Resizing a corset and washing a hoop

grace

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#1
Dear ladies,

From a puzzled farm girl in Indiana (both in real life and in period times)

Can one resize a corset that is too large? How would one go about it?

How can one wash a second hand hoop?

I've just been given a treasure trove of riches by a dear mentor of mine who had been a reenactor but stopped some time ago. The dresses and other garments at least can be cut down/done over, but I must confess these two questions are...difficult.

My backstory in my persona is an eclectic aunt from the South sent up a bundle...and, quite frankly, we couldn't afford a hoop for me before. Doctors don't make much and Mama's very often poorly.

Any advice would be appreciated!

Yrs truly,

Grace Hopkins (period name)
 

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JPK Huson 1863

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#5
You know, nearly said I couldn't be helpful ( no corset, hoop or reenacting ) but hate that- may be able to dig up something useful from the era? They re-used everything, you know? If they resized dresses, why not corsets? It's all seams, no? Will go dig! Seems to me anything at all should be ok, in the right hands?

What is your hoop made of, please? Asking because I've discovered ( there is generic ) oxyclean works for everythingggggg, given a warm old washcloth, maybe a scrubdaddy? Can those things get wet or damp? I have no idea but you'd have to imagine at least being able to use some cleaner would be ok.
 
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#6
Before you do anything to the corset, get someone to measure you. Use this chart: http://www.originals-by-kay.com/measuring/corset.html. It really depends on how much too big the corset is. Start by taking in the side seams. If the corset is a lot bigger around than you are, you may have to take in each seam (leave enough for 1/4" seam allowance). You want a 2" to 2 1/2" gap at the back where it's laced. If the corset currently fits with only a 1" gap in back, I'd leave it (just don't lose any weight). Depending on the top-to-waist length of the corset vs. your underarm-to-waist measurement, you might have to shorten it, which unfortunately will involve taking each stay out of its pocket and shortening it with a hacksaw (use a file to smooth the edges). Then shorten the corset at the waist before putting the stays back. You don't want too-long stays gouging you in the tummy when you sit down! Get lots of help with the fitting! Good luck!

As I mentioned in the other thread, there was a brisk traffic in used clothing back then, usually sold by door-to-door peddlers. That's probably where your persona got hers! Lower income ladies would buy used or out-of-fashion clothing and alter it to conform with the latest fashions. If you lucked out, you might have been able to get the fabric for a silk ball gown dirt cheap!
 

grace

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#7
Thank you @MaryDee! This is very, very helpful. The corset is about twice too big for me, so we should have plenty of room to cut out large sections. Would all the bones/stays be the same no matter what?

Re: the hoop. It's made out of cotton and steel. The lady who gave me my things was/is a smoker and I've had to get inventive about getting the smell out. Lots of time on the line, oil of lavender, baking soda, extra soap...and probably just wearing them out and about. I'm going to try to run the hoop through the wash on hot and dry it right away in the summer sun.

At least smoke smell is authentic...and my persona is used to "making do". It's why she's not terribly particular about her sewing...at least, that was the excuse I used for my gathered, cotton, Sunday dress at my event yesterday during the fashion show! :unsure::giggle:
 

Mrs. V

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#8
Well, I see someone else already answered your question. If it is twice too big, you might need to take out one panel on each side. As we as previously said, you need to do your measurements. Remember bodices were super fitted to your form. My dress is currently too big in the bodice, but. I waive that away with the comment that we are all suffering in this war! (I lost um..20 or so lbs) since I first made the dress. It was easier to fix the skirt..just moved the hooks..the bodice? Not so much..I think I may add more pleating in the back of the dress. I just need to be mindful of the lace trim.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#9
As I mentioned in the other thread, there was a brisk traffic in used clothing back then, usually sold by door-to-door peddlers. That's probably where your persona got hers! Lower income ladies would buy used or out-of-fashion clothing and alter it to conform with the latest fashions. If you lucked out, you might have been able to get the fabric for a silk ball gown dirt cheap!

Now I'm distracted. That's crazy and a little amazing, thank you! How did it work, please? What a chancy thing, knocking on doors, in the off chance someone would require the clothing you had to sell? Was it the fabric, really, and re-making the used clothing?

