Before I start let me tell you that I made this corset twice. Not through my fault. My sewing machine got some oil on the front panel of the corset. Now, I know this isn’t normal, but there isn’t anything wrong with my machine. I’ve checked. It just sometimes does this. (By sometimes I mean three times now since I have started.) And I can usually get it out of the material just fine. But since the fabric was fused with interfacing when I went to wash it the interfacing peeled away from the corset fabric. I have never had this happen before. I was shocked. With that knowledge now, I realize I should have just unstitched that panel and sew a new one in its place, but I didn’t.
Here are images of the failed corset for you to see.
Here are my supplies and my pattern.
As you can see the fabric is already stiffened with the interfacing, and prior to interfacing I needed to dye the fabric a darker shade. The blue wasn’t dark enough, and nor did they have any fabric besides a broadcloth that was the color I needed.
The small swatch of fabric sitting on the top of the dyed fabric shows the original color of the fabric I used.
(Make a mockup if you have not used the pattern before. On all new patterns I use a mockup, I reduced the waist in this one a little bit more than usual to give myself some leeway. But I also accidentally reduced the bust and the hips. So this corset doesn’t fit well. unfortunately. So this corset isn’t ideal for me. Which is a shame because she is a really nice corset, well made.)
After you cut out all the pieces from the fashion outside and the strength layer you need to baste them together. Instead of basting I just serged the edges together. What isn’t pictured below is the second back panel. I cut out two back panels to give the grommets and bones something to grip onto. You can skip this step if you plan on lining your corset. But since this corset isn’t something I would wear to every con I feel like it doesn’t need a lining. If this was a base corset for a gown I would give it a lining. If I had the time for a lining.
Then sew the center panels together, and then the outer bust panels to the center. Just keep going outwards until you get the grommet panel. The pictures show each stage of this, and of course to make it easier for myself I used the seam allowances as the boning channels by stitching a straight stitch the correct width away from the seam. Do this after sewing each panel so you won’t have to cram a lot of fabric under the foot at once.
Now in the picture below the two panels on the corset are the second set of back panels that we cut out twice out of each layer of fabric.
Sew this to the back panel, then fold that spare back panel under. Stitch a straight stitch for that bone that supports the grommets. Then stitch a straight stitch wide enough to fit the grommets. And following that stitch line do another straight stitch wide enough to fit the bone on the other side of the grommets. For grommets to be really secure, in my opinion, you need a set of spring steel bones on either set of grommets.
Cut the boning out of spiral steel and spring steel boning. When I cut and tip the bones I lay them out where they are supposed to go in the channel. This way you only cut the bones for one side and then duplicate those bones for the other side. I tipped these bones a couple times, with nail enamel. If you would like to use tape you can. I do have bone caps for both sets, just they are tricky to get into the corset and not have too much room for the bone to twist. I find nail enamel to be a better fit. Even with the spiral steel bones because the caps those come with if you need to take the bone out you can’t always do that. The cap gets caught on the fibers of the corset and can damage the boning channel trying to pull it through or it can slide off the bone and get stuck in the corset. Neither of which will is good.
(Sorry for the color switch of the fabric. This is where I noticed the oil on the front panel and decided to start over. The fabric I used here was in my stash. I was hoping to save all the fabric for an upcoming costume, but I over bought for that costume and figured I could spare 20 inches.)
Once I inserted the bones the corset had a better shape to it. With the bones in you have two choices at this point. Bind the edges or add the grommets. I opted to bind the edges first. And then changed my mind after only sewing the front of the binding on.
Then I switched to adding the grommets, which pictured below is the holes for the grommets. I punch a hole into the fibers and then push the hole bigger with an awl. otherwise I feel the awl tends to damage the corset by forcing the fibers apart. And with just the punch it might not set the grommets in without having them tear out easily. So punch a hole, then insert awl to correct grommet/eyelet width, and add the eyelet.
I still prefer the hammer method for eyelets. Even with the expensive press I have. Maybe one day I will actually learn to use the press with results I like. But until then the hammer is my go to. You are supposed to use a wooden or rubber mallet, but I just opt for my metal hammer. I can pound the grommet or eyelet in with one hit.
Now you are almost done. The last task is to fold over the outer edge of the bias binding and hand sew in place. I use the ladder stitch. At least I am fairly certain that is what it is called.
Don’t forget a modesty panel.
I did. Woops. But since it is middle of January and roughly -10 outside I will be wearing the vest she usually has tied around her waist. As well as a camisole underneath the corset to protect the corset from body oils. It is easier to wash the camisole than it is a corset. Try to use one without straps or you will need to tuck them under the corset.
Also, if your corset closes or you don’t mind the look it has without a modesty panel you don’t need to have one. I find them finicky at times, but I do like to have them in case I need it. I also try to make all my corsets have at least an inch or two gap in the back. As I have been losing weight, not too noticeable, but enough that I cannot wear some of my corsets from two years ago that I made to fit perfect.
I will post a couple finished pictures next weekend to my Instagram. The final post will be on the skirt, which should have been super easy. But wasn’t. More on that next weekend.
As always, thank you for reading. I hope this has helped you in some way. If you are interested for a more in-depth process let me know in the comments below.