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Patterns & patternmaking

Draft Your Corset Pattern

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.

cathyhay  
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
 
 
Super Bloomers  
  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!  
 
pollyanna  
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.  
 
Melissa  
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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cathyhay  
  Hi Gianna, no, you don't need to convert them - they're not centimetres or inches, the 0.22 is just a number that works whether you're using either.  
 

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