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26 July 2016 @ 10:58 pm
Which construction is best suitable for this corset?  
Over the last few weeks I have learned (theoretically) some different ways to construct a corset with the help of Linda Sparks's book and some internet websites.
I'll sum them up for you;


-Linda Sparks's single layer corset with bone casing tape over seams, uses a waist tape and stitches the waist tape on the inside of the corset stitching along both edges of the waist tape. Uses facings to finish center front and center back.

-Linda Sparks's double layer corset, has two layers of strength fabric. Inner layer is stitched together, outer layer is stitched together, waist tape is sewn on the right side of the inner layer stitching along each edge of the waist tape.
Outer and inner layers are hand basted together through the seams (stitch in the ditch), then bone channels are made by sandwich method along the seams and where needed on the panels themselves. Uses the inner layer to finish center front and center back.

-Linda Sparks's fashion layer corset; fashion fabric with a strength fabric inner layer. Outer layer pieces are sewn together, inner layer pieces are sewn together. Has a waist tape sewn to the wrong side of the inner layer (faces the wrong side of the fashion fabric), the waist tape is stitched along each edge of the waist tape. Bone casing tape is sewn onto the wrong side of the inner layer, both on seam and possibly mid panel.
Uses the inner layer to finish center front and center back. Outer layer is hand basted to inner layer through the seams (stitch in the ditch).

-Welt seam method aka folded seam method (as explained by Sidney Eileen); you build the corset from front to back, adding each panel as a complete unit. All layers of the same panel are sewn to all layers of the previous panel with the same seam, after the seam is done the layers of the new panel are folded away from the previous panel. Repeat.
The center back is finished by simply pressing the CB seam allowance inwards and top stitching.
Bone channels are created by sandwich method on seam and in the CB provided there is a big enough seam allowance.
A waist tape can be incorporated when each panel of the corset is added but I don't see an option for stitching it on one specific layer continuously along each edge of the waist tape.



I have a corset project I would like to make, but I am not sure which construction option to pick for the intended corset.
This is what I would like your expert opinion on.
I know the ideal construction may differ per corset, because some corsets have different features than others.

I have talked about my corset project in an earlier post in this community http://corsetmakers.livejournal.com/2171976.html,
but to sum it up I would like the corset to have the following features;

-underwear waspie, a lot like the "what katie did baby corset" but with a dip in the center front like this corset http://www.corsettraining.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/VixenCorsetPattern-1.jpg

-colour doesn't really matter as long as it's light, could be printer paper white/off-white/pink etc

-must be able to withstand wear of about 3 times a week (at most),

-must be strong enough to withstand a reduction of about 4 inches maximum initially (perhaps more later),

-is usually worn over a liner or over shapewear (think spanx) but I would like the option of wearing it safely on the skin occasionally,

-strong enough to hold its own against strong back muscles that make it hard to shape the waist at the side seams


I have given it some thought, and came to the idea that maybe I need 2 layers of coutil for the job and that a waist tape might be a good idea as well.
A thin cotton floating liner might be great for days where I want to wear the corset without a liner.
So I though coutil for the outer layer and coutil for the inner layer, a waist tape attached to the inner layer and a floating lining between inner coutil layer and skin.

I will undoubtedly make mistakes with my first corset, but I would like to at least go in the right direction towards something usable with this corset.

I think if I could get away with less layers and a simpler construction method, and if the corset could do the job with that and not die within 8 months, then all the better for a first corset.

Any advice is really appreciated, if you advocate for a construction method that I have not mentioned here I am all ears and would love to hear it.
Thank you in advance.
 
 
 
Opheliastarrynight on July 26th, 2016 11:43 pm (UTC)
I would advocate for 3-4 layers. I prefer four. two layers strength [coutil, in your case] + fashion fabric + lining.
Yvonne De RooijYvonne De Rooij on July 27th, 2016 10:45 pm (UTC)
I didn't think I needed a fashion fabric, I mean I was intending to wear a slip over the corset so it's unlikely to get dirty.
Or am I missing another reason to include a fashion layer?
I'm personally fine with simple coutil as far as looks go, as long as it does its job.
I have two custom sized underwear corsets and they're both really plain and matte.
One is antique white and one is really light pastel pink.

