My first corset!


I’ve always assumed that making a corset would be really complicated, so for previous costumes, I bought my corsets online. This time, though, I wanted to be able to say I made everything myself. Plus, the darndest stuff comes up when you Google “black leather corset.” I swear, with all the the things I research for my costumes, I’m going to look like one weird, kinky chick if my computer ever gets confiscated. Anyway, I decided to take the plunge and try making my first corset, and I’m so glad I did.

I read several tutorials online (thank goodness for!), and after reading a lot of them, I thought it would be best to make my own patternbecause I didn’t want to fuss with having to make adjustments to a  store-bought one. The instructions called for wearing an old tee shirt, but I can’t stand the thought of wasting even a raggedy old tee, so I cut a head and arm holes into a garbage bag and wore that instead. I then took a roll of duct tape and wrapped it from one shoulder, down through my legs, up my back, and down the other shoulder. I then wrapped the duct tape around my torso right underneath my breasts and kept wrapping horizontally, overlapping each layer slightly, until I reached the bottom of where I wanted the corset to be (right around my hips). I found that it was much easier to hold the roll and wrap continuously than cutting the tape off in strips. I then went up to my chest and started wrapping again until I got the tape up as high as I wanted the corset to go. I had drawn lines down long strips of blue painters’ tape prior to the wrapping, so I laid those down where I wanted the seams to go. I had to get my husband to help with the back seams (which he did grudgingly as he hates helping with my craft projects). He then cut me out of the duct tape corset. Once I was out, I then cut the corset along the top, bottom, and seam lines. I wish I had taken some pictures of the process, but it was hard enough doing it myself. Anyway, here’s the start of my pattern:

 I took the pieces from the half of the duct tape corset that I felt looked more cleanly cut and traced them on to some muslin that was folded in half (to get two mirrored pieces) with a half inch seam allowance and made a mock-up. After trying the mock-up on, I decided that I wanted the corset to come up a little higher, so I added an inch to the top of each pattern piece. I figured out after I’d completed the project that I had made a mistake during this step because instead of curving the pattern in when I added my inch (to follow the curve of the chest), I went straight up, so the corset ended up a bit loose at the top. It’s not horribly noticeable, but I will have to be on my guard for possible “wardrobe malfunctions” when I wear it.

I had debated whether to make the corset in leather (or fake leather, more likely) or brocade. Leather would have probably been more appropriate for a Baroness costume, but as this was my first corset and pleather is hard to work with on even simple projects, I didn’t want to risk it. So, using the muslin pieces from my mock-up as a pattern, I cut out a layer in black brocade and a layer in black muslin. After sewing the pieces of each layer together, I lined up the two layers and sewed one line a quarter inch on each side of every seam to make a channel for the boning.

Next, I needed to attach the COBRA symbol before inserting the boning. I found a COBRA symbol online and printed it out in the appropriate size. After cutting it out, I traced the image onto red satin taffeta and cut it out. I cut the same image out of some fusible web and ironed it to the fabric following the product instructions to make my applique. I then ironed the applique to the corset. 
I finished the sides of the corset by folding the right sides of the material together and top stitching. I then made channels for boning by stiching another line a half inch from those lines. After finishing the top edge with a strip of the brocade fabric cut on the bias, I was ready to insert the boning. I know that “real” corsets require steel boning, but I’m only going to be wearing this for one day, and I’m definitely not using it for waist training, so I looked for a less expensive and more manageable option. After reading about various alternatives, I settled on heavy duty zip ties that I found at Home Depot in the electrical supply section (again with the unintentionally kinky purchases!). They were the perfect solution: cheap, readily available, no need for boning caps, easy to cut, and plenty sturdy for my purposes! I just cut them to the length of each channel minus a half inch and then sanded the ends before inserting them. I finished the bottom using another strip of bias-cut brocade. Finally, I attached grommets and laced it up.
There’s something about hammering in grommets that is so satisfying…
My first corset!

3 responses »

  1. Really great. I hope to try this idea with the duct tape. But really? Over the shoulder and between the legs a la “Borat”? Just want to make sure before I look like a major nerd for doing it. What is the point of doing that part?
    thanks 🙂

    • Hehehe! I guess that step does look pretty ridiculous, but be prepared for ridiculousness because the whole process makes you feel pretty silly. 🙂 That step is to create vertical tension to reduce bunching. The bunching is probably not as noticeable if you use a plastic bag as it’s so light. I probably wouldn’t skip that step with a tee shirt, though. The goal is to get the duct tape corset to lay as smoothly as possible, so you want the bag or tee to lay flat and tight.

      • Gotcha, makes perfect sense. Thanks for the tutorial, I’m still kinda on the fence about trying this way, but I’m leaning hard towards it!

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