Blue Tudor Gown: Building the Kirtle

The foundation garment for gowns in the 16th century, otherwise known as the Tudor Era, was the kirtle. The structured garment precludes the bodies that were characteristic of the Elizabethan Period, stays from the 17th century up until the advent of the corset in the 19th century onward. The kirtle can be a structured bodice coupled with a petticoat or underskirt that would serve as the window panel for dresses like the Henrician lady’s gown or fashionable French Gowns. In the case of the underskirt, the structured bodice and skirt were joined to make one garment.

Historically comprised of tightly-woven linen and whalebone, the structured bodice created the shape of the period: low, square neckline; lifted bosom; and straight, angled waist. For my kirtle, I use the pattern provided by The Tudor Tailor book.

I transferred the pattern pieces using parchment paper and then scaled using a 1:8 scale as instructed by the book. Fortunately for me, the provided pattern is nearly my base measurements already (bust, waist, hip) but I did end up taking the pattern in by 1″ at the side seams and adjusted the shoulder straps quite a bit from the mockups. I also noted that the pattern would be at least 6″ too long and would address that later when cutting the skirt.

By this point, I had decided to use the navy blue, geometric fabric from the original project for the over-gown and wanted to combine this with a yellow and burgundy floral patterned upholstery fabric I had from a yard sale. The yellow/gold and burgundy/red in the floral pattern was the exact shade of colors as the center of the diamond pattern of the blue fabric and would complement nicer than the silvery gold geometric I originally planned to pair. In addition, the floral was close to being a damask pattern that would’ve been fashionable for the Tudor period. The only flaw in this thinking is that in most reference paintings for the project (see image above), the geometric pattern was usually in the window panel and accents while the floral/damask was used as the main fabric. I was really pleased with the combination though and planned to roll with it.

For the kirtle bodice, I used a mixture of fabrics to give the correct structure and look. The fashion side of the bodice is pieced with navy linen I had on hand ($6 for 6 yards at a rummage sale, score!) and the red/gold floral fabric at the neckline to match the window panel of the skirt. Since the linen was actually quite lightweight and I worried about the integrity of it once boning was added, I interfaced the pieces with scraps of tightly woven cotton. Finally, the interior of the bodice made use of heavy-weight tan linen from a drapery clearance.

The bodice is constructed of a front and back with the straps extending from the back to the front. I opted for two side closures rather than a single back lace-up since it would allow me to lace myself into the garment. The side closures also will allow the garment to adjust size easier. I cut the panels in the blue linen, minus 2″ for the pieced neckline, plus 1/2″ for seam allowance. The 2″ strip of floral was then cut and stitched in place.

In this image, the back panel has been cut into two pieces with a center back seam. I felt this would be easier since I was adding the pieced neckline in the floral fabric. Stitching the floral to blue and then center back seam was MUCH easier than attempting a mitered seam if the back were all one piece.
Here is the back panel with the center back seam. My seams with the pieces got a tad funky and caused the center back to not line up exactly, but I had given myself a generous seam allowance and was able to just trim and blend between the two sections.
Both the front and back panels were interlined with cotton and flatlined with tan linen. I made sure to only stitch the sides and bottom, leaving the top open for insertion of the bones.

To finish off the back panels, two 1/4″ boning channels were added at the center back and one on each side seam to support the eyelets that would be added.

The boning structure on the front panel was a bit more complicated. The front is fully boned (or cord if you prefer) under the bust. I used the grid from The Tudor Tailor pattern to plot out the bust curve and edge of the boning sections by marking the center of the front panel and then marking outward equivalent to the ratio on the grid (1 grid = 1″). The grid was also used to determine the bottom location of the angle lines.

With the outlines in place, the boning channels were stitched based on a 1/4″ spacing offset from the center and two angles, creating three distinct boning sections:

Here it is with the ungodly amount of bones.

I was actually shocked by how flexible the bodice was with this method. Since all of the bones are vertical, or at a slight angle, the bodice wraps nicely around the front of the body. It provides a good stomach structure and bust support without feeling cinched in. Surprisingly comfortable!

With the panels and boning finished, the straps were stitched to the front panel and all edges were surged to prevent fraying. There was a bit of finessing the fit of the straps when stitching in place and I found using a mannequin much faster than on myself. Nest, I added a strip of navy piping to the neckline edge before folding all the edges over and whip stitching down by hand.

The side seams have spiral lacing with 1/4″ embroidered eyelets. I spaced the eyelets 1″ apart and used bright contrasting burgundy embroidery floss for the stitches. Why not add a pop of interest, they would be covered by the overgown anyway.

