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Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques Paperback – Aug 7 2007

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques + The Basics of Corset Building: A Handbook for Beginners
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Quite Specific Media (Aug. 7 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896762610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896762619
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 22.2 x 27.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #98,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Although aimed firmly at costume makers, there is still much to interest the historian, textile connoisseur, or indeed, closet corset-wearer." Embroidery magazine, Jan/Feb 2009 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jill Salen is a freelance costume maker, and is widely employed in the theatrical costume industry. She has made costumes for many clients, including The Globe theatre. She is a lecturer in costume on the BA (Hons) theatre design course at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. Jill is the author of Corsets, also published by Batsford. Jill lives in Cardiff. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Frederick Fung on Oct. 30 2009
Format: Paperback
It's not a step by step instruction book for making corset,that is what I wanted to say.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By frances sendbuehler on March 19 2012
Format: Paperback
I am fascinated by corsets and corset-making and found this book to be a fine introduction.

The patterns are useful and this is the strength of the book (if you know how to transfer a pattern to a useable size, that is). The text, however, could use some real editing; the text is not the strength of the book. So if you're looking for instructions and accurate and complete historical descriptions, you may be disappointed. There is an awful lot of supposition, which is, I suppose, ok on some level. But if you know anything about costume design, you will be scratching your head periodically.

For instance, the "Swiss Riding Corset 1890" on pages 54-55 is utterly and obviously a boudoir corset - made of "one layer of sprigged jacquard silk" with "eyelets on the edge of the garment". I dare anyone to ride in this and not find themselves wearing shreds after an hour. The author actually states she has a doubt as to whether it was a riding or boudoir corset, but it seems "riding corset" won the day even if it is merely a suggestion in the body of the text accompanying the photo.

While that makes it sound like I hate this book, I most certainly do not! It is beautiful, useful, and interesting. Just don't expect to read it too closely.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has gone into every little detail applied to the various corset styles.
It details the stitching and boning required.
The fact that the corset patterns are extremely well illustrated is a must have for anyone who would like to produce a well constructed corset.
I have enjoyed learning all the intricate detail that this book offers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Covering stays from 1750, up to late Victorian corsets, the author shows a beautiful photo of the actual historical artifact, then lays out in diagrams the patterns and stitching to re-create it. A marvelous combination of the "Fashion in Detail" books with Janet Arnolds, "Patterns of Fashion" focusing on corsets and stays.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 38 reviews
68 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Historical corset patterns Sept. 16 2008
By Corsetra, costumer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book for those interested in Historical Stays and Corsets.
You will not find modern overbusts or underbusts in this book!

Things I love about this book:
clear patterns on graph scale. they are only 1/2 scale so easy to enlarge.
2 doll corset patterns which are full scale.
an 1880-5 child's stay band
18th century stays with side lacing which could have been used for pregnancy.
At least one color photo of each corset
small section on construction

Things that would have made this book totally awesome:
Not switching between the terms "stays" and "corset" for the 18th century. (I hope this was an editors change, not the author's error)
more photos of the back, insides, details!
giving the museum accession numbers for the garments so we could contact the museums for more photos.
Info on adjusting the patterns to fit individual bodies
marking the bust, waist, hip position and measurements on the pattern somewhere for ease of alteration.
More construction information.
a nursing corset or a later maternity corset (but that would be just me)

You will need Linda Spark's book for more on construction and fitting of corsets. Fore more information on the construction and fitting of 18th century stays, see "Fitting and Proper" and "Costume Close Up"
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Good for Historic reconsturction but no size info Jan. 9 2009
By cuttingline - Published on
Format: Paperback
The graphed patterns are great if you want to reproduce historic styles but there are no measurements of the original garments, a major failing. I've sewn two of the corsets in the book, they went together easily and then I was able to figure out the size and grade it to the size my client needed but a two step process that would have been faster if basic specs of the original garments had been provided. Pictures of the corsets are lovely but are inside views, often only a photo of the front (no side or back views for several, although line drawings are clear and fairly accurate). Minimal construction information although the projects in the back are good for explaining different construction methods, they are not very detailed. Overall, a must have for the patterns alone, much easier to use than those by Waugh and can't beat the price!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful and fascinating resource Dec 21 2012
By yoreclothes - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a self-made fashion historian and costumer, this book is tremendous. So far, I have made 2 corsets from this book with great success. The pictures are beautiful and clear, and the patterns themselves are quite self-explanatory. There is also a chapter in the back that details how to make the corsets. So far I have made:

The 1830-1840 Rural Corset;
I would date this corset earlier than the author, as it has extremely similar lines to the 1820's. However, I would say that this is an excellent beginner's corset as the pieces are minimal.

The 1860's Corset (front cover);
I was thrilled with how wonderfully this corset came out. I used strategic boning instead of the cording, and substituted a steel busk for the original wood. It is absolutely beautiful, and I couldn't be more pleased.

I have found scaling the patterns up to be ridiculously easy. I scan them into my computer and then double the size and print using photoshop. Easiest scaling I have ever done.

I plan to make one several more soon. As to sizing, however, I will say that I am tall and thin (5'6" height, 130 lbs, 32D bra). I haven't needed to make many sizing changes to the patterns so far.

My complaints about the book are as follows:

1. The author does not use the term 'stays'. Although using both terms would be confusing to a novice, it would be more accurate. The term 'stays' would have been used instead of 'corset' until the mid-1800's.
2. The author dates the corsets to when they were made, not necessarily in style. For instance, the 'German Austerity Corset' was dated to 1917. This style actually was popular in 1912. I know that may seem nit-picky, but it is very important when trying to duplicate a certain look. There is a huge difference in the styles of 1912 to 1917. I have had to do much more research when trying to make these corsets to find exactly when they would have been worn.
3. The author includes some corsets because they are 'unique'. I would prefer a more standardized pattern since I am in costuming. The 'unique' corsets are interesting, but not very helpful as I would never have a reason to make them.

Other than these small complaints, I have found this book to be wonderful. I look forward to being able to make more of the wonderful patterns!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great source! Feb. 11 2009
By K. Miller - Published on
Format: Paperback
I love this book. It was so easy for me to follow the patterns and the photos are beautiful. I only wish the pattern to the 1875 corset on the cover page had a pattern (it's my favorite in the book). I don't recommend it as a pattern book for an inexperienced stitcher. Being able to flat pattern and grade it to size are important skills to use this book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I'm so pleased to find it back in stock! July 25 2010
By A. Edwards - Published on
Format: Paperback
I took a previous reviewer's advice to not buy the book at an inflated price but wait for it to be in stock and I'm glad I listened. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE this book and my only complaint is that it doesn't have fifty more corsets in it! But as valuable as this resource is, it is perfectly reasonable at the retail price, but no more.

While it's a smidge annoying that sizes aren't spelled out for every corset, a little simple math has worked for me because she plots out the finished sizes of the pieces rather than adding seam allowance. :)

For enlarging the patterns, I've been scanning the pages into my computer and tracing the outlines in Photoshop to create vector images and then printing them full scale. This is really great for me because I can make my alterations in the computer and am hoping to build up a fitting library for my favorite patterns.

This book is best paired with a more basic how-to for beginners, but an experienced sewer should have no trouble replicating these corsets.

Now if only she'll come out with an expanded edition...