Look Out Edward VII

May 29th, 2011

Just as I was beginning to weary of Prinny’s antics, my latest impulse purchase from Amazon.com arrived.


I try to be selective in my purchase of historic costuming books, lest I overwhelm my limited budget, not to mention shelf space. There are so many intriguing titles available! I was sorely tempted to purchase a compendium of Regency era fashion plates, but the price tag was a tad high, and despite my recent adventures (some of which you know, some of which I shall tell when I am able), I am really not that interested in the period (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

I’m very pleased with The Edwardian Modiste. It’s a clearly printed, comprehensive volume of virtually un-edited fashion patterns from 1905-1909. At first glance, I’d heartily recommend it to any experienced sewer/pattern maker interested in the period.

It’s been more than a decade since I sewed anything Edwardian — since I was a volunteer tour guide at Rockwood Mansion in my early teens. Yet it remains one of my favorite periods in historic fashion. Perhaps because I have such warm memories of my time at Rockwood. Or maybe I’m a masochist — the Grecian Bend is truly the most uncomfortable corset ever devised.

I have sworn off sewing for a few weeks, and projects are already stacked up awaiting my return. So it will likely be some time before I can begin on anything from my new book. But perhaps by the time I do, my dear friend and talented seamstress over at Costume & Construction will be finished with her own Edwardian confection.

New Gores

January 19th, 2011

I discovered a few days ago that I’d made the stomach gores on my new stays too short by almost half. I first noticed the discrepancy while staring (for the 100th time) at the pattern illustration. Then, when I tried the half-finished pieces yet again on my own body, it occurred to me that all of the remaining fitting problems would likely be solved by beginning the stomach gores exactly at my waist, rather than over my hip bones.

Look at the difference in size between the old and new gores:


It’s perhaps telling that the only corsets I have made or worn with any success in the past have been in the Grecian Bend model. I used to volunteer at an Edwardian era house museum in northern Delaware (that’s a long story for another day) and so possessed a few appropriate outfits, plus the required undergarments.

Grecian Bend

The photo on the left was taken in Brooklyn, not so long ago. I was attending a Neo-Victorian Brunch in full-Edwardian attire with the marvelous Zoh. Photographer Anna Fischer snapped a picture of us standing on the stoop.

According to Wikipedia, the Grecian Bend (originally a dance step) goes back to the late 1860s, when fashionable women began to wear seriously projecting bustles, making them appear to lean forward and stick out their rears. It was also used to describe the posture of people with certain ailments as well as divers who came to the surface too quickly; in their case, the term was later shorted to “the bends.”

I have heard a song whose lyrics repeat “doing the Grecian Bend” on Radio Dismuke, but can’t seem to find the lyrics online. Not surprising, considering how rare most of Dismuke’s playlist is. You will just have to listen to his radio stream for a while and see if you come across it too.