Tag Archives: Butterick 4254

Brand-new pink corset

Of course as soon as I got the antique pink corset I wanted to copy it. If only to get a better sense of how it is shaped. 

This is not such a replica. If anything, it’s a crude approximation, with little of the delicacy and grace of the original. Everything is too heavy—the fabric, the boning, even (especially) the lace. It is excused only by the fact that I REALLY wanted to do a work project with this pale-pink Chinese brocade, because, um, gorgeous. 

The pattern is my altered version of Butterick 4254. The fabric is a Chinese brocade, the strength layer made from ticking. I’m out of busks, so since this is a work project I subbed in something we do carry at work—hook and eye tape. It’s not as pretty as a busk, but a bit more delicate, which is in keeping with the style of the original. It’s also really annoying to hook up, by the way. 

I made a number of poor choices in the construction, but I will say that the top and bottom lace hides any number of sins, and enhances the Victorian-hourglass impression as well. 

It also got some little pink bows (Γ  la original) just in time for me to hang it up at work, but not in time for these quickie-bathroom-mirror pics. It is growing on me.

I made a princess-line chemise to go with it, mainly because a corset alone on a display mannequin looks a bit, ah, naked—fine for a contemporary corset, not quite the right look for a Victorian one. I was inspired by originals like this:

Although I didn’t want to do buttons, because time. Most of the princess-seamed chemises I could find online seem to come from 1900+, but The Home Needle (1882) mentions them so they were around. I couldn’t find any patterns I was super into, plus this is not exactly a proud piece of historical recreation, so I pulled out a princess-seam dress pattern, McCall’s M7189, in fact, though I think it doesn’t matter that much which exact one. I added a bit at the waist so I could slip it in without a closure, and deleted a bit at the top to add the lace neckline and straps—this took some interesting stretching and squishing of the lace to create the curve. There are two rounds of lace and I was completely astonished when it turned out to sit just right on my shoulders. 

Then I tried to save time while putting the ruffle on the bottom by using my ruffler foot to attach it, and had to tear it out three times because I made it too small. Dur!

All in all, though, I am satisfied with the overall look, given the limitations of my materials. 



Filed under Sewing

The Very Boring Corset

A very boring corset

A very boring corset (and some not-so-authentic underpinnings)

I promised my husband I’d make him a shirt, so of course I had to whip up another corset.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I went back to my Butterick 4254. First I re-traced all the pattern pieces 1/4″ narrower than before, then I made a few tweaks around the bust and waist. (Basically, more bust, less waist! Woohoo!) I decided I’m pretty happy with the overall length and shaping, I just wanted to refine the shape a bit more. Then, as I was sewing a quick mockup, I realized that my original pattern pieces seemed to be calling for 3/4″ seam allowances—and I’m pretty sure I sewed both my earlier mock ups and my blue corset with regular 5/8th seam allowances. Which explains where that extra 1/4″ on each piece came from. (I’m still glad I removed it, though, as I don’t need 3/4″ SAs to make channels for 1/4″ boning., and they cause issues like puckering, and or need clipping and things.)

Back view.

Back view.

Although I was tempted by the siren-song of some of my other fancy materials, I resisted, as I really needed this to be a quick sew that I could bang out of the way and move on to other projects. Like shirts for my husband. I did dare to cut into my precious coutil, though (I used about half of the 1m I have, so I still have another corset’s worth. πŸ˜‰ ). This is it, plain and un-covered, in a single layer, with serged seam allowances (so non-historical!) and hardly a lick of ornamentation.



The only reason the pretty purple ribbon is there as opposed to boring old twill tape like the bottom is my friend Steph gave it to me to use. I enclosed some narrow ribbon within it for a drawstring, and I do like being able to pull it in at the bust (especially as there’s a bit of extra room up there, as I said.)

