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New and Improved (!!!!) Corset Tutorial
I'll try to make it as easy as possible to follow, and since I used 2 different colour fabrics it should be easier to tell the difference than the black on black.
So I have a few metres left over of fabric from my last project. It's black shot purple silk taffeta, and it might just be my one true love, so I decided to make it into a corset. I wanted to make it fancy cause the fabric is so pretty, so I did a drawing first. I think it helps to have an idea of what you want it to look like when you start.
As I mentioned in the other tutorial, I often use corsetmaking.com. This time I went with dragontowncorsetsupply.com, because they have european busks which I like better. I fully recommend both sites, although they are US sites, and I'm not sure if they ship internationally or not.
*NOTE: This is only how I make my own corsets. Doesn't mean it's the only way to do it, but I've tried several methods and this is the best one I've used. If you look at corset shops you'll see all different ways of doing the boning; many corsetmakers make separate boning channels or lay the boning in the centre of the seam. I find that makes it lumpy and unpleasant looking and feeling. A lot of online corsets I've seen brag about how many layers of fabric they use as well, but I find that more than 2 (or 3 if you want to line it in something silky) just adds to their bulkiness as well. Corsets don't have to be thick and heavy. I learned how to do corsets this way in a period corsetry course, after making thick lumpy corsets for years.
So Step 0 is to go out and get all your supplies. You'll need a corset pattern, whether you make one or buy one. I know that there are tons of sites that show how to make or where to buy that are linked in this subforum somewhere.
-1 metre/yard of fabric of your choice
-1 metre/yard of corset coutil or heavy duty cotton (I'll call it lining for the directions.)
(you may need less of both, but better to have in case of messing up!)
-Busk- Size depends on your torso length and the pattern. Measure before you buy!
-Boning- 1/4" (6mm) wide- You can order these in cut lengths or buy it by the metre/yard, but then you need cutters and ends
*There's many theories about boning and which kind you "should" or "shouldn't" use. I would only recommend spring steel and/or spiral steel. Spring steel is the whoite flat stuff, spiral steel looks like you took a coil of wire and smushed it. I personally like to use spring steel, but it's really up to you.
-Eyelets/grommets and setter- My corsets take 26 grommets, yours may take more or less depending on how close you space them or how long the corset is. There are lots of different setters, you can get kits at most sewing shops, or order online.
STEP 1- Prepare your pattern, most include seam allowance already, add if it it doesn't. I would advise testing all patterns with cheap fabric first, to make sure it fits, especially since corsets are so fitted.
2-You will have a piece of boning on either side of every seam. I am very small, so I only have boning on the seams, but if you are larger, you may want more boning in between. Mark on the pattern where the extra boning in between seams will go, depending on how big the piece is, you might have 1 to 3 bones in each panel.
3-Put your pattern on your fabric and cut out! Mark your waist on each piece so as to match them up when you sew.
- Mark your coutil/lining in the same way, cut out.
5- Sew the pieces together in order, so if you have pieces A,B,C,D,E,F sew A to B, then A+B to C, then A+B+C to D and so on for the left and right sides of the fabric, then do the same with the lining. Make sure that you sew them so you have mirrored halves, DO NOT sew them the same or you will have 2 left corset halves and that would be bad.
6- You should now have 4 separate pieces, right and left of lining and top fabric. Press/iron all seams open. It will look like this
Make sure you have the right length busk, as a short busk will split open on the top and bottom and look really cheap and tacky. I can't tell you how many corsets I've seen for huge prices that have the busk improperly sized or sewn in poorly. As you can see in the photo, the correct length busk (left in the photo) should have just enough room for your binding on the top and bottom. Essentially it should be about an inch shorter than the finished length of the front.
8- Lay the busk on the inside of your lining fabric and mark the placement, it should be 1/2" from the top and the bottom evenly. Make sure the 'loop' side is on the left piece as you're laying it out, when you wear the corset the loops will be on your right. Put the loops in the seam allowance and trace around them and down the busk. This will be your seam line.
9- Take the lining piece you just marked and pin it right sides together with the corresponding top fabric piece from the same side.
10- Stitch down the line you drew, backstitching at each hole for the loops, so that you have a broken line of stitching.
11-Press the seam open, and insert the loop side of the busk so the loops go through the breaks in stitching you just did.
12-Pin as close as you can next to the busk, and sew as close as you can using a zipper foot.
13- For the stud side, sew the other lining piece to the other fabric piece right sides together, then flip rightside out and topstitch as close to the edge as you can. Then poke the holes for the studs as marked, make sure they still match with the loops! I like to use an awl, but you can just snip a tiny hole if you'd rather.
14- Sew as close as you can to that side of the busk as well with a zipper foot. That's it for the busk! You should now have the two halves of your corset together at the busk and loose at the back.
15- With wrong sides together, (Match the pressed open seams (of the lining and the top fabric) together, and pin down the seam) then stitch through each seam, called 'sink stitch' or 'stitch in the ditch'. That means sewing down the centre of the seam through the top fabric and the lining, sewing them together.
16- Next to that seam, sew 1/4" away a line of stitching, on both sides of the seam. This will be your boning casing. After you do this, you will have three lines of stitching in a row, the middle line being the seam itself, and each line will be going through the top fabric and lining.
-Repeat on each seam, and your corset will look like this so far:
17- Now your lining and top fabric should be stitched together all but the centre back seam. This is where the grommets will go, and should be still loose right now. Mark your seam allowance, and iron it in, on both the lining and top fabric. Iron the lining up and the fabric down, so that the raw edges are inside, then stitch as close as you can to the edge there.
18- Sew another line 1/4" from there, then another the width of your grommets from the second line, and from that, another 1/4" away. Picture better than words here
Basically, boning channel, grommet line, boning channel. Now you should have no raw edges or raw seams anywhere except the top and bottom of your 2 pieces.
19- On your lining, mark where your grommets will go, they will be evenly spaced, except at the waist, where you will have 2 close together, where the laces will tie.
20- Punch holes, and put in your grommets as per the instructions of the kind you have.
21- Sew bias binding (you can buy this or make it yourself out of your corset fabric) to the bottom edge of your corset. I sew it on the right side then hand stitch it on the inside.
22- Insert all your boning into the channels, the sew bias binding on the top edge of your corset as well.
23- Lace up your corset in the back, starting each lace from the top and bottom and ending at the waist. This is so you can lace it tight in the waist. There are different ways to do this, you can look some up and see what you like.
24- Add any trims or fanciness that you want, then you're done!
I still don't recommend corsets to inexperienced sewers. If you have any questions I would be glad to try and help you if I can! But please look through the other thread first in case your question has been asked before.