Am always astonished seeing all the acres of used clothing we have for sale in 2018- astonished in that re-making clothing, in our era, isn't a common practice.
 

grace

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#10
Well, I see someone else already answered your question. If it is twice too big, you might need to take out one panel on each side. As we as previously said, you need to do your measurements. Remember bodices were super fitted to your form.
Please, what exactly do you mean by panel? Would any bones/stays come out?

Thank you so much! This is my best bet because I have another event in less than a month. Then, we'll see about an Orginal by Kay...
 

Mrs. V

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#11
Now I'm distracted. That's crazy and a little amazing, thank you! How did it work, please? What a chancy thing, knocking on doors, in the off chance someone would require the clothing you had to sell? Was it the fabric, really, and re-making the used clothing?

Am always astonished seeing all the acres of used clothing we have for sale in 2018- astonished in that re-making clothing, in our era, isn't a common practice.
I was gifted with several dresses, from a gal who is no longer doing Civil War impressions. We are not the same size. I will be taking the dress bodices apart and making them smaller. I can see how you would be able to take such a dress and make outfits for your kids just from the skirts.
 

grace

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#12
Update: I've successfully done my hand-me-down corset over! Though I'm sure the fit isn't perfect, and a few half inches here and there pull a few odd ways, I can now at least fit my dresses better until I can commission a custom corset. The things we do for upcoming events....

The hoop is a bit of a lost cause. I'm going to have it dry cleaned.
 

Mrs. V

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#13
Update: I've successfully done my hand-me-down corset over! Though I'm sure the fit isn't perfect, and a few half inches here and there pull a few odd ways, I can now at least fit my dresses better until I can commission a custom corset. The things we do for upcoming events....

The hoop is a bit of a lost cause. I'm going to have it dry cleaned.
Pictures??? And i will tell your there are some very nice patterns out there to make your own..and Vogueonline has the corset fabric, steel, etc...
 

grace

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Mrs. V

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#16
After putting it together twice wrong (once upside down, once back to front) I'm finally done! Here are the pictures--over a t-shirt--camisole is a work in progress.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hF6GoNih4kv1WTwPZq3ZHqI3zh_LrsWf/view?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1J4ACRH4kMOoqRn-fanFFvdgb4hDadYjl/view?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OT_kMwMmgjRoSOV15a5RJpYrf2z8em4D/view?usp=sharing

Apologies for the links--couldn't find another way.
Nice!
 
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#18
Oops, you seem to have missed the part that you need to have a 2" to 2 1/2" gap at the back where the corset is laced. See the last paragraph under "Corset" here: http://www.thesewingacademy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/2010BetBet.pdf This gap is called the "spring" and allows your spine to flex and not get chafed.
71de87ba752a9682a7cd07efb2b67bdb--blue-corset-vintage-corset.jpg


At this point, if the corset is not too uncomfortable, I'd leave it as is, since you plan to get a custom corset later. Just be sure you don't lose any weight! If it is too uncomfortable for your spine, you'll need to cut a 3/4" gap on each side of the back and re-sew with a 1/4" seam allowance. If I added correctly, this will give you a 2 1/2 inch "spring." Should be easy with all you've learned from experience already!

Camisoles are not part of CW-era underwear; you want a chemise which will range in length from mid-thigh to knee. (the shorter length if you always wear drawers) Actually, you want several, because at multi-day events you'll need to change your chemise (and drawers if you wear then) daily (its purpose is to absorb perspiration and odors and keep them off your corset, petticoats and dress). Directions here, for free: http://www.thesewingacademy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/2010Chemise.pdf P.S.: I've used a T shirt in a pinch, too! Just make sure it doesn't show at the neck and is long enough to go to almost mid-thigh. And keep hidden when your dress is off.
 
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grace

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#19
*blushing I actually pinned it together and it fit properly...but when everything was sewn, it was too big again. It works now and won't let me tightlace (which is a real temptation for me...long story), so I think I'll leave it be for the moment.

Thank you for the info! I have an actual chemise in production now--I don't know what possessed me to put "camisole". Hopefully, I'll have enough fabric for at least two before I have to go a-shopping again--I won't wear flannel underthings in July, but I needed a modesty petticoat and it was easier to sew.

Onwards and upwards! Thank you again!
 

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