Categories: "Working with patterns"

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  10:55:00 am, by Heather   , 1382 words  
Categories: Working with patterns, This and That

First, let me say that this pattern is one of the best corset pattern available today. I love this pattern and can fit any size and shape with relative ease. However, is does have a few quirks and can require a few tweeks to get the most benefit out of it.
The following suggestions are little tricks and quips about my experiences with this pattern. I am listing them here to give beginners a guiding hand.

A. Which to choose, the Dore style or the Silverado?

These two styles are both used from 1860 until 1898, so you want to pick the style that is most appropriate to your body type. Basically, the Dore style with the straight seam construction will tend to de-accentuate a full bustline. The Silverado will tend to emphasize the bustline. In my experience, smaller busted figures will greatly improve their figure with the Silverado style. Larger busted figures will generally have a more pleasing appearance with the Dore style. My general rule of thumb: A-cup, B-cup, and C-cup figures should wear the Silverado, while D-cup and larger figures should wear the Dore. The D-cup figure in the Silverado will have the bustline lifted and presented in an unglamorous position below the chin, which is not the proper look for the Victorian Era.

Another consideration for which corset to style to choose would be your level of sewing skills. The Dore style is much easier to put together, while the Silverado requires a little more effort. A person making a corset for the first time, who does not have access to assistance, may wish to try the Dore first in order to get a feel for what corset making entails. Corset are not difficult to make, but they are intimidating, and require precision sewing.


B. How do I choose which size I need?

This is the hardest part about making a corset, finding the proper size. Once again, for this corset, I have a few basic rules:


1. You need to pick a cup size.

For this pattern, the cup sizes run somewhat large. The choice of cup size may be altered by the next step, but this will give you a place to start.

If you are a very small A-cup, you should choose the A cup pattern.
If you are a moderate A-cup, B-cup, or small C-cup size, you should cut the B cup pattern.
If you are a larger C-cup or D-cup, you should choose the C cup pattern
If you are a DD-cup or DDD-cup, you should choose the D-cup pattern.
I have not yet found a person who needed a larger than D-cup pattern. And I have fit many large figures. You will have to possess an extreme figure to require the DD and DDD cup patterns.


2. Looking at the size chart.

The size chart as given on the envelope is basically for the B cup size patterns only. If in step A above, you chose a different cup size, you will need to make adjustments to the measurements on the charts. The reason for this is that the A cup pattern will remove 2" of fabric from the standard B cup size. The C cup pattern will add 2" of fabric to the standard size. The D cup pattern will add 4" to the standard size. These changes are not reflected on the single size chart provided in this pattern.

Below, I have created the separate size charts needed for each cup size.



A-cup Size Adjusted Chart

Size 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26
Bust 28 1/2 29 1/2 30 1/2 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46
Waist 23 24 25 26 1/2 28 30 32 34 36 38 40
Hip 32 1/2 33 1/2 34 1/2 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50


B-cup Size Adujusted Chart

Size 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26
Bust 30 1/2 31 1/2 32 1/2 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48
Waist 23 24 25 26 1/2 28 30 32 34 36 38 40
Hip 32 1/2 33 1/2 34 1/2 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50


C-cup Size Adujusted Chart

Size 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26
Bust 32 1/2 33 1/2 34 1/2 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50
Waist 23 24 25 26 1/2 28 30 32 34 36 38 40
Hip 32 1/2 33 1/2 34 1/2 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50


D-cup Size Adujusted Chart

Size 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26
Bust 34 1/2 35 1/2 36 1/2 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52
Waist 23 24 25 26 1/2 28 30 32 34 36 38 40
Hip 32 1/2 33 1/2 34 1/2 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50


