Late Victorian Poison Corset (+ Peasant Dress)

I finished this new corset back in October and happily wore it to the Texas Ren Fair and for Halloween. It’s Laughing Moon’s Dore straight seam corset from #100 Ladies Victorian Underwear. I just made adjustments for fitting and I’m so happy with how it turned out! It looks good and is the most comfortable corset I’ve made yet. This may become my go-to Victorian corset pattern.



Can we talk about this super fun fabric?? It’s a quilting cotton called Materialize by Tim Holtz Apothecary Multi (or something like that)–everything in the Materialize line is fantastic; Google it to find suppliers. (I got this piece on Etsy.) Anyway, it’s underlined with a plain cotton duck and the lining is leftover quilting cotton from a still-unfinished quilt project (I can’t remember what it’s called):


Underneath the corset, I’m wearing a peasant dress made of cotton gauze. It started with McCall’s 5050, to which I added a two-layer half-circle skirt gathered at the waist and completed with hem ruffles. I planned to make it wearable as a standalone dress, but that didn’t pan out (no photos, haha). Still, it works as a base layer under a corset or wide belt.

Thank you to my sister, Heather, for the fantastic photos from the fair!

Edwardian Chemise + Other Unmentionables

I decided that I’ll probably be going to an event next summer that would be a great excuse for making a full Edwardian daywear outfit. And since I have almost a year and I’ve been wanting to make a suit with an Eton jacket (probably in navy blue) for a while, I’m embarking on sewing the full thing from the skin out (as I have no actual Edwardian pieces at all). If I complete about one garment per month, I’ll be in good shape and shouldn’t feel too rushed.

First up: the chemise. I used the chemise in Truly Victorian’s TVE02 for this with no modifications. My decorations are pintucks, ribbon, and eyelet lace. For I think the first time in my life, I made this entirely out of materials from my stash! (Note to self: Always buy large amounts of cotton lawn when you need to restock–it will always be used!)

(Left: front. Right: back.) I appreciate that the pattern has you neatly enclose all raw edges. Though I’m guessing it assumes you’re using lace with a finished edge on both sides and since mine was not finished on one side I ended up using self-made bias tape on the armholes.

No photos of me actually wearing the chemise since it’s, um, pretty see-through.

I’ve also completed these mysterious items:

FullSizeRender 19

That’s a hip pad and bust forms from TVE01. I honestly have no idea how the bust forms are supposed to be worn and the pattern gives you no clue; guess I’ll figure that out once I’ve got the corset going??

Speaking of . . . Next up is the corset! Then I’ll be doing a combination, skirt, shirt, and the jacket. And I should really decorate a nice big hat to complete the whole outfit.

Edwardian Drawers/Slip

Just as I was thinking about making a half slip or two, someone gave me the Edwardian Underthings (#203) pattern from Folkwear and I thought, hey, why not make drawers out of slip material?? So I attempted to make drawers out of rayon bemberg.


Turns out rayon bemberg (yes, that’s what I mean, autocorrect–stop changing it to bombers!!) is a huge pain in the ass to work with. I spent all my sewing time wishing I’d just decided to make a regular half slip (with two side seams only). But I persevered and flat felled all the seams (sloppily, ha).


However, I looked at the placket instructions and despaired, so I just closed up the side seams, left off the waistband entirely, and finished the waist with some lingerie elastic (like in these instructions). I didn’t take any closeup photos of that because, uh, it looks awful. In my defense, it’s the first time I’ve tried that and bemberg is really slippery, AND this is what I’m using to zigzag:


It zigzags by moving the fabric rather than the needle, so it’s really difficult to keep the fabric lined up neatly and to keep it from shifting–even when you’re not using a slippery fabric.

But this is an undergarment and I think it’ll work fine for that! Next time: Make drawers out of cotton and use rayon bemberg for simple half slips only. Lesson learned.

Meanwhile, I’ve made a few changes to my fall/winter wardrobe plan, so here’s the annotated update:

Fall/Winter Capsule Wardrobe


  1. Gray floral Lady Skater (short sleeve)
  2. Black Weekender dress (short sleeve)
  3. Green purchased dress (short sleeve) (but I’ve hardly been wearing this at all, now that we’re in layering weather)
  4. Gray wool Giselle (3/4 sleeve) (I still like the idea, but the Lady Skaters I added below will probably be more useful, so this is getting nixed for now)
  5. Cream floral Lady Skater (elbow-length sleeve) (NEW! This might be more of a spring item, though)
  6. Black knit dress (long sleeve)
  7. Red purchased dress (long sleeve)
  8. Plaid Lady Skater (long sleeve) (NEW!)


  1. Brown tweed Hollyburn (unfortunately, this doesn’t fit me at all anymore, so it got donated!)
  2. Black wool Walking Skirt (need to fix waistband)
  3. Corduroy Ginger
  4. Jean Hollyburn
  5. Nevermore skirt
  6. Green plaid wool skirt (need to add lining–eh…maybe, maybe not)
  7. Jeans
  8. Flannel petticoat  (NEW!)


  1. Plain black T-shirt (short sleeve)
  2. White sweetheart T-shirt (short sleeve)
  3. Gray cropped V-neck (elbow-length)
  4. Black wrap top (elbow-length)
  5. Cream turtleneck (long sleeve)
  6. Black cameo Bronte (long sleeve)
  7. Black Weekender tunic (long sleeve)


  1. Black corduroy blazer
  2. Pumpkin corduroy blazer
  3. Black fleece zip-up hoodie
  4. Bottle green wool sweater
  5. Black or gray wool sweater? (on second thought, I think this needs to be washable, so maybe something cotton or cotton/silk? I’m having trouble finding sweater knit that I like, so this may be something I buy even though it SHOULD be easy to sew)
  6. Heavy black wool coat


  1. Slips
  2. Tights & socks
  3. Black boots
  4. Brown snow boots (NEW! bought these already because I’ll be in snow country soon and the black boots won’t cut it–they’re paddock boots)
  5. Brown oxfords
  6. Scarves
  7. Brown satchel
  8. Black She Who Sews Dottie bag
  9. Black leather gloves
  10. Brown leather gloves

Late Victorian Corset

This is the second corset I’ve made from this pattern, Past Patterns #213 Late Victorian Corset. The first was both too big and not curvy enough, so this time I dropped a couple of sizes overall, and dropped an extra size for the waist. And I’m really happy with it!


