Do you remember this post from January? When I thought I’d just whip myself up a little corselet, a one piece foundation garment for my 1920s capsule wardrobe? Oh what a fool I was back then, an idealistic fool. Suffice to say, that idea did not turn out. Turns out when there’s a large gap between your bust and hip measurement, those onesie foundations garments aren’t the best choice (at least if you plan on making one without lacing). After admitting defeat, I made a brassiere (blogged about here), and eventually, a girdle.
The 1920s were a time of such rapid change in women’s undergarments (and fashion in general). To cater to this changing scene, a variety of undergarments existed to give the zaftig gal the gamine shape so in vogue. To accommodate my figure I had to go with a pair of separates. I knew I didn’t want the girdle portion to lace. Though common during the time, I was wary of the lacing creating bulk around a bottom that already sticks out considerably. Rather, I wanted something that would smooth out my bottom half.
I combed through the online archives of the Kyoto, MET, and FIT, looking for a girdle without lacing or boning, and finally stumbled upon this image in a google search. Smoothing front: check. Elastic side panels: check. No lacing: check. Upon further inspection, it looks like this undergarment might in fact be a one piece from the way it comes to a perfect point between the breasts, but close enough.
The Pattern/The Making
I made my own pattern for this girdle. I had to go through several fittings and adjustments to get the muslin to fit just right, and then a few more when I made the actual girdle. In short, muslin stretches, coutil does not. I added a couple of side panels to create more width, tapering them at the top to account for my proportionally smaller waist. The sides were made out of a very thick elastic.
As you can see, I had to sew two panels of elastic together to create enough vertical length. I only found elastic this wide by the yard in one Etsy shop, no one else seems to carry wide elastic. I also had to make a dart in the back panel due to gaping at the waist.
The front coutil panel I spilt to make the closure which is just a single row of hook and eye tape. I bound the top and bottom edges with rayon seam binding. The inside of the girdle, like the brassiere, is faced with silk satin.
There was a lot of trial and error in the fitting process, but I think my pattern drafting and fitting skills have improved because of it. The girdle is fully functional and helps streamline the silhouette for that more rectangular 1920s shape. I still haven’t decided if I’ll add loops along the bottom edge to attach suspenders for stockings.
Read my last post here!