I'm a sewing enthusiast in Beacon, New York, with a love of all things retro. This site is all about tutorials, tips, inspiration, and lots of spirited discussion about sewing as it relates to fashion history, pop culture, body image, and gender. My first book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, is now out from STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books! Also look for my line "Patterns by Gertie" from Butterick.
Well, it's happened again: I've got the corset bug. And it's a good thing--I've finally pulled out the underbust corset kit from Sew Curvy Corsetry that I've had in my sewing room for . . . well, a long time now. I'm feeling quite high on the whole thing. It's so exciting to sew something different from the usual! So I thought I would make this Corset Week 2012. Today's topic is making a mock-up corset, using Laughing Moon Pattern #113, view B.
Julia from Sew Curvy has written many a valuable post on the topic of corsetry, and her instructions on mock-ups are no exception. I followed her tips very closely, starting with making a muslin out of a heavy-ish material. I used some plain unbleached canvas. I cut all the pieces, minus the facings. I sized up to an 18, though some of my measurements were closer to a 16. I figured it was better to start big and size down through fitting.
You have a pair of each pattern piece, one for the right side and one for the left side of the body. I marked one side 12, 13, etc, and the other side 12a, 13a, etc. (A genius tip from Sew Curvy.) I marked the waistline on each piece.
When I got to the back, I used tracing paper to transfer the eyelet markings.
I divided the pieces into right and left sides and then sewed all the seams. Instead of the busk at center front, you can sew a seam there for the purposes of fitting.
Center front gets pressed open and all the other seams get pressed toward the back.
Just like with a muslin of a dress that will have a boned bodice, it helps to add boning to the mock-up of a corset. Actually, it's essential since boning is such an integral part of a corset and you can't get a sense of the fit without it. To make boning channels, you stitch down the edge of each seam allowance to make a little pocket for boning. I changed to red thread here so you can see it easier, hopefully.
I used rigeline here instead of steel boning. I will be using spiral steel in the actual corset though.
I made holes for the lacing with an awl. (They later turned out to be too small, so I just cut the holes wider with small scissors.)
I put in lacing. The instructions say to do it "like a shoe." Apparently I need to go to remedial shoe lacing school.
I put the whole thing on and bothered Jeff to take some pictures.
There are a few issues. First of all, it's supposed to have a two-inch gap at center back to account for the negative ease of a corset. So I need to reduce the whole thing by two inches. Secondly, I didn't like the fit under the bust--it comes up too high. I drew a new line where I'd like the corset to hit under the breasts.
I also drew a new waistline, about an inch higher.
Lastly, I noticed the center front being especially loose and flappy (for lack of a better term.)
I wet on to start some pattern alterations: taking each seam in by 1/8" (to lose 2" total), lowering the under bust line, raising the waistline, and taking in the hips at center front.
So that's your first installment for Corset Week 2012. I'd love any feedback you have on my muslin! Tomorrow I will be cutting out my beautiful white floral coutil.