Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Week Costume Series: Renaissance Festival Outfit With Truly Victorian 110 Corset

Happy Halloween and welcome to the final post in my Halloween costume miniseries! (See posts 1 and 2.)

While I'm not planning to wear this costume for Halloween this year, I did make and wear it recently, so I thought I'd post a bit about it.

Two years ago, one of my friends took me to the Maryland Renaissance Festival (don't ask how I lived my entire life in Maryland and had never been before -- I seriously have no idea) and I was instantly and irrevocably hooked.

Fast forward to this past spring. One of the ladies in my sewing group is very interested in Civil War-era garment construction and offered to give a little class on corset-making.

A corset is not something I generally have need of in my daily life, but I figured I could turn it into a Renaissance Festival costume and learn some interesting construction techniques, so I went for it. I'm going to put this out there now: My costume is in no way historically accurate -- it's just for fun.

The corset was made from Truly Victorian 110.

In class, we made mockups -- for which I ordered the cheapest possible white coutil from It was still fairly expensive, but I had never worked with fabric of this type and weight and wanted to try it. 

I made my mockup in a straight size C, and it was fairly obvious that I needed to grade out at the hips, so my final version was a C-D-E size. 

For my final corset, I chose a tea-colored coutil. 

This corset is far from perfect -- for whatever reason, you can definitely see some of the notches I cut in the seam allowance to make the seams lie flatter. And there's a few places where the fabric could be a bit less wrinkled, which probably would be fixed with more boning and more flat steel boning (as opposed to spiral steel, which is used for the majority of the boning on this corset.)

By far the most difficult part of this project was getting the boning into all the channels. There are definitely a few channels I sewed ever so slightly too small.

For the back, I bought corset lacing and size 00 grommets. The lady who led the corset class brought her grommet setter -- so fun! 

You can even lace this type of corset by yourself -- though it can be difficult to get the lacing even (you can see above how the gap down my back isn't exactly even and parallel).

The binding is just plain homemade white bias tape. I wish I had been able to find a close color match to the corset fabric, but nothing seemed close enough. I kind of half-assed the binding because I was in a hurry to finish -- hopefully I'll find some nicer binding at some point and redo it. 

The rest of the costume I bought at the Renaissance Festival. The shirt and skirt are from Wolfstone Kilt Company, a local Virginia company. 

I also wore a knee-length underskirt/slip I made from a bedsheet a couple year ago to provide a small amount of poof. 

I know it's totally "cheating" to buy pieces of the costume I could easily make, but I've got a lot of projects going on at the moment and the clothes at the Festival's Wolfstone booth are just so inspiring and beautifully made. Tough to resist!

As for accessories, I bought the little brown hat at a hat booth at the Festival. The basket probably once belonged to my mother but has been in my various bedrooms for at least the last 10 years. The cloths inside the basket are napkins I dyed for our wedding (and are covering my cellphone, sunglasses, wallet and lipstick!) The blue shawl in the first picture was made by my mother (I wore this costume for the first time two weekends ago and it was a bit nippy!)

All in all, I had the best time wearing this costume. So many people go to the Festival in costume that it's easy to pretend to be in a fantasy novel -- so fun!

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