Structure completed, it was time to add some shine to the bodice. The area of the kirtle with the pieced floral fabric would be visible under the main gown. In paintings I looked at, the kirtle has a row of gems, pearls, or other embellishments along this area.

The neckline is finished with a row of large gems and pearls placed symmetrically

The skirt of the gown is relatively simple, and yet a place I made many errors. I had very little of the floral patterned fabric to work with; however, since I am short, I was able to cut back on the required yardage significantly. Perks of being fun-sized! I also did a bit of patching to make it work. Little did I know when cutting, that I had accidentally cut the piece on the fold with the fold going the wrong way. Luckily, the bottom hem is relatively square, but the seam with the bodice is not and this caused a lot of issues with how the skirt hangs. Even with cutting back to create the point, it still isn’t quite right. But, I only had just so much fabric and had to make it work.

An example of the piecing done on the skirt. This piece is at the bottom hem, side seam, and would be almost never seen, but less obvious.

The second major mistake was fabric choice for the unseen portion of the skirt. The yellow floral fabric is very stiff, and I needed something of similar weight so it wouldn’t get all funky. I chose a “linen-look alike” drapery fabric that I thought was on clearance at Joann. A lesson to check labels carefully. The roll I had grabbed was on sale, but the backup the sales associate grabbed when the first roll ran out, was not. I ended up paying full price on not-so-great quality fabric. It did its job, but certainly didn’t look or feel as good as it should’ve for the price. I often use fabrics not for their intended purposes (upholstery for apparel for example), but they are usually similar enough and the only way to get the look I want at the price point I can justify. I should’ve taken my time and found the right material rather than settling for the first thing that was slightly doable and then regretting it as soon as I cut it out.

Overall, the fabric was too heavy. Stitching the two fabrics together was no problem, but once the back of the skirt was pleated, stitching to the bodice was a hand-breaking nightmare.

To make the knife pleats, I measured and marked the pleat lines from the pattern and drew arrows to remind myself which line would be pulled where. My pleats were about 2″ each with 9 pleats on each side of the center back.
Once marked and folded, each pleat is pinned in place and basted with sturdy upholstery or buttonhole thread. The basting stitches can be seen on the front panel in yellow. I made three rows of stitching for the back panel due to the weight and amount of handling I knew would be necessary for attaching to the bodice.

The front and back panels are stitched together up to approximately 8″ below the waistline. The skirt and bodice are stitched together by machine using heavy upholstery thread again to support the weight of the skirt. The areas left open on the side seams of the skirt allow the wearer space to get in and out of the gown as well as the addition of pockets in the future.

Skirt stitched to the bodice, the garment is hung on Molly the mannequin and the hem is leveled to hit at the ankle bone. This is a bit high for the period, but my reduction in height and forgetting to account for seam allowance at the waist brought my hem higher than brushing the toes. In the grand scheme, this is likely for the best since I’ll be less likely to trip on the front hem now. To finish the hem, I create bias tape from a navy silk ribbon found at Joann’s on clearance. It is probably the most expensive bias tape I’ve ever used in my life, but it looks absolutely flawless when applied. To conserve the use of this material, I switch to a polyester satin blanket binding for the hem along the tan linen section of the skirt.

And that is it! After some careful pressing of the waist seam, surging of the last unfinished seams and lacing up the side seams, the foundation garment is complete. With this, the over-gown can be fit tested and work can start there!

Making a set of Elizabethan Bodies

While working on a Tudor era gown, I was struggling with fit issues on an unstructured gown. The key there is “unstructured”. My modern body technically fit the gown, but my posture and shape wasn’t quite right for the historical bodice. I opted to make a pair of bodies (pre-cursor to stays which were the pre-cursor to corsets) in an attempt to give the proper historical shape.

There are people out there who have studied costume history who are much better prepared to explain why and how different body shapes were created throughout history. But I highly recommend The Tudor Tailor for explanations of the slight variations of fit and structure throughout the Tudor period of historical dress. The book is fabulous, both for the many patterns included and the details pertaining to fabric, cut, and period techniques. For this project, I am using the Dorthea Bodies pattern from The Tudor Tailor which are reproduced from museum garments from the Elizabethan period.

