Corsets 101 Part 1: History

If you were born in the Victorian Era, you would most likely be wearing a corset right now! Most girls started wearing them in their young teens in those days. Victorian times were the heyday of corsets, but to search out their origins, we must go further back in time – to the late Renaissance.

So imagine with me a setting a bit like your local Ren Fest (but less fairies, more unpleasant smells… ok let’s not imagine the smells!) and travel to the French Court. Corsets as we know them today got a big push to fame because of Catherine De Medici.

A Portrait of Catherine De Medici


She’s on my “historical figures that would be fun to cosplay” list because she was kind of a badass (and possibly evil too.) One of the weirder things she did in her lifetime was to put a ban on “thick waists” at court. And a trend took hold.

In the early days, corsets looked like this:

18th Century Corset

They attempted to give you a torso shaped like an ice cream cone! The illusion was furthered by the style of the dresses women wore. They changed over the years, but they always featured a rather stylized figure. Here’s a gorgeous example from 1770:

Robe à l'Anglaise in Silk Damask

The corset as we know it today came into being during the Victorian era. They had been using the corset for hundreds of years as a foundation garment to help dresses fit and look a certain way. So when the style evolved to have a small nipped waist, and tons of voluminous petticoats, corsets got nice and curvy to help the silhouette.

The Victorian corset started out short and curvy – but when the skirts got more form fitting in the 1880’s, it extended down to shape and smooth the hips and abdomen. My designs are mostly inspired by the 1880s. I absolutely love the silhouette in those days!

In the 1890s (Edwardian era), they made corsets with straight fronts and backs shaped in a way that forced your chest out and your hips back. It made the gowns look so elegant – but it made the corsets rather uncomfortable for your back.

As modern feminists, we would like to think that one day, we decided to be liberated women, and spontaneously burned all our corsets and switched to wearing only practical clothing. But it didn’t quite happen that way! The thing that really made us stop wearing corsets was World War 1. They needed more steel to make weapons/ammunition. So women helped the war effort by giving up their steel boned corsets. We still wore shapewear – like girdles, and lighter elastic corsets for decades after that.

In the 60’s – a slim athletic figure came into style. So exercise replaced shapewear for attaining an ideal figure. And for a long while, corsets were a rare item for those not into historical reenactment or the fetish scene.

Now the corset has come back into fashion – as something we wear for fun! And I’m glad that they have. I’m a mother of two who hates to exercise – so as you can probably imagine, I don’t have an ideal figure according to modern standards! But oh, do I love how I look when I wear a corset. ^.^

If you are curious to learn more about the history of corsets, may I recommend this book:

I purchased and read it before writing this post to be sure I was dotting my i’s and crossing my ts correctly!  But it turned out to be a fascinating read with lots of interesting pictures.  (The above image is an affiliate link – if you purchase with the link Amazon will pay me a small commission on the sale.  I’ve found some awesomely recommendable things on Amazon over the years – and it seemed that the easiest way to share their images in my blog was to sign up for the affiliate program!  So that’s what I did.  ^.^)

Coming next week – Corsets 101 Part 2: Corset types!

The Ultimate Guide to Corsets

What is a corset? Nowadays the word refers to a whole bunch of things – including girdles (Corset purists feel free to gasp and look offended with me!) and bustiers. When I talk corsets, I mean “real” corsets, or the historical definition of a corset:

Corset (noun): a close-fitting undergarment, stiffened with whalebone or similar material and often capable of being tightened by lacing, enclosing the trunk: worn, especially by women, to shape and support the body; stays.

I’m writing a series of posts on corsets. I have rather a lot to share on the subject! Lol I come from a making-ball-gowns-out-of-curtains type background – so my first experience with corsets came from spending a VERY long time drooling over them, dreaming of owning one, researching how I could make one without being able to afford the proper boning and fabric, and attempting to (multiple times) from the wrong materials!

A custom made wedding corset
I’ve made lots of corset-ish things – but this is one of the only true corsets that I’ve made myself. For a friend’s custom designed wedding dress!

Now with what I do for a living, I wear at least 20 new corsets each year for photoshoots! And despite getting to lace up so regularly into all the new pretties, I don’t think my obsession has died. I LOVE corsets.

This is going to be an 8 part series. When I post each new part, I’ll come back here and update the link!

