Author: lacedunlaced

This blog has come about through my love of historical clothing particularly corsets and stays. Over the years I've taken hundreds of images at garment archives/museums and of my own personal collection of historical corsets. The main purpose of the blog is to catalogue my research and present detailed studies of the articles. From my own collection I've also been able to take patterns from the garments with the intention of making reproductions. I graduated from De Montfort University with a MA (Hons) in Fashion Bodywear and BA (Hons) in Contour Fashion Please feel free to comment on my posts All Images unless stated are my own so please credit this blog if you wish to republish any!. NOTE I have added my own watermark but feel free to contact me should you wish to see/use unedited images

C1941/42 AVRO LACED BACK CORSET WITH BELT (UTILITY) PART 1

Summary: Avro laced back corset with belt

Maker: Avro

Model: UB902F Utility 1941/1942

Place of Origin: Britain C1941/42

Materials and Techniques: Cotton Coutil, rayon elastic inserts, metal eyelets, steel

Outer: Two part corset comprising of 5 panels either side in a single layer of coutil. It has a split front busk and lacing at the centre back supported each side with two bones of flat steel. The centre front and centre back panels are faced. Seams are backed with single casings of herringbone weave tape encasing the boning. The top and lower edges are bound in a ribbon tape.

Inner: The corset features A deep underbelt with wide elastic panels attached into the side seams of the outer corset. It features a hook and eye fastening at the front that sits directly beneath the busk.

The underbelt is constructed with a double layer of coutil which sandwiches the woven elastic panels. The additional underbelt in the garment would have been constricting, providing firm support to the abdomen and flattening the stomach.

The corset features 2 sets of 28mm suspender joining the outer and inner corsets with metal suspenders and adjusters.

21.5cm Busk

19 sets of eyelets spaced 2cm apart

Construction:

The corset is machine stitched  (13 stitches per Inch). The panels are joined together using the felled seam method encasing all the raw edge and pushing the seam toward the back. The seams have a double row of stitching. 18mm bone casings are applied to the inside of the garment. The front two bone channels do not follow the panel shape stitched down vertically instead.
The corset is boned using flat steels either side of the eyelets at the centre back and wide 9/10mm spiral steels in the bone casings. The spiral steels do not finish the entire length of the bone channel providing some ease of movement for the wearer

Dimensions

Cf depth: 34.5CM CB depth 37cm

Waist circumference 26″: Hip: 35″

Label:

UR170G, Avro Corsetry- UB902F, Laced back corset with belt, Specification 9033, Type 3, Size assortments, 26 x 32, 33 x 36

UTILITY CLOTHING

The Utility scheme was introduced toward the end of 1941 in response to the shortage of raw materials and labour for the war effort. Utility clothing was marked with the CC41 ‘controlled commodity’ mark. The mark meant the item met the governments austerity regulations and assured customers that the clothes were reasonably priced and of good quality.

The board of trade sponsored the creation of several ranges of utility clothing which were subject to austerity regulations. They restricted the amount of cloth, type of decoration and also the amount of time for manufacture. (Limitation of supplies cloth and apparel order 1941).

These restrictions also applied to the manufacture of corsetry. Steel that would have been used for corsets was used in favour for munitions. As men went to war women replaced mens roles in the the factories and the demand for practical clothing grew.

With regulations in place and CC41 marked clothing became popular skirts hems rose. Waists were nipped in conserving fabric for the war effort. Slacks were also worn made popular by the film star Katharine Hepburn. Silk and wool were highly uncommon. Silk was used for parachutes and wool for soldiers blankets. Cotton was also rationed though not so heavily. Rayon became the number one choice of fabric for the 40’s as it was readily available and relatively inexpensive.

To further economise, the Making of Civilian Clothing (restriction orders) was passed in 1942. This forbade wasteful cutting of clothes and set list of restrictions that Tailors and dressmakers had to work to. For example, dresses could have no more than 2 pockets, 5 buttons, 6 seams in a skirt, 2 inverted or box pleats or 4 knife pleats and no more than 4 metres of stitching. No unnecessary decoration was allowed.