The first step was to trace and scale the pattern so I could begin making mock ups and fitting. This pattern is on a 1:8 grid which means that 1″ on the book page is equal to 8″ for the full scale pattern. This can also be thought of as 1 square on the book page was equal to 1″ for full scale. I like to use the radial method of scaling where I trace the pattern, tape it to my final pattern paper, and mark points for the final pattern from one point in the corner. I use a tape measure and yard stick to do this by marking points along a straight line equal to the tracing paper measurement times 8.

To start, the traced piece is taped to a corner (I like right angles) and markings are made along straight lines radiating from the corner equal to the distance from the corner to the point on the tracing paper x8.
As the outer bounds of the pattern are marked and connected, the interior details can be added.

Scaling a pattern using this method is like creating a giant connect the dots. It takes quite a bit of focus, especially on areas with curves. I make enough points to accurately mark my lines and will then go back to the book pattern and count squares to confirm the pattern is correct. You’ll want to start in pencil since you will make mistakes and then go back later in pen and marker for the final pattern.

The interior details, in this case the boning channels, are made by completing the outline of their placement and then filling in the boning channels based on the size of bones you are using. I planned to use 1/4″ synthetic whalebone (plastic) and mark my channels as a scant 3/8″.

Once the pattern is is drafted, I started on the mockups and fittings. I am lucky in that my measurements were close enough to the pattern model to start from the book pattern without adjustment initially. The first mockup confirmed my suspicions that the bust needed adjusting (typical for me) and that the straps were too long, and too straight. For the second version, I used a french curve to adjust the strap curves so they sit farther on my shoulder points.

This process took THREE mockups to get right since my first attempt made the straps too curved and then not enough on the second try. Third time was the charm. With the third mockup, I also swapped the eyelet closures to be at the front rather than the back since I prefer front lacing. Back lacing is too difficult for me to lace myself that if I can avoid it, I do.

Pattern finished, I could cut my fabric pieces. I planned to use the sandwich method for making my boning channels since all the channels are parallel straight lines. The sandwich method also meant so I would not need a lining or twill tape. In the end, I used three layers: coutil, cotton, and fashion fabric. The outside (fashion) fabric I chose is a brown and teal cotton, but wasn’t strong enough on its own for the boning channels. I used a scrap green cotton as interlining to add structure to the fashion fabric for the boning channels.

Next, the outside fabric and cotton interlining are basted together before stitching the side seams for the basted layers and coutil. The side seams are pressed open and boning channels are marked. I make all my pattern markings after pressing seams since I use water soluble markers that disappear with heat and steam.

Here you can see the seam at the center back of the interlining. I only had 1/2 yard of the material and had to cut the back panel as two pieces and stitch together before flat lining with the outer fabric. Pretty easy way to conserve fabric, especially for patterns like this that have odd long sections (straps) that don’t fit well on yardage together for economic cutting.

With wrong sides together, the outer layer and inner coutil layers are basted together. I am leaving the neckline at the bust and center back open to allow for insertion of the bones. Since I shifted the lacing to the front, I adjust the boning channels to have 1 channel at the edge, 1/2″ space for the eyelets, and then back to the boning spacing. Adding a bone between the eyelets and the center edge gives structure and prevents the eyelets from stretching individually.

The boning channels are marked both on the inside and outside of the garment since I would be attempting to hand sew the channels with metallic thread.

Prior to stitching the channels, I added a few pad stitches throughout the channel area to ensure the fabrics didn’t shift or bunch while making the channels. I did these in a bright thread for easy removal later.

The outline of the boning channels is stitched with a backstitch for strength at the bottom of the channel which take excess strain. The channels themselves are also backstitched, but with a much longer stitch length for speed.
The interior of the bodies with basting stitches and final boning channels stitched.

As I’ve said, I often struggle with fitting the bust of garments and one of the major problems with the unstructured gown the bodies were intended to go with is that the bust is too large and cannot be easily modified due to beadwork. Since the bodies have the underbust supported by bones and bust soft, I left the excess material and padded it to assist with the right shape for the gown. I had a pair of shoulder pads on hand from a clearance rack and trimmed these to use as padding. They were honestly super for this purpose since the shoulder pads are tapered to have more padding on one edge and less on the opposite. I fudged the trimmed shoulder pads so that the thicker side would be at the bottom of the cup, providing support.

The uncut shoulder pad on the left and trimmed piece to the right.
The top of the boning channels are backstitched to prevent the bones from popping out and the pads are roughly pad stitched to prevent the coutil from gapping.

The edges are finished by trimming away the seam allowance to the basted stitching lines and application of bias tape along the neckline and waistline. The center front was surged and folded back rather than having bias tape interrupt my hard work to pattern match the center front.