Maybe I should take a look at them and see if it's coutil on the outside and how many layers they used in total.

I suppose I could go with 2 layers strength plus a thin cotton lining, but I am already wearing lots of layer (IMO at least, I get warm easily) so the less layers needed to get the desired reduction and to hold up well over time the better.

The corset is intended to be worn with a separate bra, panties, garterbelt (because the corset itself is way too short to attach garter straps to, it would look silly), slip and either a dress on top or a skirt blouse combination (with optional bolero/cardigan).
Yvonne De RooijYvonne De Rooij on July 27th, 2016 11:02 pm (UTC)
And I forgot to mention the corset liner or a shapewear thingy like a modern panty girdle/high waisted shapewear shorts.
I won't be wearing a corset directly on the skin most days.
Opheliastarrynight on July 27th, 2016 11:26 pm (UTC)
the fashion layer is the top most layer. It's what shows on the outside of the corset.

I personally do a fashion layer, two coutil layers [so the bones don't show and all I do is make channels and sandwich the boning], then a lining layer. But I am also busty and need support.
Yvonne De RooijYvonne De Rooij on July 28th, 2016 12:36 am (UTC)
I understood what a fashion layer was but I didn't see a reason to include it other than to have more options in way of looks.
I thought maybe you could provide another reason aside from looks.
Extra support for the bust is a valid reason, but this corset is an underbust and a very short one at that.

I can't figure out much from the 2 corsets I have.
If the pink one has coutil it's not visible on the outside, but it doesn't look like they used more than 2 layers (holding it up to the light and feeling the fabric) so I am guessing they used a different strength fabric than coutil.
It's pink both for the lining and the outer layer and it doesn't seem to have more than those 2 layers. The pink fabric is definitely not coutil.
It has fusible interfacing but only on the panels that join in the side seam.
It was custom size but I don't remember where I got it or if they sent me a toile/mock up to fit in the mail.
It was 180 euros 7 years ago for a custom size underbust and IMO the finishing reflects that price range, the bias tape machine finished and not closed CF and CB.
It still fit like a glove and is quite strong even if it's not very thick.

The antique white underbust was a super duper custom size and custom design job, I contacted a local corsetiere and asked her if she could do a replica of a historic corset I had picture of. I currently can't show you any picture of it, it's on my old laptop.
I went to her home twice for both measuring and fitting the finished garment.
In between she mailed me a mockup to try on, and asked me to make any necessary markings with a pen. Cost me about 400 euros 7 ish years ago. I still think it was worth it.

The outer layer is antique white coutil, the inner layer (lining) is a similar colour in thin and soft cotton broadcloth. I can't figure out if that is all the layers there.
She really did a neat job, everything neatly finished plus she did flossing and cording.
It has a lot of wide (half inch) bones.
It's really long like a 1910 corset, and has cording continuing where bones would inhibit sitting comfortably.
Despite that I still found it difficult to sit in the corset gracefully if I didn't have a chair that was the right depth or the right height from the ground. I remember trying to sit on a high stool during a friends wedding.
I am short and couldn't reach any of the midway bars, and for some reason my legs were unable to close.
It was like my legs were forced widely apart for some strange reason. A man stared and my then boyfriend made a sharp remark about the way I sat. So embarrassing.

The corset construction you mention does seem very neat, since no bones are showing.
Sounds perfect for a corset to be worn and seen.
Opheliastarrynight on July 28th, 2016 01:07 am (UTC)
Yeah, if it's underbust I can understand the lesser layers.

All corsets have a fashion layer, unless you mean lining layer? I always line my corsets so that the seams are covered and don't show. But I also serge my seams.

Yvonne De RooijYvonne De Rooij on July 28th, 2016 01:17 am (UTC)
Ah sorry, I see what you mean by fashion layer now.
As I understood it from Linda Sparks book a fashion layer is a layer of fabric on the outside of the corset that isn't a strength layer.
Like for example a brocade.


But you simply mean "outer layer" by fashion layer.

If I made a 3 layer corset that had 2 coutil layers (one on the outside, one between the outside layer and the lining) and a floating cotton lining, the outside coutil layer could be called a fashion layer.