The term ‘Utility’ became synonymous with austerity shortages and rationing.

(1900-1910) CORSET ADVERTISEMENT: ROYAL WORCESTER & BON TON CORSETS

 

Corset adverts are a great visual source for understanding the corset silhouette and individual panel shapes that are often hard to determine in garment photographs.

The Royal Worcester Corset company of  Worcester Massachusetts was established in 1861 by David Hale Fanning and flourished until his death in 1957. The company were makers of the famous Bon Ton, Royal Worcester and Adjusto corsets understanding that women required different styles depending on body frame.

The following adverts and illustrations are for the Bon Ton range.

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“BON TON corsets are the truest expression of every corset virtue- the highest achievement in the art of modern corsetry. Every wearer of the BON TON corset is the proud possessor of a wealth of style, health, comfort and symmetry.”

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“THE PRINCESS HIP: Assures correct fit in gowning giving also grace and comfort 

DOWAGER Style 600: The only corset made that will properly reduce stout figures to correct proportions”

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Further Information

D.H Fanning corset patent No 208517 date 1878 here.

D. H Fanning corset patent No USRE8663 Date 1879  here.

1878 H.S. STRAUSS PATENT 208049

Initially when I came across this patent found here, I liked the simplicity of the pattern pieces with the multiple rows of stitching and bone channels used in the bust area. I was most intrigued however by the unique shaped bone pocket (seen in figure  9) that would be applied to the exterior of the garment.

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PATENT OBSERVATIONS

PART 2: THE LETTERS

  • In the drawings, Figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 represent the several patterns of which the base of each half of the corset is composed. Fig. 8 represents one-half of the corset expanded, but without perspective shading, the dotted lines indicating the seams. Fig. 9 represents the hip-piece cl enlarged, and also a portion of the piece (1 broken away, showing the bones and the under seam.

CUTTING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Each half of the body of the corset is composed, first, of seven patterns, as shown in the drawings, numbered 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. In cutting these patterns, Nos. 1 and 7 may be doubled by folding the material on their outer straight edges. Nos. 2, 3, and 6 consist of two pieces each, cut to the same pattern, while No. 208,049, dated September 17, 1878 application filed June 26, 1878.
  • N 0s. 4 and 5 may be single or double, as de sired. The pattern Fig. lhas the usual hooks, and the pattern Fig. 7 has the usual eyelets.

CONSTRUCTION NOTES

  • When the pockets are formed in the several patterns 1 2 3 6 7 all the several patterns are sewedtogether. The best way of sewing them together is as follows: The edge of Fig. 2 (shown inthe drawingnearest to Fig.1) is sewed to Fig. 1 on the edge nearest to it. These pieces Figs. 1 and 2 are laid together sothatthe sides of said pieces which are on the inside of the corset when the corset is finished will face each other, and the edges of the parts are thus on the outside of the corset when the parts are expanded, and the inside of the corsetis smooth, the seams being what are called hidden seams. All the patterns are thus sewed together, the edge of the piece of each higher number (shown in the drawing nearest the lower number) being sewed to the edge of the lower number nearest to it. When all the The pockets formed in the 5 seven patterns Figs. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 have been thus sewed together, the shape of the whole forms one-half of a corset so shaped as to make the form desired.
  • The hip-piece d, Fig. 9, is a narrow strip, with its sides parallel about one-half its greatest length, with a gore-shaped or flaring lower part, having pockets for bones of decreasing length, as shown in Figs. 8 and 9. This piece at is sewed over the outer side of the corset, so that the seam connecting patterns Figs. 4 and 5 comes under it at or about the heavy dotted line shown in Figs. 8 and 9 by the letters 0 o. This piece, while giving shape to that portion of the corset, also serves as a protection or shield for the hips, upon which the outer garments may lie.

