Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Burgundy Corset

3 weeks ago, underneath my blue paisley 1890's dress,  I wore my gold corset to the Japanese Festival. It was fine, for the first 2 hours, before the car ride. Then, after the 2 hour car ride, the corset pinched, gave me a sore back, and was too tight through the ribs. I loosened it some midway through the day and that gave a bit of relief, but by the end of the day I was done. Pretty as it might be, that corset was retired. I needed a new one before the Heritage Festival. That meant I had less than two weeks to get a corset made. Yikes, was that doable?

  At the beginning of that first week I picked up my pattern, Simplicity 1139, at a pattern sale at Joann's. I went through my stash and picked my fabrics. I found a yard of this burgundy striped cotton sateen, picked up at a thrift store once upon a time, in my stash and decided it would make a lovely corset. While not too heavy or stiff it was very strong with no give what so ever. After handling the fabric some I decided there was no need for a heavy canvas or twill interlining, the sateen would do its job. All I needed to line the corset with was an incredibly soft blue and white cotton sheet, the same one I lined the bodice of my 1890's dress with.

That decided, I realized I needed a new busk for this corset as well as a couple pieces of spring steel boning for the back of the corset and some grommets. So, at the end of that first week I ordered those and hoped they would come in with enough time left for me to assemble the corset before the Heritage Festival.

The first mock-up, too large

Over the weekend I made a couple of quick mock-ups. I discovered a straight up size 6 with no alterations fit me perfectly. By the beginning of the second week I was able to cut out the corset from my sateen and sheet and cut and tip my spiral steel boning.

Now, you will remember I said I had to order spring steel boning for the back of the corset. What's the difference? Well, spiral steel boning, which I keep a roll of on hand, bends 4 ways, front to back and side to side. Spring steel boning does not bend side to side, only front to back, so it adds a bit more stability to the corset. In my gold corset I discovered that while spiral steel is great for most of the corset, it's not stable enough for the center back, next to the grommets. Spring steel is really needed for that, so I ordered some for this corset.

Thursday of that second week, less than two days before I needed to wear my new corset, the boning, busk, and grommets came it the mail. Assembly could begin! 

Thursday afternoon I got the corset mostly assembled. Friday morning I bound the edges and put in the grommets. I tried the corset on.

It fit! I had my new corset done with nearly 24 hours to spare!

When I'm all laced up the gap is just over an inch. Still not the perfect 2" gap, but better than either of my previous corsets. 

And my waist measurement? 1/2 inch to an inch smaller than it was in the gold corset!

I wore this corset two days in a row and have no complaints about it. It's comfortable! No need for loosening in the middle of the day. I may have finally succeeded in making a perfectly fitted corset, in less time than I've made a corset before. Apparently I work well under pressure.


  1. Your corset looks amazing, I've always wanted to make one as they look fantastic on.

    1. Thanks! Corsets really aren't as hard to make as you might think. Give it a try sometime!