Silhouette comparison

Silhouette comparison

I think the size is much better this time around—still roomy in hips and bust (arguably the bust is a little too roomy but I really don’t want compression in this region πŸ˜‰ ), with a smidge (or more than a smidge) more waist definition than before. And a perfectly reasonable, roughly parrallel lacing gap. By the way, I get a whole 2″ of waist compression out of this thing (unlike the other one, which actually doesn’t change my waist measurement at all once you add in the bulk of the corset itself.) I think that’s pretty much my limit, barring serious waist-training that just isn’t going to happen. I wasn’t really expecting more—there isn’t a lot of space between my hips and ribcage to squish in, and I’m a pretty rectangular shape to start.

Have another corset view

Have another corset view

One thing that really stands out is the difference the busk makes. For the first corset, I used a spoon busk, and while I did have to straighten a fair bit of the spooning as it wasn’t hitting at the right spot on my body (it would’ve needed to sit about 2″ lower to work properly) it still does help “hug in” the bottom front—there’s a very distinct gap (shadow) you can see in the newest corset at the bottom front. Not a big deal under petticoats, but something to tweak a bit if I want to make “fashion” versions. (Not sure where I’ll wear a “fashion” corset yet, but then again I’m not really sure where I’ll wear this full Victorian getup either.)

Lobster tail

Lobster tail

And here’s a shot of my American Duchess-style lobster-tail bustle, because I haven’t really done it justice on the blog (nor probably will get around to it, sadly) For this dress-up I experimented with fastening it a bit lower on my hips (rather than right at the waist). My theory is that it elongates my waist and gives me more room between butt and waist to build up the layers of bustled stuff in the back, though I couldn’t really say it makes much of a difference.

Steph in my corset!

One bit of fun I did have was stuffing a couple of my sewing friends (yes, real-life people I get together with and we MAKE STUFF! Slightly more than once in a blue moon) into the corset to see how it looked on different bodies. I think the answer is “better than on me”—but anyway, that was super fun.


Chrissy. She's probably going to kill me for picking this picture, but I love her face! ;)

Chrissy. She’s probably going to kill me for picking this picture, but I love her face! πŸ˜‰

It was really interesting to see it on different bodies, but even more fun to see their reactions to “corset shape” for the first time! πŸ™‚

With Authentic Vintage Photo Filters (TM)

With Authentic Vintage Photo Filters (TM)

And, well, just for fun, here’s the full ensemble again. Sorry for the cami under the corset—my chemise was awol and I was on a tight time-frame for taking the photos.

In other news, my last “Historical Clothing” workshop is this weekend at the Marr Residence. I’m nervous (cuz I always am) and a little sad that it’s the last, and wondering where to go from here… after all, I’m just about ready to start planning the outer dress!


Filed under Sewing

Remedial Corsetology II

Victorian Underoos

Victorian Underoos

I probably don’t need to say a lot here.

Back, with lacing.

First try-on.

I got lacing. (poly cord from Fabricland. Historically accurate? no. Functional? Absolutely.)

As Laurianna noticed in my last post, I forgot to allow space for boning outside of the back grommets. This is what I get for leapfrogging between different instructions, and not paying attention to details. I added some cording to the area for a bit of reinforcement (better than nothing?), but there is definitely some buckling along the lacing that could have been avoided. Lesson learned, hopefully to be applied next time. (Honestly, this is the kind of lesson I learn best from making mistakes. >_<)

Lacing grommets, cording, and bottom binding.

Lacing grommets, cording, and bottom binding.

I added self-bias binding along top and bottom, pulling it fairly tight to bring in the looseness along the bottom. I was a little worried halfway through that this would backfire and just look bunchy or lumpy, but it seems to be fine.

Lace flowers.

Lace flowers.

Since I had exactly five little lace flowers left over, I opted to add them to the front of the corset. I just cut them apart and Β hand-tacked them down. I think they’re cute (though maybe not very Victorian with that random asymmetrical design. Ah, well. At this point I’m going for impression, not detail.)

