It’s finally happened everyone: I’ve turned my attention to making a corset.
From researching the history of corsets for my museum work, stumbling upon (and buying, obviously) a beautiful gold satin one from a vintage ‘barn’ and receiving access to a free pattern online – it was inevitable.
The free pattern is courtesy of corsettraining.net, which gives you a detailed digital booklet and online pattern of the most basic corset – perfect for beginners! The pattern stretches across two sheets of paper, with the different sizes colour coded within the shapes.
I’ve opted to make a size 14 as it’s very difficult to gage what kind of sizing is measured. However, because corsets are made in what seems like a hundred different pieces it’s relatively easy to add or take panels away if the sizing is a little wrong.
Obviously before starting I needed to get the materials, meaning I would be in the fabric shop for at least an hour just gawping and contemplating every single colour and style.
Eventually I went with my all-time favourite colour, a jade-green silk finish. What I didn’t exactly realise was the amount of layers on this particular corset, not only needing this beautiful outer fabric but a stiffening middle layer and a lining for the inside – oh and bias binding to make all the edges look pretty and neat. (Note, bias binding was made at home using a metre of polycotton, cut on the bias!) For all the fabric I got ½ metre each!
For this corset I wanted all the fabric (minus the stiffening layer) to be the same colour so I chose the same jade shade for all. Unfortunately the name of the black stiffening fabric has fallen straight out of my head, so when it reappears in my head I will update you all!**
And for the boning? Not whale bone or steel boning unfortunately…but nylon boning – a very excellent and comfy alternative. I got a couple of metres of this, rolled up and secured with a lot of sellotape (it doesn’t unravel – it pings, everywhere.)
After doing the material shopping it was time to focus on the pattern! After printing the pattern it was time to go back to school (sort of) and do some cutting and ‘sticking’ (pinning).
The pattern is great, clearly labelling each pattern piece A B C and D. Starting with the black stiffening layer, part of the edge was folded and piece A was pinned on the fold. The other pieces were pinned elsewhere and not on the fold.
Before cutting it is recommended to leave a seam allowance of around 1cm so I had room to manoeuvre or rectify a probable future mistake, haha. Instead of cutting directly on the lining I roughly cut 1cm away all the way round the piece.
All the pieces, minus A which was cut on the fold on fabric were cut out twice. Piece A is the front of the corset, when unfolded it becomes the centre.
After I felt comfortable with my millions of pieces, it was time for the next stage: Unpinning the paper templates and pinning the black shapes onto the silk finish. You do not need a seam allowance this time, as it is included in the black shape already! (You can happily reuse the paper templates if you want, just remember to use the seam allowance again!) This stage is exactly the same, however the two fabrics are completely different to work with. The stiffening layer was a little bit of a challenge to cut due to its sturdy nature. In contrast the silk is extremely slippy, something that I will have to take into account if I make any future garment!
The final stage for part one is my favourite part. It’s time to thread up the sewing machine! Each black shape is sewn together with it’s green counterpart, and hallelujah the first two layers are beginning to form! I sewed around 1/2 cm in, trying my hardest to be equal!
That was enough for one day. I need to recharge myself!!