Introduction: Two-Layer Underbust Corset Construction Tutorial
These are instructions for constructing a basic two-layer corset. Corsets are not for beginners! Make sure you know the basics before taking on corset construction. This tutorial does not cover pattern making, just construction.
You will need to know:
-Stitching in the ditch
You will need:
-Fashion fabric (with no stretch)
-Coutil or canvas
-Basic sewing supplies (shears, pins, thread, etc.)
-Grommets and application tool
-Two 1/2" flat steel bones, two 1/4" flat steel bones, 1/4" spiral steel boning
-Corset lacing cord
-3/8"-5/8" twill tape
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Step 1: Ready Your Pattern
Get your pattern ready. Here I have a pattern without seam allowances that I've used for other corsets. Mark your pattern piece numbers. Here I have 1-7. Copy your pattern pieces onto another sheet of paper (If they are like this, without seam allowances) so you can add seam allowances and notches if necessary. Add a 5/8" seam allowance to each side of your pattern pieces. Add 1/8" to the top and bottom of your pattern pieces. Cut these new pieces with allowances out. These are your final pattern pieces.
Step 2: Cut Them Pieces Out!
Cut your fabric using your pattern pieces as a guide. You will need one set of your outer fabric, one set of coutil* pieces, and one set of interfacing (medium weight fusible). You will also need to cut another pair of the last panel of your corset (the panel that will hold the grommets) for a facing. Cut this out of your outer fabric.
*Coutil is very crucial to creating a corset with no stretch that you can use for waist reduction. This fabric is made from cotton, and has absolutely no stretch. You don't need to use coutil for your two-layer corset, but it's recommended. If you don't have access to coutil (which you can find on corset supply websites), a heavy cotton canvas or cotton duck will work as well.
Step 3: Fuse!
Fuse your interfacing to your fabric panels by following the instructions on your interfacing. In this corset, I fused the interfacing to the outer fabric. You can fuse it to the inner layer if you'd like. I just like to use fusible interfacing for more stability. You can use sew-in interfacing, but make sure you roll pin when attaching the interfacing to the fabric to account for turn-of-cloth. Flat-lining may cause bubbling when the corset is being worn.
Step 4: Sew and Press!
Sew your panels together for both layers, paying attention to which edges are the top of the corset, and where your seam allowances overlap. If you have notches, be careful to match them up as perfectly as possible. Some people like to draw the stitching lines onto the panels and match them up when pinning, and then sew, but I just match up where the seam allowances are. It seems to work well. You can see in the coutil layer there is a gold facing on each end. That's from the extra outer fabric you cut. I roll-pinned the silk and coutil together with the coutil on the bottom, sewed the panel, and trimmed the extra coutil. Then, sew to the coutil layer.
Make sure you press EXTREMELY well! This is very important, since we are stitching in the ditch! Press the seam allowances open, and then press on the right side of the layer as well, to make sure the seams lie completely flat! I did not clip my curves, because I want to make sure everything is in tact for when I stitch in the ditch.
Press, press, press!
Step 5: Waist Tape!
Insert your waist tape. For this, use 3/8"-5/8" twill tape. Pre-shrink the tape by wetting it, and then pressing the crap out of it with steam. This will ensure that it doesn't stretch!
Identify the entire waistline of your corset. Make sure it's exactly accurate. I start in the center. Pin the tape to the seam (You will stitch in the ditch to secure the tape.). When pinning the tape, make sure both the panel and tape are pulled tight to each seamline. There cannot be any bunching, because the tape will be placed inaccurately. Some people like to mark with pencil before pinning, but I find pinning as you go works fine.
Once your tape is pinned, stitch in the seam. Make sure to reinforce your stitches *very* well. And remember, you're stitching to the wrong side of the coutil layer! (Note that the seam allowances are showing in the photo)
Step 6: Sew Layers Together, Stitch in the Ditch!
Sew the ends of the layers together, right sides together. They will create a tube of fabric! Turn right sides out, and press the seam that you just made (facing to outer fabric layer). Make sure it's very flat. Then, sew a line 5/8" from the edge of that pressed seam (the outer panel, where the grommets will go) while your corset is flat (coutil layer is under your outer layer, like it's ready to wear). This edge will hold a 1/2" flat steel bone.
Stitch in the ditch. Line your seams up PERFECTLY. I make sure everything is lined up by pinning through the seams. This will tell me where I should stitch. Then stitch in the ditch! It won't be exactly perfect (unless you do this every day of your life). Do this for all of your seams. Then, stitch a line on each side, 3/8" away from the seam. These are your boning channels for 1/4" spiral steel bones. *If you want external boning channels, do them before you attach the layers together, but that's a different tutorial.*
Step 7: Insert Bones!
This is where you insert your bones. Sorry, I don't have a photo! Insert a 1/2" steel bone into each opening end of the corset into your grommet panel, where you sewed a line 5/8" from the edge. This will stabilize the grommet panel.
Insert your 1/4" spiral steel bones into the boning channels. If you'd like, use 1/4" steel bones for the center seam. Make sure that your bones are at least 5/8"-3/4" away from the top and bottom edges of the corset.
Step 8: Bind the Edges!
Bind the top and bottom of your corset. Using a bias-cut strip of your outer fabric about 1 1/2" wide, pin the strips to the top and bottom of the corset, leaving about 5/8" of fabric extruding from the ends of the corset past the grommet panels. Sew a 3/8" seam to attach the bias-cut piece to the corset. Then, the piece over so that the raw edge of the bias fabric is not showing (Img 2). Pin this in place. Make sure that this piece extends farther than the stitching you did to attach the piece to the corset, so that you can ensure that you will stitch over it. If you'd like, handsew the binding to the coutil layer of the corset. Or, stitch in the ditch on the right side of the corset to attach the binding (img 3).
Step 9: Apply Grommets!
Hammer or press in your grommets. I use size 00 grommets. You can use a grommet press, hand press, or hammer and grommet setting kit. Make sure they are well set!
Step 10: Lace It Up, and Done!
Yay, you constructed your corset! I hope it wasn't too difficult, and that the steps were clear and followable! Enjoy lacing up your new corset!