3. Finding your size on the size chart.

Now it is time to compare your personal body measurments, non-corseted, to the charts to select a size. Looking at the size chart for your cup size, follow the general rules below:
  • You want to select an individual size for each part of your body to acheive a good fit. The corset should conform to your body, not conform your body to a corset. You may be a size 18 bust, a size 16 waist and a size 20 hip. That is fine. You should trace your pattern out on a new peice of paper, fading in and out to the various size lines as needed.
    If you need to enlarge the hip area to a bigger size, change only the seams at the side and back of the corset. Do Not enlarge the front seams below the waist, as this will cause the tummy part of the corset to swell outwards.
  • This pattern generally runs large. This is caused by streatch of the fabric, and compaction of the body by the corset. As result, if you need a size 14 or larger, reduce the pattern by one size automatically. For example, If you you match the size 18 on the chart, cut out a size 16 instead. Very large sizes may need to reduce the pattern by 2 sizes.
  • If at any time, your chosen waist size is larger than your chosen bust size, reduce the cup size to the next smaller size and start the selection proccess over. A D-cup figure combined with a large waist will require a smaller pattern cup size.
  • If you want to be able to tight lace and reduce your waistline, be sure that the hip area is large enough to allow for the change. When tight lacing, the waist is compacted, which will relocate the body both up into the chest area, and down into the hip area. If the top and bottom of your corset do not allow for this expansion, you will not be able to pull in the waist.
  • The top of the corset should come up to mid-nipple level. If you corset is too short, lengthen the pattern by cutting and spreading the pattern where marked to the needed length. If the corset come up too high, I like to shorten the pattern by simply cutting the top to the desired height. The reason is I find that the point at which the corset begins to expand for the bust is somewhat low. If you cut and shorten the pattern in the middle, this will drop the bust area to near the waist.
  • The bottom of the corset should end high enough so that it does not dig into your legs or pelvis when you sit down. Shorten the corset by cutting it off at the hem as needed for a good fit.

C. Other general fitting notes.

  • The corset should have a 2"-3" gap at the center back when laced. If you have too small of a gap, you should make the corset one size smaller next time. If you have over 4" gap, you should make the corset bigger next time.


  • When laced, the center back edges of the corset should be fairly straight, top to bottom. If you have wide differences in the gap, the corset will tend to pinch and be very uncomfortable. For example, If you have a 3" gap at the top, 1" gap at the waist, and 5" gap at the bottom, you will be miserable. In this case the waist needs to be made a smaller size and the hips a larger size, to accheive an even 3" gap top to bottom.


  • The more bones that are in your corset, the more confortable the coset will be to wear. The bones should be placed at every seam, and between the seams as needed to make the distance between the bones to less than 3". Larger figures may require more bones than smaller figures.


  • Spiral steel boning should be used in the front of the Silverado corset, to curve around the cup gores. You can use the spiral boning everywhere else as well, EXCEPT at the center back on either side of the grommets, which must be spring steel.


  • Use only 1/4" wide steel boning. Anything less will not hold properly. Using wider boning will not add support but will be unconfortable. The largest figures will have full support with the 1/4" wide bones.


  • I personally like to use the 00 size of gormmets. These are smaller than the normal size, which allows the fabric to be stretched, rather than cut, to make a hole. This will give a stronger grip on the grommet.


  12:39:00 pm, by Heather   , 593 words  
Categories: Working with patterns

I would like to talk about a couple issues that have popped up with 1903 Trumpet Skirt - TVE21 skirt pattern.    One which is entirely my fault, and the other is one which I have seen pop up a few times when alterations to this pattern go wrong. 

First up, the problem of.....  What the heck to I do with the Placket Facing piece?  I can't find it mentioned in the instructions anywhere, what did I miss?  Well, you didn't miss anything.  This pattern piece should not be on this pattern.  The long story is that I was mulling over two different means of finishing this skirt;  one way was with the lining skirt attached to the skirt proper, and the other way was to have a separate lining.   In the end, I went with the attached lining, in which case, you do not need the facing piece for the placket.   If you choose to make the lining skirt up as a separate petticoat, then you will need the placket facing.  I should have deleted the extra piece, but left it on there.    I am very sorry for the confusion this has caused so many people.  I really need to delete that piece.

Ok, so now to the fun part.   On this pattern, I have two back options, a pleated short back, or a long habit (plain) back.  Usually, when I give options like this, I like the cover the bases and draw things so it will all mix-n-match with all the option combinations.  Unfortunately, in this case,  the pattern ran off the edge of the paper, so I couldn't do that, and instead of offering pleated back in long or short, I just have the short version.  And this has lead to people asking, "can I combine the two and make the long pleated back?"  I answer with a simple yes, and leave it at that, thinking what could possibly go wrong?  And then I saw the results, and smacked my head on the wall.  I never even saw it coming. 

At right,  is the pattern piece I am talking about, and you can see the two options as drawn.  The blue lines are the short pleated back, and the orange line is the long habit back.

