Monday, 12 October 2009

Corset Construction (part 1)

Here as promised, is my "quick guide" to building a corset. This is based on the 9769 Simplicity Pattern which I am making for display purposes - more on that soon (hopefully)!! This is a quick guide - an overview ... I have put links in where you can see italics, to my 'tips and tutorials' pages on the website where there is more detailed info.

First of all, this pattern reduces the waist automatically, by 2.5 inches. But I need a bigger reduction than that, so I start off by tracing the pattern, and reducing the waist size. How? You take the amount you want to reduce - 2 further inches and divide that number by the number of seams which are "take inable" - 10 in this case. I don't take in the centre front seam or the centre back seam as these have to remain straight. So, 2 inches divided by 10 seams is 0.5cm reduction on each seam. As you can see, I have done this inside of the seam allowances for accuracy.

All 12 pieces of the corset are then laid on the fabric, cut and marked up. The two sides are kept separate, and I work on one side at a time.
This is a single layer corset, so the boning channels which are not over seams, are sewn on first. It's easier to do them 'flat' as when the peices are sewn together, there are curves to negotiate! I do not sew the channels nearest the front or back edges yet.

After all the 'flat chanels' are sewn on, I sew all the pieces of each side together. The reason I don't sew the bone channels over the seams right now, is because I need to be able to adjust the fitting if necessary at a later stage.

When working with satin it's best to pin in the seam allowances only. The curvy seams are then ironed over my tailors ham...

And here's both sides after pressing ..

Already a corset shape ... now it's time to do the front and back edges...

As the back edge will have 20 eyelets in each side and this is a single layer corset, I am re-inforcing the back facing with some fusible interfacing - just a precaution.

I like to top stitch all my edges VERY close to the edge, for extra strength and because I think it looks nice. For corsetry, I mainly use two machine feet - my zipper foot as you can see, and my applique foot, so that I can see where i'm going when sewing bone channels.

After sewing down the back facing, and making sure the final bone channels are in place (remember I didn't sew these at the beginning), I mark my eyelets using a template and chalk, on the right sides of the back edges of the corset. This one doesn't have enough holes in it - I need 20 holes on each side, this only has 10. I need to make a new one! After the positions are marked, I use an eyelet punch or an awl, or both, to make holes, and the eyelets are then inserted with a hammer. Mr Marmalade usually helps with this part.

When the eyelets at the back are done, I insert the busk fastner at the front. I always cover my busk first as this adds strength and a nicer finish - and if i'm a bit rusty, it's good practice before doing the real thing..

Now I can insert bones into the channels I have already sewn and try the corset on to check that it fits. This one needs a bit of adjustment around the boobs - the front two seams need to be taken in by 1cm each. The bust area is usually where the adjustments need to be made. Luckily the waist seems fine - certainly the shape is what I was after. So now, all I have to do is make the adjustments, and then finish off the boning and binding, which I will show you next time!


  1. What an iddy biddy waist you have!
    Marvelous, thank you so much for sharing. x

  2. You are one amazingly talented lady, I wish I could whisk you up here to make me one of your wonderful creations. Oh and I wish I didn't have a big belly that would spoil the lovely line of the corset :)

  3. Oh it is already looking amazing! So talented and I love the way you take us through the process x

  4. wow, you are very talented and impressive! I am amazed.

    Oh and Taz a corset is a wonderful thing - bellies and curves are smoothed into an even more amazing shape than they are normally.


  5. This was a great education, Julia...that's for demystifying the corset for us novices! This one you're working on is beautiful--love the red! Happy Sewing... ((HUGS))

  6. That's gorgeous Julia - it looks so fab on you too!