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A start on a bibliography

Note: this is only the opinion of one person: Aurora Celeste. Your useage may differ. I highly suggest that if you are on a limited budget you get a book on library loan before you pay money for it, just to check it out and make sure it’s what you’re looking for (that’s why I’ve provided a library location for a book, so you can know where to get it).

The Basics of Corset Building: a Handbook for Beginners by Linda Sparks
ISBN: unkn Library Loan: not yet (soon from University of Kansas)
Buy:, Farthingales
Own: No

I don’t have this book, but I’m hoping to get a hold of the KU version soon. What I’ve heard of it is that is has great stuff on hardware and the process of making a corset.

Corsets and Crinolines by Nora Waugh
ISBN: 0878305262 Library Loan: University of Kansas
Buy:, Amazon
Own: Yes

Every historical corsetiere should have this. It has a wealth of patterns taken from period pieces in museums and private collections. They are only one size, but if you have access to a projector or enlarging copier, it's pretty easy to make them full-size then alter them. The book also has quotes about corsets and corsetry from period sources like newspapers and magazines and period pictures; it also has a narrative of how corsets were made in each time period and how they changed from corsets before them. Great for anyone wanting a historical commentary on the corset.

Waisted Efforts: An Illustrated Guide to Corset Making by Robert Doyle
ISBN: 0968303900 Library Loan: unkn
Buy:, Farthingales, Amazon
Own: Yes

I recommend this book only for advanced historical corsetieres or people who have a solid background in garment construction and access to an instructor. The advanced alteration methods can be confusing unless you know what you're doing or have someone to explain it to you. It also has a few patterns from a narrow historical range; mostly it uses patterns from Corsets and Crinolines and assumes you have access to that book as well. It has a very good historical narrative on how corsets were made and worn, but that information alone just isn't worth the price, IMO. If you're just out for that info see if you can read the book at a college library close by or on inter-library loan.

The Little Corset Book by Bonnie Holt Ambrose
ISBN: 0896761304 Library Loan: unkn
Buy:, Farthingales, Amazon
Own: Yes

I really like this book for beginners to corsetry. It's small and cheap, and gives a great, simple way on how to make corsets. It's not necessarily the best way, and the patterns seem incorrect for the periods described, but it's a great place to start. It gives one person's methods on how to construct a corset, step-by-step, and you can build up 'your' method from there. I've never made the patterns so I don't know how easy they are to alter or how well they fit.

How To Build & Fit A Victorian Corset Laughing Moon Video/DVD
Buy:, Farthingales
Own: Yes, Video

The woman on this video is about as exciting as a tree. She seems terrified of the camera the entire time, and she often reads (what I assume are) her cue cards in monotone. That said, if you can distill the info she has some great information, especially about the Laughing Moon pattern. If you're more of a visual learner and absolutely NEED to see things done, get this video instead of The Little Corset Book.

Fabric Savvy or More Fabric Savvy by Saundra Betzina
ISBN: 1561582670 (FSed.1), 1561585734 (FSed2), 1561586625 (MFS) Library Loan: unkn
Buy: Amazon
Own: Yes, both editions

I think everyone who sews should have one of these. The guides are wonderful, they categorize fabrics according to weave and fibers, then tell you how to pre-shrink them and which interfacings, presser feet, needles, threads, and seams to use. More Fabric Savvy has the same information as Fabric Savvy, as well as a few more fabrics and information on stains and burn tests for unknowns, so buy whichever you can get your hands on, not both.

The Costume Technician's Handbook: A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional by Rosemary Ingham and Liz Covey
ISBN: 0435086103 Library Loan: University of Kansas
Buy: Amazon
Own: No - KU Library

A great book with everything about costuming. Has some information about boning, but more about how to hide boning in outfits, and lots on other costume construction techniques. Should be a part of every costumer’s library! Beware, though, the authors also have another book, The Costume Designer's Handbook, which is more about drawing and designing costumes and much less about making them. It is interesting and contains great information, but not much of it is useful for hobbyist costumers.

Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing by Reader's Digest editors
ISBN: 0762104201 Library Loan: Most Local Libraries
Buy: Amazon
Own: Yes - 2 editions

Another book that should be in every sewer’s library. It’s not for a beginner, but once you know your way around a sewing machine this book is invaluable for diagramming how to do different seam types and construction techniques valuable to every sewer. There are older versions and newer versions, and most libraries (even the ones in the middle-of-nowhere Kansas with 100 books in them) have this book.

The Corset: A Cultural History by Valerie Steele
ISBN: 0300099533 Library Loan: University of Kansas
Buy: Amazon
Own: Yes

This book doesn’t have much on construction, and what is has you have to dig for. What this book does have is huge amounts of information about corsets, how they were worn, why they were worn, when they were worn, and what people thought of them in the times they were worn. Great for dispelling (or proving!) all those corset myths about fainting, twelve inch waists, and tightlacing fetishes.

The Cut of Men's Clothes by Norah Waugh
ISBN: 0878300252 Library Loan: University of Kansas
Buy: Amazon
Own: No - KU Library

The Cut of Women's Clothes by Norah Waugh
ISBN: 0878300260 Library Loan: University of Kansas
Buy: Amazon
Own: No - KU Library

Has some information on corsetry, and patterns for the clothes that go over them. Also has good information on how to make the clothes, and what was traditionally worn under and over the corset, as well as modern techniques that can be used. Some patterns can default to the theatrical rather than historically authentic, so if you're wanting accuracy you'll have to do some more research beyond this book.
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