diet was often advertised as well as foundations, and this continued throughout time… only now do we usually tend to rely on diet alone to achieve the essential shape.  Well, diet and, often, surgery.  Sure, spanx and the like are now used, but they don’t have nearly the effect of the foundations of our mothers and grandmother’s day.  In terms of a fashion history perspective, I find the modern ideals of figure most depressing and, usually, unobtainable for most people.  Combination undergarment + diet for certain looks seems much more achievable, in my opinion.


Although we don’t actually see the “Hose Supporters” here, it’s worth noting that the advertisement shows an active lady.  Sport for ladies was growing from the 1880s on, but it especially was present in the 1890s and early 1900s.  Golf and bicycling, most noticeably.

And it’s also worth noting that not all Edwardian corsets included garters (suspenders or supporters).  There were often separate articles that were purchased and used for this purpose.


And for those fancy garter hooks, here’s hose that will not tear!  In earlier time periods there were elastic, knitted, or ribbon garters.  In the Edwardian era, garters like we see on later foundation garments were in use.  We needed fancy new garter tops to keep up with the wear and tear of the metal on fiber!

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend.


Edwardian Bust Improver “Perfect Form”


In line with my last post, I wanted to share a funny little Edwardian innovation that appeared in many periodicals of the time.  This one happens to come from The Delineator, April, 1905.  The “Sahlin Perfect Form”.  I’ve seen these ads many times, but had never seen a real one, until I happened to see one on Ebay, just sold recently.

These images are from the eBay auction, by seller $4europe.  They took quite detailed shots, by which we can see the basics of constructions.  These images are the property of the seller, and are just posted here for educational use.

$_58 $_58-2

Where the boning crosses, it creates an arc.  Similar boning was done to create the rounded styles of stays in the 18th century, but here it was often to stand away from the body, rather than hug to it.
$_58-3 $_58-4

If you compare this to the original ad, the buckles were to make it adjustable to the figure, to wrap across the back, then fasten the ties through the buckles at the sides.

Fascinating piece of fashion history!   Wonder our Edwardian counterparts would think of the “chicken cutlets” of today?

Finished Projects: Edwardian S-Curve Corset + “Improvers”

If you’re following me on Instragram, you may have seen my progress posts on my Edwardian corset and bust improvers.  The corset project was a UFO from last year’s Historical Sew Fortnightly from the same challenge.  This year I was determined to finish it.  It’s just in at the deadline, barely, but I finished it!

I have a few entries for this challenge, since I decided to make Edwardian bust improvers to go with the corset.  Each project is listed separately, but I’ll include them both in this post.

It was much too small, so I had to add 2″ panels to each side.  Luckily, with the other seaming, it’s not terribly obvious.  I had accidentally cut this WAY too small, and had forgotten I had added extra seam allowance to my mock up but didn’t transfer it to my pattern.  Thank goodness I had *just* enough coutil and fashion fabric to cut panels!

IMG_1058 IMG_1051 IMG_1056 IMG_1057 IMG_1053 IMG_1054


The Challenge: #4- Under it All

Fabric:  Cotton coutil, silk broade

Pattern: Truly Victorian TVE01- 1903 S-Curve Corset

Year: 1903

Notions:  Metal boning, busk, eyelets, ribbon, vintage laces, corset lace, bone casing, twill tape for loops for detachable garters (garters were made for a previous corset, but work for this one as well).

How historically accurate is it?  Pretty close, but I serged the inside seams instead of leaving them raw or flat felling them.  The garters are not really period correct, as they would have been constructed differently.

Hours to complete: Way too many

First worn: Not yet.

Total cost:  Pretty expensive.  I didn’t keep track, but I’d guess in the $50-$60 range.  Most of the materials were bought either last year or several years before, so I didn’t need to buy any new products to complete this during this year.

paddingAlso made were the padding.  I made the “hip pad” from the Truly Victorian pattern that was included with the corset.  For the bust pads, however, I decided I wanted ones similar to those in the LACMA museum, that I had seen in the “Fashioning Fashion” exhibit.


