Friday, March 04, 2011

The Victorian Corset Kit - almost halfway done

I talked earlier about my goal to learn how to make corsets. I got this idea in my head not because I want to make myself look thinner or more shapely. On the contrary, I tend to wear clothes that do the opposite. Rather it's a mater of weight distribution. I have a rather large endowment that creates an even larger back ache. Modern bras in my size are expensive and difficult to find. So why not learn more about corsets?

Farthingales offers a Victorian Corset kit. It's just right for beginners like me. It has everything needed to make your first corset. I would say the sewing skills needed are very basic: Sew straight stitch, use a zipper foot, and apply bias tape. The ability to measure is important. But the most important skill needed to create this corset is the ability to follow directions!

My antique treadle machine (a Singer 127) is the perfect machine for this. It is fast, effortless to use, and every stitch is under my direct control. I'm very happy with how it sews and it doesn't even seem to notice that this fabric is as thick (and as stiff) as poster board.

One thing I have been learning about is how to make things fit.

Please forgive my horrid photos - I'm not use to photographing myself in the mirror.

This is at the stage before I sew the bone channels.

Lacing it this tight makes it feel like a strong hug. There is no pain or restriction of breath. The stomach ache that I was worried about before I tried the corset, magically disappeared while I was wearing it but returned afterwards.

I'm wondering if I might have chosen a size too big. The hips feel comfortable, the waist could probably be tighter, but maybe not.

The bust, however, feels all wrong.

I've already taken the bust in 2 inches on each side, but it's still quite loose. I was hoping that it would make my bust feel all squishy and supported, but mostly it's, well, not.

I think it's also too high. I'm going to take 1/2 to 5/8th of an inch off the top.

This is a size 14 Dore version of the Laughing Moon Victorian Corset, with a D cup.

So, any corset experts out there? Thoughts? How can I improve this? What should I do differently for my next corset? Will adding the bones improve how it fits the bust?


Josiane said...

Nice progress on that project! I hope the next steps will help get the fit the way you want it to be.

Charly said...

I Just found your blog and love seeing your journey into corsetry! It's pretty similar to my own. I started with a kit and a simplicity pattern.

I may be able to help a little. First, this size is too big. Maybe even 2 sizes too big. going a size or two smaller may help the bust fit. Second, I'm not a huge fan of this pattern. I haven't seen this corset done really nicely, even by pros. The shape always seem wrong. Third, the bust shape doesn't seem right. It looks like it's trying to give you more fullness just under your bust, not sure what's up with that.

You may want to baste a couple quick bone channels in before you do anything. In mock-ups I usually just stitch the seam allowance down real quick. The bones make a huge difference in fit and shape, so you should always have a few bones in your muslins (learned from experience).

You might want to try a pattern with a more defined waist, that should help in the bust department, too. This is a great pattern: You'll need to bring in the bust a little, the shape is much better. Basically you want the hip to stay the same size, the waist to be about 4" smaller, and the bust to be slightly bigger than your measurements with a 2" gap figured in for the back. But I'm sure you know most of that.

Another tip for more support in the bust area, try using flat bones. I'm not sure what your kit came with, my first kit was all spirals. Now, I always put flat bones around the laces and in the front, depending on the pattern.

I suppose that's enough from this know-it-all (not nearly!) for now. I'm still learning but I'd be more than happy to help. You can find Pretty Bird Attire (me) on Facebook and