Edges finished, the last steps were to embroider eyelets to the center front closure and add the tabs to the waist. For the eyelets, I decided on a criss-cross style rather than spiral lacing because . . . math is hard and I just could not make spiral lacing work. For this, the eyelets are placed parallel to each other. To embroider them, I create the holes with a tailors awl, baste stitch a guide circle around the opening with regular thread, and then stitch them with two strands of embroidery floss. Stitches start from the back with a knot, then wrap up through the opening to the thread is through, but the needle passes back down the hole and out the fabric (from inside out) at the guide stitch line. The embroidery thread wraps around the needle point before being pulled through to make a nice, neat, stitch. This continues around the opening to create the finished eyelet.

Finished eyelets at the front of the bodies, laced with white paracord (because it’s cheap!)

I deviated from the Tudor Tailor’s instructions a tad for the tabs. Rather than binding them, I cut my tabs with seam allowance and stitched the front and linings with right sides together, clipped the seam allowance, and turned them out with the top edges raw. This isn’t necessarily right or wrong, but I was to the point of wanting to move faster and get the project done, and this was quicker. I also added a layer of scrap home d├ęcor fabric sandwiched between the layers to give structure to the tabs. I whip stitched the top edge of tabs with the raw edges turned in for a quick finish. With 8 tabs in total, I generally spaced 4 on each side area of the waist and stitched in place to finish.

The finished tabs with whip stitching at the top.
Arranging the tabs was a tad of a process. Looking back, because I adjusted the sizing of the bodies themselves for my waist, I should’ve made more tabs or widened them to fit the final garment better. It’s not a great finish with gaps between them, but they’re done.

Lovely shape and relatively straightforward process, I am quite pleased with how these turned out and how surprisingly comfortable they are. I attempted to wear them with the unstructured gown in question and unfortunately did not see an improvement in the fit or shape. I’ll still wear these for other garments in the future and am proud of how they turned out, but they did not fulfill the intended purpose.

Honestly, I’m really not pleased with the odd fitting garment for more reasons than just the fit. Since I’ve had the last year to improve my skills and have now read The Tudor Tailor, I plan to restart the overall Tudor gown project with a new pattern in hopes that a second go, with the right materials and skills, will lead to a better outcome.

Edwardian Corset & Chemise: M7915 Pattern Review

Amidst the darkness of the past year with theatres and events canceled, I was blessed to receive the vaccine and be able to join a small theatre group on their first in-person production. Though the show would be filmed and shown virtually, the cast met in person for safe distance rehearsals. I was cast as Mrs. Juno in the short play Overruled by George Bernard Shaw, a passionate woman who has taken a vacation from her husband with her lover only to find herself at the same seaside resort as him and his new lover. It is a silly little comedy of manners set in Edwardian England.

The costume designer informed us that we would need to purchase corsets for the production. I was between sewing projects at the time, knew I had all the materials I would need to build a corset in my stash, and asked if I would be able to build my own rather than purchasing. Thankfully, they trusted me to take on the project! The costumer gave me a few suggestions of the style they were recreating from 1911 images and directed me to start with McCall’s pattern M7915 from Angela Clayton’s collection.

She also followed up with the suggestion I also make the dress for the costume, but more on that later!

I fortunately already had the pattern in my stash from a $1.99 pattern sale and was able to start work right away.

The Chemise

For the chemise, I followed the pattern relatively closely. I did, however, take a few liberties when it came to the lace portions and skipped much of the handwork that would have given the garment the delicacy that Angela has in her original design. With the timeline in mind, I went for speed and comfort over precision.

The chemise is constructed of Egyptian cotton, scavenged from a set of white, full-sized sheets. I had this material with my cotton, squirreled away from some relative, for future use as mockup material. Until this moment, I hadn’t realized how fine the material was. It has a spectacular softness while being able to pleat and iron nicely to give crisp seams.

Divine chef’s kiss

Along with the cotton, I selected a collection of complementary bright white lace to use as needed throughout. I wasn’t planning this project as much as I normally do. I instead grabbed lace that looked pretty while still being soft and ran with it. The process was strangely freeing, but in the end, not as clean as I would have liked.

I deviated from the pattern in the application of the laces which should be done as insertion style. For speed and since no one but me and you, reader, would see the garment, I opted to simply apply the lace either as applique style, tucked into seams or between pleats. This gives the illusion of the insertion lace from Edwardian times but is not done very cleanly. The waistband is the only place with insertion lace which was added to prefinished seams (bias tape bound) rather than the insertion method.