Woman’s Bust Improver (Falsies), England, circa 1900, image from LACMA
I drafted up a quick pattern based on these.  First I made ones that were 16″ across, but they were kind of big and more “Barbie”ish.  Today I whipped up another pair that are 14″ across, and they suit better.
To compare, here’s the larger ones, and the smaller ones.  They’re both somewhat ridiculous, but so period correct!
I actually ended up sticking this up on my site as an e-pattern.  Since I went to the trouble, I thought others might want to make some, too.
e102COVERwebFair warning/disclaimer.   These were based on those in the collection of LACMA, but the pattern I made is in no way affiliated with LACMA, or endorsed by them.  It was just a fun, quick project, using an existing period example as inspiration.
In any case…
For kicks, I took pictures of my corset with a dress I had made a few years ago with padding and without padding, to get an idea of how it changes the silhouette.
improversdress improversdress2
How interesting!  It reminds me so much of this ad:

The Challenge: #4- Under it All

Fabric:  Cotton muslin, cotton shirting

Pattern: Truly Victorian TVE01- 1903 S-Curve Corset, + Wearing History E102- Edwardian Bust Improver

Year: 1900-1908

Notions:  For hip pad: Cotton wadding, twill tape.  For bust improvers: cotton wadding, double fold bias tape, flat lace that was gathered, lace beading, silk ribbon.

How historically accurate is it?  Pretty close.  I think the TV pattern is dead on for the period.  Bust improvers of the time varied greatly, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some exactly like this existed.  The museum examples were constructed open at the back, so they could be stuffed and unstuffed.  For ease, and because I will very seldom actually wear these, I just stuffed them and seamed it in, so they have  closed back.

Hours to complete: These were quick. Probably under an hour for each item.

First worn: Not yet.

Total cost:  Everything was from the stash.  Actual cost of each was probably under $5.  The cotton batting was free, and everything else was constructed of scraps of inexpensive cotton.  The lace was probably the most expensive part, since it was all vintage.  The silk ribbon was maybe a few dollars a yard and under a yard was used on each bust improver.

Inspiration: 1905 Corsets

Today I have, what I think, are the most gorgeous pages of corsets I have ever seen in an Edwardian magazine.  These are both from a copy of The Delineator I have in my archives from September, 1905.

Not only are corsets beautiful, but the page layouts are gorgeous and they include great descriptions of the corsets, and what figure types they are suited for.

“No, 1 is a plain little corset designed especially to soften the angles of an extremely slight figure ;  No. 2, made of fancy sateen with ribbon decoration, shows the natural hip and high bust effect ;  No. 3,  illustrated in white coutil, is for larger hips and high bust ;  No. 4 of white satin, is designed to reduce the too pronounced curves below the waist.”

“No. 1 is a ribbon or tape girdle, especially favored for golf, tennis, and other outdoor sports ;  No. 2 is a novelty corset of brocaded satin, lacing at each side of the front ;  No. 3 combines a bust supporter of white satin ribbon and a hip reducing corset of sateen ;  No. 4 is a slightly boned silk jersey model for a medium figure, giving the high bust effect.”

I love that it includes an image of a ribbon corset! I’d love to make one of those some day.

I find it very interesting that one of the corsets includes a bust supporter.  This is the era when the top edge of the corsets started to move closer to the waist, so it is very nice to know there were options out there for ladies who required or desired bust support in a corset.  Many ladies would wear separate brassieres, which offered very little support compared to what we are accustomed to today.

I have picked up the Truly Victorian S-Curve corset again, which I set aside and has a remained a UFO (unfinished object) since last year.  These are very inspiring for me to finish it by the Historical Sew Fortnightly deadline!

I actually love these images so much that I have added one of them to my Cafepress store.  So you can get T shirts, journals, etc, with the image if you love it as much as I do!

1905_delineator_corsets_journalI do not mind if you share these original images, but please do remember to link back and give credit, as it always takes me a bit of time to clean up the originals and share.  Thanks :)


Corsets: 1916

In our 1910s Suit-A-Long group the question of corset height was brought up.  Here are two pages of corsets from the 1916 W & H Walker catalog.  This was the same year that the pattern was released, so is appropriate to the WWI era and the era of this suit.

1916corset2web 1916corset1webWe see the difference in height of the top of the corset in these images.  There is also a variety in length of the hip.

