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Draft your own Corset

Your personalised Victorian pattern

 

The corsetmaker and her mannequin

 

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! :)
"chobap", Livejournal

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

Corset by Hannah Light Corset by Ivy Rose Designs Corset by Ivy Rose Designs

[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:


Corset measurement chartBust (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!

 


OR

 


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.

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sandij
You have just reminded me of something my dad told me, years ago (when I got into a temper over something not working out right)...

A draughtsman's advice to novice or dunce
Is always measure twice before cutting once.

Words I have never forgotten, and often pass on.
I'm still a novice, but learning new things is so much fun...thank you for this excellent article, I will let you know how I get on with my corset.

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Boning placement
Rose, this tutorial covers the drafting of the pattern only. For boning placement, you can begin by boning the seams, but for more discussion on this subject, check out the article "Planning Out Boning Channels" which is currently free at our sister site, Foundations Revealed.

http://www.foundationsrevealed.com/basics/169-arranging-and-marking-boning-channels

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Thank you for these very clear and free instructions! I shall have to look into making this at some point. However, I think the post would be greatly improved if you could show a few pictures of what the actual finished product would look like. Thank you, again!
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Cathy Hay
Photos of finished corsets that began with this tutorial
You're welcome! Photos have now been added on page 1.

http://yourwardrobeunlockd.com/articles/free/beginner/72-corset-drafting2

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April
This is wonderful!!
Thank you SOO much for this! I have been playing around with the idea of creating a corset for ren fest. I happen to have some vinyl (or something like it!) that was used in the making of marine seating. It looks so like leather that I really wanted to make a pattern for a corset. I have been looking all over for how to measure myself and create this pattern! I cannot wait to create my pattern and mock up!! Thank you again!
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Re: This is wonderful!
We're so glad you like it! Let us know if you have any queries as you go along, and you can always join us for free chat and such on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Foundations-Revealed/160554519117.
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Tiffany
how to?
I love the instructions very clear and easy to follow. But I was wondering if you could post hoe to create a pattern for the corset in the pucture you used in the pdf. That is the style I want and I have a pattern for one but it doesnt fit properly and I would love to know how to redraft that pattern to fit my own measurements. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Cathy Hay
The picture in the pdf is an original Victorian image, so we can't be sure what it looked like from the back. We do cover a lot of recreation of original Victorian patents on Foundations Revealed, however, so if you become a member, you'll be able to produce some of those very beautiful original patterns to fit you just right.
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Here you go Corset
http://yourwardrobeunlockd.com/images/stories/pdf/draftcorsetpr.pdf

http://yourwardrobeunlockd.com/articles/free/beginner/72-corset-drafting2?showall=1&limitstart=

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Gianna
Cm conversion
Hello! thanks of the wonderful instructions. In steps 15, 17, 21, and so on when you instruct us to multiple by say ".22" -- do I first need to convert these numbers to inches? Or can I use them as they are written?

Thank you for your help!
Best, Gianna

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