GNAP and Beyond by Jennifer Garside

Early last year, many of the patterns from the Symington Pattern books held by Leicestershire county council were released as high quality images, a truly amazing resource for fashion historians, corset makers and costumers. As part of the Oxford conference of corsetry, the GNAP project was devised. Attendees of last years conference (and a couple of attendees from previous years) selected a pattern to recreate to take to the conference to see what could be learnt from these patterns.

I selected the pattern with the Symingtons reference number 23300, dating from 1894. This pattern particularly appealed to me because of the scooped, quite un-Victorian looking, neckline.

The patterns are supplied as a high quality photograph, which if printed at A2 size will give an image the same size as the original. I decided to make up the pattern initially as close to the original as I could. I chose to use a grey dot broche, 5mm spiral steels throughout, with the exception of 7mm flat steels either side of the eyelets, and a 13” spoon busk.

The pattern went together beautifully, creating a very curvy final corset measuring 34” at the bust, 22” at the waist and 36” at the hips. However as with most Victorian patterns, this corset is very short waisted, so I decided to make a second version, redrafting the pattern to give a slightly more modern cut, but trying to keep as true to the original as possible. The redraft made the pattern an overbust rather than demi bust and curved the line in slightly more over the lower hip as well as increasing the bust to waist length. The redraft measured 32” at the bust, 22” at the waist and 35” at the hip and had a 14” spoon busk.

While at the conference I was delighted to discover that Jess from Ties that Bynde Designs was pretty much perfectly proportioned to fit these corsets, despite the short waist, so I managed to get a couple of phone photos of her wearing them.

Photo: Jessica Crutchfield wearing Wyte Phantom. Image copyright Jennifer Garside 2015

Not content with just two versions of this pattern, I decided to use it as the basis of the corset I made for Evie Wolfe to model for me at the conference. While this corset pattern was already curvy, it was nowhere near curvy enough for Evie who has an 18” difference between bust and waist! I kept the corset shape and style as close to the original design as I could, adding some extra boning for added support. I didn’t have time to check the fit of this piece on Evie in advance or make a toile, so I was understandably rather nervous the first time I put her into it. I was incredibly pleased with how smooth the corset was, and how curvy. As ever there are things I am not 100% happy with, but that’s why version four is under construction!
I have also taken the pattern and converted it into an underbust, keeping the boning pattern the same and the lovely high back.

Photo: Evie Wolfe wearing Wyte Phantom. Image InaGlo Photography 2015

Jennifer has been an attendee at OCOC from year one. One of our very favourite people for her general loveliness and helpfulness to other attendees and to us (and also for her fabulous wardrobe). You can see more of Jennifer's gorgeous work on her business page for Wyte Phantom

Admin Note: Did you make a GNAP corset for OCOC'15? If so, we'd love a blog post on yours too. We're also looking for posts on your experiences, things you've learned and anything you'd like to share.