Sunday, February 7, 2016

Big Announcement and A New Corset

I have been procrastinating on this post and making my new corset. I had hoped to surprise many of our friends at Ironfest in April. Unfortunately, the black powder display and encampment has been cancelled. It is very disappointing, as I have been very careful for the last 6 months with my social media accounts. Nic is very happy about the event being cancelled, as he was not too keen on me traveling 16 hours one way and camping in Autumn when I would be 8 months pregnant and due to give birth to our first baby 4 weeks later. I'm currently 25 weeks or about 6 months pregnant. Our little one is due in May (History Month).

Side View of my new corset and Bump.

I do have a number of events while pregnant and will continue to attend events and encampments while nursing. This meant that I required a multi purpose corset. I am not overly fond of making corsets and normally have my amazing friend Wendy from the Undertailor make them. She was unable to come to Adelaide, so I had to bite the bullet and make this one myself. I have been planning this corset since I found out I was pregnant at 2 weeks. So I have procrastinated a long time on this one.

I designed this corset using extant maternity and nursing corset images that I found online dating between 1840-1870. There is a pattern that can be purchased, but the design is far more regency than mid Victorian looking. From a modern mindset I may be pregnant, but I'm still trying to be fashionable (no granny undies here). I also really needed a corset. I was unable to complete it in time for the Australia Day parade and OMG my clothing was uncomfortable, cutting into my skin and my shape was awful frumpy. It was also very hit, humid and we were running late.

This is why you should not procrastinate and ALWAYS wear a corset.
I used my pre-pregnancy corset as a base pattern. I decided to split the joining seam between the side and side back panels. This allows me to adjust the width of my waistline without changing the back panels as my back size has not changed size. I also split the seam around my belly to make room for my growing bump. I then added gussets to the top of the corset. I was not keen on the laces to adjust and close the breast access for nursing, so I have just placed original fabric covered buttons on the top tape line. They are easy to shift if needed. They are also very easy to open for access, when required.
The side and side back seams were separated and laced in this design.

The front has a silt where the seam was not joined between 2 panels to make room for the bump.
To make the corset more pregnancy friendly, I have made it light weight with thinner and less boning. I added a lot of cording to make up for this. It is also only 2 layers, cotton outer and corset coutil inside.

Close up of the bump split and cording.

Close up of the flap to adjust the size and open for breastfeeding.
I do have some adjustments to make. I ran out of corset lace, so they are very short over the bump and sides. I plan to order new lace later this week. I also need to adjust the button location as it has started to gape with some recent growth.

Front View

Side View
Back View

Challenge #1 2016: Procrastination

What the item is: 1860 Gestation and Nursing Corset
The Challenge: Procrastination
Fabric/Materials: Cottton, Corset Coutil,
Pattern: Self drafted using my Undertailor Corset
Year: 1860s
Notions: Cotton Thread, Cotton Cord (for piping), Corset Lacing, Busk, Boning
How historically accurate is it? About 80%. The design features are seen in various extant examples and machines were in use, but I was unable to find any extant examples dating to 1860. Boning is steel.
Hours to complete: Approximately 30 hours
First worn: For photos 1/02/16
Total cost: I used corset supplies that I had in my stash, so I am not sure. Maybe around $100.


  1. Wow! Congratulations on your coming baby!
    I know exactly what your going through (currently in week 22 myself) and dying to make a corset just like yours.
    One question do: How do the busk work with your belly?
    Warm wishes
    /├ůsa Petersson (Fashion through History)

    1. Thank you and congratulations. The busk is fantastic. It is the lightest weight one I could find. Busks bend very easily, which is why they recommend not bending them and loosening laces before trying to undo the busk. It bends nicely over my bump ATM and provides good support. I questioned using one at first, but many original corsets of this style had them, it sits far nicer than the earlier button ones which gape and it protects my bump from my other layers cutting into my bump (which caused rashes at that other event, it is currently summer here :-) ).

      Good luck

  2. Love it, it looks very much in line with extant mid Victorian maternity corsets.

  3. Congratulations! It's neat to see specialty garments like this in action! Yours looks quite practical! I hope you get to use it.


  4. Congrats! And nice work on your corset! I made a pair of 18th c gestational stays (made the same choice--split side and back seam and added lacing there) and was so happy with wearing them--my entire wardrobe stayed wearable with minor modifications, and I'll tell you what, the back support was great :)

  5. This is so cool! I love the adjustable bust gussets. I've only seen 18th Century maternity stays before, so I love seeing a 19th Century example. My husband and I are just starting the family planning phase, and I've been wondering how my historical costuming would fit into pregnancy and nursing when the time comes. It's really nice to see how other bloggers solve this matter.