Dipping My Toe Into Uncharted Corsetry

Hello Lovelies!

Abby here —

Ok – so my title is not entirely true. I’ve made an 1800s corset before…hell I’ve even taught a workshop on how to pattern and make your own a few years ago…..but this…this ladies & gents is my first official jump into the deep end of the pool of historical dress. I’m going deep…swimming my little heart away from the 18th century (for now) & into one of my favorite moments of clothing.

The 1830s.

No. For real. Don’t mock it till you try it! (…sewing pun?)

I used to think, like most people, that the 1830s was just flippin’ weird…and because we as humans have a tendency to associate weird = ugly… I always thought the 1830s was ugly.

…like Ugly.



Apparently this is for sale on Amazon. Aren’t they just perfection?!

But then….then my friends I started to look at the prints and giggle…1830s makes you smile…and the more something makes you smile the harder it is to hate it.

(Plus, when you have Chrissy from the Laced Angel making 1830s hair magic on her head it’s hard not to love it!)

I still think they must have been just ever so slightly out of their minds during this decade, but I find it fun & endearing. So, with that in mind, I’ve set my mind to making a late 1830s outfit….

Obviously the first thing I need to do before I get into the fun stuff is a correct corset. Like I said earlier – I’ve made 1800-10s corsets before, but they’re a bit of a different fit than the 1830s one, and so this will be a fun exercise for me to see how well I am doing with my corset/stays pattern drafting work/skill.

I’ve patterned this little stink and have basted all the gussets & gores into place. Now I just need to whip everything together very quickly so that way I can do a fitting and see how well she fits me. This also means I need someone to help me fit this garment (this is the part where I side-eye Lauren across desks…)

Anyways – here she is, in her current state. I’ve made her out of white jean and oznabrig linen from Burnley & Trowbridge. The white jean is recommended by Workwoman’s Guide from 1838 for corsets & the linen helps improve the structure, etc. I’m going to use a light blue embroidery cotton for creating the busk, boning & cording channels when the time comes. So long as she fits, it shouldn’t take too terribly long to put her together…so fingers crossed everything works!

Very few pieces with all the gores & gussets basted in.

Pretty sure I wasn’t paying attention when I started whipping this edge together. I’ve also added an additional layer of linen to help prevent the eyelets from blowing out the first time I wear this thing. 

White jean with channel marks & a hellova lot of seam allowance


Here’s the lining side of the front of my corset, I’m trying to decide if I want to put the busk channel in now or later (probably should do it now to help with fittings, tbh..but…I’m feeling a bit lazy)

Alright, that’s it for now…until next time!

<3 <3


  • Unknown

    August 24, 2016 at 3:11 AM

    I'm excited to see your finished corset! I used to think the 1830s was weird too until the funny hair won me over and a group of us did it together. One person = weird. Many people = A Thing.

    • Abby

      August 24, 2016 at 7:30 PM

      Thanks! I love the hair too..maybe it's like people see the sleeves and they go EW and then they see the hair and they go Ooooohhhh & then the sleeves w/ the hair make it all better…. 🙂

  • The Laced Angel

    August 24, 2016 at 3:17 AM


    Also, maybe I should get around to finishing my own damn 1830s corset started… twoish years ago?

  • Dea-chan

    August 24, 2016 at 4:42 AM

    Y'know what you need to read? The Dressmaker Quartet by Loretta Chase. Three French/English dressmakers in 1830s London. They're romances, as a warning. GOOD romances. The history's accurate, the … sexy times… are sexy, and they make hilariously UGLY fashion sound oooh soo good.

    Good luck with your romp through the 1830s!

    — Tegan

    • Tegan

      August 25, 2016 at 3:47 AM

      Haha spreading the love 🙂 I love the third book best, although there are delightful snarky bits throughout the whole series. I may or may not have read much of it out loud to my husband… (usually in response to: "what'chu cackling at, cackle-pants?" because we're Adults.)


  • Unknown

    August 24, 2016 at 11:52 AM

    When I started in the SCA years ago, I used to think wheel farthingales, ruffs, and bum rolls were weird. I used to think that bustles were the most bizarre contraption ever devised until I needed an 1885 outfit for a local house tour event. Now, that's all I see when I look at new fabric. And, 1830's? Holy Moley! Never. But yeah, not so much anymore. It's beginning to creep up on me. Funny how that works.

