Combinations, completed

The last month or so I've been working on assembling a set (a pair? I don't know what the proper term is!) of late-Victorian combinations and now they are finally done and my sister came home from vacation so I could make her take photos and then it FINALLY stopped raining so we had some decent light, so here they are!  (Phew.)

I'm playing Mabel in our community theatre's production of "The Pirates of Penzance" and we're costuming it to roughly 1890, including for me proper corsetry!  So I decided I needed some new underthings to go with it.  (My corset cover and drawers are made of very fine lawn and are therefore too delicate for stage work, plus they're about a decade or so later in style, which doesn't work so well.)

I scaled the pattern up from the one given in Patterns for Theatrical Costumes.  We've had the book for a while but I've never made anything from it before.  It was surprisingly easy - I don't have a projector, but I just photo-copied the pattern page overtop of graph paper at the appropriate scale, and then laid out muslin over my mum's dressmaker's cutting board which has a 1-inch grid on it, and drew directly onto the fabric.  I cut out half the combinations - one front, one back - with enormous seam allowances, and basted them together to check the fit, then made a few alterations, marked the darts, and used those pieces as the pattern to cut out the actual fabric.  The pattern actually fit me very well with just a few alterations.  I took in the sides a tad, added two darts to each side of the back (which was unfitted in the book), and cut the neckline down and squared it off, figuring that would be more versatile than the high neckline of the base pattern.  I also shortened the legs considerably and added flounces to the cuffs.

Impossible to take photos in a corset and flouncy underclothes and *not* pretend to be a girl from one of those naughty picture postcards ;-P
This book is just designed to give very basic templates, so you have to do all the construction and finishing yourself.  I used mostly flat-felled seams to hide all the raw edges and make the garment more sturdy.  The neckline and armholes have bias-cut facings, and I made facings and a button-hole band for the front opening.  I experimented with the crotch seams and will have to go back and change them... I wanted to make them open, for wearing ease, but since I'll be wearing them on stage I didn't want any possibility of immodesty... so I tried to make them close with snaps.  After wearing them for photos though, the snaps are definitely not going to hold it, so I think I'll just sew up the seams.  I may insert a gusset also as they'd be more comfortable with a little more room in the seat, but they're wearable as-is.

I knitted all the lace to trim the armholes, neckline, and leg flounces.  Just fairly thick crochet cotton and a couple simple patterns from Barbara Abbey's Knitting Lace.  I wanted something sturdy, but plain cotton underthings are so much more fun if you make them a little frilly!

The best of the inside photos.  (Protip: put on stockings BEFORE the corset next time.)
We tried really hard to get photos of these inside, since I didn't necessarily want to prance around the front yard in my underclothes, even such full-coverage underclothes as these!  But our house doesn't get enough of the right kind of light and they mostly turned out blurry, so Kate and I took it outside.  Much better :)

I also crocheted some lace to trim my petticoat, which I made about 6 years ago and have been wearing ever since, but never properly finished!  There were still some raw edges and loose threads, and one of the flounces had gotten caught up in the seam so it hung oddly.  I fixed that, finished the edges, tidied it up, and gave it some lace.  It's much more fun after its makeover!

So there you go!  Nice new frilly undies for stage and any other excuse I can come up with to wear them :-)


  1. These are *so* great! And wow, you definitely have that desirable hourglass Victorian figure. . .total figure envy over here! You look beautiful!

    The lace trim is so elegant and such a perfect touch. I am in awe of your crochet skills.

    I'm terribly excited about your performance! I can't wait to hear more details about how it all comes together.

    1. Thanks, Sarah! The compliment means a lot coming from you... your historical garments are always so beautiful, and I think you have a pretty lovely figure yourself :)

      I'll definitely keep you updated on the show, too. It's so much fun!

  2. Wow, love the undies, the trim, finishes it beautifully.

  3. Great work! I've worked as a costumer on Pirates before & our cast had nothing this gorgeous!

    1. Thanks! I can't wait to see the rest of the costumes... I just made these for myself because I've long wanted to and the director/costumer said it was fine, but I think the rest are going to be lovely as well :) I'm going to be making the Major General's uniform so you'll be seeing that here soon as well!


Post a Comment

Please leave a comment! Conversation is what makes blogging fun :-)