So when people asked if they could combine the two, apparently this is what they were thinking was the correct way to do it.  At right, the red line is where they just extended each of the lines they wanted to follow.  The problem is, that this creates a skirt that curved up  shorter in the center back.  Ooops!  How did that happen?  In short, do not lengthen it this way!!!

This is all my fault, of course. I didn't clarify, and I should have. The next diagram at the right, with the green lines, shows how to properly lengthen the pleated back to the longer length. Start by extending the first pleat line to the longer length line. Then from that point, run the new hem lines parallel to the original hem line. 

Oddly enough, no one has ever asked about making the habit back in the short length.  But just in case, here is how to do it.  Starting with the short hemline at the first pleat line, continue with a line parellel to the long hemline until you get to the Habit back line.

Ok, I think those are all the quirks in this pattern.  Hopefully, this will help people get through the pattern without tearing thier hair out over either of these problems.


  11:26:00 pm, by Heather   , 498 words  
Categories: Taking your Measurements

There are two measurements that are used for fitting a sleeve;  circumference of the armhole, and the length of the arm. As many people are built a little differently from left side to right side, I highly recommend that you measure both sides. These differences can be caused by differences in muscle mass from being right or left handed, or changes that happen with age, or injury.  It is a very rare person that is evenly symmetrical from side to side.

The armhole measurement should be taken around the top of the arm, passing  under the armpit and over the edge of the shoulder, taken close but not tight.  The arm should be hanging naturally at the side.  This measurement will give the overall width for the sleeve, as well as the size of the armhole on the bodice.  







If the right and left sides are slightly different, you can usually use the smaller measurement for your sleeve side.  The patterns are drafted with ease in the sleeves, so there is a little extra room to play with.   This works well if you want a tighter sleeve.  If you want a moderate sleeve, then go with the larger measurement.  If the left and right sides are more than 1/2" different, then you might want to take the average of the two sides. 

The second measure is the sleeve length.  This is measured from the front of the armpit straight down to the bone at the front of the wrist.  Place a ruler high up under the arm to help define where the armpit is.  Make sure to stand easy, with your shoulder down and back, and your arm hanging at your side. 
An interesting note about fitting sleeves.  A great many sleeves are ruined by the armhole fitting poorly.  The sleeve always assumes that the armhole it is being sewn into is correct.  In otherwords, a sleeve is drafted to fit the measurements, and any extra puffyness, width of shoulder,  or style options are added to sleeve based on the style wanted.  Which means that the armhole of the bodice needs to be correct for the style, as well.  If you make any fitting changes to your bodice, like cutting the armhole edge up to the correct possition for the time period, or where it fits on your body, then you do not make any changes to your sleeve to match the armhole changes.  The only time you need to alter the sleeve is if you change the style,  not the fit, of the armhole.   For example, if you are making an 1880's bodice, then when you are fitting your bodice, make sure that you create an armhole correct for that time period.  Then the 1880's sleeve will always fit to your adapted armhole, so long as the armhole conforms the the 1880's standard.   (This is contrary to modern sleeves and armhole, where if you make any changes to the one, you need to change the other to compensate.) 


  01:31:01 pm, by Heather   , 812 words  
Categories: Taking your Measurements

Most length measurements start somewhere but usually end at the waistline.  Which means that knowing exactly where your waistline is, is absolutely critical.    Before you start, take a ribbon or string and tie it around your waist, at the narrowest point of you body.  The string much be horizontal to the floor, front to back.   Some people believe that  their waist is lower in the front, and want to push the string down.  But unless you are wearing an Edwardian corset, the waist never dips in the front.

If you are wearing a corset, then the placement of the string is very easy to get. Without a corset, it usually isn't where you think it is. The modern style has the waistline at or just above the hip. But the reality is that your waist is usually about 2" above your navel, or even with your lowest rib. If in doubt, start there.

Back Length

The length measurement most people are familiar with is the Back Length.   This is measured from the base of your neck, down the spine, to the waist.  While taking this measure, is it crucial that you stand straight, with your head level.  If you duck your head forwards, you will lengthen your spine and get too long a measure.  Start at the top of the large bone at the base of the neck, and measure straight down to the string at the waist.