    • Abby

      August 24, 2016 at 7:34 PM

      It's like an ear worm isn't it? The moment you go "ew! never!" your brain goes "…ohh really? Is that what you think? ha ha! Activate the obsessed trigger!" …and then the rest is history.

  • Ocean Senta

    August 24, 2016 at 2:07 PM

    Looks like it's coming along very well! I'm delving into the murky and previously uncharted territory of Regency stays right now, so wish me luck! 😉


  • bauhausfrau

    August 24, 2016 at 5:09 PM

    The 1830s are totally wackadoodle, but the cool thing is there is a lot of variation in the period so there's something for everyone. I found I really liked a lot of the later 1830s styles and the earlier…not so much.

    • Unknown

      August 24, 2016 at 5:14 PM

      Ahaha, I love the word "whackadoodle"! It doesn't have a negative implication, but it gets all the weird/whimsical meaning across! Perfect word for the 1830's.

    • Abby

      August 24, 2016 at 7:37 PM

      I cannot believe I forgot the word whackadoodle when I was writing this…because it is the *perfect* term to describe the 1830s! I agree – I find the late 1830s to be a bit more… elegant(?) than the earlier whimsical styles…and with using Workwoman's Guide as my main written reference, that's how the gown will be designed…so it'll come out more 1836-8 in it's aesthetic. 🙂

    • Abby

      August 24, 2016 at 7:37 PM

      WEEEE!!! Are you thinking earlier or later 1830s? Check out Workwoman's Guide for later shapes, patterns, cutting, sewing, etc reference (you can find a free digital copy on Google Books!)

  • Rosa

    August 24, 2016 at 8:49 PM

    Oh wow, YESSS! Can't wait to see it finished! Fingers crossed it goes well!!!

    Ehm… am I the only one here who's loved 1830s wholeheartedly, always and at first sight – and never thought them ridiculous? *a timid look around* The sleeves! The hair! The skirts! The hats!

  • Brooke

    August 25, 2016 at 12:51 AM

    Oh my goodness Abby…we are totally on the same wavelength this season…I'm getting ready to do a full 1830s outfit for a friend here in Santiago. I know I swore after I repro'd that corded corset from CWF collections that I would never do another, but I've bought the fabric and am now searching for my pattern & notes! I was totally inspired by this 1830s dress from a private Chilean collection of about 30 dresses from 1810-1910 that is on display for free right now. I'll send you photos soon and we need chat as I have some decent fabric options actually here in the local quilt store…

  • Sanna K

    August 25, 2016 at 5:13 AM

    The corset looks promising! I hope it fits and look forward to seeing photos of you wearing it! I love the 1830s and it has become my second favorite, too. I've got my corset pattern ready and the lining cut out but I haven't found a suitable fabric for the outside. I've got some white cotton twill but it might stretch so I don't want to use it. I'm thinking about adding a third layer but I would prefer not to have many layers. I'll have to see if I can find a better fabric than the white twill first. Anyhow, I'm happy to see more and more costumers are starting to sew things from the crazy 1830s! 😀

  • Little Mothball

    August 25, 2016 at 8:17 PM

    Awesome! I have always loved the 1820s- 1830s and am so pleased to have someone else to geek out with about that era!
    I am, coincidentally, starting out on my own 1830s/40s corset and I am in the patterning stages. What pattern did you use? Do you have recommendations in drafting or starting from a particular base?

  • Nicole

    August 26, 2016 at 3:33 AM

    In almost every fashion era since the dawn on time, there have been very weird and strange fashions, although some are stranger than others- but by the same token in every era there are also a lot of fun and fabulous things too. Can't wait to see how your 1830's project turns out.
    The Artyologist

  • Trinny T

    August 27, 2016 at 9:01 AM

    This is something a couple of my costuming friends and I were discussing today… When you first look at the 1830s, you're horrified, but you find you can't look away, and before long you find yourself saying "YEAH, I WANT IT. IT'S HIDEOUS, BUT I WANT IT."

Leave a Reply

Discover more from American Duchess Blog

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading