Embossed Leaf and Cable Merry Widow Shell by Joan McGowan-Michael
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Embossed Leaf and Cable Merry Widow Shell

April 2007
DK / Sport ?
22 stitches and 32 rows = 4 inches
in Stockinette Stitch
US 6 - 4.0 mm
675 - 1125 yards (617 - 1029 m)
To fit 33, 35.5, 38.5, 41.5, 45 inch chest; 28.5, 31, 34, 37, 40.5 inch waist; 34.5, 37, 39.5, 42.5, 46 inch hip

From Knitting Lingerie Style:

The first merry widow was created by the lingerie company Maidenform to coincide with the release of the 1952 film The Merry Widow, starring Lana Turner.  The original garment was a full-length, strapless corselette with half-cups on top and long garters below.  It relied upon steel boning, underwires, and elastic net for shaping, reputedly prompting Turner herself to comment, "The merry widow was designed by a man.  A woman would never do that to another woman."

My merry-widow-inspired shell is infinitely more comfortable but still as shapely, thanks to interior darts, gentle side shaping, and a flattering mock cable and leaf pattern that winds its way from top to bottom on both sides.  The boning of the 1950s merry widow was encased in channeling that was held in place by stitching visible from the outside of the garment, a subtle detail that emphasized a woman’s curves.  While sleeve straps eliminate the need for boning in my version, I’ve duplicated this subtle detail with traveling cables.