Exploring the Corset – Day 5
Corset making in centuries past, was serious business. Corset or stay making was considered heavy work and therefore not appropriate for women. All corsets were made by men/tailors. Tailoring was also a heavy job, the “pressing” was considered too difficult a task for a woman.
France imposed many restrictions on fashion and trade. A couturier, a female dressmaker, was not allowed to make a corset. Eventually, around the end of the 18th century, the restrictions were lighten and women were given the rights to produce corsets.
The construction of a corset is fascinating. Originally they were made from many layers of fabric. Most often linen, cotton and silk. The base fabric needed to be a very dense weave so that there was no stretch or give in the fabric.
The fabric was covered in a paste that stiffened it further. The corset was then hand stitched in small channels over the entire body. Whalebone was then slipped into all the channels. You can see the stiffened rows on the pink corset shown here.
The whalebone was actually Baleen. It is not a bone but cartilage like strings from the roof of the whale’s mouth. One of the heaviest jobs was cutting the Baleen to fit and forcing it into the channels.
The edges of the corset were encased in silk ribbon and the eyelets for the laces were hand stitched in silk thread. Metal grommets for eyelets were not invented for years to come.
To make a corset was labor intensive and a work of art when completed.
Win a corset – enter here