Saturday 2 October 2010

Cording This, Cording That

Whew, I’ve had very much to do in school this past week. Bleh. Still not done, I have a few more things to hand in before the weekend is over. On Thursday morning there was a frost, and it tells me to get a move-on with the coat – but it takes a bit of concentration, which I haven’t had for anything but school. Only projects that don’t need too much of my time, brains and energy have been worked on.

My corded petticoat is coming along nicely; I’m working on the 49th row. And, I did find evidence for corded petticoats in Sweden – huzzah! One example was in a book I bought in January (Underkläder – en kulturhistoria (2008), by Britta Hammar & Pernilla Rasmussen), but somehow it had not registered, even though I’ve looked at the picture a few times – it is a pretty small picture, and the corded petti was lying amongst a lot of other underwear, stockings, dresses and toys. It had belonged to a little girl who died in 1855, 4 years old, and a lot of her possessions were later donated to a museum. A search on the digital database of some other museums gave me another one, for a grown up woman. The cording is woven in, of course, but I still think sewing them in is a very good next-best-thing. The fun thing is, that I have grouped my cords in a way very similar to the extant ones, so that at least is period correct.

I also got a sudden stroke of inspiration for (finally – I’ve wanted some for years) making regency stays. I bought a white cotton fabric with woven in checks of a sort of dark brick red in a charity shop a couple of weeks back, and I would like to make a regency dress from it (no, it doesn't look like a kitchen towel in real life - the material is quite fine and sheer) - I hope there is enough material. I must have the right underpinnings first though. Regency dresses, when done right, can be some of the most elegant frocks in history, but if done wrong, you’ll look like a pregnant hippo in a nightgown, which is less elegant…. When I was a slim, almost bony teenager I could have gotten away with short stays, but nowadays I have a more feminine figure, so long stays are essential. I base mine mostly on a pair described, and with the pattern pieces drawn out in small scale, in the same book I referred to above. It’s in Swedish, and full of Swedish examples of underwear from the 18th century up till now, which is not all that common when it comes to fashion history. I also look at the ones from the book Fashion from the Kyoto Institute, and one from another Swedish book (Empirens döttrar – kultur och mode under tidigt 1800-tal (2009), by Anette Kindahl, Katarina Olsson & Ingrid Roos) I recently bought. It’s interesting to see how similar they all are – makes one wonder if the Swedish ones might have been imported. Either way – there’s evidence for them from here, which is the important thing.

They should be made from white or cream cotton satin, but I didn’t have any, and didn’t want to waste the opportunity either – inspiration comes and goes with me. I might make another pair sometime, in cotton satin with the embroidery done in yellow silk like the originals, but for now, a simple cotton fabric embroidered with cotton will have to do; I can look at it as a smart mock-up, and I won’t feel guilty. It’s not like it’ll show anyway – I wonder if not the fabrics might behave differently, though. The stays will have a combination of boning and cording, like the ones in the books. I’ve made the pocket down the front for the busk, with cotton cording down each side, and the channels for boning radiating out from that. I also made the eyelets for securing the busk. I haven’t done the bust gussets yet, since I don’t know what size they’ll have to be – I want to wear the stays and experiment, but for that to work properly, I’ll have to finish the boning and eyelets in the back first, and pin front and back together so I can try it on. So that’s next – starting on the back panels. Eyelets are a bit tedious to sew, but I find I really like cording – it’s fun to do, and it looks nice.
Now - back to my school work.


  1. The corded petticoat is coming along so beautifully. How many rows will you have in the finished petticoat?

    And I'm so excited you are making regency stays! I have been starting to get re-inspired in the regency era and it will be very encouraging and helpful to see what you do with these stays I am sure. I have never made a long pair yet but that is next on my list, since the short stays i made last year don't give the support I really want. They work okay for a few hours but then I start to droop. . .not pretty. ;P The fabric is just lovely for your gown; I can't wait to see it! What style are you thinking of for it?

  2. Thanks, I really like it myself! There are 15 rows of cording in the first group, then 7 each in the three middle ones, and then there’ll be another 15 rows. Then I’ll start making groups of three or four cords, and after that perhaps a few single cords. I want the cording to reach mid-thigh, and so far they reach to just below knee-level. At least 20 more rows.

    The regency frock will be an upper middle class day dress (or a lower middle class best dress) from around 1815 or so. Rather simple, maybe with some tucks or a frill at the bottom of the skirt. I’m not sure about sleeves yet; I have a couple of ideas, but I’ll have to do a bit of research before deciding. I really don’t have that much fabric, so we’ll see what I can manage to get out of it.


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