Caroline's corset blog

Musings and progress from Caroline - projects she's working on, tips and tricks, and thoughts on corsetry

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Category: What I'm up to

  1. Latest design progress - the mini crini

    Posted on

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    Every design needs an example for marketing photos, and I use this opportunity to fine tune the seams as I move towards my final pattern. The initial draping work is achieved with calico fabric which is always going to present differently than using coutil (non-stretch corsetry fabric) so I need to test the pattern in coutil; the recommended fabric (mock up coutil will often be incorporated into the final garment as the inner strength layer or even as the outer if making a single layer and it hasn’t become damaged or warped in the process).

    At this stage it is good practise to start the instructions – I note down every step being carried out including all the fine details such as the best way to press the seam allowances.

    If the initial toile showed some oddities in terms of fabric wrinkling, I may also slightly adjust the fabric grainline on one side so I can compare the two sides and use the better angle. I’ve learned it’s best not to get too pernickety about this though as you can fall down a rabbit hole appearing weeks later with maybe only a slight improvement; there are so many panel combinations and tests on angles you can do that it can become very confusing.

    It is important to always take notes and mark up versions on the test patterns. I have a system in my CAD pattern of copying the whole pattern over (left to right) with each amendment / date – the working CAD drawing can end up quite large with all my changes over time.

    Once the corset was made up in coutil to my size, I boned it minimally and tried it for size and comfort. I’m lucky in that I am a standard size so I can try the ‘out of the box’ size without any need for adjustment. A lot of corset makers prefer a highly boned corset, but I prefer to bone as minimally as possible and let the fabric do the work. The rule of thumb is a bone every 2’’ of waist but for initial testing I may only bone every 4’’ – this is worst case scenario and will show me what extra boning is required.

    At this stage I found that the bottom panel needed to be pulled higher and tighter towards the centre front to stop it splaying outwards; it helped with the rounded hip shaping that I was trying to achieve. This was the only change I needed to make to the pattern.

    I finished the inner coutil layer by sewing in the extra boning channels I thought necessary and pressed under the top and bottom hems. Structural corsets like this where you are not using the body itself to fill out the hips benefit from the strongest, most sturdy of fabrics as the outer layer, and leather is perfect. When using leather as the outer layer I don’t roll-pin; leather has a slight stretch and if I make it to the same size as the coutil inner layer it will mould nicely (snap to size) when on the body. Here is the just the leather layer– you can see even without the coutil that it is holding its shape nicely;

    I faced the leather to the coutil inner layer and pad-stitched it in place ensuring the seams were lined up. The seams can often mismatch by a mm or 2 but as the vertical stretch is important I stitched the seams where they fell on the coutil rather than the seams to prevent ‘bagging’. Once I was happy with how the two layers were faced, I sewed the centre back boning channels through both the leather and coutil, inserted the bones and eyelets, and secured the top line by sewing the leather in place by folding the leather over the coutil and securing it on the wrong side.

    I hand stitched the leather outer to the coutil at the bottom most horizontal seam to give it some vertical tension and to keep the two layers from shifting.

    I had sewn together only part of the hip panels in 3mm thick felt to give it the structural support it required over the hip but found it dropped a bit at the side back, so one more felt panel was added and voila; a fully rounded supported hip that I had intended.

    My CAD base pattern and corset prototype is now complete - now for the final part; grading this complex pattern into different sizes and testing, plus finalising the instructions which may need diagrams to be drawn to illustrate the process.




  2. Design for February 24 (Patreon) - off-the-shoulder corset

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    Coming up this Friday for my Patreon patrons is an off-the-shoulder design that was a good look for Christmas but I didn't quite get it finished in time! Never mind, with wedding season just around the corner it is definitley a bit more special than a standard modern corset design.

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    The outer fabric in this sample is wool and moulded the coutil strength layer beautifully.


    Now available here in my website, and Payhip and Etsy shops in the following sizes;


  3. Male corsetry

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    I like to create one corset design for the male body once a year and have been researching a new design lately. I'm fascinated by how prevalent male corseting was at the end of the 19th century. At least two companies were making corsets for men in London at that time; Madame Dowding on Charing Cross Road and Worth et Cie on Hanover Street. An advertisement by Worth et Cie in the 1890s stated ''Worth et Cie have now added a department for Gentlemen and every class of corset, surgical, spinal, for corpulency, and riding, made to measure.''

    Madame Dowding ad

    Madame Dowding was a popular corsetiere supplying court dress and one of the most popular female corset designs in London; the Rejane. They had a few options for men as shown in this advertisment.

    I love this letter written by 'an old stay-wearer';


    There are countless paintings of men in the armed forces showing good posture and svelt shaping; undoubtedly helped by supportive undergarments.;army corsets

    With regards to posture and corseting boys, I came across a letter in the Daily Mail entitled 'Tight lacing for smart boys'. In it they state; 'It has been stated in the Daily Mail that the wearing of corsets was on the increase among men. Can you wonder at it after reading the following, an extract from a letter brought me by one of my boys when coming here to visit me :- we feel sure you will be gratified by the improvement in the appearance of both your boys. They have, we think, entirely got over the stooping habit they had when you brought them to us, and to which, if you remember, you referred at the time. The item of corsets is rather heavy, but this was caused by my having to get reduced sizes as they became accustomed to being laced. Their stays have been made by my own corsetiere, and laced daily under my supervision, giving them the same supervision as I have given my own boys, and I am sure with satisfactory result. It will rest with themselves after they leave our care whether they continue the attention to their appearance which I have tried to inculate.'

    I wonder how these boys felt about being inculated into corsetry?? I had to look up that word by the way - not often used these days!