The Ultimate Guide to Corsets
This pic features just a few of the corsets that I wore last year for photos.

And here are the parts!

Part 1: History of Corsetry

Part 2: Types of Corsets

Part 3: Real Corset Styles

Part 4: Anatomy of a Corset

Part 5: Pattern Matters

Part 6: Find your Perfect Corset Size

Part 7: Wear a Corset Comfortably

Part 8: How to Care for your Corset

Announcement – Black Friday Sale

This past weekend I did my after-Halloween overhaul.  This is a several day process – where I put on an awesome audiobook, and spend some time buried up to my nose in lace and pretty fabrics – cleaning and organizing.

This year, while at it, I realized something.  Holy crap, did I make a lot of pretty things this year!  And I have a lot of pretty ideas that I still have yet to make.  Which means I need more space in my stock closet!

So… Drumroll please… I’m having a sale!

I’m putting nearly a third of my shop on 40% off!  If you’ve been eyeing one of the samples I make for photoshoots (and it hasn’t sold yet) here’s your chance to get it at an amazing discount.  You can see my size Small photoshoot samples here, and my Medium and Large photoshoot samples here.

All of my outfits and costumes will be 10% off.  You can see the Steampunk costumes here, and the Victorian Gothic section here.  If it’s something I already have on clearance, it’ll be 50% off.  The sale ends on Cyber Monday (November 26th.)

Halloween Swag 2017

Halloween – oh lovely beautiful Halloween!  It’s that wonderful time of the year when all the stores become full of skulls, black lace, and other sorts of darkly delightful things, and I’m suddenly not a weirdo anymore…

Okay, maybe not that last one.  It’s kind of fun being a weirdo! 😉

This also happens to be the time of year when all good costume designers become attached to sewing machine via ball and chain!  But I managed to eke out enough time to scrounge thru the local stores to see the swag… the Halloween swag!  And pick out a few of my very own treasures.

These are totally impulse purchases – mostly from Michael’s.  I thought the skull could make a very cute display for headdresses at shows (it’s lifesize), and the miniature furniture matched so I couldn’t resist.  Oh evil 75% off sales!

Five words.  Black Crystal Chandelier String Lights.

Need I say more?

I found these first at, used the locator tool to figure out which store had them still in stock, and made that my chosen Halloween shopping city.  Lol you won’t find any of these in Warwick, RI.  All of them went home with me!

Hey look, it’s Lady Death:

Those of you who were with me since the beginning will remember when I used to make earrings that looked practically identical to this wall hanging.  My sister, after taking on the jewelry portion of my business, has yet to add the exact “Lady Death” style to her shop (going to have to keep /poking her about things like that!) but she does offer an awesome similar style here.

I had to get it just for nostalgia’s sake.

It had a black frame originally, but I painted it silver so that it can claim a place in the studio I plan to eventually have all decorated with gothy-chic cuteness – and ready for indoor photography.  Right now it will need to be squeezed into the stuffed to-the-max photo props corner in my current too-small studio!  Aaah the dreams, the dreams…  Lady Death was scored from AC Moore.

But the category in which I feel like I most hit the jackpot was socks – oh the epic Halloween socks!  I thought I was purchasing knee highs each time, so you can imagine my delight when I opened the packages at home and found they were actually thigh high!  And wearable with my garter shorts, of course.

The first two pair of cheesy halloween goodness came from Joanns, and the grey stripe were from Walmart, of all places!

If your local stores aren’t yet sold out, you may be able to snag a few pairs for yourself.

And last but not least, OMG these shoes:

They cost me all of $10 at a random Halloween pop up store (Spooky-Town).  I had to ask both a store employee, and the checkout lady “Are you sure these are really $10?” because they bear such a striking resemblance to the shoes I’ve been lusting over at shows and at sinister soles, but hadn’t yet shelled out around $70 to purchase…

Did you score some amazing Halloween swag this year too?  I’d love to hear about it!

Brothers Steampunk Victorian Photoshoot

As promised, here are the rest of the pictures from our photoshoot  at the Vermont Steampunk Festival. These pictures show my youngest son, JJ, wearing a commissioned vest from The DarleneScene.  The key was something he made at the craft table. This picture makes me think one of my favorite classic books, The Secret Garden.

And this picture basically sums up JJ’s personality. (He is a goober.)

