At Costume College 2011, I took a workshop to make a Regency corset. It was taught by JoAnn Peterson of Laughing Moon Mercantile Patterns, and we were beta testing her new Regency Corset pattern. I really liked both the class and the pattern, but I have no idea how close the final pattern version is to what I have. One very cool thing about the workshop was that she has a unique way of picking sizes, and also had test toiles in each size made up so we could really pick something based on measurements, then grab a toile and compare. They were spot on, so I can recommend that. I also really liked her method of inserting gores, since this corset has a lot of ’em and the lining and shell need them all inserted separately. The written instructions might have been a bit confusing without hands-on instruction, but I’m a visual learner, so take it as you will! Anyway, in the workshop, I got about halfway through my corset construction and haven’t touched it since, but it was right what I went to when bitten by the bug to make some Regency short stays. I used the same pattern cut at about 3-4″ below the underbust, the same gore size, the same cording pattern, and even the leftover fabric from the workshop.
This has a lightweight 100% preshrunk cotton twill coutil on the outside, and lightweight 100% preshrunk cotton sateen for the lining. Next time I think I’d use coutil for both layers. I was rather sloppy on some of my cording channels and burst through the sateen where it was too tight. I did as much work on the flat pieces as possible before joining the side seams so, gores, cording, straps, side seams, boning, edge binding, hand-bound eyelets.) Fairly straight forward.
The top and bottom edges are bound with a tiny ribbon drawstring along the top front edge, though it doesn’t need to be pulled in. I made a short busk from the plastic side of a trim card that broke. Hey, sometime you gotta use what’s handy to get through the project. Now it’s all done and is completely washable.
I also made a half-slip. It’s out of cotton lawn with a few pin-tucks and a lace-edged ruffle. It opens center back and is constructed essentially lie the bottom half of a Regency gown, where the fabric is smooth across the front and gathered mostly to the back. Two thin straps hold it in place over the short stays. An important placement note, the straps are set wide in front, to the outside of each breast, and are only about 3″ apart in back. This prevents slipping off the shoulders. When placing your own straps, take into account how close you can place them in the back against how wide your necklines are.