July 1, 2009

c.1770 Judith, July's Corset of the Month

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The c. 1770 Judith corset was added to our line early on, the fourth addition. This corset is the classic mid- to late-eighteenth century shape—what we call the “ice cream cone”. This corset is designed to moderately compress the torso, flattening and rounding the silhouette from bust to waist. The main feature of the Judith is the look of the bust, with all the curve showing above the corset, the bust swelling provocatively over the neckline; the corset flattens and pushes up the bust into the neckline. Interestingly, a larger-busted woman often needs additional support in this style of corset, and a smaller-busted woman usually does not. A banana-shaped pad (“bust banana”) is sewn horizontally into the corset about one inch below the full-bust line from side-to-side. The bust is supported by the pad and is discouraged from falling down into the corset.

Unlike the corsets of one hundred years later, the waist doesn’t need much compression to look small in this era—the wide, full skirts, held out by panniers or pads, accomplish this quite easily.

One of our first custom Judith corset projects was for a PBS Mini-series
"The War that Made America", with costumes designed by Virginia Johnson. Pictured below is the finished product. This custom Judith corset has a higher back, waist tabs, straps that are are not removable and they come around the shoulder. It is made in a heavy brocade satin dot coutil.

Ms. Johnson, the designer needed three of these custom corsets for the women in her documentary film about the French and Indian War. The corsets would be seen in the film so she wanted them to look right for her design. She loved the conical shape of our Judith c.1770, but she wanted to have more of a bodice feel. So we added the a full, high back with off-the-shoulder straps. She sent us three different kinds of brocade coutil to use for the final corsets. The tabs are purely decorative and were sewn on after the edge of the corset was finished.

Ms. Johnson's wardrobe department distressed the corsets for a more authentic look, shown in the scene below. After her abduction, the character Sarah Jemison assimilated into the Native American culture.

This screen shot shows the corset in its finished state, completely distressed. The captive had been traveling on foot and sleeping in the woods for weeks in her corset rather than doning it ready-made and sparkling-new just out the box from Period Corsets! Ahh...the magic of costuming for film.


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