The following pictures are of my oldest son, Tristan. I believe he was trying to actually model for me, but was not sure whether to copy his younger brother by being a goober, or to copy Mommy’s fashion-model-style posing!

Darlene’s vests are amazing! We were incredibly impressed by the quality and the fit was great. I gave her the boys measurements and asked to have enough growing room for about a year and it has worked out to exactly as I requested. We plan to order more when the boys outgrow these.

September 2017 Monthly Roundup

I’ve decided to start a monthly tradition! After the end of each month, I’ll take a bit of time to share with all of you what I’ve been up to.

I hope you’ll enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at Auralynne, and the chance to catch up on any info you may have missed on social media.

…Has been busy but great! I’ve taken on a partner – as of August, and this month she was trained in enough things to really save me a lot of time. This time of year it can be very difficult to keep up with customer inquiries on top of the amount of custom sewing orders I have – so it’s been great having a second person around.

We had an epic photoshoot planned for September! With beaches all having free parking after Labor Day, and the surprisingly warm weather, I thought it might be awesome to visit one of them in pirate costume (complete with props) and take some photos. Just in time for Talk Like a Pirate Day, of course!

But you know how best laid plans work… The first photo-day had to be postponed when my sister caught sick, and then some unexpected delays while working on custom orders ran me late on my sewing, and I had to sew solid for about three week’s time to catch up!

We did manage to snag some pretty photos of my burgundy/gold/beige gown in between doing festival stuff at the Vermont Steampunk festival. Here are a few of my favorites:

Victorian Bridal dress Victorian Bridal dress Victorian Bridal dress

You can see the rest of the photos in my Portfolio.

I didn’t actually get any new patterns made this month because, well, Halloween season – but I did a little tweak to my “Tuxedo Skirt” pattern. I added pleats in the back and I think it’s at least 150% cuter now!

Victorian RWBY

New things for Sale

Here is a little teaser of a few of the new things I posted for sale in my etsy shop this month:

Monthly Giveaway

This cute little hat was the prize for September’s monthly facebook giveaway. Congrats to the winner!

Victorin mini top hat

Thanks for reading, and happy October everyone!

Vermont Steampunk Festival 2017

Attending a Steampunk show with young kids in tow can be HARD.  If we ever figure it out (or feel like we have made some progress in that direction) I’ll share a how-to post about it! xD

There were a lot of moments over last weekend where we had expired children and had to take them out of main areas – so I know there was probably a lot of great entertainments that we missed.  But my main focus in life is of course costuming – and we did get our fill of prancing around in costume, so I’m happy!

We like to attend festivals in costumes that are collectively cute, hilarious, or ridiculous (preferably a combination of all three!) and this year’s main outfit was no exception.

Our Family, as Steampunk Devils and baby Angel

We enjoyed the silly contrast of our Steampunk World’s Faire outfits so much that we decided to repeat the idea – but backwards!  This time most of the family was rocking the Gothic Victorian darkness-incarnate look – but JJ was a Steampunk angel (complete with white tux.  I love you ebay, and people on ebay who re-sell their ring-bearer outfits for ridiculously cheap!)

This would be Tristan jumping in front of the camera lens…

Steampunk Monster Child

…And J.J. asking for his own turn at it (but needing a boost due to shortness!)

Steampunk Celestial Child

Lol we were in Vermont – but I don’t think Vermont got the memo that it is a Northern state.  We had 86, then 91 degree highs over the weekend!

Tristan is autistic, and he doesn’t talk much, but I’m pretty sure this is his “OMG it is way too friggin hot for this!” face:

Funny Face Steampunk Festival

And here’s me hogging the shade – like all black leather Victorian ball gown wearing ladies should!

Gothic Family Picnic with Mom in the Shade

And this picture just amuses me:

Steampunk Celestial Lunch

You are wearing a white tux, child.  You can have this spaghetti-sauce laden pizza only if you EAT IT OUT OF MY HAND!

On the second day, I made a very important discovery.

I can hula hoop while wearing a Victorian ball gown!

Yes, it is possible to Hula Hoop in a Steampunk Ballgown


Steampunk Hula Hooping Mishap

While Mommy was being silly, the kids were having fun crafting steampunk treasures at the tent:

Steampunk Kids Crafts

Tristan made Yog-Sothoth!  (At least, this is what I have decided.)