The nearly completed garment with lace insets and pleats with cheater method insertion lace at the waistband.

For a pop of color, I used jacquard ribbon at the neckline of the chemise and wove red satin ribbon into the waistband lace. The red satin ribbon also had the wonderful purpose of acting as a tie and adjustment point for the tightness of the waistband.

I’m proud of how the garment turned out as a whole and how comfortable it is, but I’m not very proud of where I cut corners for time’s sake (bias tape instead of rolled hems, lace applique rather than insertion, etc). I plan to attempt this pattern again with more care in the future and make a sweet summer lace and cotton dress with true insertion lace technique.

The Corset

I struggle with self-fitting corsets and knew I’d need a decent amount of time to adjust the pattern to my measurements. I cut the tissue pieces based on my waist, bust, and hip measurements which required me to blend between the three different sizes I am for each while cutting. Not a particularly precise process, so I erred on the side of caution towards the larger sizes as necessary.

My first mockup was cut from tightly woven cotton so I could make the first check on general fit. It stretched a bit of course but was a quick and cheap way to figure out the major issues right away. Rather than spending time inserting a busk with each mockup, I used a standard zipper for quick fitting.

Overall, the pattern needed to be taken in at nearly every seam in some capacity. This tells me that the pattern allowed for ease rather than the cinching effect of a properly made corset. This makes for comfortable wear or costume for a modern wearer, providing the illusion of shape, but wouldn’t give me the support and cinching I needed for the full torso corset style of the period. I made the initial adjustments to the pattern tissue and recut a mockup from outdoor fabric which I buy on clearance at the end of seasons since it doesn’t stretch in any direction and can give a better mockup fit.

An example of the adjustments to the first mockup where at minimum 1/4″ was taken in at the side panel seams to remove the ease plus additional alterations for my body shape.

There were a few more adjustments to be made here, primarily because I forgot that the pattern tissue has specific seams that call for 1″ seam allowance rather than the standard 5/8″ that I missed when sewing quickly. These are here since the pattern calls for 1/2″ steel boning and the channels would be created by the seam allowance, but as someone who sews fairly quickly, I prefer for the seams to all be consistent and to make boning channels from twill tape. That is a personal preference though. I also planned to use 1/4″ synthetic whalebone rather than steel boning since it was what I had on hand.

With making the second mockup adjustments, and adding the temporary boning to test the fit, I felt confident to move forward cutting my final garment fabric. Looking back at the final fit, I wish I had spent more time checking the length of the garment. I have a shorter than average torso and assumed the excess at the bottom of the corset was part of the hip cinch that was characteristic of the period. However, it was far TOO much and even the boning channels were too long, which caused the corset to ride up when I sat down during the show. Not comfortable, but forced me to be better about my posture.

For making the final corset, I used the following supplies:

  • 1 yard beige coutile
  • 1 1/2 yard vintage jacquard
  • 1 yard twill tape
  • 20 yards 1/4″ synthetic whalebone
  • 13″ busk
  • vintage lace
  • embroidery floss

In constructing the mockups, I followed the pattern instructions as closely as I could. They were fairly straightforward, though a bit over the top in explanation if you’ve made a corset before but likely confusing if this was your first go. In the final garment, I went rouge and followed my own methods, though this essentially matched the steps of the pattern.

The first step was to baste the coutil and jacquard pieces together for all pieces except for the front panels which would be seamed for the busk. After basting, I finished the edges with a serger to prevent any fraying since I would be doing a lot of handling of the pieces. I also serged the jacquard of the front panels.

Once fraying had been eliminated, construction began at the front with the busk. This was the point where I followed the pattern instructions to a T: placing the busk on the top/bottom markings and marking the studs and hooks, stitching a standard seam for the coutil and jacquard leaving gaps for the hooks, creating holes at the stud marks with my awl and fray check (smells terrible but works great!), inserting each side, checking alignment, and stitching along the side of each from top to bottom to hold each in place securely.

With the busk installed, the front panels were pressed again and basted. The panels were sewn together from front to back and the seams were pressed open in preparation for boning channels. With the curves of the seams, my tailor’s ham got quite the work out to nicely press all the seams and later to shape the bones into place.

The gusset in the side front (panel 15) was a tad tricky to figure out and I opted for a cheater method:

The back panels were finished by folding and pressing 2″ for the finish. I only folded once since the edge of the material was finished by the surging and an additional fold would add excessive bulk I wanted to avoid.