Corset back. Lace job by the fourteen-year-old.

Corset back. Lace job by the fourteen-year-old.

The corset is, technically, a little bit big. The two-inch lacing gap I used in my try-ons disappears pretty much entirely without too much difficulty, and I think I could stand tighter lacing at the waist. (Despite the above photo. However, if I wait to take new photos with the lacing done a bit better, you may never get this post, so, wonky lacing it is.)Β I love how it flares out over my hips, though, and I love the shape it has around the bottom, even though it isn’t, strictly speaking, really long enough over the hips.

The bust isn’t exactly too small, but I think if it were a bit larger, and shaped a bit differently (i.e. more defined), it would look better. It is technically alterable, should I choose to unpick and re-stitch the seams and boning-channels, but I’m going to leave it for the moment, partly because I hate alteration and partly because I want to test how it feels when worn for more than a few minutes of trying-on.

Full view

Full view

I haven’t really talked much about the chemise, have I? (I covered the drawers here.)

Closeup, with chemise.

Closeup, with chemise.

I used the yoke piece from Simplicity 9769 (If I’d had this pattern when I first started the corset-testing I would probably have used it rather than Butterick 4254, as it seems to have somewhat better reviews, but anyway….) This is more of an 1860s pattern than 1880s but, well, I like it , so there. πŸ˜‰ The rest I kinda offroaded, based on the instructions in The Home Needle and a fair bit of poetic license. I sewed up the yoke, with lace, fairly conventionally, but then I wound up taking the project with me to my mom’s family farm for a few family events over the winter, and while I can’t really run off to play with a sewing machine while I’m out there, I can definitely sit in the kitchen and hand-stitch and visit while everyone else around me cooks and cleans and does actual useful work. So the flat-felled seams of the main garment were all done by hand, as were the teeny little pin-tucks (facilitated by the woven-in stripe of the fabric, though they still aren’t perfect, which is fairly unforgivable given the stripe) and the lace-insertion.

A photo posted by Tanit-Isis (@tanitisis) on Dec 27, 2014 at 5:31pm PST

(Hmm. This attempt to embed from Instagram does not seem to be displaying on my browser. I will attempt to fix it when I get home. Sorry all!)

Full back.

Full back.

Then I got home and impatiently finished the hems using the teeniest rolled hem foot on my Pfaff. I love the teensyness of it, but kinda wish I’d stuck with the hand stitching just for, oh, I dunno, excessive old-fashioned-y-ness.

I think it's cute, anyway.

I think it’s cute, anyway.

I was pretty pleasantly surprised by how the look works all together. (OK, I think it’s cute, anyway.) I like the three together better than any of the individual pieces (well, except maybe the corset.)

Next up: the petticoat(s)! (OMG I might actually have to start thinking about the actual dress. (But not before I tackle bustles. Ooooh, scary!)


Filed under Sewing

Remedial Corsetology


Almost a corset.


Remember when I did a mock-up for a corset? Yeah, me neither (well, barely.) I think it was last spring sometime? Anyway, finally this past weekend I had—wait for it—leisure time! Nothing that needed to be made with an instant deadline! (And my husband wasn’t playing Final Fantasy 14, which is also sapping the sewing time these days. I’m not gonna apologize for that, though, down-time is down-time and I love back-seat gaming.)

So, after spending most of my Saturday puttering around tidying the perpetual mess that is the sewputer room and finishing the odd UFO and repair, I finally got the itch to pull out the altered pattern for Butterick 4254 and bash out a second toile. (swayback adjustment and a variety of take-a-bit-out-here, add-a-bit-there-type alterations.) And then made some alterations to that, and then finally bit the bullet and started in.


Pretty details.