Steampunk Cthulhu Crafts

By the way – if you are interested in getting a set of ridiculous matchy matchy-ness for yourself and family/significant other – it is a possibility!  I don’t make vests – but there is this awesome lady on etsy who does, and is happy to do so using my fabrics.  She made the ones my sons and hubby are wearing in the photos.

Handmade Victorian Steampunk Costume

Didn’t she do a gorgeous job?

Mens Double Breasted Button Steampunk Vest

The garden out back of the bed and breakfast is GORGEOUS.  I’ve been wanting to take pretty pictures there ever since I went to the first festival two years ago.  We managed to this year!  Those are on my camera camera (the big one that takes my pretty business pictures) but I’m planning to have them finished within the next couple weeks to share with you!

And in the meantime, here’s a teaser:

Handmade Steampunk Wedding Ringbearer Outfit

Steampunk World's Fair 2017 – Highlights

I’m back from Steampunk World’s Fair (my second year attending) and still working on trying to get back into the swing of things!  I did, however, find the withdrawal symptoms were much less advanced this time – possibly because of the Watch City Steampunk Festival happening only one week later?

Last year it was just me (and a whoooole lotta vending stuff) but this year I decided to bring the family and just attend the convention.  My latest opinion on vending is that it involves too much work and too little cosplay!  Although when my children are old enough to tip the scales more toward the “help” than the “hinder” range, I do plan to dip my toes into vending at shows again.  ^.^

Andi (a family friend) also came with us this year.  It was kind of funny – because the first day, we were all wearing our matchy-matchy Victorian/Steampunk outfits and thus looked quite brightly and happily Steampunk (as you can see in the photo above).  Meanwhile, I had put some things together from my closet to fit Andi, and they were more my standard line of dark and gothy-looking steampunk pretties – polar opposite of the rest of us!  People would see us, go “awwwwwww”, and then they’d see Andi and start laughing – “OMG she is perfect!  It’s the gothy teenage daughter!”  So we went with it – and Andi started posing in dramatically disinterested ways for all the photo moments.

Many thanks to Edward Arneson for this great shot of us!

My favorite quote from a passerby – “The family that brocades together, stays together!”

Saturday night, my favorite Steampunk band (This Way to the Egress) did something awesome.  They teamed up with Emporer Norton’s Stationary Marching Band (who has a very compatible/similar style) and did this crazy long back-and-forth concert.  One would play a few songs, and then they would all join up to play a song together, and then switch to the other band for a few songs.

The key thing about this is – BOTH of these bands play the absolute most amazing dancing music – along circus/vaudeville/swing lines.  And I don’t mean that it’s music that you can dance to – it’s more like you HAVE to dance – not moving your feet/bouncing/wiggling/etc while this music is happening would feel like absolute travesty!

I’ve been to a couple of This Way to the Egress concerts now, and the tragedy is always that it’s over way too soon!  I mean, sure, dancing with that high a level of energy does totally drain you – but OMG the fun!  With both bands coming on to give each other a break, the fun didn’t have to end – at least not until I had thoroughly tired myself out, literally danced a hole in my favorite pair of shoes (anyone know where I can get another pair of black beaded satin ballet slippers??!) and… well, let’s just say – you know that saying, that it isn’t a party until the police get called?  Condition met.  The bands had to finish and unplug at midnight to please someone who shall not be named (who apparently calls the cops on us every year…) but holy crap 2 and a half hours of crazy bouncy dancing!  Yaaaaah!

Sunday is always a quieter day (because after effects of alcohol) but I still like to do the fancy-dress thing.  We didn’t have matching outfits for the kids in those colors, so we did the suspender look for them instead.  And Andi got creative, combining some of my things, with some of her things to put together a cute anime-flavored steampunk look for herself.  Here we all are together:

Following is my favorite photo of the trip.  I had said something along the lines of “oh we don’t have any pictures of me by myself yet, can you take one here?” and I’m posing, and then my oldest (Tristan) just decides to jump in front of the camera and photobomb me.  Tristan is autistic, and while he does some strange and unusual things from time to time, photobombing is not typical!

