28 Feb

I finished the corset last night!

I am super psyched at how it turned out. I mean, it’s not going to win any beauty contests, but it’s sturdy, it fits like a dream, and it’s not hideously ugly.


Below the fold, boring talk of construction and materials, with reviews/etc. This is not a particularly amusing post, but at the end I do brag a little about how my husband thinks I’m sexy. If that’s your thing.


I used the Corset Pattern Generator to create a front-and-back-lacing corset with boned tabs. It delivers clear, simple directions for a completely customized Elizabethan corset pattern, which is good, since I’d much rather draw a straight line 17″ long than figure out how to alter an existing pattern. The directions are very good, by which I mean they are easy to follow for a terrified amateur, well-organized, and reasonably free of jargon. They are also, to use the technical term, not scary. This is all very subjective, I realize, but a lot of my success in using a pattern comes from the lack of scariness. Margo Anderson‘s directions, for instance, are scary. They are also, to be frank, not well organized. I puzzled over the directions for her corset pattern for two hours, and could make neither heads nor tails of them.

I’ve used the Corset Pattern Generator before, twice alone and once under close supervision by a seamstress experienced in period costumes. This third solo go is coming on the heels of my supervised attempt, and using the techniques and tricks I learned from her, as well as many, many consultations with the last garment and my friend J., I produced what I think is the most successful of my attempts. It’s a very simple garment (I may add straps later, as I really do prefer them, but for now I need to move on to the rest of the costume. And also blog), but again, it’s sturdy, and unlike every other corset I’ve worn since gaining XX lbs, it doesn’t ride up when I sit down. Apparently I am significantly more short-waisted than previously understood, and have been cutting corsets too long since I started making them. Back when I was in college and dancing five days a week, that didn’t matter, because I was all one straight line from nose to feet. Now that my primary form of exercise is making up excuses not to go to the gym, I have to worry about things like the fact that my waistline is approximately even with my armpits. True story.

On the advise of the last seamstress I worked under, I tweaked my measurements before I input them into the pattern generator. Making the pattern exactly to my measurements has always resulted in a very loose garment that looks bulky, doesn’t create the smooth, cylindrical shape that the Elizabethan pair of bodies is supposed to give, and does fuckall for my posture, which is terrible. So I cut 4″ off my chest measurement and 3″ from the waist measurement. I think I cut a bit too much from the chest measurement, but since it’s a front-and-back-lacing garment, it doesn’t matter. Were I to create another, I think I would cut off 3″ from the chest instead. But ideally I won’t be making another for a very, very long time, because I get so, so bored sewing corsets.

I also tweaked the boning placement from what is suggested in the illustrations. I put the boning channels in the middle of the tabs, rather than the edges, which made it SIGNIFICANTLY easier to do the edging.

Fabric and Materials

Around Christmas, I ordered two yards of 60″ white domestic (as in, US) coutil from tutu.com. They sell domestic coutil, because, according to them, “We have found that domestic (USA) coutil is better suited for ballet bodices than the imported variety. The domestic fabric has some ‘give’ to it, allowing for ‘breathing room’.” I found it super easy to work with and very sturdy. It basically never frayed. I wore it for a bit yesterday, and there is some give, but not at the expense of sturdiness. Does that make sense? What I mean is, I was comfortable, but still snugly encased.

I bought from them because they sell it for half the price anyone else is, and having blown my budget for food and clothes as well as fabric on 10 yards of cotton velveteen, I wasn’t in a position to argue with that. Especially not if I want to get 3 yards of that gold silk that I found. Where did I put that link? Anyway, they didn’t send me an order acknowledgement or anything, which always makes me nervous, but my fabric came within a reasonable time frame, so it all worked out, I suppose.

I boned with industrial strength cable ties that I picked up at Lowe’s. I think. It might have been Home Depot. I don’t remember; they’re right across the street from each other. Whichever store is on the left. I’ve worn corsets boned with cable ties, spiral steel, and featherweight (NEVER AGAIN) before, and I prefer to work with cable ties, especially if I’m going to do my own sewing. Which, since I am poor and also apparently a closet masochist, I am going to do forever. I’ve never worked with steel boning of any type, and don’t intend to. Cable ties are great, and cheap, and flexible and comfortable and light, and easy to work with and CHEAP. So. I did get a pretty gnarly bruise on my palm from working the cutters.

I used metal grommets, size 0, brass. Because I have way too much shit to do to fuck around making eyelets, and I like the look of grommets, and I know they aren’t period, but I do. not. care.

I had two packs of bright red single fold bias tape laying around, so I used that to edge the thing. I actually edged the bottom, with the tabs, before I inserted the boning, and thus was able to do all the edging by machine rather than by hand, which made it a lot more sturdy and also saved me a thousand years of hand-sewing, which I hate and am bad at. The red against the white is very striking, and I think it turned out quite pretty.

mr. biscuit seemed to like it, if the way he stared at me while I was trying it on over the smock is any indication.

Brag brag brag.

Anyway, now I have to figure out the bodice. I hope Margo’s bodice directions are easier to read than her corset ones.

6 Responses to “”

  1. Heather February 29, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    I’m not going to say “pics, or it didn’t happen”, because I firmly believe you did actually make a corset from scratch. But I sooooo want to see what it looks like! Pleases and thank yous?

    • stonebiscuit February 29, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

      Oh, pictures. I suppose I ought to do that.

  2. Ann Coston Neff February 29, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    I’m very interested in how you tweaked your measurements. Several years ago, I made a front and back opening corset from the generator, with hemp instead of boning (washable! automatic dryer- able!) and it was too big in the way you described. How did you figure how much to subtract? Is it a proportion of your measurements, or just a standard – minus 4 here, 3 there? I might be able to wear it this season, since I’ve gained weight, but it isn’t really satisfactory, ya know.

    • stonebiscuit February 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

      To be perfectly honest, I guessed. :) I vaguely remembered what I did last time, or thought I did. It was a little excessive, come to find out. I’ve been wearing it around a bit, and I’m thinking it’s a good thing I made it front-and-back opening, because it needs a buncha adjusting in the back. Ideally it’ll stretch an eensy bit, and I’ll, you know, go to the gym. Still, the non-adjustable measurements (by which I mean length) are great, so I call it a win.


  1. The Ren Fest Sewing Project from Hell, 2012: Pictures « What Is This I Can't Even - May 3, 2012

    […] see here and here. Proving enormously comfortable and supportive. I am very proud of it! Two grommets fell […]

  2. Tilting at Windmills: Dragon*Con 2012 « What Is This I Can't Even - May 22, 2012

    […] at setting it in the Golden Age of Piracy, around the early 17oos. I think that I can alter my Elizabethan corset pattern to make stays reasonably correct for this by lengthening the front, narrowing the back at the […]

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