The size numbers would be for the corset size.  It does not state if these are the actual corset measurements or the measure of the finished waist size.  I am assuming they are the corset measure, as the “spring” allowed at back varied from person to person based on preference.  The corset “spring” refers to the inches allowed at back for comfort- corsets would not be laced edge to edge, but allow, usually from 2″-4″, or even 6″ at the back when laced.

Sizes 18 to 30 have the most options.  We see medium bust and hip (6M50), medium low bust and long hip (2M129),  low bust and long hips (8M49), medium high bust and long hips (3M99).

There is one corset that is for comfort, with tricot for ventilation and front and back lacings (8M98), in the same sizes as above.

There is one corset for “Misses”, which would be for young ladies, and is designed as a “first corset”.  5M89 in sizes 18 to 26 waist.

There is one corset for girls, aged 7 to 13 years, which includes shoulder straps.

There is one nursing corset (7M98), which has nursing flaps at the bust and is available in larger waist sizes than the standard Misses corsets.

There is one corset for larger women, called a “form reducing” corset, which has a reducing flap at the sides, to help pull in the hips, and a spoon bust which “insures absolutely flat abdomen”.

One brassiere is shown on the page (11M29), which was available in sizes 32″ to 46″ bust. The brassiere has the appearance of a corset cover, but was of more substantial construction.  These usually had flat felled seams, boning, or both, and fastened up the back.   They did not have cups or breast support as we’re accustomed to today.  In fact, most styles of dress did not require a separation of the bust, but rather, a smooth line.  It’s a continuation of the “pouter pigeon” look of the S-Curve corset era, but with a slightly higher bust point.  The bust may be restrained, but not as much as in the “flapper” era.  In fact, brassieres would change very little between now and the late 1920s.

There are also various women’s needs that are on the page- mostly of the past “sanitary” variety.  Included are women’s dress shields that are “waterproof”, and a  “sanitary apron”, which would have the long skirt worn at the back so you wouldn’t have any accidents during that time of the month.

I, for one, am happy we’ve progressed… both in terms of undergarments and in terms of these icky “solutions”.  How far we’ve come with both brassieres and sanitary products in one hundred years!

Research & Musings: Regency Stays Vol. II

I had so many thoughts when I posted my last post on Regency short vs long stays, that I had to continue into another post!

If you missed the first post, you can find it here.

Big ol’ disclaimer right now:  This post is entirely based upon my thought process, and questions based on existing materials found online via extant periodicals and personal reflection of extant costumes.  I may be right, I may be wrong, but I’m certainly questioning what I thought to be the “standard” view of corsets of this period.

Late 18th Century:

With Cups


V&A Museum.  1790s Stays


Met Musem: Stays, 18th Century.

Without Cups, Without Shoulder Straps


Met Museum: Stays, 1700-1799


Met Museum:  Corset, late 18th Century.

With Tabs and Straps and Without Cups


Met Museum:  Corset- 1780s-1790s.

In the late 18th century, when fashion underwent radical changes, it seems that understructure had big challenges on how it would conform to the changes.  It took time for some people to convert to the styles, of course, and we were adjusted to the same sort of stays, in little changes at a time, rather than the big changes that were to come in the next hundred or so years.

It seems we could not make up our mind.  We blend the ones similar to those that came before, but are challenged in a way to make the breasts seem to be “natural”, and yet, enhance nature and uplift.  The 18th century stays flattened and brought together, but the cups on the ones above, combined with the structure of the 18th century stays in other places, seem to indicate that fashion was trying to change.

Whatever genius came up with inserting gussets- I tip my hat to them.

In early Regency era periodicals, it seems to refer to the 18th century stays as “long stays”.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.32.58 PM

A Comparative View of the Social Life of England and France, Mary Berry, 1828

And yet, we see, by 1803 they were back.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.36.25 PM Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.36.14 PM

Ladies Monthly Museum, Volume 11, 1820.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.41.59 PM

The Lottery Ticket and The Lawyer’s Clark: A Farce, 1827 (same year as the above)

So, as far as I can tell, we have the types of stays pictured above- where we never quite knew what was going on.  Corsetmakers were playing with length, proportion, cups, no cups, tabs, no tabs, cording, and boning, and lacing.