HISTORY

CORSETS OF 1878

1887

American corset found at the Metropolitan Musuem (USA) is dated at around 1878. The upper edge is cut flat across the bust and the front lower finishes over the hips slanting to a deep V shape. The corset similarly to the patent appears to feature multiple boning by rows of parallel stitching creating the channels. Bust gores give this corset extra shape.The decorative stitches (flossing) at the lower edge prevent the boning from forcing its way out of the channels. The corset is finished with a deep lace along the upper edge.

light blue silk corset with flossing 1870-1885

American corset dated 1870-1885 found at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston USA (Accession number 201:616). Constructed from light blue silk the corset features a straight busk front with double gusset at the breast. Heavily boned all the way around the corset has multiple rows of stitching sandwiching whalebone between the layers of fabric. The gussets also appear to be corded providing additional shaping and support to the bust area.  Decorative flossing is used in white contrast thread to hold the bones at both upper and lower edges.

Pattern Draft:

My  first pattern draft based on my measurements. I enlarged the pattern pieces of the patent as a rough base for the piece shapes amending each piece accordingly. I renamed this pieces as follows from left to right CENTRE FRONT, FRONT, SIDE FRONT, SIDE, SIDE BACK, BACK, CENTRE BACK

I realised when I made up a toile of the pattern I needed to increase the body length of the entire corset pattern from the over bust to waist by 2cm. I extended the pattern from the waist and reshaped the pieces.

PRE CONSTRUCTION
Prior to commencing construction there were a few preparation stages (not photographed) beginning with the fabric cutting. I chose a dove grey spot broche coutil. I liked the sturdiness of the fabric which would be suitable for the single layed panels.

  • Cut a double layer of coutil for the CENTRE FRONT/ FRONT/ SIDE FRONT/CENTRE BACK  (2 pairs)
  • Cut a single layer of coutil for the SIDE/ SIDE BACK/ BACK (1 pair)
  • CUT a single layer of coutil for the additional bone pocket (1 pair)
  • I prepared all the bone casings. I cut strips of the coutil of approx 36mm wide (following the selvedge) I Used a tape maker to make 18mm bone casings. 5mm spiral steel boning would be used in the double channels

CONSTRUCTION

Inserting the busk: I decided to add a modesty panel behind the busk to stop any flesh showing through the gap of the fastenings. This was created by using a panel of folded coutil and inserting it into the studded side busk seam.

The seams were then joined wrong sides together of the CENTRE FRONT and FRONT panels (double layer together)  The seam was covered externally by the bone channels.  These were positioned centrally over the seam. I edge stitched on either side before using the edge of the foot as a guide to stitch down the centre of the casing to create a double channel.

I then machine stitched rows of channels approx 8mm wide as indicated on the pattern pieces.

The panels were joined in the following order. All the seams joined wrong sides together so seams appear on the garment outer

  • FRONT/SIDE FRONT (double layer of coutil). More rows of stitching creating bones channels following the pattern.
  • SIDE FRONT/SIDE
  • SIDE/SIDE BACK
  • SIDE BACK/BACK
  • BACK/CENTRE BACK

Close up where you can just see the rows of stitching for the bone channels in the front and side front pieces

 

Creating the bone pocket: The bone pocket (figure 9 in the patent) was an additional panel that would be placed over the top of the seam between the SIDE and SIDE back panels. This would strengthen the corset whilst maintaining lightness- using just the single layer of fabric for the SIDE/SIDE BACK/BACK pieces. I developed the pattern by drawing the shape on my initial toile, cutting and retracing  to get the shape.

Toile of the bone pocket. Channels stitched to figure out the number of bones to go in the pocket.

The seams were pressed under on either side before the panel was top stitched into place. Rows of stitching creating channels were made following the front of the pocket.

Rows of stitches were created in the pocket for the boning channels using the machine foot as a guide parallel to the front of the piece.

Boning: Spiral steel bones were cut to length and tipped before being inserted into all the channels. Flat steel bones were used either side of the eyelet channel to provide stability.

There are a total of 50 bones in this corset. A combination of spiral steel and flat steels at the centre back. Over 8 Metres of boning is used.

