Purfylle: Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg pair of bodies, c1598 - Corset / Stays

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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg pair of bodies, c1598 - Corset / Stays

I promised to share some of my incomplete projects with you to help me determine if they should be WIPs or UFO's.

Today's Incomplete Projects

A few of my iterations of the Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg pair of bodies, c1598.

Each version is a mock-up for testing different things such as order of work, size, materials, pattern corrections etc.

Images of the extant stays can be found here and here.

Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg pair of bodies, c1598 - Corset / Stays

In sizing up this pattern from Janet Arnold's work in Patterns of Fashion 1560-1620 I have attempted to maintain the original size ratio's as closely as possible whilst adapting it to my size chart. Another time I will go into the differences between sizing up for a one off personal garment as opposed to sizing up for a size range and other pattern making related stuff.

Someday I might even discuss the implication of the choice of materials and the order of work.

However, today I am going to show you the little details that annoy me about these four garments specifically, which has landed them in the incomplete project pile. The pictures tell most of the story.

I do have an irrational tendency to think that mock-ups should be finished perfectly, even though they have been important in the process of perfecting the pattern and construction.  

Once upon a time - Pair of Bodies / Corset / Stays


This white pair of bodies are one of the first versions I ever made way back in 2002-3. Then life happened and I didn't really do much sewing for about a decade, the odd theatre costume, a bit here, a bit there, not nearly enough.

pair of bodies, c1598 - Corset / Stays waist tabsBut I digress (as usual). These stays are half boned, have metal rings reinforcing both sides of the hand stitched eyelets, and are bound with a horrible synthetic satin ribbon, also hand stitched down. Rust is evident. There are many fitting issues.

Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg pair of bodies, c1598 - Corset / Stays reinforced eyelets


Lessons learnt: 

  • Metal rings will rust, if you are going to use them coat them with a retardant first.
  • Cheap satin ribbon is usable as binding but it is horrible.
  • Don't get excited about a project and do extensive hand stitching until you know the fit is right. (I didn't have the magic eyelet attachment for my machine back then.)

Red Trim - Pair of Bodies / Corset / Stays


Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg pair of bodies, c1598 - Corset / Stays machine stitched eyelets

I made this version with the red stitching and binding last year. I tried to completely machine stitch the bodies.

Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg pair of bodies, c1598 - Corset / Stays eyelets and waist tabs

Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg pair of bodies, c1598 - Corset / Stays eyelets and waist tabs

Twisting bias binding - blerch.

eyelets for busk

Lessons learnt: 

  • Be very careful about eyelet placement not landing on a seam.
  • It's nearly impossible to get a nice bias binding finish on these stays with machine stitching.
  • Remember to stitch the eyelets in the front and back of the bottom of the point before you stitch the boning channels or the bias binding. 
  • Finishing the bias binding can be bulky and tricky especially if it is not done by hand and it is made out of cotton drill. 
  • Getting that bias binding to look great where it goes behind the tabs is also tricky.
  • Be very careful of the placement of the curve where the top of the boning starts (you don't want that 'cup' too high).
  • Machine stitching eyelets is totally doable.


Navy Trim - Pair of Bodies / Corset / Stays


Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg pair of bodies, c1598 - Corset / Stays

Straight after making the red edged ones I made this navy blue edged one.

bias binding


Lessons learnt: 

  • Lawn is far less bulky as bias binding then cotton drill.
  • Even if the bias binding is cotton lawn, it still isn't going to machine stitch nicely. 
  • Just because a fabric has been pre-washed does not mean the colour will not run. Gah!


Salmon Pink - Pair of Bodies / Corset / Stays


Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg pair of bodies, c1598 - Corset / Stays eyelets

Then I made the this version with salmon pink stitching. I almost bias binding machine stitched perfectly, but not quite.

Lessons Learnt:

  • It's really easy to get that one eyelet out of alignment and once the hole is punched there's nothing you can do about it. 
  • Relearning don't forget to stitch the back and the front eyelets in. One of my brighter moments I must say. (roles eyes)
  • Unpicking eyelets and restitching them results in a larger finished hole. 

Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg pair of bodies, c1598 - Corset / Stays eyelets

What do you think I should do with these stays once they've finished their job as mock-ups? Re-purpose the boning? Sell them as is for a bargain? Cut the shoulders off and make them strapless? What would you do?

Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg pair of bodies, c1598 - Corset / Stays back and front view



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