Here are some progress shots of my practice waist-cincher/corselet. I am making myself a version of each initial corset offering so I can tweak patterns before I actually begin making samples and offering the corsets up for sale in our store. Also, making them for myself allows me to perfect my stitching technique and gives me the freedom to make mistakes. Please note: if you want a custom corset before I begin to offer them in the store, please let me know.
As a reminder, this is the fabric I started with for the corselet. This is heavy-duty cotton canvas that I dyed a while ago using shibori techniques with Rit dyes.
First, I ironed stiff interfacing to the fabric to stabilize it even prior to cutting. Here is where I made mistake #1. Rather than buy the correct weight fusible interfacing (mid-weight woven), I used what I had on hand, which was super-stiff interfacing that I used to make bows for a Sailor Jupiter costume. It is doing the job fine but makes a slight crinkly-sound when you first wrap the corselet around, which wouldn’t be good to sell. After ironing on the interfacing, I used the pattern pieces (modified from an existing corset pattern I bought) and cut out the fashion fabric. As I wanted to make sure that the pattern looked good, I did not double cut my fashion fabric pieces but instead cut all one way, then moved the fabric and flipped my pattern pieces over to cut another.
Here are the pieces cut out!
When I make the samples or on any corset that I will sell, I will use fine coutil for my inner fabric, but for these practice ones, I am using a plain heavy-duty cotton. That I cut with the fabric folded to save time. Then on all but the center front section (where the grommets will go), I layered the interfaced fashion fabric with the heavy-duty cotton and staystitched them together as they will act as one layer. On the center front section, I put the right sides facing inward and stitched down the center front seam, then pressed the seam open, flipped the fabric so right sides are out, and pressed again, pulling the inner layer slightly so the fashion fabric rolls to the inside. Then, I took two approximately 1″ strips of thin suede (recycled) and pinned them where the grommets will go. Then I stitched around the rest of the center front pieces, securing the suede and having the fabric act as one layer.
A fast note on why I use a strip of leather in the layers with the grommets: this section gets a lot of wear and tear. Those of you who have worn and loved a corset know that grommets occasionally wear out. Using the leather gives the grommet something better to grip and greatly increases the amount of stress that a grommet can be put through. I will have a statement on each corset page about using the leather so that any clients that are ethically against it can opt out. Unfortunately, it’s one of those leather/suede uses that you can’t really substitute with synthetics, although I will experiment with various options to find a suitable alternative that is at least almost as good.
Back to the process! Next step was stitching the pieces all together. I taped the seam for added stability. Of course, because of this, I had to sew half the corset on the right side of the foot instead of the left so that the second seam for taping would match on both sides (rather than all go in one direction). To do this, I put a piece of masking tape at the 5/8″ mark on the left side of the foot. See the below picture for the first step in taping a seam.
Then I clipped the fabric (leaving the seam tape alone) anywhere it looked like it would lay flat, pressed open the seams from both front and back, and then trimmed all the fabric to within 1/8″ of the seam line (again leaving the seam tape alone). Here it is, all nicely pressed!
The next step was completing my taped seams. I went from the front of the corset so I could measure exactly 3/8″ from the seam, which meant occasionally having to rip out a small section to make sure I was actually getting the seam tape underneath. Generally, these were areas that I could have clipped a little closer to the seamline, so I went in and did that and then stitched.
Here is what the inside looks after taping.
And here is how the outside looks. The glue gun just happened to be on my table and won’t be used in any part of the corset-making process.
I will not be lining these practice ones that I’m making for me but will be lining the actual corsets. I may also experiment on having the boning on the lining layer and having the top layer flat on some future models, but I personally like seeing the boning and stitching lines a lot so maybe not.
What are the next steps?
- Stabilizing the waist with strong ribbon.
- Laying in the ribbon that will be used for the casing
- Cutting and shaping the boning. I will be using industrial-strength cable ties for my boning, but will offer other options like spiral and steel boning when I start selling online.
- insert the boning and stitch.
- Cut self-bias tape and machine stitch from the front side to finish the outside edges.
- Add the grommets.
- Handstitch the inner layer of the bias tape.
I will finish the corselet this weekend and hopefully start cutting my next several corsets out. I have my first custom corset order tentatively scheduled to begin early July, which I’m excited about!
Do you absolutely adore this fabric and want something made with it? I have enough left for one corset, or I could turn it into a bag, or a couple of hair flowers, etc. Email me and let me know!