January 31, 2017

HSM January Challenge: Firsts & Lasts

Oh hello, my poor neglected blog...it's me, your writer.  I may have dropped the ball on blogging this month, but I did sew some.  In fact, I just snapped a few pictures of my recently completed corset and giant sleeve puffs to serve as my January entry for the 2017 Historical Sew Monthly!  That's right, after a year off, I've decided it's time to rejoin the global sewing challenges, hosted by the Dreamstress.  (Click the link to join the fun!)

Part I:  The Corset

First, I must say a huge thank you to my good friend, Allison, for all of her assistance...from generously providing the pattern - Past Patterns #708, not to mention her apartment, to all of her encouragement and assurance that gussets without a seam are not as impossible as they look.  Though, it did take an entire afternoon to stitch all sixteen of those in (and out when they weren't behaving) haha!  

Laced and ready to wear!

The corset is made with two layers of cotton drill, bound with caramel colored bias tape and flossed with a matching DMC floss:

It features two bust gussets per side: (That's eight bust gussets total counting the inside layer)

A front and back hip gusset on each side:

A front opening busk and six bones, which, though less that I'm used to, provides ample support:

And laces up the back with size 00 grommets:  Which, by the way, took me three hours, two hammers, a pair of pliers, sandpaper and steel wool to punch.  I bought a really nice grommet kit from my favorite corset supplies supplier, and was uh a little disappointed...maybe next time I'll just hand stitch those eyelets... 

All in all, I am very pleased with the results.  Fit wise, it produces much more "lift" at the bosom than I expected, so I may cheat and use it for earlier-19th century purposes.  When I'm up to making another corset, I will have to remember to shorten the front...as I am having a little difficulty sitting with the length as it is now, hmm.  Regardless, it needs a good pressing, but the inside looks as nice as the outside, which makes me very happy! 

Part II:  The Sleeve Puffs

Much, much larger than the last pair with twill tape ties to secure them to the inside of my 1830s ball gown bodice...if it ever behaves so I can finish it:

Staple of the high fashion of the 1830s or not,
I still see a remarkable resemblance to croissants! 

Stockings, shift, corset & sleeve puffs.

And onto the entry details:

The Challenge:  January: Firsts & Lasts - Create either the first item in a new ensemble, or one last piece to put the final fillip on an outfit.

Material:  Corset - cotton drill;  Sleeve puffs - cotton muslin

Pattern:  Corset - Past Patterns #708 (1840's - 1880's Corset);  Sleeve puffs - drafted my own

Year:  Corset - according to the pattern, 1840s - 1880s;  Sleeve puffs - early 1830s

Notions:  Corset - 12" busk, 6 metal bones, thread, cotton bias tape, DMC embroidery floss, 8 yard lacing, size 00 grommets;  Sleeve puffs - cotton batting, thread, twill tape

How historically accurate is it?  They would both certainly be recognizable in their respective time periods...

Hours to complete:  Didn't keep track, but the sleeve puffs probably took an hour or two, while the corset took several days

First worn:  Not yet, but perhaps for pictures when I finish the chemise...

Total cost:  Didn't keep track for the corset, but I bought the drill, busk, boning, a new awl, lacing, grommets and grommet kit.  So, I'd say $100?  Sleeve puffs were made from the stash.


  1. I also made that corset for a planned 1830s dress! I feel your pain on all those gussets. It still isn't up on my blog 1.5 years later because I haven't gotten around to taking photos with it on the body. I found that it gave no waist reduction because of the light fabric and minimal boning. Did you find it is the same for you? I would probably wear this for early 1830s, but cheat and wear a more heavily boned victorian corset for late 1830s when you start to see smaller waists in the fashion plates.

    Love the sleeve puffs as well, I haven't gotten around to making those yet! Could you describe a bit the pattern shapes you used to make them?

    1. Hello avantgarbe! Thank you for leaving a comment, I always appreciate hearing what people think :) Yes, I found the same to be true about the lack of waist reduction. In fact, I gained a little more than half an inch to my uncorseted measurement. I have yet to wear the new corset under a mid-19th century dress and will be interested in seeing how different the silhouette may be. I like your idea of cheating with a heavier boned corset as who doesn't like that tiny, little waist haha!

      As for the sleeve puffs, they were very easy to draft. I followed the idea of a basic sleeve pattern with a rectangular base and a large "u" shaped ramp for the part that gets stuffed. There is a picture of my pattern pieces from a previous, smaller pair here which might be clearer than my description:

      Hope that helps, good luck on your 1830s dress!

      Anneliese :)