McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

May 28, 2014

Corsets: ‘Bound to Please’

ENID, Okla. — With help from the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center and a master seamstress, guests at the museum will have a chance Saturday to make their own Victorian chemise.

A chemise historically was used as an undergarment under tight Victorian clothing.

“Chemises are worn under a corset to protect you from the corset and the corset from you,” said museum assistant Sarah Hardaway. “Today, they are worn as nightgowns and often are works of art in themselves.”

The workshop, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, is held in conjunction with the new temporary exhibit “Bound to Please: A History of Corsets.” The class will be led by master seamstress Kimberly Prack of Arlington, Texas. Prack specializes in reproduction historic clothing for history museums.

“The chemise is the first step in dressing like those lovely Victorian ladies,” Prack said. “A chemise is an easy garment to try your hand at and get a feel for historic sewing.”

Several historic and artistic corsets are on display at the museum until July 5. The exhibit is on loan from the Oklahoma Territorial Museum in Guthrie. It shows the history of corsets from their beginnings until they fell out of everyday favor a century ago.

CSRHC Education Director Cody Jolliff said that along with the class, Saturday’s workshop, which costs $75, includes lunch, a special tour of the exhibit and materials to make a chemise.

“It’s a good start for people who are interested in historic sewing or just a fun Saturday activity to do something kind of different. It will be a great mother-daughter activity,” Jolliff said. “(The seamstress) will also bring lots of original garments for hands-on, to show you how they work and how they go together. It was layers and layers of clothes that women wore.”

A couple of sewing machines will be available for the class to share, but those attending are welcome to bring their own portable sewing machine. Class size is limited to 12. To register for the workshop, call Dana at 237-1907, extension 221.

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