Frequently asked questions sent to Caroline
Compiled by Caroline Vincent
I find that I spend a lot of time answering the same basic questions – so, before putting fingers to keyboard, please look through the questions that have already been asked and see if there is an answer to your question.
In general you should bear in mind that my main interest and research is in the British mid 17th century clothing, this is my hobby (I have a completely unrelated day job) and I do not make clothes or patterns for commercial purposes. I will endeavour to help anyone with their questions, but I may not manage to reply straight away.
- I would like to know more about making stays/corsets or other historical garments
- I am making clothes from earlier (or later) periods than your stays can you help?
- How did women in the 17th century live?
- Where can I get ridgoline endcaps (or other items mentioned in your articles) from?
- How much boning should I use?
- Where can I buy 17th century-style clothing
- Where can I get patterns for my school production of the Three Musketeers
- I can’t find an answer on this page
Either try the link on my homepage to the Elizabethan corsets or try the books listed in my useful book list, especially:
Corsets and Crinoline
By Norah Waugh
Published by Batsford
ISBN 0 7134 5699
The Cut of Women’s Clothes 1600 – 1930
By Norah Waugh
Published by Faber & Faber
ISBN 0571 085946
Period Costume for Stage & Screen – Patterns for Women’s Dress 1500-1800
By Jean Hunnisett
Published by Players Press, Inc.
Patterns of Fashion, The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and
Women c. 1560 – 1620
By Janet Arnold
Published by Macmillian
ISBN 0333 382845
Try the books listed in my useful book list or look at contemporary paintings from the period.
Julie Yoder from the Clann Tarten advises that Ridgeline is available in the U.S. from
Greenberg and Hammer, Inc., 24 W. 57th St., New York, NY.
They apparently carry Rigelene, the endcaps, steel boning by the cut piece or by
the pound, and thousands of other sewing necessities.
Amount of boning? Now that’s a question. As I have a wooden Busk which
I can use centrefront I don’t need that much to stiffen. Following
patterns of historic stays I find that a bone every half inch works for
the front and back. I usually put a few lines of boning at the side
seams as well. It depends how much support you need/want, how much
stiffening you’ve got and a basic ‘feel’ for the stays.
Metal boning would probably be better then plastic boning, if you can
cut it safely. If you can get ridgeline-end caps the ends would be
safer and more comfortable, but if you can’t get ridgeline, the end-caps
will be equally hard to come by.:-)
If you are a re-enactor in the UK you will usually have no problem getting clothing to suit most pockets and tastes from a number of traders who are to be found at larger re-enactments and at a number of re-enactors fairs through out the year. Caveat Emptor – buyer beware, please do a little research before you buy. If you live elsewhere I am afraid that I cannot help you.
I don’t do patterns, I scale up original patterns from the books noted in my useful book list. I’ve had a look at commercial patterns which might be of use to you. Many fashion houses do have ‘fancy dress’, especially in Autumn for Halloween and also for Thanksgiving. Available at fabric shops or haberdashery shops. One I looked at which might be suitable for a theatrical production is Butterick no.6305. It might be numbered differently in America.
It is no good for re-enactment but I hope you find it useful.
We will do our best to reply to any genuine enquiries - we apologise if we don't get back to you, but this is our hobby and we don't always have time.