adding seam allowance to a no-allowance pattern
So, you’ve picked out a commercial corset pattern and have selected the size that you want to use – but wait! There is a discrepancy between your measurements and the pattern measurements!
If you have ever adjusted patterns before, you know that it can be a frustrating task – that’s why picking a pattern that is as close to your size as possible to start out with is the best idea. Making up your muslin will help with finer details, but before you start cutting out your fabric, you might want to make some of these adjustments now.
Close up on the silk and sheer lace overlay on the purple silk corset
At this point you should have all of your materials (or know where you’re going to get them) to make your very first corset. If you’re not playing along with my Corset Class – a lot of these tips will also help you with other sewing projects too!
First up, you’ll likely want to pre-wash your fabrics. Some people say “why bother? I’m going to dry clean my corset!” but I still recommend pre-washing, because it will get rid of sizing, excess dye, and will pre-shrink your fabric if needed.
Once you have finished your corset, you’re going to want to wear it as much as possible, right? Well, to keep it lasting, I have a few suggestions for the care (and feeding!?) of your corset.
Putting a corset on & taking it off
Hook and eye tape used in the front of a brocade corset
Remember those tricky busks? Well you need to give them extra love so that they don’t break. If your corset has a front-opening (either a busk, zipper, hook and eye tape, etc), make sure you always loosen your laces before undoing your busk. I know it’s 4am and you’ve just gotten home, your feet hurt and all you want to do is crawl into bed, but taking the few extra minutes can save the huge headache of having to have your busk replaced.
Grommets for lacing with nylon cord
One question I’ve been asked that there doesn’t seem to be a lot (or perhaps just enough) information on is corsetry for men. I have found that these inquiries generally fall into four different categories:
- Men looking to change their figure to a more curvy, hourglass (stereotypical feminine) figure (either for cross-dressing, female illusionists, or female impersonation performances).
- Men looking to wear corsets but maintain a fairly straight or v-shaped (stereotypical masculine) silhouette. (Taming that pot-belly for instance, or supporting their backs.)
- Men looking for the fashionable aspect of corsets. (Popular amongst goth, emo, steampunk, cyberpunk, or fetish sub-culture fashions.)
- Men who enjoy the restrained feeling of being in a corset – like bondage you can wear under your clothes.
This, to me, comes down to two different styles of corsets – one that tries to imitate a desired ‘feminine’ figure for the male dresser; one with curves, and one that tries to enforce a more straight or v-shaped ‘masculine’ figure. Those looking for fashion or restraint may go either way, depending on their own figure, their interests, and indeed, their own self-confidence!
Back-laced corset in purple hand-dyed dupioni silk
If you are planning to make your own corset (or shopping somewhere with lots of options) one of your considerations should be your front opening. (Assuming your corset laces in the back.)
With no front opening:
- You’ll have an opportunity for embroidery, painting, beadwork, or other embellishment.
- You can place fabric with a large motif uncut on your centre front
- No front-opening is a style common to historical corsets
- In order to get into your garment you’ll likely need to undo most or all of your lacing. This will almost always need an assistant to get dressed.