"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".

Saturday, 25 June 2016

One down, a dozen or so to go!

57 days to go and the corset is complete.

Front view an the mannequin

The finishing touches included binding the top and bottom of the corset, stitching the flossing (decorative stitches that help keep the boning in place) and neatening and finishing all of the edges inside the corset.

I used strips of blue linen cut on the bias (diagonally across the material to allow some stretch) to bind the edges of the corset. These strips were hand-stitched to the corset from the outside and then folded over and slip-stitched to the inside to cover and reinforce the raw edges.

Applying the linen binding to the edges of the corset
Then, once all of the loose edges had been carefully stitched down on the inside of the corset, it was time for the flossing. The term flossing refers to embroidery stitches used specifically on corsets that were designed to keep the bones in place and prevent them from moving around and poking through the fabric of the corset. As well as this practical function, they were also highly decorative and used to enhance the aesthetic appearance of corset, especially when worked in contrasting colours. For an excellent tutorial on how to create flossing stitches visit Sidney Eileen.com

An example of decorative flossing stitches on an original corset, 1893-97, Glasgow Museums, PP.2002.8.13_02
The flossing on my corset was worked using the same cotton floss as the other embroidery. The criss-crossed stitches cradle the end of each bone and extend up the sides to hold them firmly in their channels. These stitches are worked right through all the layers of the corset.

Flossing at the lower edge of the corset
And finally, fully laced with 7m of cotton lacing, the corset is ready to be worn. The next step in the project will now be to complete the petticoats. It is important to have all of the layers of underwear in place before starting the outer garments as Victorian clothes were very tight fitting. For gowns to be able to hug the figure and lie smoothly, very careful measurements should always be taken over the underwear to ensure a perfect fit.

A back view of the corset lacing

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