"Becoming Victoria"

I am honoured and excited to have been invited by the Llandrindod Wells Victorian Festival committee to appear as a young Queen Victoria at this year's festival from 22nd-28th August 2016. In preparation for this role I will be designing and making the costumes for the young queen over the coming months. These will be authentic reproductions of the fashions of the early years of Victoria's reign and will include a range of 1840s women's garments from corsets and petticoats to day dresses, ball gowns and bonnets. This blog will document and share my progress as I research, design and stitch each element to reveal the secrets of "Becoming Victoria".

Friday, 17 June 2016

Cording a corset

 66 days to go...

As well as rigid boning, cording is an age old method for stiffening fabric to create structure in garments. It involves sandwiching a thin cord between two layers of fabric held in place inside closely stitched channels to create raised ridges in the surface of the fabric. This method was widely used in the nineteenth century for stiffening both corsets and petticoats. It also serves a double purpose by creating visual interest and was often used decoratively as well as practically especially on early Victorian corsets.

Corded corset in the V&A Collections, 1825-1835
For this project, I decided to combine steel boning to support the seam lines with cording. In particular the back panel features diagonal and horizontal cording that was inspired by the 1844 corset shown in Norah Waugh's "Corsets and Crinolines" (Waugh, Routledge/Theatre Arts Books, 1954, p77).

I inserted the cording by stitching a single line through the outer shell and lining. I then placed the corded in position and pushed it as snugly against the stitching as I could with my thumbnail. Then, still using my nail to keep the cord in place, I sewed the other side of the channel as close the cord as as possible using the zipper foot on the machine. This worked like a dream and the corset now has beautifully corrugated sections.

Sewing the cording into position
The completed back panels

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