Court Gown Updates

I feel like I’ve been working on this a ton, but even though the construction has been progressing, it hasn’t changed too much visually in a few weeks.

First I hand sewed the jacquard ribbon trim onto the front of the bodice, then I spent a couple of weeks hand basting the shell of the bodice to the lining. I took this photo as I was pinning the shell and lining together:


I decided to make the piping out of the same fabric as the body of the bodice.


And then I discovered that the zipper foot that I have for my machine is basically useless. It’s just 1/8 of an inch slimmer on the edge. It’s still too wide to actually get the needle into the ditch of the piping like it needs to. This means that to get it perfect I should have made the piping by hand and then attached it to the bodice edges by hand. But let’s be serious, ain’t nobody got time for that. :/

I then spent a couple of weeks whipstitching the raw edges back into the lining.

bodiceI finally finished the raw edges this week, so today I hand sewed the rest of the trim onto the front of the bodice and attached the tabs. It looks like this now:

010v2I also cut out the skirt pieces and made a bum roll today. There’s still so much to do, and I’m sort of stalled right now because 1. I can’t figure out how to finish the armscyes in order to be able to lace sleeves onto them 2. I’m nervous to start working on the eyelets because I’m afraid to mess them up 3. I can’t decide if I want to try to sew the ribbon trim onto the skirt front using my machine or if I’m just going to suck it up and do it all by hand 4. I don’t have fabric for the back part of the underskirt right now.

I need to start my Victorian day dress soon if I’m going to try to have it done by December, but I’m a little afraid that if I put this one aside I’m going to end up never finishing it. Plus, usually if I have inspiration for a certain project, trying to redirect my energies into a different one it just ends in disaster. I might venture out tomorrow to get some cheap cotton for the underskirt for the court gown, and also grab some more muslin for the Victorian day dress bodice mock up.



Elizabethan Corset

One of the reasons it took me so long to start my Elizabethan court gown was that I first had to make a proper corset or set of stays. (Stays is the term that is historically used to describe the corsets that were worn during the Elizabethan period, but I am going to use the term corset here because that is the title of the pattern that I used to make mine.) I was originally going to use the Simplicity 2621 pattern, but had some concerns about sizing (and honestly at this point, I don’t remember what they were!). When I happened to mention it to a friend of mine in our local costuming group she directed me to a custom Elizabethan corset pattern generator that is free online from

The pattern generator is so easy to use! You just plug in your measurements (there is a diagram that shows how to take the measurements):

pattern generator

It walks you step by step through drafting up the pattern using your measurements:

pattern generator2

And then shows you how to sew a corset based on the pattern you just created:

pattern generator3

The directions have options for making a corset without tabs, a simple tabbed corset, or a corset that has tabs that are boned. I decided to make the simple tabbed corset, as I just liked the look of that one the best. I have a few in-progress pictures. This was after I had sewed the shell and lining together:


I wish I had added a third layer on the inside for extra strength, but for some reason I didn’t think of it at the time.

Here is a photo of the boning channels:


And photos of the finished product:

017v2 013v2

011v2 015v2

Somehow the point in the front center came out a little crooked. I think it was caused by uneven seam allowance while using my sewing machine to go around the curving point. If I wanted it perfect, I would do that part by hand next time, but with it being an undergarment that most people won’t see, I wasn’t too worried about it. I also need to invest in a better tool for setting eyelets. I’m looking into how to use an awl to prepare holes before sewing them, but I’m also considering just getting a pair of eyelet pliers to just pop the eyelets in. I’ve been using an eyelet hammer, and my ability to set the eyelets in properly just seemed to get worse and worse the more I used it. I now have several items that have lost eyelets because they were set in wrong. When I decide which method I’m going to switch to, I’ll try to remember to post pictures of the process the next time I have to set eyelets.