Sunday, 23 June 2013

Tudor Costume: Corset

After an intense term at LCF, I am finally getting round to finishing the Tudor costume for the Much Hadham Museum, inspired by their wonderful 16th Century wall paintings (more info here).

Here are some photos of work I finished back in March but never got round to photographing!

In my last post, I shared some photos of the chemise. Next up is the corset, or as it was called in Tudor times: bodies. Around 1576, the date of the wall paintings at the Museum, the fashion was for an angular silhouette. The triangular skirt shape created by a farthingale (which will be in my next post!) is complimented by a reverse triangle, or cone-shaped, bodice.

The desired shape is flat-fronted, flattening the chest. The corset front is pointed and elongated to create the illusion of a longer torso, but also to keep the front as flat as possible all the way down. The waist is sucked in slightly, but not to the extreme that the Victorians are known for. The tabs on the waist help to make the corset more comfortable - the waist line doesn't dig in with these, and they also provide the foundation for volume in the skirt, which is often almost horizontal as it comes out of the waist. This corset laces at the back - I used a velvet ribbon. However, I need to make a few changes, for example covering the (very modern!) metal eyelets, adding one more pair at the bottom and finding a more period-accurate lacing technique.

NOTE: I used the 'Dorothea Bodies' pattern from the wonderful book The Tudor Tailor, with just a few minor adjustments. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in making a Tudor costume!

To learn more about the incredible wall paintings that are inspiring this Tudor costume, you can visit the Much Hadham Forge Museum in Hertfordshire: www.hadhammuseum.org.uk

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