Curviness achieved! The bust might actually be a bit small (it’s giving me back muffin top when I tighten it too much), but I think it should be fine for now since I don’t plan to lace it down much further than what you see in these photos. (I’m not a tightlacer; this is to give Victorian costumes the right shape.) Fun fact: I laced this using the “inverted bunny ears” technique (instructions here)–I have no idea if this is historically accurate, but I find it makes it easier to tighten by yourself.

Departures from the pattern: I skipped making boning casing this time and instead just sewed boning channels between the two layers of fabric. It’s soooo much faster that way, haha. (The fabric, btw, is one layer of coutil and one layer of cotton broadcloth.) I also used less boning than the pattern called for, instead just placing two bones per seam and adding an extra where there are wide gaps between seams. I used spiral steel for the curviest parts (sides) instead of flat white steel. And, finally, the top and bottom are bound with bias tape made from the lining fabric.


I don’t know if it’s because of the single strength layer or the sizing, but this corset is SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE than the other corsets I own (all underbusts, and two of which are custom, so it’s not just off-the-rack vs. custom!).

I cannibalized two old corsets for all the hardware, one of which was the last incarnation of this pattern, made from the Past Patterns kit. So I assume the busk is right for my size, but I do think it’s a little odd that there’s a good 2.5 inches of floppiness at the bottom of the center front. I can’t help but wonder if I should be using a longer busk? Or maybe trimming it shorter (it does hit the tops of my thighs when I sit)? Regardless, this will be worn as underwear under full skirts, so no big deal!


As you can see, I also added flossing and some lace with purple ribbon and a matching ribbon bow at the center front. I highly recommend Sidney Eileen’s post on how to floss a corset. I know, I know, this is underwear so decoration doesn’t really matter, but I just think flossing makes it look 10000% more authentic and the ribbon is so cute!


Side note: I’m wearing this over a combination made form Truly Victorian’s TV105. I made it a few years ago, so I’m not going to blog about it, but as I recall it was a pretty good pattern. I think I made it out of broadcloth, though, which might be a bit heavy.

Anyway, the Past Patterns instructions for the corset are great, as usual. My first version of this corset was the first corset I ever made, and it was much easier than I feared. So don’t be afraid to dive in if you’ve been wanting to make one and have been put off by warnings that it’s really difficult! I did totally cheat on the eyelets, though–I’ve never been able to hammer them in (at all, not just ones that don’t turn out great) and I realllly didn’t feel like sewing them by hand (which is what I did last time), so I took this to Star Snaps and had them set the grommets. It was $14 for 22 grommets–worth it, in my opinion, if you’re only making one corset every few years.

P.S. Check out the blog’s new header image. The ornaments have been shamelessly stolen from a 1906 Butterick book called Masquerades, Tableaux and DrillsRead the whole thing at the LOC!

Transition Stays

When last I blogged, I mentioned that I’d been somewhat sidetracked from the WA Challenge by a couple of historical costuming projects. This is the first: A “Transition Stay” Fashionable Circa 1796-1806 (#030) by Past Patterns. The booklet includes a few pages of historical notes, explanations of hand stitches, the actual instructions, and a paper doll(?!). I read over the instructions for sewing it completely by hand, had a chuckle, and sewed it mostly on my machine using the method I used for my Victorian corset (sew lining and fashion fabric separately, then join at center fronts with right sides together). All I did by hand was make the eyelets, finish the binding, and attach the breast band casing. Oh, I guess I also overcasted the center fronts because the reeds there didn’t seem to be fitting tightly enough. Plus, it kind of fakes that it’s handsewn, right?!

transitionstays_eyeletsOverall, this was a very quick make. I found fitting to be quite easy (for once). I made a straight size muslin (unusual for me, but since it laces with a gap I figured I’d try it) and ended up just taking in the top front a bit at the side seams. Since the stays end at the waist, you don’t need to worry about fitting at the hips at all.

transitionstays_backI used a heavyweight linen and lined it with a mediumweight linen. The pattern calls for “oval-oval” reed, but I couldn’t find that anywhere so I used flat-oval reed. It seems to work fine. I actually bought my pattern from Wm. Booth Draper, which also sells the metal bands that the pattern calls for.

transitionstays_metalbandBy far, the most tedious part was sewing all the boning casings, but it still didn’t take that long. You may also notice in the top photo that I crisscross laced it although the pattern calls for spiral lacing. Well, the pattern didn’t say to offset the eyelets and even though I know better I didn’t offset them, either. So if you try spiral lacing, one side ends up pulled higher than the other. Crisscross it is!

transitionstays_leftI admit, the two main reasons I decided to go with this particular pattern after having tried short stays were (1) it doesn’t have straps–for me, a bane of fitting the short stays–and (2) it laces in front (my cats are not very helpful when it comes to assisting me with dressing . . . ). I’m very pleased with how the finished stays turned out! Like I said, they were quick and easy to make (if you cheat by sewing on a machine, hahahaha), fitting was simple, and after wearing them all day today I can report that they were comfortable and held the, ahem, ladies up where they need to be for this style of dress.