Yesterday I sewed the corset pieces together. When I make my corset pattern pieces I add a 1/4″ seam allowance between the pieces, 1/2″ for the front center where the busk will go, and 1 1/2″ at the back center where I’ll be installing the grommets. The top and bottom edges will be covered in bias trim so I don’t add anything extra for seams there. Here is the lining:
Then I sewed the outer layer pieces together. The brocade acted like it wanted to deconstruct itself into a massive frayed mess as soon as possible, so I used an overcast stitch for the seams to keep it under control. I pressed the seams for the lining in the opposite direction from the seams for the outer fabric so they will stay out of each other’s way when I put the two layers together. Next task: sewing the front seam and inserting the busk.
In this and the next few posts I’ll show the steps I go through as I make a corset for my daughter, Cori. Besides (hopefully) being interesting, this will also motivate me to get this one done, since I am seriously late on its delivery. It’s for her birthday which was in January (sorry, Cori…).
I’ll recap what I have done so far:
1. Fabric choice was made quite a while ago. I bought the outside material and lining fabric while I was working on her wedding dress last summer.
It’s polyester, in a beautifully figured pink brocade. Perfect for Cori, who loves and looks great in pink. The lining fabric is a pink smudgy print – you will see it later on as I get the pieces of the corset together.
2. Then on to design! Cori’s wedding corset was an overbust Victorian style, but I thought an underbust corset would be something she could wear over a blouse and skirt, so she wouldn’t be limited to bare shoulders summertime wear. I took her measurements again, and using them I drew the pattern.. Here is the pattern draft:
I created it using the method outlined here in a very clear instructional post by Cathrin Åhlén. Definitely worth checking out if you’re into sewing or Renaissance costumes (or both!)
3. Then on to cutting! The corset draft has six pattern pieces, three for the front, one for the side, and two for the back. Since the draft is for one side, the finished corset will have 12 pieces of each layer. The front fashion layer is backed by a layer of cotton coutil, which is a specialty fabric used in corsetmaking. it is very sturdy and doesn’t stretch, so using it gives the corset good stability. The inner lining fabric is backed by two layers of cotton muslin. that makes five layers for each of the 12 pieces, or 60 pieces of fabric in the finished corset (plus the trim). After cutting, I need to baste the outside and inner lining fabric pieces to their coutil or muslin backing:
and that’s the step I’m in the middle of right now. So I’ll post this, and get back to sewing!
I love the name. It makes me feel better about actual wasps because they gave their name to something that is so pretty. Here are pictures of my newest ones. Since I love batik, they all use it, and one has leather as well. Even though it was the first time in a long time that I have sewn with leather it went together without a hitch. I hope someone else loves it as much as I do.
Orange Batik and Black Leather Waspie
Fawn and Rose Batik Waspie
Green and Gold Waspie
My adventure in corset-making began with my daughter’s wedding dress. Nothing like learning under pressure! We made an initial wedding dress pattern choice, and I made it up in inexpensive fabric. We decided that the skirt of the dress was fine, but we didn’t like the top. My daughter said that what she really wanted was a corset top, and after some searching online we settled on the Mantua-Maker 1870 – 1895 corset pattern. It seemed pretty straightforward, but I had a lot to learn about negative ease, bodice support, and fabric requirements. The process started in June and ended with final fitting and adjustments the week before the wedding in September. The end result was great. She looked gorgeous in the dress, and the weather was perfect for an outdoor wedding by the ocean in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
What I learned:
The importance of finding a great fabric supplier. Luckily I have a great fabric store not too far away (Delectible Mountain Cloth in Brattleboro, Vermont
) that has wonderful silks and other natural fabrics, and what they don’t have they can order. With the help of the owner, Jan, we found just the right material.
There are lots of steps in making a corset, and specialized materials (busks, steel bones, coutil fabric) that I had to get and work with.
Being the mother of the bride, the seamstress, the person managing the sound equipment and the musical performer was a guaranteed recepe for over-extension. Someday I will learn not to say yes.
I also learned that I love making and designing corsets :-). Now I take measurements, figure out the design, and make the pattern to fit the person. It seems much more straightforward than buying a pattern and having to adjust it anyway.