Here's How I Made a Victorian Corded Corset
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
This article and video are a sneak peek into my "Victorian Custom Corset-Making" Course! If you are ready to dive into learning how to construct a stunning, piece of wearable corset art for yourself, you don't want to miss this course. It contains nearly 4 hours of in-depth video tutorials, 11,000 words of written directions, materials list, resource links, and so much more! Sounds good? Enroll here!
Patterning, Panels, and Flatlining
Since having my latest baby, I’ve been wanting and needed a better fitting corset, and preferably one with a spoon-busk. The pattern creation and mock-up process for this particular corset is outlined in my “Tale of Two Corsets” article. After creating two separate mock-ups, there were still a couple changes I needed to make: removing excess from the lower centre-front area, altering the bust, and reducing the waist at the back area. After making these final changes to the pattern, it was time to cut out my panels.
This corset was made of two layers: light blue coutil, which was the strength layer, and aqua coloured silk, which was the “fashion” layer. For the coutil panels, I traced off all my corset panels, which didn’t include seam allowance, and added seam allowance to my fabric panels using my pattern master ruler, before cutting them out.
For the silk, I did the same thing, but I made an error with some of the panels. For the panels which would included cording, I should have added a much more generous seam allowance to the silk. More on that soon.
Finally, I flatlined the silk panels to the coutil layers, first laying them over a tailor’s ham to simulate the curving they would have to follow once worn in the final corset.
Inserting the Busk and Setting the Eyelets
I learned from an expert corset-maker years ago that it is a good idea to add your busk and eyelets first, because it makes you feel like the corset is almost done, right from the start. Another advantage to this approach is the greater ease of adding a busk and eyelets to individual corset panels, rather than a corset which is already stitched together.
Both the centre-front and centre-back panels required a facing, so that there would be two layers of coutil to work with. I went ahead and inserted my busk in this way, and completed the top-stitching around the curved edge that spoon busk is known for. For more details on busk insertion, check out my “Tale of Two Corsets” article, and stay tuned for my course which is designed to walk a beginner through the process.
I then marked my eyelet placement, with the eyelets set closer together at the waist-line of the corset. I used an industrial eyelet setting kit which I purchased from Farthingales, using a rawhide mallet and a small anvil.
A Corset-Cording Misdemeanour
As I mentioned earlier, I made a small mistake during the cutting stage which ended up having larger repercussions. By the way, can I just say there is nothing more stressful than being in the midst of recording a course on a subject, only to realize you made an error? Haha.
The mistake was that I didn’t include enough extra seam-allowance in the silk panels which would include cording. The silk was the top layer, and therefore needed to undulate over the rows of cording, which of course requires more surface area. Therefore, I wasn’t able to included as much cording as I would have liked in this corset.
I’d like to talk briefly about the cording process. In the first corded corset I ever made, I did it “the hard way”- first stitching my cording channels, and then pulling my cord through the channel using a tapestry needle and pliers. It was painstaking! These days, I know a much easier method of cording. That is to lay your cord in the channel, and then stitch around it using a narrow zipper foot. For more details on this process, stay tuned for my course, which walks you through the entire process.
And now came the exciting part . . .
Attaching the Panels and Making Boning Channels
It was time to sew all my panels together! I first clipped, them basted, then machine stitched the panels together, but with the seam allowances on the outside of the corset!
After pressing, I carefully trimmed the raw edges as narrow as I could, before it was time to add the boning channels over top. For my boning channels, I used a combination of strips of aqua silk with the edges pressed under, and strips of woven fabric tape from Burnley and Trowbridge. I carefully stitched these in place both over the seams, as well as down the centre of each panel.
I then added my boning - I used synthetic whalebone, which I trimmed to length, then filed smooth before inserting into each channel. It was time for the final steps . . .
Binding and Flossing
It was time to bind the edges. I used 1-inch woven fabric tape, which I first machine stitched to the inside edge of the corset before folding over and stitching by hand to the outside edges.
Now on to flossing. If you don’t know, flossing is a form of embroidery stitch applied to the end of corset boning channels, for functional and decorative purposes. I am not one for much decoration in my garment-sewing, and my main motivation for flossing my corsets is to hold the strips of boning in place, so they won’t shift and poke a hole through the top or bottom edges of my corsets.
How Do I Like it?
I love this corset! I have been wearing it everyday, and it is the best-fitting corset I have ever created or owned. It has the perfect amount of waist-reduction while still being comfortable. I also think this corset will be very long-lasting.
Would you ever try making a corset like this? Have you ever tried a spoon busk, or a corded corset? Let me know in the comments below!
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