Monday, February 10, 2014

How to sew a corset - pattern and cutting

Some time ago, I promised that one day I'd make a WIP (work in progress) about sewing a corset. I did sew some corsets in between, but never got around to fully document what I do and how I do it. Today I will talk about the stuff you will need to make your very own corset.

The most important part is a good pattern. I already showed in this post how to chose a pattern or take one of your existing corsets. You can also buy a pattern like one from Laughing moon. Be sure that you chose the correct size here, at last the patterns from Simplicity are designed with fitting ease which absolutely makes no sense with corsets. You should measure the pattern pieces and calculate about a 10cm reduction from your normal/natural waist circumference.

The next thing you will need is a fabric. Or rather several fabrics. You will of course already have one fabric in mind - the upper/outer fabric. You will not need much, about 50cm with fabrics that are 1.2-1.4m wide is enough for most corsets. But you will also need a stabilising fabric (50cm at least, if your outer fabric is thin better 1m) and a cotton or silk lining. Since the lining will be worn towards your skin, you should prefer a natural fabric here. The stabilising fabric is necessary to prevent the corset from stretching over time. You can use strong jeans fabric or coutil.

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from left to right: Pattern, outer fabric (navy satin), stabilising fabric 2x (navy coutil), lining (cotton)
The last thing you will need is hardware. You need a busk (a front closing busk is much more comfortable since you don't have to unlace the corset as much to get in and out, but a wide steel one will be much cheaper), spiral steel boning (about 6m) and normal steel boning (about 2m). You can either sew your grommets which is historically accurate but much more work or you can use bough metal grommets. You will also need 5-12m of lacing string (depending on the length of the corset) and caps for your steel boning or duct tape.

I just assume that you will already have the basics at hand (scissors, needles, pincers, measuring tape, needles, matching thread and a sewing machine or a lot of patience). The first thing you need to do is to draw the pattern pieces onto your fabric with 1cm seam allowance (for this sewing method, you will need 1.5cm for others!). You will need to outline the pattern with chalk or pen on each piece because you will need the seam lines later on. The last step for today I to cut all the pieces. Repeat for all fabrics and you will end up with with this:

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linnea-maria said...

Great post! I have sewn one corset but that was before I knew how to make it properly, I used thin plastic strips as boning.

Jade said...

This is a really great post, I love it. :D Maybe I do not follow the right blogs, but I have never seen a how-to about making a corset. Only the finished corsets worn by the maker or a model.

MindLess said...

@ Linnea-Maria: In my first waspie, I alo used plastic boning which bend after not even 2 hors of wear. With the metal boning, the corset is a lzittle more expensive and heavier, but they last for years!

@ Jade: Doing this recapitulation and all the in progress pictures is really a lot of work. taking pictures when worn is so much easier! But there are a few blogs who post this details, maybe I can include some of them in the next post?

Ms Misantropia said...

I have a friend who sews corsets and historical clothing for a living. I'm always amazed at the work she puts in.
Can't wait to see your finished product!

MindLess said...

@ Ms Misantropia: Well, actually it is pretty straight forward work. only the first one is really scary because all the supplies cost so much! But if it ends up wonky, you can still rip it and reuse the metal pieces...