Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Harlots and Angels Versailles Corset

Yep. One picture. That's all I got. I had been asked to help out at the Brass Screw Steampunk event that takes place in Port Townsend, Washington. I worked will call at the hootenanny, because fun. :-) However, that also means I am too busy for pictures. Boo.

PDF Harlots and Angels Versailles corset/bodice size range 32-34-36 waist.  This is an actual corset that will give you waist reduction. The measurements are for the corset laced fully closed. Also, make sure when you print out the pattern you size it down to 100%. I think it comes in at about 126% PDF format. If you don't resize it your garment is going to be huge.

Under layer, 10oz black denim. Fashion fabric black/ivory cotton sateen.

I figured with a 37 inch waist the size 34 would give me ample reduction. My muslin told me different. I am calling it a muslin to save face ha! I tissue fitted this pattern (mistake) and jumped right in to construction. I had almost finished it and when I tried it on it was too big. Garrrrrr! On the plus side I had all the boning pre cut, there was my silver lining. I sized down to the 32 and figured I would baste the side seams (between pieces 2 & 3) last. Just to make fitting easier.

SA=seam allowance.
She is asking you to build a 3 layer corset. 1 layer of fashion fabric (outer layer), 1 layer of tightly woven underlining, and a heavy duck or coutil for lining. You will be using the lining layer to make your final boning channels.

The seam allowances are printed as 7/8 inches on the pattern pieces but in the instructions she says 3/4. I went with 7/8. There is no real SA information on binding the corset. I used a 1/2 inch SA. Also only the back pattern piece tells you where to end the boning channels. I was not sure about the rest. If you use spiral boning it will lay limp so I wasn't too worried about it messing with the drape of the peplum.

I will admit I find her method of corset building very laborious and her busk insertion method even more so. I pulled out my trusty Basics of Corset Building by Linda Sparks. This is my go to book on making corsets. Ok, off we go!

My changes:
I made a 2 layer unlined corset. Please bear in mind that whatever you line/underline this corset with will show because of the peplum. Since I alternated my fashion layer (solid, stripe, solid, stripe etc etc..) I used the black and ivory stripe as my underlining on the solid pieces and solid black underlining on my striped pieces. Even though I hate using my seam allowances as boning channels I decided to go that route due to time constraints. I serged all my SA and top stitched them down. I went with the book instructions and did a 1/2 inch top stitch VS pattern instructions of 3/8 an inch. One little mistake with a 3/8 inch boning channel will mean you can't fit the bone in. 1/2 inch gives me some wiggle room. I also used the book instructions on busk insertion.

Fitting adjustments:
Fairly minimal. I am short waisted. I was surprised I didn't need to adjust the waist length. If you have a longer torso you may need to. Between pieces 2 & 3 I took in the bust line seam about 1/2 inch total for a closer fit over my boobs. I let out the waist seam about 3/4 an inch total. Of course I needed to shorten the shoulder straps. That really was all I did. Because of the alterations to seams 2 & 3 I did use bone casing tape for that SA. All total I have about a 2 inch lacing gap in the back. That is my ideal.

Final thoughts:
So after I put it all together and tried it on I realized that Versailles must literally translate to "show the king your nipples" Ha! No, really this is very low cut. If I sneezed my boobs would have popped out. Also it is not much on boob support. So I wore my "makes me mean" uncomfortable AF push up bra and a black lace cami.
Not for a beginner. Make a couple basic corsets and find a method that you like and use it.
The only thing I would change when I make this again are the straps. I will do them 18th century style with grommets and lacing string at the front, instead of buttons. That way they are more adjustable. I do recommend this pattern for intermediate and up. I adore the finished product! Oh, and yes, you can make it like the pattern picture without the busk. Just adjust the seam/fold allowance and cut the pattern piece on the fold of fabric.
Also you will be doing some trimming along the bottom and top once the corset is sewn together to even things out a bit. Don't let that freak you out. The waist line markings don't really match up and there are no notches to help with matching the seams properly. It is what it is. Just go with the flow. That was easily 12 hours of work with my short cut methods. Her method would probably push you into the 16 hour range.

My cute pirate hat. Simplicity 8361 view D. About 3 hours of work. Skip the lining and use grosgrain ribbon as your hat band. Trim it however you want.

If I have the energy this week I will put this damn thing back on and take a few more pictures. I am wearing my Truly Victorian Umbrella skirt I made for VicFest and my little black bolero I made for my blue 50s dress. It's very satisfying to use existing parts of my wardrobe and just add to them. I also may just go ahead and wear this to The Siren's Ball at the end of July. Pirates and mermaids go together, right?


  1. This is fabulous! The stripes are so fierce and I LOLed at the push-up bra comment. Nothing like a chafey bra to make me a crabby costumer.

    1. I loathe bras in general but this "Intimates" by "Super Model Heidi Klum" push up bra is black lycra padded Satan. >:-(