So we’re learning how to make a corset? Then why not have some fun with it and make yourself a corset you can’t get anywhere else?
That sounds difficult, I’m only a beginner Scarlet! Ah but I’m not talking about fancy lacework or intricate design features. You can start with a unique fabric!
If your thinking its going to be difficult or expensive to imprint your personality on your own corset then think again. If your having a corset training corset custom made it quickly becomes expensive, but when your sewing it yourself whats stopping you being more flamboyant? There really are so many beautiful fabrics out there, along with trims and iron on appliqués. When it comes to buying fabric you need so little for a corset that you can go for the expensive luxury stuff. If it doesn’t have a large and obvious pattern for you to match up then a half meter is plenty. I’ve gotten short underbusts out of a quarter meter before! This is about the only aspect of making such a small and somewhat fiddly garment that works in the seamstresses favour.
You really can pick literally anything when it comes to picking a material for the outside of your corset, I recommend you avoid Lycra’s, very thin fabrics and stretch fabrics however, as these can be difficult to sew. I love quilting fabrics myself, but they don’t sit as smoothly as brocades and luxury upholstery fabrics which are more commonly used in corsets and really are perfect for the beginner. If you do go for a light-weight material like quilting cottons, then use an iron on backing fabric for added strength and to stop the wrinkling that occurs with thinner fabrics when used for corsetry.
If your completely new to corsetry and need full instructions check out my Express Corsetry Course which includes illustrated step-by-step instructions, 10 corset patterns and a full video on how to make a corset – it costs about what you’d pay for 2-3 shop bought corset patterns!
When learning how to make a bodice or corset you will come across a number of corset patterns and knowing how to discern between a good shaped corset or bodice pattern is essential.
In a corset pattern the number of pattern pieces is a great way to tell if a corset is going to hug the body well, 4 pieces is a little low, 5 or more per side will give a good fit. Shape also plays a big part. If the pattern pieces are all very straight in shape the corset will not curve in at the waist enough. They should all look pinched in the middle.
For learning how to make a bodice – bodice pattern pieces will not ‘pinch’ in the middle as the Elizabethan bodice had straight sides. Instead make sure that all the edges of your pattern meet up from top to bottom.
We have a new article up on the articles page called How To Make A Bodice, Not A Corset. The point of which is to give you a bit more info on the difference between a bodice pattern and a corset pattern as well as the main differences between corset making and learning how to make a bodice.
All the skills needed are the same but there will still be some aspects of the bodice pattern not covered in basic corset design. Things like straps, tabs and the infamous fully boned panel.
Another thing to remember about the boned bodice or ‘stays’ is that the bodice pattern, by design, isn’t a good corset training choice due to its shape and lack of support below the waist line. That aside if you want a dramatic look for a period costume or fancy dress outfit and you don’t mind the odd gasp of admiration or jealous stare (who would) than an Elizabethan bodice pattern is the obvious choice for the corset maker.
Ok, those of you who already know how to make a corset will probably know what coutil is, but for the newbies there’s probably some confusion. So if your a more advanced corset maker bare with us on this one.
Coutil is a specially designed type of fabric that has been deleloped just for corsetry. It is probably the least stretchy fabric available anywhere for corset making (yes that includes denim and twill). It’s also kind on the skin as it’s made from cotton to allow the skin to breathe. The lack of give in it means you can tight-lace down to tiny waist sizes and know your 20 inch waist, for example, won’t be 21inches by the time you take it off in the evening (if you take it off of an evening).
Are all coutils made equal? It would be nice but no. Some are a cotton polyester blend, I have one in my fabric cupboard and its nowhere near as nice as 100% cotton, it’s a little plastic feeling and won’t breathe as well. Get 100% cotton when you can. Also the strength of a coutil depends on the weave – it must be herringbone weave and the smaller the herringbone the stronger the fabric. If in doubt give the material a little tug and get a feel for the quality, if you’ve never bought it before or are just about to make a corset for the first time then try to find somewhere with a selection so you can compare. I have a course on how to make a corset with a few cheap places to get coutil online from, I’ve bought from them myself and know they’re good quality. But remember – any coutil is better than none and never buy a corset for corset training unless it’s lined with coutil (some places just call it cotton so check for the herringbone pattern in the weave).