Victorian Bodice: Drafting and Editing

As with any good costume it begins with a bodice block.

As we are making a Victorian bodice, and a corset would have been worn beneath the bodice a set of new measurements has to be taken of my performer whilst wearing a corset..

These new measurements ended up changing the size of the waist and chest; two very important measurements when drafting a bodice block.

As we are only making the bodice we only had to draft the bodice and sleeve block, and with that we were ready to move on to editing the drafted blocks.

Before we could really begin editing the patterns we drafted off the important lines from the original blocks, the got rid of the shoulder dart on the front bodice by cutting in to the pattern and converted the sleeve into a two part sleeve.

Then the pattern editing began on the bodice back.

Within this period of 1870-90’s the fashion was to have a slim waist and so the back of the bodice was designed to help enhance and give this illusion.

To give this illusion the back usually had multiple panels consisting of long sweeping curves.

With reference to my images I formed the back in to three panels, splitting the waist dart evenly over the panels.

First I drafted rough lines to get the desired shape, and then once happy I began to go over and smooth out the lines giving my final shape.

The next step was to draft the bottom line of my bodice. With reference to my images, and research I found that it was often fashionable for the bodice to come lower and longer at the front and back, but would come up slightly higher over the hips.

My bodice pattern had pleats on the back panel, however this will not be edited in to the pattern until after the toile fitting. This is to make sure that the costume fits well first, before extra pleating is added in to the costume.

As a bum pad was usually worn during this period often the bottom of the back penals would flare out to allow for the room needed to fit over the excess fabric.

Again this design feature could be edited later on.

The next step was to concentrate on the editing of the front of the bodice.

The shoulder seam was first moved back wards, as it was fashionable to have a completely smooth front to a costume, and it would also encourage the illusion of a small back on the bodice.

Next, with reference to my image which has a panel down the front of the bodice, I drafted in the front panel, which as described in Janet Arnold’s pattern of fashion book would become a pouched panel.

Then with the front panel drafted in I split the waist dart over two darts on the main bodice, using my imaged as reference to help get a good idea of where the positioning on the darts should be.

Like before when I drafted the bottom line of the back bodice, I repeated the same of the front. Making sure that the side seam were the same length and that the side seam shape reflected each other.

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Having finished pattern editing the front and back bodice, I drafted off the different panels individually lining up all of the seams to make sure they were the same length and then finally pinning together the pattern pieces and making sure the bottom of the bodice lined up in a smooth curve.

On the front of the bodice this was done by folding out the darts and smoothing off the bottom of the darts to get the desired shape and curve to the bottom of the bodice.

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The final step of block editing was to flare out the sleeve to the desired shape and size that I wanted to achieve. This was done by cutting in to the sleeve pattern from the sleeve head to the elbow and then flaring out and moving around the pieces until the desired shape and size was achieved.

With that complete I could move on to cutting in calico ready for my first fitting.



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