Fitting a muslin
Rather than doing anything productive today, I've been working on sewing my first corset! I'm a beginning sewer, but I've been reading and planning a lot, so I'm excited to finally dive in. I thought you sartorially-inclined GTers might enjoy the production process.
The pattern: I've decided to go with the Simplicity 2890 pattern. It was designed by Kay Gnagey, a well-known corsetier, based on a late-19th century pattern. It's intended as an underwear garment (as opposed to a fashion corset) and is quite plain. I thought it would be a good starting place.
After reading the pattern reviews, I learned that Simplicity's drafting department had added wearing ease to the measurements. To a corset! For those of you who don't know, wearing ease is basically the extra inches of material added to a person's measurements to make a garment comfortable. However, corsets are specifically intended for zero wearing ease, or should even reduce your measurements.
According to pattern measurements, I'm a size 20, but I always have to end up sizing down. I decided to make the pattern based on a 16, though I knew I would eventually have to alter the bust. Patternmakers generally base their patterns on an "average" B cup, and I'm a DDD.
Here's the pattern pieces traced onto medical exam table paper and cut out. (I don't like cutting up the actual patterns.):
Because I know I'll have to do alterations and to practice assembling the corset, I made a muslin. (This is just a "draft" of the garment using cheap fabric and basting stitches.) Here is the muslin on my dress form, which is padded to my exact measurements:
The muslin is laced in back using some lacing stay strips I made from scrap fabric. These stays are grommeted strips of fabric that can be quickly sewn to a corset muslin so you don't have to add grommets in order to lace it up.
My stays are much longer than this particular corset, and I also failed to line up the ends, but all that matters at this point is that the grommets on each side are aligned.
As you can see in the first image of the muslin, there is a lot of horizontal pulling. My poor dressform is also developing a bad case of shelf boob. While this corset is only intended to come up to mid-nipple, it's pretty clear from this image that I'd have a lot of spillage to deal with, and that's just not comfortable. I decided to make the cups bigger and extend the top of the corset.
In the above photo, you can see that I've slashed the two gussets on the left bust. I inserted scrap muslin fabric behind the slashes and basted the whole mess together. I roughly drew in Sharpie where I want the new top of the garment to be. Once I remove the muslin, I can then measure how big I need the new gussets to be and extend the whole front pattern.
At this point, Kitteh decided to leap dramatically onto my lap and help:
Very helpful, Kitteh.
Here's an image where you can see side-by-side the alteration. The left side (from the viewer's perspective) has been altered, whereas the right side is the original pattern:
The left side has resolved a lot of the horizontal pulling and boob-shelfing issues, and it generally looks less likely that I will expose any innocent bystanders. The sides and back of the pattern fit surprisingly well, so I really only needed to alter the pieces in front.
Here are some side-by-side images of the pattern before and after:
You may notice that the front line of the corset has been extended horizontally. That's because I've decided not to do a busk, as the pattern requires. Instead I will do several boning cases on the front—but more on that later. This is my first corset, so I don't want to spend a load of money on materials. I combined the bust facing with the main front pattern.
I think it's going pretty well so far! Next time, I'll be working with the actual corset fabric and talking about construction. Hope you enjoyed!