Caroline's corset blog

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  1. The subject of fit and comfort is central to corsetry and as a pattern maker it is imperative that my designs can be worn, with ease, by everyone who makes them. It would be great to have a set of rules to draft by, but one set of rules, whilst effective for one body, will not work for another, and so corset makers need to know how to design and tweak their patterns for optimal fit and comfort. This subject is often over-looked in pattern instructions and literature, with only sizing and construction techniques being covered.

    By creating this short survey I wanted to reach out to the corset wearing community and tap into their experience so I could expand on my own literature that I send out with my patterns, but also by sharing these findings it will hopefully help makers who are currently struggling with creating a truly comfortable corset.

    Here are the charts from the survey:

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    • Fit is key for comfort. There are no surprises here but it does illustrate that an off-the-rail corset is not going to be as comfortable as a made-to-measure, and all patterns will need to be ‘tweaked’. Even if a corset wearer conforms exactly to a standardised measuring system, there will be improvements that can be made to comfort by making a toile. Distribution of flesh has an effect on comfort and the look of the corset and making a toile is the only way to assess this.
    • The jury seems to be out with regards to number of panels. More panels to a corset do seem to be slightly more favourable however with fewer panels, less mistakes are made, so precision is better.
    • There seems to be a preference for lots of bones. I was surprised that there was little mention of bone placement as being a factor in comfort.
    • Over-busts are often sought as a replacement for bras – there is huge potential here, especially in the larger bust fraternity. More patterns concentrating on bust support are required!
    • More training and coaching would be good for those wanting to move to digital drafting.
    • Unusual body shapes are not catered for in the commercial pattern market – especially those with short waists and large hip springs.
    • Bust and hip gores get the thumbs up.
    • Room for the ribs was cited often as being a factor in comfort.
  2. I was back in London for a few weeks recently and visited the V&A - my favourite Museum in the entire world.

    It's such a great source of inspiration. I was fascinated by the leather detailing on the underarm of these stays, presumably its purpose being to lengthen its life;

    stays v and a portrait

    I'm currently working on a strapped over-bust design, to be published later in the month on my Patreon platform.

  3. I started patterning corsets four years ago as I didn't think there was too much choice on the market. There were plenty of 12-panel underbusts, simple over-busts, and some good historical reproductions, however I felt there could be more variety, especially in the modern camp. I've done my fair share of standard patterns of course and have decided to offer one of these as a free pattern through my web-site to show my work. A part of my patterning that I've been working on is splitting panels in half at the waist giving corset makers the opportunity to top and tail different sizes - whether it be bust size, under-bust or hip against a specific waist size. It's much more adaptable for the many sizes that human beings come in! The free under-bust pattern does just this. Here are the possibilities of sizes without having to make any modifications yourself;

    excel sizes


    I'm now much more interested in bringing unusal designs to the market place and given that there are quite a few free patterns out there anyway, the most simple of my designs are not great sellers. Here is a pic of the pattern - the pattern centre front is actually a little narrower than this prototype;

    pic 3

    Please contact me via the contacts page or fill in the e mail address on the pattern page. I offer a comprehensive 25-page manual on corset construction through Etsy so if you need further information on how to build a corset please have a look at this (you'll be suporting my cottage business too!).