The fashion fabric is a lightweight twill with a toile-ish print that I spent ages ogling at my local Fabricland about two years ago. It was 70% off, but I was dead broke and couldn’t justify a random purchase, especially since I didn’t have any idea what I would make with it. Then it sold out, and I was sad. Then, one day, I happened to be at the *other* Fabricland in town (which never happens), and guess what I found… in the bargain centre for $2.00/m.

At that price, even stone-broke me could justify it. The last 2m came home with me… and have sat taking up space in my basement ever since, although I did hit on the idea of using some for a corset a year or so ago.

I chickened out on using my precious coutil (ordered along with spiral steel boning and grommets from Farthingales corset in Ontario) for this first run, instead using a sturdy white twill I got as a hand-me-down from a friend’s de-stash. We’ll see if I regret this later on.




For my instructions, I pretty much followed “The Basics of Corset Making,” for a double-layer, alterable corset. As per the pattern, all the bone casings are on the seams of the panels, and I just serged the edges before topstitching them down, so historical this is not (even though I’m going for a fairly traditional sort of look. I think. >_<) The only other place I added a casting channel was beside the grommets in the back, as I thought it would need a bit more support in that area. Having a channel on each side of each seam makes for what seems like a LOT of bones, but I guess that’s not a bad thing?


Grommets & setting tools


I think my least favourite part of the whole construction was setting the grommets for the back lacing. I ordered grommets, as I said, from Farthingales, just to see how they compare to the ones available at Fabricland. The Farthingales ones have a much wider rim compared to the hole size, which makes them look larger and seem much more substantial, so that’s nice. The setter that came with them (and I don’t recall if it was separate or included), though, was identical to the Unique-brand one I have from Fabricland… that I’ve always used for grommets the next size up. The cupped base fit the wider rim of these grommets nicely, but I found the upper part, that you hammer on, was just too wide to fit in the small hole—I wound up using the upper part of a grommet-setter I already have, for the smaller size grommets. This worked quite well, but if all I’d had was the one that came with, I would’ve been unhappy. It’s not even the hammering that I dislike, (I can say this because I only hammered my fingers once this time.), it’s the poking-hole-and-then-working-grommet


Set grommets. (Baggie to the left is Unique-brand eyelets with the same hole-size, but much narrower rings so they look smaller.)


I haven’t been able to do a proper try on, since I’m still lacking a real lacing cord (I thought I had ordered one when I ordered the grommets and coutil but, um, apparently I forgot to change the “1” metre measurement to the 8 I was intending to order, so, um, one metre of lacing does not do me a hell of a lot of good.) and none of my piddly little wire-cutters are really up to cutting the spiral steel. I did manage to pick up a more robust wire-cutter after work yesterday, and spent the evening merrily cutting and tipping bones, but I won’t be able to get lacing cord before tomorrow at the earliest.

ANYWAY, I was startled how much waist reduction I did get just as a quick, bone-free try on (before my cotton string “lacing cord” broke)… well, reduction for me, anyway. I have very little space between my ribcage and hips, and my ribcage is tubular, or maybe just barrel-shaped. As in, doesn’t taper towards the bottom. Let’s just say I’m not expecting dramatic results.


Corset front with spoon busk.


I did have to un-bend the curve of the spoon busk, as it doesn’t fall in the right place for this style (it was that or replace the busk. >_<) I’m a little disconcerted how hard that wasn’t. And I may yet have to take apart the front bustline seams as I’m not convinced the bust curve is in the right place, but I don’t want to make that call until I can do a proper try-on, which won’t happen until I can get some approximation of lacing cord, maybe later this week.



Looking curvy! (by my standards.)

I kind of got ahead of myself in the finishing department, adding lace and binding to the top of the corset. I will probably regret that when/if I do have to re-shape the bust seams. Oh, well. The lace was one of those random remnants that floats about a stash, but there was just enough to do the top of the corset—perfect. (OK, with five flowers left over. I’ll call that perfect.)


More pretty details.

I hope I can make it work once I get to try it on, because I think it’s really pretty right now…


Filed under Sewing