Q&A about corset making

Frequently asked questions from customers about products and services.

 RSS Feed

  1. cupped corset with silk brocade

    I've been struggling to find inspration this year as i've been so busy with one thing or another, not least going VAT registered in April, swiftly followed by the horror of Brexit (for small retailers this has been a pricing and cashflow nightmare with the fluctuating currency - affecting all things from supplies to courier postage).  SO... I've been a bit overwhelmed and 'pre-occuped' one might say.  Luckily I have good friends who have been helping me through the creative doldrums in an attempt to get my juices flowing again.  I am lucky!

    And so one day upon opening the door to Sew Curvy HQ, a big parcel was on the mat, and it was from my good friend Izabela of Prior Attire.  She very kindly sent me what I call a "mercy pack" containing one of her lovely and greatly sought after dressmakers notebooks and a bunch of silk fabric and lace offcuts - Izabela makes big dresses so her offcuts can sometimes be used to make several corsets!!  Better than chocolates and wine any day.

    mercy packThere was quite a selection to choose from but in the end I chose to work with three of the fabrics first, the beaded lace, half a metre'ish of duchesse silk satin in gold, and a tiny scrap of beautiful silk brocade which probably cost asumidontwantothinkabout knowing Izabela.  I love a scrap challenge at the best of times so I got to work thinking how best to use these tiny snippets of glory.

    It soon became obvious that the small amount of brocade would best be used at the front of the corset, and whilst there was enough to do a complete front overbust panel, I wanted to make the corset a little bit more spectacular than that and I wanted to challenge myself, so I decided that cups were the way to go - I wanted to practice this area and here was the opportunity only there wasn't QUITE enough of the lovely brocade to do a full cup cover... imagination required, I dug into my 'retro files' for inspiration and came up with this 50's inspired cup design where the top and sides are framed with plainer fabric. The brocade is gathered at the sides of the cups, not because this is easier than making a separate cup pattern (which it is) but because it was the best use of the fabric.  All hand basted in place with black silk thread, it was ready to hand stitch down finally and yes, you have to do it all by hand.  

    covering corset cups
    Dislcaimer:  Proper cupped corsetry is quite difficult because you have to understand how a corset and a bra work to the best boobular advantages, however, you can cheat by using covered bust forms which is what i've done here - this is a good option for when you need to make a sample or practice techniques or for RTW corsetry where you dont need a perfect fit or where sizing is average.  As usual in corsetry there are many many variables.

    So once the cups and front panel were done I had just over half a metre of the silk duchess in gold to make the rest of the corset with.  As this will be a sample corset shot on a model, it's a small size - 22" waist.  And yes, you might notice the silk here is not gold nor particularly luxuriant looking as silk duchess satin should be.  That's because I made a mistake.  I decided to fuse the silk to some stiff canvas, but I fused said silk on the wrong side.  Argh! There's no going back from a mistake like that but luckily the 'wrong' side is just as nice in it's own way - rich ivory instead of gold, and looks more like tafetta than duchess, but still... it looks lovely nevertheless.

    cup placement on corset

    You can see the boning channels are quadruple stitched.  This is a detail I learned from hours of examining this corset by Mr Pearl (for McQueen) at various museums over the last few years.  

    dante corset by Mr Pearl for Mcqueen

    (unfortunately when I met Mr P himself last year, we had a bit of a party and I drunkenly gushed this revelation to him ... so embarrasing, hopefully he cant remember).

    SO, now we have, standard corset pattern adapted, cups covered, brocade front panel done, silk fabric fused the wrong way, boning channels like Mr Pearl.  All that is left to do is embellish it.  Which I've nearly done.  I've also added straps incase the cups aren't modest enough on their own (it's always difficult to tell when you're not making a bespoke item for an acutal person).  At the moment it looks like this - I'm quite pleased and it has most certainly done it's job of revitalising my creative direction.  In a big way.  If you have a friend in the creative doldrums, dont give her chocolate or wine, give her scraps and a challenge.

    nearly done

    And here I'll list the 'ingredients' of this corset incase you want to try a similar project yourself.  Note - I had enough silk to do the binding but it is very narrow binding at 2.5cm!  It must be hand sewn to get it in the right place neatly - observe:

    binding

    • Fabric scraps - I had half a metre'ish of silk satin, a tiny scrap of brocade and a tiny scrap of beaded lace.  There is enough silk fabric to make a short halternetck strap (wide bias strips) and the bias binding (very narrow)
    • Cups to cover - I used Prym double underwired bust forms
    • Strength fabric - I used stiff cotton canvas - once it's fused to silk it's light and crisp but strong as steel
    • Bondaweb fusing web 90cm wide
    • Boning channels made from stiff cotton canvas (unfused)
    • Silver eyelets with washers about 40 (should really have used gold in hindsight)
    • Spiral and flat steel boning (7mm regular spirals at front and sides, 6mm flat at back)
    • Double satin ribbon lacing in gold
    • Stiff wide busk for the front (12"), held down with 25mm cotton twill tape
    • Lining is soft coutil from my stash (also sewed 'inside out/back to front' because i'm a twit).

     Have you ever made a corset (or anything else) from scraps and leftovers?  And if so, did you find that it really lifted you out of a rut and turned you in new, sometimes unexpected directions?