-  Early 1800s  -

It appears, we have a VERY short period where it looks like short stays were quite popular.  Or, a combination of very short stays and “long stays”.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 6.45.50 PM

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 1.07.09 PM

Ladies Monthly Museum, Volume 11, 1820.


Across the front it looks like these were probably the “elastic” that was referred to in a period source in my last post, a stay of French origin, the source says.  The museum confirms that these were “probably French”. Across the front would have been small, spiral springs of metal.

Met Museum: Corset, 1805-1818.

And another pair here.


Abiti Antichi, 1800.

It is worth noting, there also appears to have been a use for the “bodice”

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 6.29.33 PM


V&A Museum: Bust Bodice, 1820-1829


Met Museum:  Brassiere, 1820.

It’s worth noting, Short Stays were also called “Jumps”

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 6.29.46 PM

Which begs the question… is the famous Kyoto wrap stay really a “stay” or is it a “bodice”?  Or perhaps a mutant of both?


Kyoto Museum: Brassiere, Early 19th Century.

So, we see, there is a lot of variety.  When we get to around 1817, we get what most of us seem to think of as the “standard” Regency stays, which in period examples is known as the “Divorce” corset, the “Armenian” corset, the “Armenian Divorce” corset, the “Circassian” corset, or “long stays”.  Stays and corset both seem to refer to the longer type of support, with corset being both spelled as “corset” and corsett”.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 7.02.15 PMLa Belle assemblée: or, Bell’s court and fashionable magazine, 1817
Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 7.04.41 PM

The Hermit in Philadelphia, Second Series, Robert Waln, 1821Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 7.05.40 PMThe Literary Gazette: A Weekly Journal of Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts, Volume 1, 1817

“Divorce” meaning, as far as I can make out, the separation of the breasts by use of the gussets and the busk at center.


Kyoto Costume Institute: Stays, 1800-1820 via Isobel Carr

It seems the long stay was back in fashion, and preferred among the fashionable set.  It is most likely a derivative of the “Armenian” or “Divorce” corset, rather than the “long stay” we see referred to as the stays of the 18th century.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.46.30 PM

The Principles of Medicine, on the Plan of the Beconian [sic] Philosophy.  Robert Douglas Hamilton, 1821

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.39.56 PM

The Ariel, a Literary Gazette- Volume 1-2, 1827.

But criticism of the new version of long stays was rampant, especially among physicians.

 It seems both “long stays” or “corsets” and “short stays” or “jumps” were available at the same time.  However, it seems that the VERY short stays were only in fashion for a short period of time.  It is highly probable that the “short stays” of 1810 and later were more of a “mid point” stay, higher than the waist, but longer than the very short ones with elastic that are pictured above.

So, there we have it.  I will save my last few thoughts for the next post.  I had no idea, when I started, this would be a series!  But now I’m completely fascinated, so have to share my thoughts and findings.

Research & Musings: Regency Era Short Stays Vs. Long Stays

This week Beth (of V is for Vintage) and I got together and started pondering Regency short stays.  I had done a bit of research into this when I made my first pair of Regency short stays, but I remember having read that people were questioning whether they were actually used as stays, or if they would be used sort of for undress, or morning wear.

I had previously made two sets of Regency long stays- my last set were back in 2008.  My first set were a near failure- being too long in the torso and too restrictive in the bust.  My second pair were little better- the fit was better, but still- I looked more like a teenager than a girl in her later 20s.  Being on the small side in that department in general, I was much happier with the way the short stays worked with my figure.

I posted a question on “the stays question” on Facebook and had some varied responses.  I have read varied responses elsewhere online as well.  Some believe short stays better for the smaller busted.  Some believe they’re better for the larger busted.  Some think you must have the busk for proper support.  Others think you do not need the busk.  And still others think stays are of no necessity at all (perhaps that’s from the French directoire origins of the fashion, but I’m personally of the belief that it was just a few sensationalists rather than the population at large).

