Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Elizabethan Corset, done

I have an Elizabethan "pair of bodies"; well, a modern interpretation of them, but if I'm looking for flat-fronted, angled torso, these will certainly do the trick!  I had done some more reading (Sarah Lorraine's article is particularly inspiring) and hand bound eyelets would have been historically accurate, but I loved the idea of  using the metal eyelets that I had originally bought; in the end, the look of the corset won over accuracy. As I've mentioned before, I have been thinking a great deal about the idea of accuracy in relation to making this costume.  Just the span of time between then and now makes it complicated: it is a juggling act between what is accurate vs what is achievable, and, ultimately, what I want to make for myself.  As the corset is already inaccurate in terms of it's constituent parts, no plastic covered stainless steel bones in the 1500s, I decided that I would extend it to the eyelets too.  I started off by marking their positions, starting an inch down from the top edge and placing them 1.5 inches apart.  

From then on, the boyf took over and I took photos, as many as I was allowed at least! He had brought home a hole-punch from work and proceeded to do his thing... holes punched;


and eyelets hammered in.  On our chopping board on the dining room floor; the only surface in the house strong enough to take some sustained thumping without ending up dented or damaged!

A proper toolkit, so different to my usual stuff.  I used Prym's new Antique Steel finished eyelets.

And there they are, a row of finished eyelets.  I also decided to place two eyelets at the front of the corset, at the edge of the central front curve and sitting, happily under the bone that runs at the edge of the front panel of the corset.  They will be used to  secure the farthingale to the corset.

The lacings that I bought are not what I thought I'd bought; more like extremely long shoe laces than the lovely corded ones I used on the Victorian Corset.  I will change them in time, but these are useful enough as test laces.  Elizabethan corsets are not laced in X forms, rather in spiral forms as this excellent article at Festive Attyre explains.  For the purposes of this first test try I did a quick X lacing, easier for me to put on myself, but when I change the laces I will use a different pattern.  The boyf tightened them for me a bit, though they could go another inch narrower, and I spent a happy half hour taking photographs and admiring my new corset/pyjamas outfit!

I love the gentle curve of the tabs over my hips.
A detail of the farthingale eyelet at the front.
It is far tighter than the Victorian corset, I am a size 8 and was spilling out in all sorts of places: those extraordinary Elizabethan busts, I think I may actually be able to achieve one!  The corset is also a great deal more comfortable too, I walked round happily for nearly an hour, with no problems breathing and could sit comfortably.  It was an entirely different experience to when I first put on the Victorian one. This is entirely down to the shape, it is not as long as the Victorian corset and the tabbed hips allow for greater ease of movement.  I am going to compare the widths of the two corsets, because I think that this one is narrower, it certainly felt tighter when the boyf was pulling it in, but again, because it is not as long, the areas being reduced width-wise are more malleable and adjust more easily.  Overall I am delighted with my first Elizabethan piece.  I am itching to get on with the bum roll and farthingale.  

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