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Effigy Corset and Corded Petticoat

The Corset

Currently the only photos I have of my Effigy Corset are these, which were taken in December 2007 - before I put the binding on. Obviously. ;)

The 'Effigy Corset' is one of the few extant 16th c. corsets (or 'Pairs of Bodies') that we have to work from. The corset was part of the clothing placed on Queen Elizabeth I's effigy in Westminster Abbey, and was extensively studied by Janet Arnold in 1995, when the Effigy was unclothed for cleaning and repair. Ms. Arnold dated the corset as being contemporary to the Queen's death in 1603.

The original corset is made out of fustian twill and edged in fine leather. Each section appears to be individually finished and then whip-stitched together. It is completely boned with 1/4" whalebone that extends down into the integrated tabs. The boning ends approximately 1" from the top of the corset. A line of stitching keeps it in place there.

In recreating this undergarment, I sized up the pattern from The Tudor Tailor, by Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies. My version is created out of two layers of linen and one layer of silk duiponi, and is fully boned in full round reed, which I have found to be very supportive and comfortable. The front, back, and straps were all finished separately and whip-stitched together, like the extant garment. The eyelets are hand-finished in silk thread.

Although not shown here, my version is edged in very fine, thin white leather, which does a marvelous job of cushioning the reed bones and keeping them from poking through.

All in all, I'd call this project a success - I look forward to experimenting with the design further, and perhaps making a cute sleeved pair of bodies and petticoat like Attack Laurel's. :) That just looks too cute and comfortable!

For more information on the Effigy Corset, please read Drea Leed's excellent article on this garment and Laura Mellin's (also excellent!) article on Elizabethan pairs of bodies.

The Petticoat

The next layer is a corded petticoat, inspired by and using the 'recipe' from The Elizabethan Costuming Site. Mine is done in white linen with hemp cord pin-tucked every about 1/3 of the way up the petticoat. The petticoat is cartridge pleated onto a waistband, and laces through eyelets on the sides. I find that this gives the skirt some body and fullness without being overbearing.

I did tight, close cords about 1/4 - 1/3 of the way up the petticoat. The petticoat itself is just two 60" wide panels cartridge pleated onto a waistband. The Elizabethan Costume page recommends that you iron creases into the fabric and then insert the cording with a zipper foot. I just did the cording with a zipper foot and didn't bother to iron, because I'm lazy like that.

I wanted the petticoat to just add a little bit of poof and fullness - and the combination of cartridge pleating and cording at the bottom made it poofy enough for me. If you wanted more fullness, you could cord further up the petticoat - but I'm a pretty non-poofy sorta gal. :)