May 12, 2009

Corset Making 101

Following is a step by step guide to creating your very own Civil War era corset. I cannot take credit for the idea though, all inspiration came from Elizabeth Stewart Clark's book Practical Prinkery.

First gather lots of duct tape, and by lots, I mean lots! It is not very convenient to use up all the rolls you can find in the garage, and then have to run across the yard to the neighbors in order to borrow more.
Second, gather a group of friends who are fun to laugh with. Wearing old t-shirts, wrap each other completely in duct tape, trying to make smooth layers. If you happen to realize too late that your t-shirt was too short, make a mental note to choose a longer one next time.

Using a permanent marker, draw the corset shape onto your duct taped t-shirt. The top should sit just above your bust line, and the bottom right on your hip bones. Divide your shirt vertically into eight pieces: left front, left side front, left back, left side back, right front, right side front, right back, right side back.

At this point the permanent marker can be used to draw funny sayings and pictures onto your shirts. Next, cut straight up along the center back, releasing you from your makeshift corset.

Cut along the seam lines you drew and trace around them to create custom pattern pieces. Remember to add length to the bottom of each piece if your shirt was to short. If your pieces don't lay flat, cut them vertically into two smaller pieces.
Unfortunately this ends the fun part, what follows next is a lot of sewing, a little more fitting, and some finishing work. Make a trial version with an old sheet, or some muslin. You don't need to add seam allowances-by taking a small 1/4" seam, your corset fits a little tighter and works as a supportive garment.

Here is the back view of my finished corset, it has steel white bone, metal eyelets, and a long piece of cording.

This front view shows the boning casings, and the busk.

Good luck and have fun!


Anna Kristine said...

This is so amazing...I have yet to try this for myself. I did it for my china doll..haha
Your finished corset looks so pretty! Those eyelets are so delicious. :)Looks like you all had so much fun. :)

Cheri said...

Hello Adelheide!

I just wanted to say how inspired I've been by looking at your blog. Particularly this post, as I've always wanted to do something like this. =) It looks like your corset turned out fabulously!

Adelheide said...

Hi Cheri, thanks for the note, it is nice to "hear" from you!