Well, I have decided to enter a competition. Those of you that know me will be aware that I don't have much of a competitive streak but I thought that I would stick a toe in the water and enter the "Double Period Project" on the Foundations Revealed website, as much to get some feedback on my corset making as anything else.
The corset that I am entering was made for the lovely burlesque beauty, Miss Dolly Tartan for her "Let Them Eat Cake" routine and is roughly based on a stay pattern from "Corsets and Crinolines" by Norah Waugh (p42 see left), a photo of a gown from 1780 in "Fashion History: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century" (right) and the fashion styling generally associated with Marie Antoinette around the time of the French Revolution.. I love both these books and am slowly working my way through drafting some of the patterns in the NW book. This costume was not meant to be historically accurate in any way but a fun (and slightly cheeky) interpretation for the stage.
The main piece of the costume that I designed was a set of half-boned stays. I split the front section into two and added a busk closure. Not period I know, but this had to come off easily on stage. An additional reason for the front busk placement was to add a bit of tease to the removal instead of having Dolly struggle out of the back lacing. Not very dignified or sexy!
I had to make the busk closure area more exciting so I in added the ribbons. This echoed the design of a gown shown in a painting by Boucher of Madame de Pompadour (see above) and also added an extra element of "peeling" to the stays removal. I made little sleeves inspired by the above gowns and to add an extra dimension to the outfit which was completed by a ostrich feather fascinator made from scrap coutil and a pair of bloomers recycled from an eighties silk dupion wedding dress.
The stays were made from a herringbone cotton coutil lining and a satin coutil outer layer with flat steels bones sandwiched in between. The fabric was from Whaley's of Bradford and was dyed using "Powder Pink" Dylon machine dye. Cream satin bias binding was used throughout, cream satin double faced ribbon for the front closures and the corset was embellished with deeper pink trim covered in pale pink seed beads, deeper pink sequins and gold embroidery, which was applied by hand.
Here is a You Tube Video of Miss Dolly (and the costume) in action.