Fluffy up front

So now that I have an Edwardian skirt, obviously I need a proper blouse to go with it. You know the kind—the ones that are mostly lace. But those are, y’know, notably sheer, and my current corset is, y’know, black, so a corset cover is kind of in order.

Now, ever since I started the Victorian Sewing Circle I’ve been collecting “resources” for attendees. Mainly some reproduction catalogues and a couple of original sewing manuals, some older Folkwear patterns my mom had kicking around, and of course the relevant Janet Arnold book. But we’ve received a few donations as well of odds and ends people have collected—including an Edwardian corset-cover pattern someone had painstakingly hand-traced from a magazine article, and photocopied the instructions, I’m guessing in the 90s if not 80s, allegedly based on a 19-aughts original. It’s also, by the way, the exact opposite of size-inclusive. I sewed up the largest size, which was intended for a 40-42” bust.

Inspiration: Random Pinterest photo with a broken source link.

So since I had that on hand, I used it. But, the pattern is designed for vertical pintucks and lace insertion as decoration, and I wanted the horizontal lace ruffle (bust improving) version.


If I were buying a pattern, this Truly Victorian one would be the one. View A, right there.

My pattern is a little different as it goes below the waist and has gathering at the neckline as well, but the ruffle layout was the same.

I also wanted to take this opportunity, because I’m kind of messing around here, and the result won’t be visible, to use up some of the massive stash of questionable lace I’ve somehow accumulated.

Now, on digging through one of the bins of random white fabrics, I settled on a piece of stretch cotton sateen. The stretch is a bit unfortunate, but I already knew I wasn’t going for high historical accuracy here. It’s also a bit on the heavy side, but I figured that would be a bonus for the bust-volumizing I was going for. But most importantly, it was a tiny remnant that was just exactly big enough for a sleeveless pattern like this.

Of course, I didn’t begin diving through the lace stash until after I had cut out the main body pieces. Turns out the wider, ruffled laces I remembered were all beige, rather than white. And I really did not feel like gathering up a flat, nasty polyester lace for this purpose.

So, I wound up going with the nicest, and lightest coloured, of the off-white pre-ruffled lace. And this one is very pretty, not too nasty-feeling, and there was enough for the two ruffles I wanted, with very little left over. It’s a weird lace, with a ruffled top and bottom joined to a flat kind of connecting piece, but I think it will serve its purpose. And if I want to run ribbons through the joining I can.

If I had realized I would end up using the off-white lace before I had cut out the main fabric, I would probably have tried tea-dying the fabric to be a closer match. I might still try with the whole thing, after I test how the lace reacts to a tea dye. (Polyester won’t be affected but if it’s nylon it will take up the tea stain too and might end up even darker). But, I’ll survive either way. The binding I used for the neckline and armscye, and the drawstring casing at the waist, are all ivory, so the whole thing has a tone-on-tone vibe, in theory.

I REALLY wanted beading lace (the flat kind you thread a ribbon through) to finish off the neckline. However, that’s the one kind of lace I do not have in stash, and I just couldn’t make myself spring for the polyester stuff at Fabricland, even if the ruffled lace is already polyester. So I bound the neckline, then realized I had JUST enough lace left to do a third tier right at the neckline. Which solved the issue nicely.

A lil bit goofy all on its own.

Now, on looking at the finished creation, I think my lace might be just a little bit too wide. The ruffles are VERY full-bodied, even allowing for the part where the original inspirations are a little compressed after over a century.

In an attempt to tone them down a bit, I shortened the bottom row of lace, so that doesn’t reach all the way around to the side seam, as it just seemed to make the whole thing look huge.

I kept the pintucks in the back, but I think maybe they should have been 1/8” instead of 1/4” tucks. Also this is the only photo I got of the back, because obviously this piece is all about the front. This is the first time in a long time that I was working with a pattern with pre-marked tucks (as opposed to making the tucks before cutting out the pattern piece, or just doing some calculations and I have decided I much prefer marking my folds one at a time and measuring from each fold to the next. But also this fabric was a bit heavy for all those tucks.

I’m not 100% sure I’m in love with the below-the-waist ruffle created by the drawstring as it’s pretty pronounced in my heavy fabric, but I guess if I hate it I can cut it off later. It was on the pattern, and would be good to have if your skirt didn’t have an above-the-waist portion like mine.

While I’m not so sure I love the piece itself, I THINK I do like it with my skirt, and that it will work well for it’s intended bust-improving purpose. Part of me wants to take the entire bottom row of lace off, but I’ll leave it at least for now.

Because now I can make a blouse!

(Or. Y’know, make the twins that “Elsa mermaid” costume they’ve been desperate for since before Christmas.)


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