The best and most amazing thing about Steampunk World’s Fair is all the cosplayers!  My stuff is really pretty – and fairly over-the-top – and most of the time I’m one of the fanciest dressed when I go to an event.  At SPWF, I’m just one, of many, many awesome cosplayers (and no where near the best dressed either!)  I absolutely love seeing everyone else’s amazing creativity in motion!

I’d want to finish by posting an album of all the amazing cosplay we got pictures of – but we had camera issues this year.  In the future, we’ll have to pay more attention to tiny sneaky grubby fingers getting too close to our camera lens!

Instead I’m going to provide a link to Babs Who Takes Pictures’ album from 2017 – she always takes great shots!

Making Animal Ears for Cosplay

I’m cosplaying the Cheshire Cat at a ball this weekend.  So I’m making myself a pair of cat ears!  I won’t call this a tutorial – I’ve tried to do tutorials over the years, and I think I might not be organized enough to force my brain to think of things in steps!  Lol so we’ll call this a “the making of” type post.  With a bit of artistic skill, you probably can glean how to make yourself some fairly amazing animal ears for cosplay.  But it won’t exactly be a step by step how-to, either!


To make your own cat ears, you’ll need the following:

  • Backing fabric.  I used leftovers from my cheshire cat gown.  Silver tiger print fabric!
  • Inner ear fabric.  Something fuzzy for the best look!
  • Sticky-back craft foam.  I bought this stuff for crafts for my kids originally, then had to buy them more because I had commandered most of the package!  It’s awesome for crafts.
  • Elastic.  I used 1/8 inch sewing elastic.
  • Something to cut fabric with.  A rotary cutter and mat is easiest for these kinds of projects.
  • Regular paper scissors.
  • And a glue gun and plenty of hot glue.

First, I google image searched “cat ears” to come up with an idea of what I wanted them to look like.  I wanted something a bit large, but also lifelike in shape.

While looking at google images, I sketched this as a basic plan for myself:

I cut out the shape, then traced it onto the craft foam, lining up the bottom of the ear with the edge of the craft foam.  I flipped the pattern over to trace it the second time, so I would have mirror-image shaped ears.  Then I drew the outer lines in the picture, about a half inch from around the sides of the ears.

I cut them out:

Then with the glue gun, beaded glue along the inside of the inner line (where the edges of the ears will be) like this:

The next step was to let the glue dry – all the way – and so I didn’t get impatient and touch it too soon, I cut the fabric pieces next.  I cut the fabric for the outside big – so I can wrap it around the ears and have nice edges.  I gave it an extra inch around the top and sides, and an extra 1/4 inch at the bottom.

For the inner ear fabric, I reduced the size of the pattern, by 1/4 inch around the top and sides, like so:

And cut the two inner ear pieces (OMG softy soft):

Remember to flip the pattern so you cut mirror-image pieces!

Here is a pic showing all of the pieces laid on top of eachother – all different sizes, so they go together right!

The glue on the craft foam had hardened sufficiently by this point.  I added more glue on top of the old glue, and rolled the foam around my glue line, to make a nice rounded edge for my ears.

It seemed to work best to start in the center of each ear’s side, then work toward the edges and the ear tip – and give it plenty of time to dry before letting go.  Here is one of the ears all rolled up and glued down:

Next, I peeled off the adhesive backing:

And plopped it onto my backing fabric:

The back and sides of the ear are sticky, but the inner part needs glue to hold the fabric down.  I glued the top and bottom sides first:

Then the edges.  Here they are all glued down, and starting to come together correctly!

Next I cut 3 pieces of elastic, 2 at 10 inches, and 1 at 5 inches.

I totally forgot to get a photo of this – but the next step was to glue the elastic to the foam.  I glued the short piece to connect the two ears – about an inch from the inner ear edge, and an inch of elastic glued, then I glued the longer pieces to the outside corners of both ears just inside the rolled portion.

Next, I glued in the fluffy inner ear fabric.  I started at the top, gluing a little triangle and sticking on the ear, then working my way down like so:

I only did a little at a time, and I used plenty of glue, and while each row of glue would dry, I curved the ear and held onto it – so it would be shaped like that when dry.

And there they are, all done!  Here’s what they look like worn:

I am wearing a hat with them – specially shaped with an upturned back so it will fit in front of the ears.  Here’s the look all put together:

There is also a brand new design – a tuxedo inspired jacket – as part of this set!  I’ll get pictures this weekend!