So I settled on it.  Throw caution to the wind, I’m making mid-point stays.  Not short stays, not long stays.  I hate the way the long stays make me feel- way TOO restricted, and a pain to wear for my short-torso’d self.  But now that I’m a little older, and I’m still on the smaller busted side of thing, I want a little more support for the upper tummy area.  Especially for those of us that are smaller in that department, you need a little definition between bust and ribcage area, or else it all tends to blend and flatten.  Yes, I know they had bust improvers, and that will probably be part of my plan eventually as well, but I think most people didn’t rely solely on those.

Thinking on my need and want, and seeing the vast, VAST variety of stay options out there during a time span of, say, 30 or so years, especially comparatively to the progression of stays and corsetry through most of it’s life span, I have settled upon it.  After research, I can say, I think they just weren’t sure WHAT to do.  It’s a hard thing to take women’s bodies, which are NOT naturally the ideal grecian form, and smash them into submission, except the bust, which should have been overemphasized.  I’m convinced that what we see in paintings and fashion plates may have been the ideal of fashion, but since we don’t have photographs, of course, we’ve got to rely a little bit on the extremities of figure that are shown in caricatures.  When we blend the ideal vs the extreme, I’m sure somewhere in the middle is where the average look and silhouette fell.  And, you know, I don’t think that would be as hard to achieve.












increible y maravillosa

Surely, there has to be a midpoint.  In fashion and reality, both had bosoms.  Whether they’re false or real, is up to debate.  But the difference in character or reality below the chest is where they get interesting.  Nearly all the caricatures have a little something in the tummy area.  The fashionable have very slender arms and features, similar to the ideal 1920’s look, but we all know that those were just what was in fashion, not always in reality.  Compare the fashion images with real photographs of real people, and we see the difference.  I’m convinced the same is true of our Regency counterparts.  What makes it so difficult to achieve, except for the very fortunate to already possess that  shape, is the columnar torso below the bust, but the extremely uplifted, almost to the height of armpits, apex (aka nipple point.  Not to be crude, but that’s what it is).  So unnatural, and yet so necessary for this period’s  fashionable silhouette.

Since, for the terms of my reference, I’m looking at a wide scope of time- from 1798-1830ish, since the silhouette was really morphing and changing a lot during this time but retained a somewhat silhouette in the torso (I know, I know, different fullness, things went up and down, but the shape is somewhat similar), consider this from “The Duties of a Lady’s Maid: with Directions for Conduct, and Numberous Receipts for the Toilette” from1825

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 6.17.06 PM

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 6.17.31 PM

And a little later, regarding padding.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 6.19.56 PM

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 6.20.42 PM

If you want to read more, you can find the whole book for free on Google Play.

But, not to help matters any more, on the question of long vs. short stays, I found the following in another book.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 6.37.41 PM

I’m sorry, I didn’t write down the book.  But they didn’t bother answering their own questions anyways.

And, yet again, as an advertisement for a magazine:

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 6.27.48 PM

Apparently, I’m not the only one to question this, and after poking around on the internet, wouldn’t you know I found nearly EXACTLY what I envisioned in my head on the Kleidung Um 1800 blog?  Go give it a read.  She quotes exactly what I found in my copy of The Ladies Stratagem, so I don’t have to re-write it here, and her version of stays she made based on her research is superb.


This extant set of stays (above) is what I pictured, but I thought of front vs back lacing, and I don’t want a crossover back or wrap around ties, except if doing so means you can lace yourself.  I think the wrap versions were more for undress, or sleep stays.  But I haven’t found much out about those yet in my research, so I may be mistaken.

But then comes the “to tab or not to tab” question…



Sigh.  There’s just too many options.  I guess I need to decide if I’m going for earlier or later Regency.  The drawing is later, 1820s.  The one below is “transitional”, 1790s.  Tabs seem somewhat old fashioned by the mid-late Regency.  Plus, they’re more work.  But they do look really nifty, and if I want to pad the back, it would lend very well to doing so.


There’s just way too many options.

I created a Pinterest board, which has sources for most of the images above.  I don’t own any of these images, just have been finding them online and been using them for research.

I had so much more I was going to post about, on my thoughts of extant stays, stays vs. corset vs. bodice, etc.  But this post is already longer than I thought, so I’m signing off for now.