Arts and Design
How To Make A Corset
Updated on June 4, 2014 Lynsey Harte moreLynsey has completed courses in corsetry, dressmaking, and pattern cutting and enjoys sewing in her spare time.
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Waisted Efforts: An Illustrated Guide to Corset Making Buy Now I recently decided to attend a corsetry course. Obviously, I wanted to learn how to make corsets from scratch, and how to alter them later if need be. The course also covered the history of corsets, giving an insight into their origins and future.
As a relative sewing novice, I thought the best way to go about this was to go to a class, because simply following a pattern can get a little tricky, and it’s always handy to have someone at hand when things go wrong. With this in mind, I decided to keep a note of my progress over the 10 week course, and post the results at the end. But why stop there? I thought it would be best to show my progress, step by step, so that other aspiring corseteers have more than just a pattern to follow. Be aware that making a corset does take a lot of time and effort, so be prepared for sore fingers and wonky eyes!
This hub will show you, step by step, how to make a corset. While I will be making a standard 6 panel (on each side) corset, the steps can be used along with any pattern, and I will share any issues I had along the way. The detailed photos will help along my explanation of how to put the corset together, from cutting the fabric out, to sewing it all together and sealing the steel bones, all the way through to finishing off the edges and inserting the strong eyelets.
Simplicity Creative Patterns 1345 Misses’ Corsets and Ruffled Shrug Sewing Patterns, Size H5 (6-8-10-12-14) Buy Now Prepare the Pattern
The first step is to cut out all of the pieces of your pattern. Ensure that the pattern you are using is for the correct size, by measuring, just incase it has printed out wrongly. This is especially important for print at home versions. If not, scale up using a photocopier. There is a handy article here on how to do this, however bear in mind that corset measurements are very unique and you don’t want to change the lengths, so it will be better to redraw (baking paper is a great resource to use for patterns, and cheap, too!) If you are between sizes, it is better to go for the size larger, because it is easier to take in than to let out.
Once you have cut out the pieces, lay them out onto your Calico fabric, and secure with plenty of pins. We used 2m of calico fabric, and folded it in half, so that there were enough layers to strengthen the corset. Once folded, the fabric was ironed to ensure that the pattern transferred onto a flat surface.
When laying out your pieces onto the fabric, make sure that you allow extra room for your seam allowance. This should be 2cm around the sides, and 1cm around the top and bottom.
Draw around each piece, and then draw round roughly for your seam allowances- 2cm at the sides, and 1cm top and bottom. A nice dark pencil is best for this, and remember that these layers will not be seen!
Like many corset patterns, the pattern I used only had one side on it, so to get the other side, I flipped each piece over. This ensures that all of the corresponding pieces for each panel are the exact same size.
I recommend writing at the top of each panel, the panel name i.e A, B, C… A2, B2, C2, so that you can easily tell which pieces are which and know that they are the correct side up.
The photo below shows how it should all look once it has been drawn out.
Dritz Dressmaker Pins, Size 17, 750-Pack Buy Now Singer 8-1/2-Inch Professional Series Scissors Heavy Duty Bent Buy Now Pin margin:0px !important;” /> Pin margin:0px !important;” /> General Tools 72 Leather Hole Punch Tool, 5/64 Inch to 3/16 Inch Buy Now Click thumbnail to view full-size Eyelets
Once your lining is tacked in place, fairly tightly, you are ready to begin placement of the eyelets which will hold the lacing in your corset. To get the ideal placement, you should revert back to your paper pattern piece, and use it as a guide. To do this, carefully punch out the areas of the pattern which are suggested to be eyelets. Then, place the piece on top of your panel, and use a white chalk pencil to mark through the holes. Repeat for both panels (simply flip the piece over to convert it to the opposite side)
Now, remove the paper and use your own judgement to decide whether the eyelets have been placed centrally, in comparison with your line of stitching. You may find that you have to slightly alter the position of the eyelets, and that’s ok, so long as you remember to make any alterations to both sides, so that they match up.
Once you are happy with the placement of the eyelets, use a fabric hole punch (the same kind used to put holes in belts) to punch holes. This takes a firm hand- and a couple of tries each time. Also make sure to make the holes smaller than the eyelets you will be using, otherwise they will fall out.
Now, put the eyelets through the holes and affix as per the instructions. Once all of the eyelets are in place, lay out both back panels together and determine whether they are even. If not, you will have to do the panels again, so try to be careful! Remove any tacking stitches from these panels.
Just a note: Different types of eyelets have different instructions. There are handheld eyelet machines that aren’t really suitable for this. There are eyelets that can be sealed by hand with a hammer- these are ok, but practice first on some scrap to ensure a nice result. There are also more industrial eyelet machines that use either a hand or foot press to lower the punch onto the eyelet- these are highly recommended for making a corset. They make the job so simple and so quick, but they may be an unnecessary expense if you only plan to make one corset.
