Construction - assembly and boning channels
In today's installment of Adventures in Corsetry I talk about the basic assembly of my corset. Last time, I discussed making and fitting a muslin based on the Simplicity 2890 pattern. Today, I cut out my fabric, stitch it all together, and sew boning channels.
First, I laid out my final pattern on the fabric and cut it out. The fabric I've selected is a no-stretch 100% cotton black twill. It's important that corset fabric have no stretch,* and the cotton makes it breathable.
I'm not following the pattern instructions at this point. I decided to make my corset using the double construction method, which is basically making two identical corset layers and sewing them together. The boning channels are formed from the sandwiching of the two layers. This meant I actually needed 4 of each pattern piece.
Next, I inserted the gores that make the corset three-dimensional. I didn't get a good picture of this step, so here is a photo from the incomparable Sidney Eileen:
A gore is a piece of fabric inserted into a slash in another piece of fabric. I sewed the seams by hand. (I tried with the sewing machine at first, but it was really difficult to get just right.) Then I topstitched close to the seam to alleviate pressure.
In corsetry, it's really important to consider which parts of the fabric are going to take the stress of wear. You don't want the pressure on the seams, so sewing a topstitch in this case puts the strain on a stronger area of the fabric. To reinforce the points of the gores (and because it looks pretty), I embroidered around the seams.
(Apologies for the cat hairs—Kitteh decided a freshly ironed corset would be the most heavenly thing to nap on. Sigh.)
Once all 16 (!) gores were inserted, I sewed the major seams. The center front seam is lock stitched, which is basically sewing over the same seam twice. I used two different stitch lengths. I pressed the seam allowance of both corset layers to the left, so when they are laid over top each other, the seam allowances go in opposite directions (because the wrong sides are together, if that makes sense).
The side seams of the top layer are flat-fell seams. This is a really strong seam that can take a lot of strain. I put mine on the outside of the corset because I thought it looked like a faux boning channel. The side seams on the bottom layer are just standard straight seams.
The back seams are just folded under and stitched down with a 3/8" seam allowance. This will actually be a boning channel on the very outside of the corset.
Here's what it looks like at this stage:
Finally, I stitched all the boning channels, which I marked in chalk. My "bones" are actually industrial zip-ties and are 3/8" wide. I left 1" at the top and bottom of the corset to allow for the final edging. Here's the corset after the boning channels were sewn. Already, they add a lot of structure to the garment:
That's it for now! Next time, I'll talk about inserting the bones, grommets, and doing all the finishes. Hope you enjoyed!
*Unless you are making something like a sport mesh corset, which is a whole different can of worms.