This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun. most of the time. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**

About Me

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HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, member & Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, a representative of the San Diego History Center, & an honorary member of SITU (Someplace in Time, Unlimited) in Seattle. This year I am the Dean of Costume College 2018. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of one.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

1903 Corset Cover- Truly Victorian TVE 02

Started July 8/ Finished July 18, 2012
This really shouldn’t take a normal person ten days to sew. However, I am the “Queen of Not Understanding Pattern Directions”, and I come by that title honestly.
I was kind of holding back sewing on mine until my friend who was making her’s could pass on a few hints as she was sewing it. I heard a few Arghs from her but she still managed to get it made in a fairly short period of time. And it’s a small item of clothing too.
 I had a very lightweight 100% cotton to make mine from, and at Heather McNaughton’s confirmation. I was able to use some pre-gathered wide eyelet lace for the front. I think that saved me a good chunk of time.
My first stumble: attaching the ruffle to the front facing. Instructions have you sewing ruffles to the facing (think of it as a yoke) and flipping it over which leaves a raw edge. Without copying all the instructions, basically you have the lace hanging loose in the front, and after sewing the second part of the facing to the front facing, your entire neckline is finished, kind of like a bag-lining.

Here is where I got confused; sewing the right sides to the wrong side, then flipping it all over. I put a label w/ a W to show the wrong sides of the ruffle/facing and the front placket onto the wrong side of the bodice. If you stare at this long enough your brain will finally have an aha moment. 
 You will then flip the lace & facing portion over to the front so you have created a two sided yoke with the lace hanging from it.
Second stumble: the back facing piece. I’m still not sure I have this right. But my favorite saying is I fudge it.  The directions have you iron one edge of the facing, then pin it right side to the wrong side of the back bodice then stitch the top edges together. This leaves the ironed edge facing up. Except when I flipped it over to the right side, it was just hanging loose. Fudging was to topstitch it AFTER the shoulder seams were done. My friend and I compared ours later, and her’s was not like that but we haven’t figured out how either of us did it.
 Sewing the shoulder seams was basically opening up both sides of the front and back facings, sewing them as one piece, then folding it back over to close it. After that I did my top stitching of the hanging back facing on the outside of the back bodice.  I cut a couple 2” wide bias strips of my fabric and made short facings on the armholes which are still open at this point. Then you do your side seams.
Two important things to remember:
1. The directions point out you should have at least 2-3” of your ruffle hanging out past the sides so it will catch in the side seams. I would recommend 4” because when mine was all sewn and ready to sew side seams together, because of the fluffiness of my lace I had to really stretch it to get it into the side seams. Just a thought.
 2. The directions also say to finish the front edge by the placket and have it back 1/2" from the front edge, which I did. Except the right side w/ buttonholes crossed over that left side where I placed my buttons still got covered up by the lace so I would recommend setting the left side of your ruffle back an inch. 
And here is the finished product. It’s not over my corset so I had to fluff up the bust to fill it out. I think once on, the yoke will be lower on my bust line than it is here. 

And of course we must share foopahs. While trimming off the excess lace ruffle after I sewed the side seams I managed to also clip a little hole on the side of the front facing. But I fixed that little puppy up with some Fray Check. And as I mentioned, my lace didn’t quite stretch completely into the side seam on one side, so there’s a teensy half inch that didn’t make it. But I don’t expect anyone to be looking under my armpit. This is also why I don’t make costumes for other folks. Unless you like that kind of stuff. But it’s good enough for me. I call it a learning experience. 


  1. I call that a solid "win." My inability to follow a pattern has resulted in a small graveyard of abandoned projects, including "The Dress With The 13-Inch Waist," "The Pants With An Upside-Down Zipper," and my personal favorite "The Slightly Melted Bridesmaid Dress." Your projects are inspiring. And this is lovely!

  2. It's a lovely shape for that 1903 silhouette. I can see that it would be complicated. The ruffled broderie anglais is really gorgeous.

  3. This helped me sooooo much!! I thought I was going crazy! :-) I'm going to continue to try and crack the code of this pattern. I'm also going to try the chemise and drawers...that is if I don't die crying first;) thanks again!


I would love to hear if this was any help to you. Pretty please!