Friday, June 13, 2014

May Manton 906 - Embroidery for Corset Bag

Best guess is the 19-teens or a little earlier.

This one is in the category of "Who knew?"  Who knew that ladies made bags for their corsets? Who knew that they then embroidered them? (and even spent money on transfer patterns for the designs!)

Interestingly, this pattern for embroidering a long, narrow bag probably dates to a period when corsets had reached a rather extreme length.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art dates this fine example to 1917-1919.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
In 1910 the magazine The Women's Home Companion offered kits for laundry bags, sponge bags, and corset bags, in stamped linen in pink, blue, lavender, or white.  "A most useful set of bags either for the college girl or for the home girl...These bags are especially useful for traveling and they would make a very pretty gift for birthday or Christmas. The stamped linen bag would set you back 40 cents.  Fifteen cents more would get you the thread and the cord.
Womens Home Journal, 1910
Particularly when packing corsets for traveling, the laces, stud-and-loop busks, and the garters all had the potential to snag, so the corset bag protected a lady's frillies from her corset.  But protecting the corset itself is important as well.  Good quality corsets could be quite expensive, and a lady might have several.  As well as an "everyday" corset, a lady might have one suitable for evening clothes, or a flexible, lighter-weight model for summer or sports wear.  I assume that each bag was design to hold only a single corset.


Laura said...

A lot of reenactor ladies around here make bags similar to this for storage, though usually out of cute prints that are appealing to the owner. I had no idea this was a period thing!

Dianne said...

My grandmother was born in about 1880, and I remember her mentioning corset bags. She also wore a corset like the one pictured EVERY DAY of her life! In fact, when you've been pretty much living inside a cast, eventually you can't go with out one. In her world, a woman had one corset, like you said they were pricey, at most two, one in the washing, one to wear. You took good care of them.

chlewis said...

People had (and sometimes embroidered) linen canvas covers for their luggage, too. Very indirect evidence in a novel suggests that the covers were used while travelling, rather than when storing the luggage, but I'm not sure. said...

In the 1840s Workwomen's Guide gave instructions for making trunk covers, which could be embroidered with initials and numbers just as other household linens were marked.