"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

The completed embroidery

67 days to go and the embroidery on the corset is complete.

As well as the bust gores, five of the six panels on each side feature embroidered motifs in blue, cream and rust coloured threads. These colours were inspired by the palette of the original examples shown in this post and the motifs are also borrowed from the extant garments.

One half of the corset, embroidered and ready to go
I deliberately chose simple stitches that are quick to execute as the limited time for this project meant that I didn't have hours to lavish on handiwork that will not be seen by the majority of the people I will meet when in costume. Queen Victoria would certainly not have been wondering about with her corset on show!

The bust gore motif is worked in chain stitch

The hearts are worked (top to bottom) with scroll stitch, where a small knot at the end of the stitch creates the scroll effect; whipping stitch, which involves couching a thread to the surface of the fabric and then wrapping another thread around it; and feather stitch.

The flowers were embroidered with a simple "lazy daisy" stitch each with a french knot in the centre.

The branches feature stem stitch for (guess what...) the stems (!) and "lazy daisy" stitch for the leaves. These panels were slightly harder to work as the embroidery spans across a seam and even with just the two pieces joined together the curved effect of the seams means that this piece will not lie flat. This is a good sign though as it means it will curve beautifully over the hips.

This completes all of the embroidery that needs to be stitched before the corset is sewn together. There will also be decorative stitching at the top of the boning channels to complete the design. This special stitching is known as flossing and serves the double purpose of embellishing the corset and helping to keep the bones in place and stop them from poking through the outer fabric of the corset. This stitching is worked last when the all of the bones have been inserted and there are many different designs that can be used.

Examples of different kinds of flossing - a sampler from Sidney Eileen

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