When I said earlier on I didn't see the need for a fashion layer what I meant was I didn't see the need for a layer on the outside that wasn't a strength layer.

What kind of lining do you prefer? I am curious.
Floating lining?
Opheliastarrynight on July 28th, 2016 01:24 am (UTC)
Preferably, a faced lining because I haaaaaaate bias tape. So basically what I'd do is create a separate lining layers and sew the panels together, then with the right sides together, sew the lining to the outermost layer, turn the corset inside out and voila....

But you don't really see those often. So in lieu of that, floating lining is good.

Yvonne De RooijYvonne De Rooij on July 31st, 2016 04:36 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the late reply, I wanted to thoroughly read all of the links that mala_14 gave me before commenting.

I have made a decision on what kind of construction to do, perhaps it's a weird way to make it but it fits my purpose.
I wonder what you think of it, if you see any obvious flaws, it works in my head but I haven't made 1 corset yet;

-3 layers total, outer layer coutil, layer under that also coutil and then a thin soft cotton floating lining that starts at the panel next to the CF panel and stops at the panel next to the CB panel. There is a facing on the CF and CB panel that is also made from this material. The busk lays between the 2 strength layers, so do the bones on the CB panel.

-It's basically treating the 2 coutil layers as one, roll pinning them and sewing the seams (seam allowance on the outside of the corset)

-Cf and CB are finished by using a lining fabric facing, this way you don't have to fold and topstitch the waist tape, later on a floating lining is added and hand sewn where the facings end.

-machine baste the waist tape on the inner layer of coutil on the side that is going to face the lining, steering clear of the seams

-fold and topstitch the seams to make the on seam boning channels, this secures the waist tape as well

-sew the on panel bone channels by using the sandwich method
-after all the bone channels have been sewn the basting that holds the waist tape can be removed, now the waist tape is secured by all the bone channel stitching
-All the other work is done like it would be in a single layer corset the way linda sparks presents it.

This way I can still have 2 strength layers but avoid handbasting through every seam like the books says to do with the double layer corset, plus I think I will get less wrinkles (and more durability) because the 2 layers are roll pinned.
Linda sparks's double layer corset, or any corset in her book, never mentions roll pinning (and I am not sure how you would do that when constructing both layers separately) but in the end the 2 layers are fixed together by the sandwich method so if I am correct there is going to be some pulling and wrinkling with her method.

What's your take on this? When do you roll pin and when do you decide not to do it?
Opheliastarrynight on July 31st, 2016 04:44 pm (UTC)
I prefer to flatline. I basically treat the two strength layers as one.

As far as I know, roll pinning is only really useful if you cannot iron your fabric, like if it's velvet or brocade.
Yvonne De RooijYvonne De Rooij on August 2nd, 2016 07:43 pm (UTC)
And you've never had stress marks due to the outer layer needing to stretch over a larger expanse than the inner layer?

I was lead to believe that roll pinning the two layers into the shape you need makes it so the outer layer gets that extra width/length it needs to lie smooth over the inner layer and over the body. You wouldn't get that effect by simply fusing or basting two panels together when flat.
But maybe roll pinning is not as important as I thought, because I hear about people flat lining and having no wrinkles later on.

I'm not sure how I feel about fusible interfacing. So far I have only used the stuff for collars, cuffs and button plaques, the type of interfacing that only sticks on one side.
It's very synthetic, and to line the entire corset with it sounds not like something I would want to do if I prefer breathable garments.
It makes sense to use it on the CB panels and on the modesty panel though.

In my pink custom corset they only did fusible interfacing on the panels that dealt with the hip curve. I'm not sure why though.
Opheliastarrynight on August 2nd, 2016 08:01 pm (UTC)
Nope, no problem with wrinkling or stretching. You cut everything the same size so it's not a problem.

Also, you need to sew all the boning channels in the same direction, so if you start sewing the channels from the bottom to the top, or top to bottom, you must do them all the same way.

I dont do fusible interfacing. If I need to interface something, I use sew in. But it is strange your corset is fusible interfaced, never heard that before regarding corsets.
Yvonne De RooijYvonne De Rooij on August 7th, 2016 10:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your reply and for the advice.