One half of the corset. A close up showing the boning inserted into the channels.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION STAGES

Binding: I chose a silver raw silk slub fabric binding for the upper and lower edges. The binding was made cutting the fabric on the bias grain and pressed using a 18mm tape maker.

Eyelets: Finally the corset was eyeletted using silver metal eyelets to match the busk. 12 pairs of eyelets were used in keeping with the patent illustration.

THE FINISHED CORSET 

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C1880- 1885 CHILD’S STAY BAND: SYMINGTON CORSET COLLECTION: COLLECTION RESOURCES CENTRE (BARROW-ON-SOAR, UK)

Record Number

Summary

Dated: C1880-1885

Child’s stay band from the Symington collection of corsetry.  Constructed from red sateen with hessian interlining and cotton twill lining. The stay band has an adjustable wraparound strap and fastens using hooks and eyes. The front and back of the garment are corded for support as well as providing additional warmth for the infants body.

Stay bands would have been worn by both sexes from babyhood through early development. They were flat panels of cloth that wrapped around the body and fastened with straps that passed through slots at the front. They were typically made from cotton and interlined with hessian and corded or quilted at the front and back. Whilst there was no shaping or restriction to the stay band, the garment supported the body and believed  to prevent deformity of the spine.  Children wore stay bands until around the age of eight when boys were breeched and girls would begin to wear specifically designed corsets. Almost all children’s corsets had adjustable features to allow for growth of the body.

1

Front view shows vertical cording either side of the centre

3

Opened stay band shows further sections of cording around the garment in vertical strips

4

1913 STRAIGHT FRONT CORSET: SYMINGTON CORSET COLLECTION: COLLECTION RESOURCES CENTRE (BARROW-ON-SOAR, UK)

Museum Reference

D1

Summary

Dated: 1913

This corset is constructed in two parts made from white open weave cotton and printed with blue mock chain stitch circles. The cotton net was lightweight and breathable allowing air to pass through the holes and kept the skin cool when worn making the corset suitable for summer wear.

This long line style corset is cut under the bust line and finishes over  the thigh with a  dipped hem at the back to sit over the buttocks. The actual waist line was lifted higher than the natural waist so that extreme restriction could not be achieved. Corsets from 1910 featured a straight front but their function was not to compress the waist. The S- bend corset was cut low freeing and no longer supporting the breast. It pushed the stomach and pelvis in, hips and buttocks back and the shoulder and bosom forward creating the pouter-pigeon mono-bosom that was popular with Edwardian fashion.

The corset fastens at the front with a 10″ flat narrow split busk that does not run the full length of the garment. The bottom is left open at the front. The corset is firmly boned with flat steel double bones encased in channels at each seam. Even though the cut of the corset is long the bones only finish part way down the channels to allow some ease of movement to the lower half of the body though still providing support and control. The corset features 4 x plain adjustable suspender.

Trimming is minimal on corsets of this period, most only having lace around the top edge. This corset is finished with a layer cut from the cotton net applied to the upper edge and is  bound at the lower edge with twill tape.

Dimensions

Waist circumference: 24″

Side Depth: 18″

UNDRESSED EXHIBITION: A BRIEF HISTORY OF UNDERWEAR: V&A MUSEUM: LONDON, UK 

COTTON COUTIL CORSET 

Record Number: V&A: T.90δA- 1984 – Given by the family of Mayer Yanovsky

Summary: 

Dated: C.1890

The corset is made of two parts from a single layer of light brown cotton coutil with single external bone casings in contrasting dark brown coutil. The corset is reinforced by an extra panel of the dark brown coutil that wraps around the waist designed to reduce the risk of the whalebone breaking.

The front panels feature sections of horizontal cording around the bust providing support and strength to the corset. The corset is finished with flossing- a decorative embroidery technique used to hold the bones preventing them from working their way out of  the casings.

The corset is bound by a twill weave tape at decorated around the upper edge with machine made cotton lace.

