April 17, 2010

Assignment, part 1

In this post, I told you I was making a dress for a friend. By now, the pattern is ready, the fabric and notions have been found, all the pieces have been cut out and so, it's ready to go.

However, the dress was only half of the assignment I got from her.
The other half was a corset. Specifically, she wanted an underbust corset she could wear comfortably all day, even say, to work. One without real waist reduction. You'd think such 'dress corsets' are for sale in abundance and that would be true, but than there would be fitting issues.
V happens to be a rather well endowed lady and manufacturers of ready-to-wear corsetry (or any RTW clothing for that matter) usually design for 'average' cup sizes (usually a B cup. In fact corsetiers are a bit better than clothing companies, they usually make several overbust styles, some specifically for larger cup sizes). Not a problem for an underbust style, you think?
Well, think again. Larger busts occupy more territory on one's torso, not just in width, but also in height. Simply said, even on a fairly young lady who has always worn great bras, not allowing gravity to get a hold of her 'girls', a large cup size will mean that the under-the-bust line will be quite a bit lower on the ribcage than it would be for a B cup.

Luckily, making a pattern for a non-cinching underbust corset is extremely easy. Just take measurements at the waist and the desired top and bottom positions of the corset (and the vertical distances between those, of course), and draft panels dividing the differences the way you would for a dress sloper (=2/3 at the back). For a corset which has to provide waist reduction, you would have to make the panels more narrow at the waist. For small reductions, you could just do that all around, but for larger ones, you would need to think about where the corset can and can not squeeze (which means, not at center front and back,
and take care where your bones are).
For anyone wanting to try and make a corset: there are several brands offering patterns (among others Simplicity, Laughing moon and Truly Victorian) and for those of you who can read German, this website offers several how-to's.
And I recently discovered this site, which is connected to this blog. Now, there is an absolute treasure trove which I haven't really explored for myself yet.

When I had made a well fitting pattern for miss V, I changed the panels for a more interesting and flattering look. The final product is made from raw silk over two layers of fairly thin but very sturdy black cotton. I used spiral steel boning throughout and flat steel bones along the grommets. V didn't want a busk (front closure). I put the bones in the flat felled seams, without using boning tape. I think that is Ok in this case because this corset will not be worn under any great pressure. I usually hate putting grommets into anything, but these came with one of those little tools which actually worked.
I hope V will be happy with the corset, and now, I'm of to work on her dress!


  1. The corset looks nicely made! Nice and smooth. Not always easy when working with all those layers. I'm sure it will look lovely when worn.

  2. Nice corset! I love your colour choices...
    I'm in the process of making a corset top right now for my ball dress, it's been a couple of years since I made one, and that was for my daughter's ball gown. Wish me luck!

  3. Its a great corset! Thank you so much for the links and lovely words.