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HomeIndex of ArticlesCorsetryCorset patternsDraft a Symington Corset Pattern

Draft a Symington Corset Pattern

icon smIt's fun to play with the original Symington Victorian corset patterns - but here, for the first time anywhere, is how to draft one yourself.

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CrikeyAphrodite  
  How fascinating. I can’t wait to try it out when I get some time.
I must say though that I’ve never, ever heard or seen anyone say the past is ‘irrelevan t’ The study of the corsetry of the past is hugely important to modern corsetmakers and in my experience recognised as such (hence of course why we strive to include antique study at each Oxford Conference of Corsetry). Very many makers, a majority even, not just Jenni, have used antiques as strong influence to varying degrees Of course the bird’s wing is a grand example. Certainly many modern corsetmakers have different focal points and contexts to costumers. Our end use is mostly different, our pool of influence lacking the limits of period, and therefore our interpretation and adaption of antiques to suit the needs of our clients is different. But ‘irrelevan t’, or ‘limited relevance’...definitely not.
 
 
cathyhay  
  I'm glad you think so. It's a growing realisation, I think, but still an important point to make. I will keep making it as long as I hear comments dismissing a century of research with statements favouring one's own few years of limited testing and observation, or dismissing an unfamiliar technique as alright for historical corsetry, but inapplicable to modern corsetry. "Limited relevance" is shorthand for those kinds of statements, which have frustrated me in more than one place. It's not meant as a criticism as much as a call to action - to think bigger and raise our collective game - yes, some people are willing to look a little deeper, but we've still yet to really sink our teeth into the subject, and so much more could be discovered! There is so much exciting work to do! I applaud the inclusion of antiques at Oxford to that end; may that continue and develop for the benefit of everyone.  
 
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CrikeyAphrodite  
  I definitely do think so. Look at Morua's beautiful and freshly modern looking Edwardians, or to go back a bit further Lovesick's antique inspired corsets with modern twists. That's just two, there are many distinctive examples developed from antique study over the last decade or so. However to work for a modern silhouette for modern fashion wearers (and in my view that's what's being meant more than a modern body) some things work and some don't so much. But for those of us creating fashion corsets, rather than concentrating on an earlier period, we have a whole shedload of technique to learn from throughout the 20th century into the 21st (and also the more futuristic developments to utilise) as well as the methods of the Victorians and Edwardians. And it's ALL relevant, and all feeds the varying and exciting moves in modern corsetry as we continue to move forward. Of course we all should strive to up our game in every way we can, and always keep our eyes and our minds open.  
 
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cathyhay  
  Of course, all of the history that got us to this point is fair game for inspiration and research, and I do see people using it; Sparklewren was intended to be an example pulled from all of those instances. I'm not trying to preach to the choir.

I was reminded to reply by the latest social media comment about the Symington patterns being unusable, however. There are plenty of people who do get it, but I'm encouraging the corsetieres who are perhaps newer, or more timid, to delve deeper and ask bigger questions. The use of 20th century source material is just as valuable, but there doesn't seem to be the same stigma that gets attached to Victorian sources, that it's too complex or for differently shaped humans. I'm trying to break that barrier in the minds of less experienced and adventurous makers.

 
 
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cathyhay  
  (Or maybe I'm expressing my own frustration that I haven't pursued my own research for too long... or maybe I need to get that it *is* too complex for the mathematically challenged, and I should be doing more of this work to "translate" the source material for the modern maker who wants a simpler path!)  
 
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ivyrose  
  Why do we want to make the fullest part of the bust at two different levels on either side of the first straight panel? BTW, I think you must be one brilliant lady to have figured out how to reverse draft this! I am going to try it out soon!  
 
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cathyhay  
  I don't know, Rachel - interesting, isn't it! I've noticed that modern tailoring patterns can be quite boxy and over-simplified in comparison to Victorian tailoring patterns, which are full of sinuous, intuitive curves. Maybe they weren't assuming that the bust is a straight, horizontal line? I wonder what that looks like, made up! Room to explore here!

And thank you - it wasn't so much any great brilliance as one of those rare "Eureka!" moments - I just ran with it when inspiration struck!
 
 
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jerwin  
  This reminds me of a similar technique, explicated in Paul W Becker's 1953 book on pattern design for the corset trade Im Dienste der Frau, ein Fachbuch uber Miederwaren.  
 
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cathyhay  
  Ooh, interesting, Jeremy! Is the book online? I'd love to see!  
 
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jerwin  
  I've mailed you a link to my working copy. The book is not publically available online, however.  
 
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thalia  
  Hi,
First off, great job translating this into something for other to use :)

The one thing I'm missing in the guide is a picture on where to take all the measurements. For instance, in Swedis pattern drafting "hip" means the hip bone about 3.75" from the waist.

And another question
I've tried it on two different sizes, but both time point O & N end up about 2" apart, and nowhere near the bottomline.
Sorry for al the question.
 
 
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thalia  
 
Hi,
First off, great job translating this into something for other to use :)

The one thing I'm missing in the guide is a picture on where to take all the measurements. For instance, in Swedis pattern drafting "hip" means the hip bone about 3.75" from the waist.

And another question
I've tried it on two different sizes, but both time point O & N end up about 2" apart, and nowhere near the bottomline. So right now I improvise on how to get all the way down, but is there a rule?

And again, great job! :)
 
 
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jerwin  
  In the pattern, the hipline lies 6 inches (~15 cm). below the waist; Measure there.  
 
cathyhay  
  Hi Thalia, and thank you for giving the tutorial a try! Jeremy's right, the hip line is 6" below the waist on this draft. As for the problem with N and O, it may be to do with the waist and hip lines being too close together, but it's difficult to diagnose the issue without seeing it. Send me a picture of your draft to info at harmanhay dot com and I'll give you a hand.  
 
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thalia  
  Hi, sorry. Tool me a while to see your answer, but I emailed you a picture a couple of days ago :)  
 
cathyhay  
  Thank you, I got it. Working through email today, so expect something from me soon. :)  
 
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