S-Bend corset (From the Hopkins Collection)

Summary: 

Dated: C.1902-1909 (probably British)

Corset made from cotton, silk, whalebone (baleen), metal busk  and machine made lace trimmed with replacement ribbon

The S bend corset was cut low freeing the breasts but pushed the stomach and pelvis in, hips and buttocks back and shoulders and bossom forward.

WHITE COTTON CORSET WITH TRAPUNTO WORK

Record Number: V&A: T.57-1945

Summary: 

Dated: C.1825-35 (Britain)

Constructed from corded and quilted  cotton, silk thread and whalebone. The corset features both bust and hip gussets. 

Trapunto derived from the Italian “to quilt” is a method of quilting that utilises two layers of fabric, the underside of which is slit and padded to produce a raised surface.

The corset features a wide concealed busk to the centre front which seperates the breasts and helps flatten the stomach.

WHITE RIBBON CORSET

Record Number: V&A: T.18-1958

Summary: 

Dated: C.1900 (possibly British)

With the reinvention of the ancient Olympic games in 1896, women began taking part in various physical activities and games including tennis, cycling, skiing and skating. Although corsets were still an integral part of women’s clothing, styles were being manufactured lighter and less structured.

The upper edge of this corset finishes under the breast. The ventilated style corsets were becoming more popular for the sporting woman allowing freedom of movement and healthy respiration for the wearer.

The sides are boned providing support and allowing for some waist constriction.

COTTON NET CORSET

Record Number: V&A: T.92&A-1984

Summary: 

Dated: C.1900 (BRITAIN /GERMANY)

Made in two parts which which fasten together at the front with a straight metal busk, This corset is made of cotton net allowing air to pass through the garment which helped keep the skin cool during summertime. The corset is reinforced with a white cotton diamond shaped waist band and single external bone casings that sit over the top.

The corset reaches from just over the bust to the curve of the hips slanting down to a point at the front.

GERMAN ERSATZ (AUSTERITY) CORSET

Record Number: V&A: T.44-2015

Summary: 

Dated: C.1917-1918 (GERMANY OR AUSTRIA)

Made from canvas weave paper twine, this corset is an example of the ersatz (substitute) clothing produced in Germany or Austria in response to the severe textile shortages during the First World War.  ‘Maintaining a supply of underwear was important to civilian moral. corsets were particularly important. without them most women felt undressed’

The corset features metal boning finishing part way down within the channels to allow for freedom of movement around the hip. The corset is trimmed with woven silk and linen ribbon.

GIRDLE LITTLE X: SILHOUETTE [SALOP] LTD

Record Number: V&A: T.291-1993

Summary: 

Dated: Early 1960’s (BRITAIN)

LYCRA, Nylon, lurex trim with metal suspender clips

Designed by Anne- Marie Lobbenberg for Silhouette in 1958 proved very popular with young women. The all elastic girdle provided light control and two way stretch

Advertisements focused on its functionality and the freedom of movement it allowed, promising that it ‘wont wrinkle, roll over or ride up’

The corset incorporates Lycra the brand name for elastane [spandex] a synthetic stretch fibre produced from polyurethane in 1959.

BUST EXTENDER: SPIRELLA CORSET COMPANY

Record Number: V&A T.348-1996

Summary:

Dated: 1910-1914

“The Spirella corset company marketed this style in its 1913 mail-order catalogue as a ‘bust extender… for the person who is too thin or scant in chest development”

The bust extender is constructed from a cotton covered frame of spiral steel boning designed to emphasise the ‘monobosom’ that was fashionable at the time. ‘The monobosom was the result of the S-bend corset that left breasts unsupported, and was exaggerated to create an unnatural ‘pouter pigeon’ chest that puffed out over the comparatively tiny waistline’.

The bust extender would have been worn over the top of the corset and inside the bodice of the dress

Trimmed around the neckline and arm holes with a cotton lace trim.