I'm ready to start the pattern phase.
I'll post progress shots of the corset if it's not against community policy.
Sabrinamala_14 on July 27th, 2016 04:11 am (UTC)
I started out making rather heavy duty corsets with multiple layers, but have made lighter corsets as I became more experienced and really like them better. Victorian-era corsets (which were worn everyday and made by people who made corsets for a living) are usually much lighter than modern corsets. I find single layer of something really stable like coutil (or using coutil plus a thin fashion fabric on top to make it look prettier, but treating them as one layer) more comfortable and much easier to construct.

The Linda Sparks single layer method makes a nice, clean corset. I made one like that but where the seam allowances were on the outside of the corset (instead of the inside) and covered with external boning channels. It keeps the inside nice and smooth with nothing to rub against you.

Another really important thing to consider is number of bones. This will really affect the comfort of your corset. Basically, the more bones, the more the stress is distributed. You probably want the boning no farther apart than 1" at the waist. Whether you go with spring steel, spiral steel, plastic, or a mix really depends on your individual preference. Different people find different boning more comfortable and effective.
Opheliastarrynight on July 27th, 2016 12:56 pm (UTC)
Out of curiosity, do you have a preference with layers? I personally like three or four because it supports me well. Then again, I have a big bust.

I also like the sandwich method for boning so my bones won't show on the outside.
Sabrinamala_14 on July 27th, 2016 05:35 pm (UTC)
I make corsets for historical costuming, so I frequently skip a lining because I'm wearing a chemise underneath, which gets rid of one layer. But mostly my corsets are two layers, either two thinner layers (I've been experimenting with mixes of other thinner stable fabrics like poplin and pillow ticking.) or one of coutil with a light fashion fabric over it for looks. I tend to treat them as one layer though because I find it easier to construct that way, not having to match up the outer layer and inner layer. I've also made a couple underbusts that were just one layer.

I was really inspired to try using fewer layers after learning more about historical corsets and after seeing the corsets made by this blogger. She gets some really gorgeous results and has a spectacular hourglass. http://augustintytar.blogspot.ca/p/corsets-and-stays.html

Sandwich method totally makes sense for that. Because my more recent corsets don't really have two strength layers, I haven't done that recently. Instead, I add boning casings on the insides to do something similar.

Opheliastarrynight on July 27th, 2016 05:56 pm (UTC)
I do historical costuming as well! I still include linings in corsets just for the heck of it, lol. Plus I am lazy about making chemises, it gets tedious as every time period has a different silouette and that gets reflected in chemises as well as stays and corsets.

Sabrinamala_14 on July 27th, 2016 06:03 pm (UTC)
Cool! Historical costuming is so fun. I don't blame you for being lazy with chemises. They are SO boring to make. I only have a couple, like as few as possible to get by.
Opheliastarrynight on July 27th, 2016 07:34 pm (UTC)
Haha yeah, chemises are boring and totally not as fun to make as bodices or pretty skirts.
Yvonne De RooijYvonne De Rooij on July 27th, 2016 10:55 pm (UTC)
Firstly thank you for the advice. Nice to know it can be done with less than 4 layers.
And oh my goodness that link you posted, that lady has a serious reduction so it seems when she is corseted.
And I checked the description of the individual corsets and it looks like 50/50 on single layer corsets and double layer corsets/fashion layer corsets.
I wonder if those corsets can hold up if they are worn 3 days a week.

And hand basting does seem like a chore, much easier to put two layers together and treat them like a single layer.

Do you use waist tape?

I was planning to use a combination of flat steel and spring steel bones; flat steel around the CF and CB and spring steel around curvier areas.
That's what I saw most people advise at least.

Thank you for the boning placement tip.
Sabrinamala_14 on July 28th, 2016 01:29 am (UTC)
I used a waist tape once and it seemed to give a more defined shape at the waist. But that may have been the design of the corset. The rest of my corsets do not have waist tapes. However, I have only been wearing my corsets for a few hours or one day at a time. It might be good for you to use a waist tape because you're planning on wearing your corset so frequently.

