Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Look Back on Corsets/Bodices

***  UPDATED to include newer bodices/corsets  ***
A comment made during my early corsets/bodices experimenting has been stuck in the back of my mind to this day.  Someone basically said all corsets pretty much look the same.  And, that is just simply not true.  I've learned so much about proper fitting and different styles after studying what was popular throughout history.  Each style has a particular purpose for a different silhouette.  I've been looking back through the corsets/bodices I've created with can tabs these past years.  I thought putting them all side by side would be a neat comparison.  This ought to show the naysayers that corsets, especially those made of tabs don't all have to look alike, right?  (You can click the image below for a larger view.)

These were my tabistry interpretations in order of creation* from left to right:

  1. Empire Waist Bodice 2008, inspired by late 18th century Italian. (turned into belly dance costume)
  2. Cone-shaped Bodice 2008, inspired by 16th century bodices.
  3. Waist Cincher 2008/2015, inspired by "waspies", or short corsets of the 1900's. *
  4. Hourglass Corset 2009, inspired by the Victorian hourglass shape.  (used in this ballgown outfit),
  5. Underbust Steampunk Corset 2012, inspired by underbusts worn throughout history.
  6. Victorian Gusseted Corset 2013, inspired by Victorian Hourglass/Pipe Stem styles.
  7. Tabbed Stays 2013, inspired by long triangular 18th century stays.
  8. Underbust with Bra 2015, warrior woman inspired modern style set.

*  The waist cincher (third on over) is a reconstruction after I cannibalized the original to reuse the tabs on other things. (So glad I don't have to resort to that anymore!)  The one shown was actually completed after the red/black gusseted corset (#6).

There are also a few pieces that are not shown here.  They are the green bodice I made my mother, a pink bodice for my daughter, and my Turkish Vest/Bodice.  One other is a cupped corset I started and never finished.  I took some progress pics of the cupped corset a long time ago, but I never seemed to get the fit right.

I think I've come a long way.  Of all the styles, I've found that the Victorians really took their corsetry to new levels.  They can be quite complex.  If you're curious, I think the Gusseted Corset is my most successful and easy to recreate.  (This is one reason it is the first to become a tutorial.)  The middle corset above, light blue and tan, was the most difficult to construct/alter due to the shape of the individual panels.

Its funny how I took these shots (except the last one) awhile back when I'd had a little too much sun.  I was pretty proud of myself for lacing them all on my own for the pics.  Some need a bit of adjustment, but I didn't have an assistant available to help.

In the future, I would like to attempt a few other styles such as a more S-curve corset and revisit stays and modern cupped styles.  I'll hopefully be posting the changes to the Tabbed Stays in the near future.  I plan to wear it this weekend to Scarby ren faire.  Crossing fingers I can get some decent pics.  And, of course, I've still got several tutorials on my to do list.


  1. Wow. Simply amazing- you are very talented.

    1. Thank you, Lisa. Not sure it's as much talent as it is determination. :)

  2. Me encanta tu trabajo, me gustaria saber si tienes tutoriales de todos ellos, para poder hacer yo misma un corset, sombrero ... todo

  3. I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago (from one of your pattern listings on etsy no less) and I was wondering how supportive the tab corsets are. I've been contemplating making one, but I'm rather oversized in the chest department (a full 15" larger than my ribcage egads) and I was wondering if the tabs would support well enough on their own or if I'd be better off adding some boning to it (I have some spiral steels cannibalized out of an old corset turned into a costume piece as the boning starting coming out).

    1. I believe there is a enough flex for comfort with a little stretch that should support a larger bust. The weave I use is rigid. The corset will stand up on it's own on a table, And, the weave is strong enough to give moderate waist reduction. My mother can attest to this. She had to remove her tab corset after eating a large meal. However, neither of us is "well endowed" :) However, the material you use and the tightness of the weave will play a huge part in how much support you get from it. You could try adding the boning for extra support. Or use a less flexible weaving material in the bust area. I've used a satin ribbon waist tape and a busk before. They helped prevent some stretch/flex. The gusseted corset style can also be worn comfortably with a bra, if needed.