CORSET WITH SHOULDER STRAPS (UNKNOWN)

References
Ehrman, E (2015) Undressed. V&A Publishing. London

(1895- 1910) CORSET ADVERTISEMENT: FERRIS BROS. ATHLETIC WAIST & BICYCLE CORSET WAIST

I often refer to old corset advertisements for information on shape or fit of a corset. I am currently writing an article on the ‘Athletic Corset’ so thought I would share some designed by The Ferris Bros Company (established in 1878) for their Athletic and Bicycle corset waist styles.

As physical exercise became more popular amongst woman in the 1890’s, corsets were adapted to allow the wearer freedom of movement and ‘promote healthy respiration’.

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“THE PERFECT POISE of the woman who wears a Ferris waist is easily distinguishable. She rides with easy grace because every motion, every muscle is absolutely free. She rides without Fatigue because she enjoys perfect respiration. 

FERRIS BICYCLE CORSET WAIST is constructed with elastic sides which yield to every motion of the wearer. The hips are short and pliable, the bust is made to give support without restriction. Every woman who rides a wheel or a horse, who plays tennis or golf should wear a Ferris Waist. They are shown in all their beauty in the Ferris Living Models. Sent Free.”

 

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1897- FERRIS GOOD SENSE CORSET WAIST FOR BICYCLE WEAR

“FOR BICYCLE WEAR- For the tennis court of gymnasium, every woman should wear a Ferris Waist. Formed on hygienic principles yielding to every motion of the body, permitting full expansion of the lungs, at the same time giving the body healthful and graceful support. Style No. 296 is made with stiff bust, elastic sides and hose support attachment, expressly for bicycle wear and athletic exercise.

FERRIS GOOD SENSE CORSET WAIST is made high and low bust, long and short waist to suit all figures. always superior in quality and workmanship. Children’s 25 cents to 50 cents. Misses’ 50 cents to $1.00. Ladies $1.00 to $2.00. For Sale by all retailers.”

 

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1902- FERRIS ATHLETIC  CORSET WAIST

“FERRIS ATHLETIC CORSET WAIST is especially designed for women who enjoy outdoor sports. Faultless in outline, it meets every requirement of fashionable dress and yet there is neither restraint nor pressure. Elastic bands at the sides yield to every breath and movement: Comfortable shoulder straps support the bust in any position and keep the shoulders from drooping.

FERRIS ATHLETIC WAIST is the most healthful, restful, graceful, garment a woman ever wore.”

 

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1908- FERRIS ATHLETIC WAIST- ADVERT PUBLISHED IN GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

STYLE 262

“ACTIVE WOMEN- Body-activity requires limb-freedom, breathing room and growing room. Hence the FERRIS ATHLETIC WAIST is a perfect garment for active women. Without binding or constricting it gently yet firmly supports and molds the body, permitting exercise and unusual freedom of movement”

 

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1903- FERRIS GOOD SENSE ATHLETIC WAIST

STYLE 261

“THE OUTLINE OF HEALTH- There is an old fashioned notion that an athletic waist is ugly. this perhaps is the reason so many woman still embrace the torture of health destroying corsets. they do not know the principles  of the FERRIS GOOD SENSE ATHLETIC WAIST

The above illustration is a photographic reproduction. note the lines of beauty. see the elastic expansion on the side that allows the waist to breathe when you do, that permits you to turn and bend and swing with perfect ease an grace”

 

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1901- FERRIS CORSET GOOD SENSE  ATHLETIC WAIST 

EXERCISE FOR WOMEN often does more harm than good because of a rigid corset. Ferris good sense athletic waist is especially designed for women who enjoy healthful excercise. Faultless in outline it meets every demand of health and comfort, every demand of fashionable dress.

is joined at the waist with elastic bands which yield to every breathe and movement. shoulder straps keep the figure erect and promote healthful respiration.
An indispensable garment for the woman who rides a wheel, plays golf or tennis, rows a boat or climbs a mountain

http://www.ebay.com/itm/AKH-410-Antique-Print-1901-Ferris-Good-Sense-Athletic-Waist-Advertisement-/351898323221?hash=item51eec64915:g:1UwAAOSwMVdYHp9m

 

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