Draft your own Corset
Your personalised Victorian pattern
Now that you've begun playing with pattern drafting, I hope you can see the awesome designing and dressmaking power this skill can give you (Muhahaha!)
Clearly, drafting instructions could be devised for any garment, so today we're going to go straight into the classic Victorian corset, that most maddening of garments to fit.
Thank you very much, the [beginner's corset drafting] tutorial is really wonderful and easy to follow even for a beginner like me! :)
I've devised these instructions for you based on corset designs of the late 1870s. I hope that you'll find the instructions as simple as before, but I've made one change that I hope you'll bear with me on.
This time we'll be noting separate measurements for the front and back "halves" of your bust and hips. This will help us to get bust size, back size and derriere size right.
Since a corset pattern won't require you to mess around with armscyes or shoulders, I'm hoping that you'll be able to handle this extra level of complexity instead, in the interests of a much improved fit.
(For extra credit, the more advanced drafters might consider how to incorporate this extra level into the bodice instructions!)
I won't repeat the equipment list since it's the same as before, but there are some differences in the measurements we need. On the following page we'll run through the measurements in full and then get straight into it.
as you can tell from the photographs below of corsets made using this tutorial, it can easily adapted into a variety of styles.
Thank you very much, the [beginner's corset drafting] tutorial is really wonderful and easy to follow, even for a beginner like me! :)
- "chobap", Livejournal
Corsets made using this tutorial
[Above left photo] This is the first corset I drafted for myself using the above tutorial; I've not used a commercial pattern since! Construction wise it's not great (I've learnt a few things since then) but I'm still pretty happy with the shape I managed to create. Thank you for inspiring me, and enabling me to get creative with corsetry! - Hannah Light, UK
[Above centre and right photographs] Both of these designs started as the FR tutorial... - Rachel Haggerty, Ivy Rose Custom Corsetry
First of all, re-familiarise yourself with our little agreement about measuring!
Tie a string or ribbon around your waist, where you bend naturally – not too tightly, just snug, and horizontal. This will help you to take the vertical measurements accurately. Move around, bend from side to side and so on until it sits comfortably. Wear a well-fitting bra. (Even though you won't wear one under the corset, it will help position your bust in a more accurate corset-like position!)
Remember to stand up straight (but not overly so) with your weight evenly distributed.
Here are the measurements you'll need to draft your own corset:
Bust (1) - Around the fullest part of your bust, with the tape straight across your back, as usual.
Bust to waist(2) - Measure at your side from the waist tape up to the level where you took your bust measurement.
Underbust (3) - measured along your bra band, directly under the bust.
Apex to waist (4) - measure from one nipple (ie. the fullest point of your breast) down to the waist tape at the side front, over the contours, not straight there.
Underbust to waist (5) - measure vertically from your bra band to the waist tape at the side front.
Desired waist (6) - Suck it in and pull the tape tight! Alternatively, measure your relaxed waist and take away your desired reduction from this value. (Beginner corsetwearers should aim for 5cm-10cm (2"-4") of reduction only for best results.)
Hips (7) - Measure around your hips at the fullest point. Note how far your measurement is below the waist tape.
Waist to hips (8) - The distance down your side from the level of the waist tape to the level where you took the hip measurement.
Front hip - The part of your hips at the front of your body. Measure along your hip line again as above, from the side seam on one side to the side seam on the other.
Back hip - This is just [your hip measurement] - [front hip], so you don't need to measure it again unless you wish to double-check.
Lap (9) - Sit on a hard chair (like a kitchen or dining chair) and measure from the waist tape at the side front straight down to the point where your thigh meets your torso. This measure will help to ensure that the corset doesn't extend too low here so that you can sit down in it!
Finally, for the following six values, measure vertically from the waist tape to the point where you'd like the edge of the corset to be.
Waist to top edge of corset (centre front)
Waist to top edge of corset (side)
Waist to top edge of corset (centre back)
Waist to bottom edge of corset (centre front)
Waist to bottom edge of corset (side)
Waist to bottom edge of corset (centre back)
Finally, don't forget to check all your measurements one more time, just to make sure. Measure twice, draft once!
Accounting for cup size
You'll need to split your bust measurement into "front bust" and "back bust". This will help the pattern to take account of your cup size, but you can work it out without any more measuring.
Your Back bust (the part of your bust behind your side seams) is worked out as follows:
Work out [Your underbust measurement] + 10cm (4")
Halve this to get your back bust measurement.
So if your underbust is 30", add 4" to get 34". Then halve this to get a back bust of 17".
Your Front bust (the part of your bust forward of your side seams) is
[Your bust measurement] - [your back bust measurement]
In other words, if your bust is 36" and your back bust is 17", then your front bust is 19".
Preparing the paper
Width of the paper = [half of front bust] + [half of back hip] + 10cm (4")
So if your front bust is 24" and your back hip is 26", then the paper should be
[half of 24]+[half of 26]+4 = 29" wide.
The height of the paper will depend on how long the corset is from waist to top and from waist to bottom. Pick the biggest of your three waist to bottom measurements. Then pick the biggest of the three waist to top measurements (or the apex to waist measurement, if it's bigger than all those three.)
The height of the paper is these two biggest measurements added together, plus 10cm (4").
Ready? Here we go!
These downloads require Acrobat Reader - download it free here!
AND DON'T FORGET - the most important thing...
IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND OR CAN'T DO ANY PART OF THIS, IT'S BECAUSE I HAVEN'T EXPLAINED IT PROPERLY!! So if you find any part of this doesn't make sense, drop me a line at cathy dot hay at harmanhay dot com.