Yescom 3 Die (0 2 4) Hand Press Grommet Machine and 900 Pcs Golden Grommets Eyelet Tool Kit Buy Now Do you want to make your own corset?
Obviously- I’m reading this to see what I need.
Definitely- I already make them, and I’m simply judging your method
No- it looks like too much hard work!
No- I am hopeless with a needle and thread!
See results Fitting The Busk
Dsmile 1 X Scratch Awl Buy Now Fitting The Front Busk (Panel F)
You will need to ensure that the busk is long enough to support the whole length of the corset, otherwise there may be a bit of spillage. To ascertain the correct size, measure the length of the centre front panel, remembering to discount any seam allowance, as well as another 1.5cm or so to allow for bias binding to be sewn over without damaging the machine.
There are two parts to the busk: the loop side and the stud side. The loop side should be on the Right hand side centre panel, and the stud should be on the left hand side centre panel. To ensure no confusion, I suggest marking the top of each side. To determine the top from the bottom, look at the spacing between the studs. They are further spaced at the top than the bottom.
Carefully place the loop side of the busk along the seam line, so that the loops overhang onto the seam allowance. Make sure that there is an equal distance between the top and bottom edges. Then, use a pencil to draw around the loops- this will provide a guide as to where to leave the gaps for the loops to poke out of.
Now, sew along the centre front seam, remembering to back tack any time you stop and resume sewing. This is especially important, as you will stop regularly at the loop markings to leave gaps to allow the busk to be pushed through, and it is very important that the remainder of the stitching is very strong, so back tacking is a must! Then, iron back (wrong sides together) so that the right side of the corset is in view.
Once the loops are through, use a one sided foot (also known as a zipper foot) to slowly sew as close to the edge of the busk as possible- be careful of the needle hitting the steels! Also remember to back tack beginning and end. (this should be standard practice by now)
First of all, sew the centre seam and iron back (wrong sides together) so that the front of the corset is now visible.
Then, lie the front panels down, side by side, right side up, so that you can see where the loops from the right side lay in relation to the left side. You should ensure that everything is lying straight, and the panels are parallel to avoid messing this up. Allow the loops to overhang over the left side, and make a small mark with a white pencil from inside the top loop. This will give you a starting point to put your studs through. Double check before making any holes!
Trim back any seam allowance inside the panel to approx. 1cm, to avoid having to puncture too many layers, and iron flat.
Then, using an awl, push a hole through the fabric (from the right side to the wrong side, to avoid any fraying) and push the first stud through the hole. This does need a good bit of brute strength, and try not to distort the fabric too much while doing it.
Once the first stud is through, check that they match up to the top loop, and that the corset looks even at the front at this stage. Then, use the busk as a guide as to the position of the other holes, and repeat the process, one stud at a time. Don’t rush ahead and pierce the holes before pushing the stud through, as the fabric may stretch and the holes will no longer be in the correct place.
Once all the studs are through, check that the loops fit nicely over the studs, and remove any tacking from these pieces.
Stitch The Lining
Stitch the remaining panels of lining together. This is a tad tricky because you will be doing it by eye, without any lines to follow. If you feel that it is easier, you can chalk in some guide lines, but remember these will be visible on the finished article- probably not an issue if the corset is for yourself. Remember to allow for the seam allowance around the panels- 2cm at the sides, so you will simply follow the shape of the panels.
Remember to flip the panels over when doing the other side of the lining, so that the edges aren’t exposed on the finished article.
Also be careful to join the correct panels- it would be a good idea to lay them all out in order, join to join underneath the corset panels, in order A-F. Then, make sure that the sides you are attaching together are the same shape. Refrain from pulling on the lining as you stitch, as it is likely to stretch and distort.
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sendingAuthorLynsey Harte 2 years ago from Glasgow
Thanks, Julia, that looks quite good, with video links too!
I don’t usually allow links in comments, but I will make an exception in this case!
Im sure I will refer to this later!
Julia 2 years ago
Just found this site about corset making: http://corsetacademy.net/blog/
WOW! I was amazed!!! It is so helpful!
I made my first corset and it was beautiful, thanks to tutorials I found there!
Tatiana is a great teacher!
Thank you! It’s easier than you might think, as long as you go slowly, and have a stitch unpicked at hand, you’ll get there in the end! If there’s anything that is unclear, let me know and I’ll try to describe it as best I can! 🙂
Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts
Wow, amazing! I’m just learning now how to sew, and I would love to make one of these. Great idea for a hub and the directions and pics are top-notch. Voted up and useful.
AuthorLynsey Harte 4 years ago from Glasgow
Thanks so much! I found that whenever I googled how to make a corset, the instructions were either far too vague, or faaaar too complex. I made these as simple as I could! There are some nice patterns out there. Its the same process for each pattern tho 🙂
Sally!! 4 years ago
Chace 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC
I was literally JUST looking up how to make a corset! I want to wear one for the renaissance festival. This is perfect 🙂 Thanks for this hub!