Confounding Corsets Cause Chaos!

This past Saturday evening, I took the first step in making my own corset for my upcoming fairy costume.  That is, I created my pattern.

Kelly came over and we did this project together.  We started here, with a tutorial from Foundations Revealed.  I heard about said tutorial from a fellow costume maker, God Save the Queen Fashions, that I follow on Facebook.  She was a panel member for one of the costuming sessions I attended at DragonCon a few years ago, and her work is amazing.  Anyway, below are the materials we used.


List of Materials:

  1. Right angle ruler (L square used here)
  2. Styling design ruler to help with drawing curves
  3. Tape measure
  4. Tissue paper (or tracing paper, which is what I used; you can get giant rolls of it from Amazon)
  5. (Optional) 1″ grid fabric or paper (placed underneath my tissue paper for the pattern)
  6. Pen or pencil
  7. Instructions
  8. Calculator

We took measurements first.  The instructions did not include a page for the measurements required, however, the website does.  We wrote down all of the different measurements that we needed and went to work with the tape measure.  It’s always a good idea to have a friend to help you take measurements; much more accurate than trying to do it yourself.

The printed instructions were pretty easy to follow.  Essentially there was one step per page, and it literally walks you through every line you place, with all the appropriate calculations.  Here is Kelly at the beginning of our journey, before any of the inevitable cursing began.


What was the cause of the cursing?  We were just drawing lines on paper, how could that be so bad?  Well, I discovered a few of my lines were a little crooked, despite the L square.  In retrospect, I am not sure how helpful it was to place my 1″ grid fabric underneath the tissue paper, as things moved around a bit.  So I stopped using that as any sort of guide quickly.  Maybe if you tape them together or something this would work a little better.

Other things that caused shouted expletives included the placement of certain points on the paper, around page 18 of the printable instructions.  My points were not making the same shapes as the pattern was suggesting.  On page 19, points a and c are supposed to lie to the left of point b.  That was not the case for me.  Somehow, point b wound up to the left of a.  Ultimately, we decided to return to the front bust and back bust measurements and recalculate.  We had just halved the full bust number originally, but we decided to take a measuring tape and figure it out.  This seemed to fix things, although I wound up needing to redraw some of my lines.

I discovered yesterday that the website actually gives you details about calculating the front and back bust measurements, but I did not scroll down far enough on Saturday night.  Fail.  I’m gonna assume that once we actually measured these with a tape measure, they were accurate enough.  Only time and the muslin mockup will tell!

We continued after I fixed my mistakes.  We were amused when we got to a point in the instructions that said if a couple of the lines we drew crossed, we were not doing things wrong!  I was wishing for some reassurance like that with the earlier points a, b, c problem, but no luck.  Some more error checking in the instructions would have been nice.


In the picture above you can see the crossed lines, and the disclaimer in the instructions.  Both of us wound up with crossed lines.

Sadly, we did not see anywhere in the instructions where it explained how to deal with the fact that our lines were crossed … it turns out that the crossing lines actually belong to different pieces of the corset pattern.  So after we were done sketching, the crossing lines fixed themselves when they were traced onto separate pieces of pattern paper.

This is what my completed pattern drawing looked like.  I had only completed some of the curve smoothing when I took this picture.


I traced each of these five pattern pieces onto separate sheets of tissue paper, and added seam allowances.  Here are the final pattern pieces.  When I cut fabric, I will cut two pieces of each to make the full corset.


I intend to make a mockup of this to check the fit and adjust it as needed.  The two side pieces do not look quite right to me.  But I will give the pattern making instructions the benefit of the doubt and see what happens.   After I make the muslin, I will decide what other bits I need to order for this corset.  I intend to shop here, and get a front closure piece, some grommets, spiral steel boning, casings, and lacing.  At this point, I still need fabric to go with the brocade I have, but I will probably hit Hancock for that.  Maybe next weekend.


2 comments for “Confounding Corsets Cause Chaos!

  1. February 11, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Ack! I wish you luck with this one, my friend. I want no part of corset drafting, haha.

    • Tyraenna
      February 11, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Oh surely you will be privy to all of the frustrations when I vent to you, hah! I still think you should do one too 🙂


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