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1912-13 corsetMichelle tackles C.L. Olmstead's 1912-13 corset patent and learns a lot about good corset making, especially about fabric selection...

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I have been trying to find a corset appropriate to 1912 to use at a local historic site here in KItchener. I think this one looks great. I do not share the lean body type with you so it would have to be scaled up to my plus size.

Did you put the bones only on the seam lines? What kind of boning did you use--spring steel? I am thinking that spirals might be good in the front so that they would bend when seated. I thought corsets were supposed to be quite long by this time period. What have you used for corset ties and how long are they--just curious as they have a long way to go.

Charlene Roberts

Hi Charlene,

I must confess that I don't think I'll be much help to you. Everything's do is on the smallest of budgets so I actually used the heavy grade plastic strapping that they use when shipping goods on wooden pallets- I get it from my local farm supply. I did bone only on the seams, though after another look at the patent it seems it may be designed to be double boned- one on each side of each seam, and definitely use spiral steel in the CF. For the lacing I just used some white triple twist cotton cording, not sure of the accuracy but it's nice and strong and honestly all I had on hand. As for the length it works out to maybe 3 or 4 meters. I suggest lacing it,loosening it enough to do up the front busk and then trimming off any excess when it's closed around you before tightening. My biggest advice is to use strong coutil, I couldn't afford it but with the minimal boning and a large posture adjustment this corset will need as much strength as possible.
Hope that all helps

I was looking at this patent last Friday thinking, hmmm that's do-able.

I appreciate the chance to learn by what you'd do differently next time. When you're learning something in isolation there are more learning curves than if you've someone to help ... I didnt' know anyone who'd made a corset when I made my first one from a Big 4 pattern and I did a lot differently for my 2nd.

@ Charlene Roberts
If you can get your hands on "Corsets: Historical patterns and techniques" by Jill Salen there is an almost identical "plus sized" pattern- might save you some trouble as its already a proper pattern. Large blue jean corset, 1890-1910

When you say the boning at the front bent when you were sitting down - I've noticed in a number of the corsets of that period the boning only extended to the same level as a Victorian era corset - that is, to the hips - and seemed to rely on the fabric only, to smooth out below the hips. (I think there's an example of this in Jill Salen's book).

Though I do agree the drawing gives the impression of boning channels going right to the bottom, and with the suggestion of using spiral bones (and a period correct option for the time frame).

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