Like I mentioned above, most historical corsets were lightweight with few layers and they would have been worn regularly like you plan on doing.
You can see one made of batiste that has a waist tape here: http://www.corsetsandcrinolines.com/timelineitem.php?index=186042
Another batiste corset with waist tape: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/439734351094719444/
This one is one layer of a cotton mesh to keep cool during the summer: http://corsetsandcrinolines.com/timelineitem.php?index=190041
Another single-layer corset from the 1910s with waist tape, also has instructions on making a reproduction: http://www.festiveattyre.com/p/reconstructing-1910s-era-corset.html
Can you tell that I really love researching historical corsets? :)

Also, I'm not sure if you know about Foundations Revealed. It's an online magazine dedicated to corsetmaking (and the making of other undergarments). There are some free articles that you might find helpful:
http://foundationsrevealed.com/articles/free/beginner
http://foundationsrevealed.com/articles/free/intermediate-and-advanced

I really like spiral steels. I find them very comfortable for everywhere except CB and CF.
Yvonne De RooijYvonne De Rooij on July 31st, 2016 05:03 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the late reply, I wanted to thoroughly read all of the links you gave me before commenting. I had read some of the foundations revealed free articles before posting in this community, but not as many as you presented.

I was particularly surprised by the article that says german synthetic whalebone may be better than an all steel/spiral steel corset.
As I understand it the article (or the author somewhere in the comments) recommends a normal steel busk, spiral steel in the curviest seams around the sides, flat steels on CB and german synthetic whalebone everywhere else.
On heavily boned corsets this may reduce the weight (and workload) of the finished corset.
You can finish synthetic whalebone with a simple nail file, like you would do to your nails. No tips of dipping required.
I'm still going to go with a mix of spiral and flat steels for my first corset though.

That last link (festive attire) is a real gem. I'm going to bookmark it for future use.
I like the look of 1910 corsets, but I'm not overly fond of using them for weekly wear since they do inhibit mobility more than a waspie does. I actually have a 1910-ish replica that also has cording.
They seem perfect for special events or when I want to wear body contouring clothes though. It gives a much smoother line that a waspie does and avoids the rounded bulge that can appear under a short corset especially if the short corset is so short the belly can't be tucked under it.

I have made a decision on what kind of construction to do, perhaps it's a weird way to make it but it fits my purpose.
I wonder what you think of it, if you see any obvious flaws, it works in my head but I haven't made 1 corset yet;

-3 layers total, outer layer coutil, layer under that also coutil and then a thin soft cotton floating lining that starts at the panel next to the CF panel and stops at the panel next to the CB panel. There is a facing on the CF and CB panel that is also made from this material. The busk lays between the 2 strength layers, so do the bones on the CB panel.

-It's basically treating the 2 coutil layers as one, roll pinning them and sewing the seams (seam allowance on the outside of the corset)

-Cf and CB are finished by using a lining fabric facing, this way you don't have to fold and topstitch the waist tape, later on a floating lining is added and hand sewn where the facings end.

-machine baste the waist tape on the inner layer of coutil on the side that is going to face the lining, steering clear of the seams

-fold and topstitch the seams to make the on seam boning channels, this secures the waist tape as well

-sew the on panel bone channels by using the sandwich method
-after all the bone channels have been sewn the basting that holds the waist tape can be removed, now the waist tape is secured by all the bone channel stitching
-All the other work is done like it would be in a single layer corset the way linda sparks presents it.

This way I can still have 2 strength layers but avoid handbasting through every seam like the books says to do with the double layer corset, plus I think I will get less wrinkles (and more durability) because the 2 layers are roll pinned.
Linda sparks's double layer corset, or any corset in her book, never mentions roll pinning (and I am not sure how you would do that when constructing both layers separately) but in the end the 2 layers are fixed together by the sandwich method so if I am correct there is going to be some pulling and wrinkling with her method.

What's your take on this? When do you roll pin and when do you decide not to do it?
Sabrinamala_14 on July 31st, 2016 07:06 pm (UTC)
The tricky thing about corseting is that there really is no one right answer. It really depends on personal preference and what is comfortable for you and you can only figure that out by making and wearing corsets.

