Queen of Hearts Corset



Andrea Knight


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Peter Dolan, husband & photographer

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

Resources include:
-#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




  1. Avatar Lorraine on March 11, 2021 at 7:51 pm

    You did a very nice job on this corset!

  2. Avatar Laura Boyles on March 12, 2021 at 12:16 am

    What a striking, beautiful corset, beautifully sewn. I’d love to see the rest of the outfit. Best of luck x

  3. Avatar Ann Murphy on March 12, 2021 at 4:57 am

    Your corset is lovely and so well sewn. Good luck with the rest of your costume.

  4. Avatar Andrea Olinte on March 12, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    Good fabric choice. Specially like the litte heart lace.

  5. Avatar Carolien van Alphen on March 12, 2021 at 7:21 pm

    Wow, great job tackeling a corset as your second sewing project. It fits beautifully. Very well done!

  6. Avatar Anne on March 12, 2021 at 9:16 pm

    It is beautiful, its so gorgeous!! I LOVE the material. Good on you for pulling through despite your disability. Strong work!

  7. Avatar Debbi on March 13, 2021 at 9:27 am

    This is so pretty. I just love that you tried so many new to you things and shared with us how it went for you. I applaud both your work and your get it done- ness.

  8. Avatar Kathleen LaFlamme on March 14, 2021 at 3:24 am

    This is beautiful. It’s your second piece of clothing and you made a corset? Impressive!

  9. Avatar Melissa on March 15, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    Such a beautiful corset, especially for a first piece! well done!

  10. Avatar Valerie on March 17, 2021 at 1:39 am

    Fabulous fabric and trim choices, and impeccable construction work! Beautifully done!

  11. Avatar Suzi Smart on March 17, 2021 at 6:08 pm

    Amazing choices is fabric and trim. The fit looks amazing in you. Kudos!

  12. Avatar Diana Kocunik on March 18, 2021 at 9:38 pm

    Wonderful Job! Love the fabric and lace choices.

  13. Avatar Pentti Lahti on March 20, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    Lovely take on Queen of Hearts! This screams QoH but it’s not costumey at all! Nice work!

  14. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 23, 2021 at 12:30 am

    Wow, this is beautiful. I love the lacing. Very well done, thank you!

  15. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 26, 2021 at 6:50 am

    Lovely fabric choices, great job!

  16. Avatar Benigna on March 26, 2021 at 10:27 am

    This looks amazing! I really like the fabric you chose, it fits the Queen of Hearts really well.

  17. Avatar Jennifer Earle on March 28, 2021 at 7:25 pm

    This is absolutely stunning work. ❤️

  18. Avatar Kikkii von Fustian on March 29, 2021 at 10:58 pm

    Beautiful work! This has such a great shape and fit, well done <3

  19. Avatar Lizzie Blake on April 1, 2021 at 8:34 pm

    I love your fabric choice so much <3 The finished garment is beautiful

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