Caroline's corset blog

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  1. In this third and final part of my blog I will make up the toile from the AutoCAD pattern created from my 'corset reckoner' excel programme.

    When making up the toile I was very careful with the transfer of my pattern on to fabric. This project is about testing the accuracy of the patterning process after all, and so I needed to be spot on. I printed out my pattern directly on to freezer paper, carefully cut out the pattern pieces and ironed on to the wrong side of my fabric, I added a 20mm seam allowance and then basted the pieces together along the edge of the freezer paper. I didn’t think I could possibly get more accurate than that!

    45

    I then machine sewed all the panels together.  I could see immediately that I had added far too much curve in the rib and hip areas so flattened out this ‘spring’ a little taking care to ensure I sewed to the marker points at full bust, underbust, low rib, waist and low and full hip, the intention being that I can work backwards from the sewing line and see how this can be replicated by the CAD drawing functions. I measured the waist on both sides of the corset and despite my care in sewing to the edge of the freezer paper and basting each corset together prior to stitching, each side of the corset was 1’’ bigger than my measurements. It just goes to show how, with so many panels, stitching just 1mm to the side of the drawing line makes a big difference. It’s obviously not an issue with most garments, but corsetry is about a perfect fit and attention to detail when sewing is paramount. I stitched another line 1mm to the inside of my previous stitch line and on measuring, the waist was bang on the 309mm I needed;

    7

    Here is the finished toile (mock up) - a basic 16 panel low line overbust with a gentle 2'' reduction;

    6

    I think if care is taken and all body measurements are exact, this is a good start for working up a toile. I might be able to get away without making a toile for an underbust but the difficult bust area will always need some adjustment at the toile stage so although this methodology has been devised to reduce adjustments as far as possible, it cannot totally eliminate this important part of building a corset where fit and comfort are paramount.

    Obviously this isn’t really a methodology that would get a lot of use by professional or advanced corsetiere’s – the pattern is basic and it doesn’t allow for much organic development as say, draping on a mannequin would. However it is very quick and precise and I imagine would benefit a beginner who would love to be able to make up a toile to their exact measurements for practicing and using for future developments. When I started making corsets I found the lack of patterns on the market frustrating and was never sure my alterations were going to skew the design or look a bit odd. One other thing about this method is you always get a perfect grain-line perpendicular to the waist-line. If attention to detail is observed I think perfectly fitting corsets could come out of this. I need to test it on lots of different body shapes with a view to tweaking my formulae. I’m also keen to be more creative with the design – my next project will focus on sloping some of those front panels so they taper into the stomach, so it’s back to my excel spreadsheet to spread those millimetres around the panels in a different way. More to come!

  2. So in part 1 I introduced the concept of how I am using AutoCAD and an excel spreadsheet to design a made to measure corset pattern for myself. In this second part I will update on the progress I am making. So far so good, however I am yet to see what it looks like on the body - I should have some photos of the final corset in part 3 to follow.

    The measurements involved included;

    • Full bust (fb)
    • Underbust (ub)
    • Low rib (lr)
    • Waist (w) minus desired reduction (2’’)
    • High hip (hh)
    • Low hip (lh)
    • The vertical distances between each of the above points

    I first created different worksheets for 12, 16, and 20 panel patterns in excel, converted my measurements into mm, divided this by 2 so I would be working on just one side of the corset, and subtracted the desired back gap and waist reduction from these measurements. When divided by the number of panels on each side, this gave me an equal dimension per panel – I then ‘weighted’ these measurements according to whether this would be at the bust or bum etc. After quite a bit of other jiggery pokery including adding extra millimetres to the back and front panels to accommodate the hardware, and evening out the middle sections, I ended up with a table of figures that looked about right for the 8 panels that will form one side of the corset;

    front

               

    back

     

     

    Panel 1

    Panel 2

    Panel 3

    Panel 4

    Panel 5

    Panel 6

    Panel 7

    Panel 8

    Total mm

     

    69

    59

    53

    47

    47

    41

    41

    67

    425 (fb)

     

    57

    47

    41

    41

    41

    41

    41

    67

    375 (ub)

     

    57

    43

    37

    37

    37

    37

    37

    67

    355 (lr)

     

    57

    36

    30

    30

    30

    30

    30

    67

    309 (w)

     

    57

    47

    41

    41

    49

    49

    49

    75

    410 (hh)

     

    55

    45

    39

    47

    47

    56

    56

    82

    425 (lh)

     

     

     

     

     

     

           

     

    In AutoCAD it was then just a simple task of adding these horizontal lines onto a vertical line that corresponded to the vertical line measured from full bust to low hip. Using a combination of spline lines, arcs and straight lines I joined up the horizontals making  amendments to ensure some hip spring was included. You can see how I have pushed out a hip spring by drawing the spline line to an additional point in pieces 2 (one side), 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 (one side). I increased the curvature towards the middle pieces where the curviness works better by snapping the line to a point equivalent to the high hip at a point offset at 33.3% between the waist and high hip (green line). Similarly, points at 50% (purple line) and 66.6% (blue line) gave the snap point for the lesser spring hip curves to the other panels.  I offset the waist line to indicate where a 20mm waist tape would sit. This part of the process was very quick – no more than 15 minutes. I like how the software creates beautiful curves – a French curve ruler produces similar shapes of course but the manual drafting process would never produce something as repeatable and exacting as the CAD drawing functions.

    a

    I then rotated the individual pattern pieces so they matched at the top and arced a line corresponding to the sort of top line I would like - a sweetheart neckline and dipping under the arm pits and leaving a high back;

    12

    Trimming the top line according to the arc and separating the pieces you can see how they will match up;

    3

    I left the bottom knowing that I could always do the same to this side if I wanted a different shape. This part of the process was a little more fiddly but still only about another 15 minutes to curve the one side.  If I were to spend another 15 minutes rotating the bottom sides to match up and then arcing a curving bottom line I estimate that the entire process, from plugging in the eleven measurements into my spreadsheet and then drawing out the pattern in AutoCAD, would take no more than one hour. A lunch-break project!

    In the next and final part of this project I will make up the toile.