I think that what you have decided for construction makes sense and will work just fine. The only thing I would mention is that your way of seaming the panels may be bulky. You want to have the seam allowances ironed in one direction together. You'll have to grade the seam allowance of the one underneath, basically pretty standard method of flat-felling seams.

I think you should try out this method and see if you like making it and wearing the finished product. If you find it too heavy or find the construction problematic, you can always try something else next time. All of my corsets have had some sort of experimental element to them, trying a new technique or material.

I find roll pinning can be useful if the corset is more than one layer and very curvy., but it is not imperative that you do it. I roll pinned by previous corset and it really needed it because the outer layer was satin and prone to showing wrinkles to begin with. I did not roll pin my most recent corset (two layers of a medium weight cotton) and when I was ironing during construction there were a couple of places that the two layers didn't match up perfectly and had a very small bit of wrinkle, but when trying it on I didn't notice anything.
Yvonne De RooijYvonne De Rooij on August 2nd, 2016 08:23 pm (UTC)
Indeed flat felling is a good idea. I'm not sure how much I can clip without weakening the seam and the boning channel though, google hasn't been very forthcoming and my book doesn't address it.
I don't have the time to look further than 4 to 5 google search pages today, I'm missing sleep.
By the time my first corset is done it's going to be cold weather so there's no problem with it having more than 1 layer.
One layer corsets with external boning channels are starting to sound mighty alluring, perhaps something for the summer.

I was planning on ironing the seam allowances of the floating lining into an opposite direction of the seam allowance of the coutil layer, to reduce bulk.

As for roll pinning; I was planning on doing it mainly on panels along the side seams and leave the panels that are supposed to lie pretty straight (around CF and CB alone).
I have a fairly curvy waist to hip curve (on the side) and it's going to be worse in the corset.
But good to hear you didn't get any wrinkles/puckering when you didn't roll pin.
It's kind of a relief.
Sabrinamala_14 on August 2nd, 2016 08:38 pm (UTC)
I just meant that you should grade the seams, like make it so the seam allowance underneath is smaller than the one you will be turning over top to form the boning channel. It will eliminate bulk and make it easier to sew the channels on the curved seams. See here:
https://blog.colettehq.com/tutorials/standard-flat-felled-seam

That sounds good for the roll pinning. I hope you keep us updated when you start making your corset!
Yvonne De RooijYvonne De Rooij on August 2nd, 2016 09:02 pm (UTC)
I understand what grading a seam means, it's just that what goes for garments that have no boning and not as much pressure put on the seams might not go for corsets that do.
In the example you showed me they clipped the seam allowance underneath so much that not even the top stitching would catch it.
I'm not sure that provides enough strength and stability for a corset.
Is this a method you have used, flat felled seam used as a boning channel I mean?
Did it work well? Or did you have trouble with stability and seams being a tad weak?

I've got most of the important details down now, so I'll be out of your hair soon enough and starting the pattern stage.
Sabrinamala_14 on August 2nd, 2016 10:12 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't mean to get too simplistic with explaining things. I just wasn't sure if I was describing things clearly. I think I've always graded my seams when using the seam allowances for boning casings or even just felling the seams and using something else as casings. The coutil is very tightly woven, so you won't have to worry about it fraying into the seam. And a single layer of it is more than enough to keep the boning secure. I think the weakest point of a corset with this sort of seam is the stitching, not the fabric. Felling would increase stability because there are more lines of stitching, but you will probably see the strain on the initial stitching of the seam.

Seeing the questions that new corset makers have is always really interesting! It makes me re-think how I put things together and think about different ways of doing things. :)
Yvonne De RooijYvonne De Rooij on August 7th, 2016 10:07 pm (UTC)
That was exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks :)

My background is in sewing many dresses, blouses and skirts for myself.
In fashion school we learned to draft and sew all kinds of garments, including trousers and coats.
I can't remember ever having to worry about strain on the seams, and we never even addressed boning of any type. Not even when I did an internship at a bridal atelier.

But corsetry is just so different.

I'll post progress shots if that is not against community policy.
I still have to do a lot of steps before I get to that point though.
Thank you again for your help.