Easy and simple.   This measure is listed on the size charts, and helps you choose sizes to select a pattern length that matches your body length.  However, it really is only half of the issue.  There are two sections of your body that make up the total back length.  The upper back, from armpit level to nape of neck, and the lower back from armpit level down to the waist.  And not everyone follows the same proportion rules of upper to lower black.

Side Length

I don't talk about the side length in the patterns, because I find most people don't want to sew with math.  And any needed adjustments can be made during your mockup.  But for those who want to solve problems on the pattern before the mock up, this is an excellent measure to get a good fit at the beginning.

For this measure, you will need a straight edge of some kind, like a ruler.  Place the ruler high up under the armpit, parallel with the floor from front to back.  Drop your arm and stand comfortably straight, with shoulder down and back.  Make sure the person is not lifting their shoulder!!  Then measure from the top of the ruler, just at the front of the arm, straight down to the string at the waist.


The Hidden Math

So now that you have these measures, what do they mean and how do they relate to the patterns?  I have discovered that a person's body length really has nothing to do with a person's overall size anymore.   Unlike modern size charts, which get longer when they get larger.   Truly Victorian chose to keep the side length the same for all the sizes.  And that side length is 9". Which means that if your side length is anything other than 9", you know you need to adjust the lower body length by the exact difference.   For example, if you measure 9 1/2" side length, then you know that you need to lengthen the entire bodice pattern, (Front, Side, Side Back , Back) by 1/2", between the armpit and the waist.  Or the opposite, if you measure 8 1/2" side length, you will need to shorten the pattern by 1/2".    (More on how to manipulate the pattern in another post.)

OK, so far so good.  Lets move on to the second part of the math.

If you make any adjustments for the lower back length to your pattern, remember to add or subtract that to the overall back length of the pattern.  For example:   you added 1/2" to the pattern length for your side measure.  If the pattern originally measured 16" back length, when you added the 1/2", the total pattern back length now measures 16 1/2".

And, now the last bit of math.

Now, compare the newly adjusted pattern back length to your measured back length.  If there is any difference, then this difference must be added or removed from the upper section of the Back pattern piece.  For example: the new adjusted pattern length is 16 1/2".  Your back length measurement is only 16".  This means that you need to shorten the upper back pattern by 1/2".  OR if you measure 17" back length, you will need to add 1/2" to the upper back pattern.

You may end up shortening both upper and lower sections, or lengthening both sections.  Or you may have to shorten one section and the lengthen the other.   It can get a little confusing, so go one step at a time.



  11:06:14 pm, by Heather   , 473 words  
Categories: Taking your Measurements

The Back Width measure is the second-most important measurement with Truly Victorian patterns. It is a rather hard measure to take, more guessed at than decidedly placed.   But once you get an idea of where to measure to and from, it really isn't that much of a problem.

And the really good news is that with the TV sizing system, even if you get the back width  wrong, you still have a pattern that fits. It also means you can fudge it if you need to make the pattern a little easier to work with. For example, if the math tells you that you need a size that is beyond the range of the pattern, you can adjust the back width to a number that gets you back on the chart again.

So what exactly does the back width do, if it doesn't matter what number you measure?  It basically tells you where along the bust measure your armhole is placed. The armhole placement determines where the back ends and front begins and the proportions of front to back.   This helps give you a different pattern  that suits both 42AA bust and a 42DDD.  The 42AA bust has more room in the back and less in the front, whereas the 42DDD has less room in the back and more room in the bust.    The armhole placement can also be adjusted for manually, during a mockup fitting, so making changes to back width measure can still be worked around if needed.  As you will always have the 42" needed to get around your body, it will fit no matter what, but you might need to make extra modifications.

I love the historical idea of this measurement, and how it relates to the sizing system.  Today, we just measure the front and the back and go from there. But in Victorian time, men (tailors) where starting to make women's clothing.  And it would be a horrible breach of propriety for a man to be "fondling" a woman's bust to take measurements.  So the idea was to measure the whole, from behind as discussed in the previous chapter, and then  measure the back.  When you subtract the back from the whole, whatever is left has to be the front by default.

So, how do you take the measurement?  The first step is to find the point on the back of the shoulder where the arm seems to attach to the back.  Many of the old manuals say to measure from dress armhole seam across the back, but if you don't have a dress already, that doesn't help much.    Halfway between the bottom of the armhole, and the top of the shoulder, at the back of the arm, is the "sweet spot".   Once you have found the place, measure across the back from one side to the other.

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