May 22, 2009

Meet Period Corsets® "Phil"

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Here at Period Corsets® we have a wide and deep variety of talents. With this breadth of knowledge we have created our line of historic period undergarments; we research, test patterns, and streamline our construction methods. When we put our products into production, we continue to perfect and update them. In short we pour our love and skill into our work. Over our 12 years in business we have had many wonderful personalities contribute to our success: patternmakers, cutters, first hands, stitchers….and today we are happy to introduce to you one of our favorite personalities:

“Phil”—our Industrial Stuffing Machine.
Phil saves us time and money, and comes to the rescue every time.

As costumers know bustle pads and bum rolls come in all shapes and sizes. But when they come in large quantities to stuff by hand, Phil is our favorite friend.

I am speaking tongue in cheek as we prize our flesh-and-blood employees over our metal counterparts. Yet costumers worth their salt know how important it is to have the right tools and machines for the job at hand. At Period Corsets® we specialize in the ever-exciting pursuit of finding and employing the perfect tool for the job—whether it’s honing the technique of constructing a corset or using the right size needle for stitching a certain fabric or stuffing bum pads with alacrity. Creating the highest quality products is part of our mission.
We hope you enjoy meeting "Phil" as much as we enjoyed introducing him!

"Phil" and employee in action stuffing a 17th C. Bum roll

See this video on the Period Corsets Youtube channel.

May 15, 2009

Where do we get our patterns?

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One of the most common questions we are asked is: “where do you get your patterns?” And the answer is: “we make them ourselves.” As all of you costume-makers know, commercial patterns are relatively “modern”, coming into use in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. For earlier time periods, there are few if any records of what pattern shapes for period garments looked like. What do remain are some garments, primarily belonging to the wealthy; the further back in time you go, the fewer extant pieces there are.

Luckily for those of us with a passion for costume history, historic garments in museum collections have been documented beautifully in photographs (the Taschen “Fashion” book of the Kyoto Costume Institute collection). Other garments have had their style lines and details drawn out in a scale fashion (Janet Arnold’s wonderful series of books, for example). There are also paintings in museums and art books--portraits and group tableaus from various time periods. All of these sources serve as our inspirations when we are developing the historic-inspired undergarments in our line.

There is no one source that we draw from, but rather a combination of inspirations, as well as our background as theatre costume technicians. (In the case of late 19th century corset styles—like the c. 1890 Theo and c. 1905 Mae--we also own a small collection of period corsets that have inspired us.)

Once we’ve gathered our visual inspirations, Susan creates a pattern for the first sample. Our goal is not to recreate any one specific garment (although we can, and have, for clients requesting a very particular custom garment)—our goal rather is to capture the essence and flavor of a time period. As we study the first sample garment, we are looking at both the shape the garment created on the woman’s form, as well as the seam placement, comparing them with our inspiration material. We work and re-work the seams, fine-tuning the fit and shape, often making three and four samples, before arriving at the final pattern for a style. We know we have succeeded when you, our customers, look at a shape and respond: “the Gibson Girl!” or “it’s Marie Antoinette!”

May 1, 2009

Lilly c.1900, May's Corset of the Month

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In celebration of Spring we are featuring our  Lilly c.1900 corset for the month of May.

The Lilly corset is inspired by the corsets designed for "ladies of action" at the turn of the century. During this time period, women increased their participation in sports and adventure activities. A shorter corset such as this style enabled them to better ride horses, play tennis, and travel to exotic lands while still keeping a gentle-but-firm shaped waistline. This corset is used by customers wanting a distinct waist shape, while maintaining a more natural line in the bust and hip.

Savannah College of Art and Design dancers wore this style of corset with our chemises and bloomers in a piece called "The Crossing" (an excerpt from their dance is on their web site in the video montage of performances).

photo courtesty of Dawn Testa; More Photos

Teatro Zinzanni, a cirque/comedy/cabaret performance with venues in Seattle and San Francisco, asked for our Lilly flat-lined to a beautiful wide striped silk, paired with our Full Pannier in matching fabric.

Pop-star Madonna wore a modified shorter version in her "Sorry" video; her request was for a corset in custom-dyed lavender satin coutil--danceable!

Whether you are seeking a period-accurate line from the 1900's, or wanting a curvy waist for any occasion, the Lilly is the style for you. Its verstility demonstrates why the Lilly was and continues to be a popular style.

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