     

  2. Its been a busy start to 2016 after a very busy end to 2015!  For many years we've been trying to source the popular rosebud coutil that many makers favour for making historical corsetry or sleek underwear.  Late in the year we found the mill !

    black silver rose corsetry coutil gold clasp corset busk red and black spot broche corset coutil

    The rosebud coutil comes in five colours currently. 

    Black with champagne roses
    Black with silver roses
    Black with red roses
    Ivory with gold roses
    Ivory with ivory roses (damask)

    This coutil can be used on its own to make a very sturdy single layer corset good for underwear and suitable for everything from bridal to boudior!  I like to use it to make co-ordinating bone channels too.

     

    Gold plated busk fastners go so beautifully with our gold eyelets.

    These are currently in three sizes

    10" (25cm)
    12" (30cm)
    14" (33cm)

    They look amazing with the ivory and gold rosebud coutil.  Our gold eyelets now come in two sizes and four formats.

    4mm in kits or loose
    5mm in kits or loose

    The new black spot broche with red spots is to die for!

    It's much stiffer than the other spot broche coutils because it comes from a different mill.  In the spring time we have asked the factory to ensure they put some of the new colourway aside for us.  Black with purple spots!

    This is also good for single layer corsetry or you can use it with a lining for an extra smooth and luxurious finish.

     

     

    super duper kit small ivory

    Super Duper!

    The pretty rosebud coutils are available by the metre or half metre or as part of our new 'Super Duper Corset Kit'.  This kit is a superb starting point for beginners to corsetry and includes all the tools and materials you will need to make a Sophia Underbust Corset. 

    Click here to see our other corset kits!

    design tip

    Use our new Prym bias binding makers with coutil to make matching bone channels for your corsets!!  These Prym bias makers have a wider nose which means you can work with thicker fabrics.  Our Sew Easy bias binding makers are better for delicate fabrics such as silk.
    facebook header

    Dont forget to check the Sew Curvy Facebook page.  It's packed with tricks, tips, tutorials and conversations and I often put special offers and news there first!

  3. Summer is about weddings,  and weddings are all about having the right foundations!  At Sew curvy this means interfacingsnets and fusibles!  We've got several types of quality fusible interfacings all made by Vilene which is the British equivalent of the US Pellon brand.  Woven fusible cotton is handy for making flimsy fabrics a bit heavier, and our new Bondaweb two sided heat activated webbing comes in 90cm widths!  Big enough to fuse half a metre of fabric at a time!

    vilene interlining bondaweb
    G700 Viline fusible woven interfacing is glue backed cotton in black or white.  It has a grain and is easy to use.  Full instructions in the product listing.  Use it for adding body to flimsy fabrics, for dress facings or for interfacing a lighter corset fashion fabric.  Works best with natural fibres. Light but stiff canvas interlining is commonly used in wedding dress foundations as the inner corsolette material.  Use it with spiral steel boning to smooth out the sillhouete under a light retro style dress which needs a good nip on the waist for max effect! We have new 90cm wide bondaweb!  A double sided fusing web for bonding two fabrics together which saves much faffing!  A much better width for corset making.  Use it for bonding fashion fabric to coutil to make a tough, but fine underwear corset or bodice.

    fusing copy The best way to use woven fusible is to lay said material on your fabric, lightly spray with water, cover with thin paper, and press press press.  Do not rub.  Just press.  The water creates steam which adds heat and improves bonding properties.  You can do the same with bondaweb just remember to sandwich the web between your two layers of fabric.

    powernet for lingerie black and white bobbinet corset net

    This lingerie strength powernet is used by several British manufacturers of vintage style lingerie.  It comes in black, nude or white.  90cm wide and stretchy in both directions.  More colours will be coming in soon!  Use it to make comfortable dress foundation panels for wear all day, every day!

     

    Bobbinet is used for authentic vintage foundation wear such as waspies and gown foundations.  Ours is 100% cotton,  90cm wide, and comes in black and white.  Use with spiral steel bones or fake whalebone.  Use it to make couture gown foundations or light underwear corsets.

     

    Rigid corsetry net comes in two colours, natural and black, and two weights.  Heavy is best for regular corsetry while light can be used for waspies and stiff petticoats.  Use loop pressing bars to make external bone channels for your sheer corsetry.  Use the net to make sheer corsets, or stiff peticoats which will give a skirt more body.

  4.  
     

    The split busk, or two part busk, was invented by the Victorians.  It was at the time a revolution for women because for the first time they were able to put their corsets on un-assisted.  There are many types of split busk.  The regular 'flexible' busk which is the most widely used and the one with which people are most familiar.  These are about 12mm wide on either side, and coated in a white powder coating - this white powder coating, as a matter of interest, has replaced the older plastic coating, as it is more environmentally friendly.  In Victorian times of course, all busks were made of uncoated steel.  

    busk

    The other types of busk are variously made from galvanised steel or stainless steel.  There are wide busks which are an inch wide on either side, conical or tapered busks which are true to the Edwardian period and Spoon Busks which are true to the Victorian period.  In modern corsetry, different types of busks can be used for different purposes depending upon design, body type, and effect

    Usefull Links:

    Buy a corset busk

    How to insert a busk fastner

    More about corset busks, what they do and how to use them.