OCOC BLOG


Designs on your time

At OCOC'17 we had an icebreaker design class for the second time. This is always good fun and has multiple purposes. Not only does it get everyone going back to basics looking around them and loosening up their design eye, but it also gets everyone familar with the college surroundings and looking that little bit closer. 

  In 2014 the goal was to make mini moodboard and design for the paper doll.

In 2014 the goal was to make mini moodboard and design for the paper doll.

  In 2017 we had sketchbooks featuring croquis designed by Marianne Faulkner of Pop Antique who was also running a fashion illustration class. And, coloured pencils in the welcome bag courtesy of Foundations Revealed.

In 2017 we had sketchbooks featuring croquis designed by Marianne Faulkner of Pop Antique who was also running a fashion illustration class. And, coloured pencils in the welcome bag courtesy of Foundations Revealed.

Jesus College is a truly lovely place. From the 15th century onwards architecture to the stunning gardens. There is plenty of structure, colour and texture to look at. Oodles of inspiration. We are lucky enough to have access to the Chapel as well as Hall and the lovely quads, but this time I think the lovely weather mean the gardens won. Especially good, as we were concentrating on colour this time.

  Colour was a focus this year and the glorious flower borders around the quads gave lots of wonderful inspiration.

Colour was a focus this year and the glorious flower borders around the quads gave lots of wonderful inspiration.

  The twisted vines and branches was a popular focus. Several attendees spotted these.

The twisted vines and branches was a popular focus. Several attendees spotted these.

The reason I came up with the class initially (before the 2014 conference) was because I feel social media means we spend a lot of time looking at each other's work and that corset design was getting very inward looking. New corsetmakers (and not so new) were starting to fall into the trap of unintentionally creating pieces that looked like the current favourite makers. I was beginning to find it hard to tell whose work I was looking at. Yet it was clear there was huge talent there. Personally I love the design process, gathering source material and refining it. I wanted our attendees to remember how much fun that is.

  Some very cool designs took form.

Some very cool designs took form.

I find it totally fascinating going round the room and seeing what our attendees have focused on. They see things sometimes I've never even noticed despite being in the college a fair number of times now! Now if we could only get to see some of the ideas made up! But there's always more ideas than time!

Inner corselettes and integrated corsetry

I thought I would write a little about a subject I know is something that many are curious about and is not discussed as much as it could be.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to be loaned a few Dior inner corselettes to study. Something I was delighted about. I copied one exactly and then took the pattern on to become a proper reducing corset. I was loaned three variations from the 1950s. One in the dress, one with a petticoat attached and one on it's own. They all differed in shaping but had most basics in common. None were waist reducing in any substantial sense, very much corselettes rather than corsets. 

All were bobbinet, and all double layer and cut in opposing directions. I counted the 'holes's and compared with some samples Julia had. So the bobbinet stocked by Sew Curvy is as close as possible to that used.

All were boned with 5mm spiral steel. Usually in ribbon casings.  Also on the rear closure.

  Visible boning, showing how light the construction was.

Visible boning, showing how light the construction was.

All had waist tapes of grosgrain ribbon. 

All had hand worked hooks and eyes mounted on the rear closure reinforced with ribbon.

Some had organza and/or horsehair for structure at key points.

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What was notable was the lightness and flexibility of the construction. These were strong but lightweight.

  One of the others. Narrow darts were another common factor

One of the others. Narrow darts were another common factor

Petticoats were stitched to the bottom of the corslette allowing a dropped waist to avoid bulk.

They were attached to the top edge of the gown by hand. Some had evidence of thread chains at other points such as side seams, but no solid attachement.

  Showing the top edge attachment

Showing the top edge attachment

The waist tape usually fastened with a separate hook and eye to allow it to be closed independently of the gown.

  This shows the ribbon channels, the separately hooked waist tape and the hand overcasting on the seam allowances. 

This shows the ribbon channels, the separately hooked waist tape and the hand overcasting on the seam allowances. 

The one I copied had demi cups for lift.

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The above picture is the old and the new. The original is on the left, the repro on the right. Not the bobbinet I used on the corset below, which is closer to the original. This was supplied by the client, and then dyed by her which changed the handle. However the pattern is identical.

To translate that pattern into a corset, I simply reduced the waist and added a front solid bone and a lacing closure. I've always intended to add a petticoat but it's never happened sadly. So here it is with a tulle skirt on our own Morgana. Photographed by Louise Cantwell.

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If I was building this more waist reducing corset into a gown, I would treat it the same way. Attaching a petticoat to the bottom edge and the corset to the inner top edge of the gown, which would be fitted to close over the corset. The inner laces would be left free with the outer zip closing over it.  The gown could be more firmly attached at the rear, incorporating the lacing through the two parts. Fitting to the wearer would be key.

I've been manically collecting innards pics on Pintrest for a while. You may find some helpful stuff here. https://www.pinterest.co.uk/CrikeyAphrodite/innards-construction/
Modern high end bridal gowns still incorporate inner corselettes, albeit now more likely to be powermesh and plastic boning. But if you can, they are worth a look to see how the construction is ordered. 

The old made new

By Jenni Hampshire (Sparklewren).

 

 Centre-left: the antique "Birds Wing" corset, copyright Snibston Discovery Museum, Coaville.

Centre-left: the antique "Birds Wing" corset, copyright Snibston Discovery Museum, Coaville.

Fashion is cyclical, we know this. Perhaps corsetry is too, though on a longer time-frame!

The Birds Wing corset is, I hope, quite well known now. Inspired by this 1900s antique corset, most of the corsets I make are now "Birds Wings" or at least heavily inspired by the idea. Though it may not be apparent at first glance, each bone channel you see in the above corset is actually a new seam, with this particular design having 21 panels per side.

It's insanity!

I remember once, when I was still quite new to corsetry, having someone ask a curious question. They looked at a corset I had made with numerous exterior casings (which, as you may know, gives visually a very similar effect), and said something like, "wow, there must be something like 50 panels in this corset!" I think I smiled and replied with, "oh no, that would be madness! This only looks like that due to the casings, it actually has an ordinary 6 panels per side..." Little did I know!

 An example Sparklewren "Birds Wing" pattern, one of my early-ish testers.

An example Sparklewren "Birds Wing" pattern, one of my early-ish testers.

The talk/class I am giving at this year's conference (next month, time flies!) is all about the Birds Wing. I hope that by tracing out its development into a contemporary design I can illustrate how pursuing one bonkers idea can have unexpected and wonderful side effects. The Birds Wing was like my Karate Kid! You think you're learning how to wax a sodding car, but actually you're learning something far more interesting and fundamental ;-)

 "Python", a contemporary Birds Wing corset by Sparklewren.

"Python", a contemporary Birds Wing corset by Sparklewren.