Panels complete, the waist is reinforced by applying twill tape. I basted the twill tape along the waistband and whip stitch the ends in place to finish. The basted stitches are in a bright thread for ease of removal later since the tape will be secured by the boning channel stitches.

Channels are stitched using the seam lines as guidelines for the scant 3/8″ channels. These were done on the machine with the bobbin tension checked to ensure my bobbin thread was neat since this would be shown on the front of the final garment. This could also be done with the fashion side facing up on the machine, but takes a bit of finesse to ensure your seam allowance doesn’t get caught into tucks or puckers underneath. This can also be said about the fashion fabric and bobbin thread of course.

The completed construction with boning channels and approximate locations of boning. The bones were melded to the correct shape with high steam while pressing over a tailor’s ham.

I transferred the boning channel length markings from the pattern tissue to the garment and began the process of flossing. I used a simple pattern of crossing threads to form the weaving pattern. It took a bit of experimenting on scrap fabric to get a spacing that I liked and to realize I’d also need to weave the thread between stitches to create the full effect. Overall, I did not mark any of the stitch distances, but used the channel stitches as a grid to follow.

A few of my experimental flossing techniques with the leftmost pattern being the final pattern to follow.
  1. The first cross would start at the bottom center of the channel and go in 6 stitches above left.
  2. Next would stitch would be from center to 6 stitches above right. The pattern continues
  3. Start just right of center to 7 stitches above left
  4. Start just left of center, weave under thread #1 and over thread #3, end 7 stitches above right.
  5. Start half way to the right edge of the boning channel and one stitch length up, weave under #2 and over #4, end 10 stitches above and left.
  6. Start mirror #5 to the left, weave over #1, under #3 and over #5; end 10 stitches above right
  7. Start just right and above of #5; weave over #2, under #4, and over #6; end 11 stitches above left
  8. Start just left and above of #6; weave under #1, over #3, under #5 and over #7; end 11 stitches above right.
  9. Complete the flossing by tying off the thread at the back of the garment
This method can be adjusted for a tighter or coarser look, adding more or less stitches or changing the type of thread (buttonhole thread also works well, leather cording would give a unique texture!). I used two strands of embroidery floss for added visual weight.

The bones cut the bones to match the length of the channels from the flossed points to the top, subtracting 1/2″ to allow for bias tape to be added. . Since these are synthetic whalebone (plastic), they’re easy to cut to length and then shape the ends with an emery board to keep them from poking through your stitching later. I prefer synthetic whalebone because it is easier to work with, but steel is much stronger and will give a smoother, long-lasting curve, especially for a full torso corset like this that will take a lot of strain from sitting and bending at the hips. I buy boning online in 15 yard rolls and cut as needed.

The corset is finished by adding bias tape, grommets, and lace. I used bias tape made from the jacquard but folded so the wrong side faces outwards to give a slight contrast. I applied the tape by hand on top for a smooth finish, but used a machine to stitch the bottom due to timing. Not ideal, but a quick way to finish the bottom edge with a bit of lace tucked in.

Standard grommets were applied as instructed in the packet and I left them as the bare gold metal since it both complemented the design and would be accurate with the period. Once worn, I am a bit disappointed with the placement of the grommets. There are two close together in the middle of the back (where the waistline should be) over which the lacing creates loops which allow the wearer to self tighten the corset. However, these were a tad high for my waistline, likely due to the corset being overall too long and shifting upward on my torso when worn which in turn would cause the loops to be high. The point where the loops form tends to be the tightest point of the corset since this is where the tightening originates when self lacing.

The final corset and chemise combo

As said before, overall it is a very nice, straightforward pattern. It is easy enough to follow for a beginner to corset making, but requires some knowledge of techniques and language from corsetry. To someone unfamiliar with these terms or quick tricks, the language in the instructions could be a bit odd in places.

I found myself going rogue after the first mockup since it is a relatively simple construction to do. The main issue I stumbled on in the instructions were specifics on boning lengths which were not very clear. But I was extremely appreciative of the step by step instructions for installing the busk, a skill that was introduced to me with this project.

Looking back, I would have changed the overall length to match my shorter torso and I would also have added more boning channels, though this might not be necessary with stronger steel bones. After wearing the garment for rehearsals and the show itself, the side panels warped quite a bit while not keeping as nice of a shape as I would’ve liked. Additional boning in the largest side panels would’ve helped with this issue.

Overall, I applaud McCalls and Angela on creating a relatively straightforward historical pattern. I’d love to see more like this in various eras of styles.