FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
Queen of Hearts Corset
Outline the story …
During the pandemic, I re-read Lewis Caroll’s "Alice in Wonderland", published in 1865. The book felt appropriate in the context of surreal life in quarantine and absurdity of US politics and current events. The promise of a vaccine prompted me to begin planning a Mad Hatter’s Tea & Queen’s Croquet Party in the distant future. For any good themed party, I need the proper themed attire, in this case, a Queen of Hearts 1865 croquet dress!
I began my project with the under garments, starting with an 1860’s corset fitting the Queen of Hearts. This corset will serve as a foundation layer for a Queen of Hearts inspired “croquet dress” yet to come.
I found inspiration in an 1860’s croquet skirt in the Manchester City collection (see mood board) and playing cards of the era. I made selections inspired by book themes like the red roses and the geometric patterns inspired by 1865 British fashion including the graphic, geometric patterns of gowns in the era and the curvy corset shapes. I also studied the original woodblock prints by Tennyson and reviewed Wilcox's The Mode in Costume, but they were more helpful for dress ideas than for corsetry.
It was during the planning phases while I waited for supplies to arrive that Cathy Hay announced this competition. I couldn't be happier to have some extra motivation to complete this corset and challenge myself to put it out there for others to see.
Outline the construction…
I am newer to sewing; this is my second piece of attire. Since my last sewing project, I've developed a disability that causes mental fog and pain, and impacts my memory & energy. I have spent the past several years watching many historical costuming videos on YouTube during my illness. Current treatments are helping, and I was excited to start a project!
After much deliberation, I selected the Laughing Moon Mercantile’s 1840-1900 corset pattern, The Dore. The selection of fabric includes a black with silver and red diamond broche coutil to echo the shapes of playing cards in a graphic way characteristic of 1865 ladies’ clothing, while the lining is a tone on tone red rose coutil representing the Queen’s rose garden, both from Vena Cava Design.
Techniques included sizing a pattern, making 2 mockups, inserting a busk, setting eyelets with an awl, installing a waist-tape, hand basting seams of the layers together, hand sewing lace, and lacing the corset. Most intimidating was top-stitching the boning channels, and hand sewing the satin ribbon as binding using a combination of whip, slip, and pick stitches. I’ve never done hand sewing before.
I followed the pattern, except I used AreanaBlakck’s “sandwich method” for handling the layers of coutil for the boning channels
-#100 pattern from Laughing Moon Mercantile
-Motivational & sewing videos from Cathy Hay, Bernadette Banner, Costuming Drama, Abby Cox, and Nicole Rudolph, among others
-Technical corset-making videos from Starkers Corsets and AreanaBlack
-My 7th grade home-economics machine-sewing class