Our historic collection of corsets is ideal for intermediate sewists looking to expand their knowledge in corset construction. The range includes everything from entry level waist synchers, with basic design features, that transition nicely from our simpler modern corsets to more technical and intricate pieces that push the boundaries of construction.
The collection features key examples, hand-picked from the 19th-20th century, each with its own unique design details and individual identity. Although all of our corsets, both modern and historic, are constructed using a standard two layer construction, this collection goes one step further by utilising historic construction techniques and design details such as textural piping, front busk closures,
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, our collection of modern corsets is designed specifically to make the transition into corset construction as easy as possible. Displaying little or no design extras, aside from the dramatically different cuts, they rely solely on just four basic techniques: internal boning channels, bias bound edges, a simple joined front with no busk and our two-layer construction technique giving you the ability to create a multitude of key shapes. Once you have made one, you can make them all.
Each corset style is based on one master template that has been tailored to synch the waist, smooth the hips and provide lift to the bust - which means that if one fits, they all fit. Each style has been hand-picked for a different personality - displaying an array of key shapes or cuts that suit a multitude of individual personalities. The collection features everything from burlesque under-bust shapes, tight lacing waist shapers, Victorian inspired stays or the more modern over-bust styles. Whatever you are looking for, we’ve got it covered.
It is this simplicity and lack of design detail that makes these corsets perfect for experimentation when it comes to decoration and embellishment. We experimented with jet lace motifs and lace ribbon to create body defining panels that visually shape the bust, waist and hip. However, this range provides endless possibilities – try colour blocking panels, beading, print, embellishment or layering of transparent materials.
These corsets are not just for beginners looking to expand their skills with corsetry. These key shapes can be adapted by adding design features such as piping, busks, flossing and mixing various types of boning attachment – which is perfect for the more ambitious or advanced enthusiasts.
For more challenging projects in corsetry construction we suggest taking a look at our historic corset patterns, which feature more design details such as external floating panels, textural piping, busk fastenings and different types of boning channels for aesthetic effect.
TWO LAYER CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUE:
All of our corsets, both historic and modern, use one central construction technique to make construction cohesive throughout:
The external layer is built panel by panel from two pieces of material: one piece of Coutil and one piece of fine decorative fabric temporarily pad-stitched together to form one layer. The decorative fabric sits on the outside face of the corset and provides colour, texture or print - essentially, it needs to be opaque to hide the Coutil underneath yet fine enough to prevent bulky seams. The Coutil layer provides support.
The internal layer is built using a single layer of Coutil that provides support and a smooth lining against the skin.
When the internal and external layers are joined together, they create an unseen space between to sandwich the unsightly raw edges or seam allowance. 0.8cm wide channels are then stitched through the two layers to provide a snug, enclosed space for the strips of spiral steel boning to slide into from either the top or bottom edge. Once inserted, these strips of boning reinforce and control the shape of the corset.
BIAS BINDING TECHNIQUE:
Once the two layers have been joined, and the boning sandwiched between the two, a strip of bias binding is stitched to the outside or decorative surface of the corset along the top and bottom edge. It is then folded over the raw edge of the corset to the inside and hand stitched, or slip stitched, to the inside surface. This binds or seals the top and bottom edge of the corset, creating a decorative edge and sealing in the boning.
All of our modern corsets come without a central opening or busk. This reduces the amount of time, effort and cost when constructing each corset. It also provides a seamless decorative space that allows more customisation than our historic corsets.
All of our historic corsets feature a 5 or 6 loop steel busk, making construction considerably harder. However, the presence of the busk, or front opening, makes the corset far easier to put on and take off, as the laces do not have to be removed or loosened as much.
Busks appeared in the middle of the nineteenth century. Made of two long pieces of steel, one with loops and the other with posts that functioned in the same way as hook and eye fastenings on a garment. This development revolutionised the trade.
PIPING/ CORDING TECHNIQUE:
A selection of our historic corsets features piping channels. This is a technique used to add soft structural support, smooth the form and provide a decorative aesthetic - creating a raised ribbed effect if done well. Unfortunately, this technique can be time consuming and a bit fiddly, but the result is certainly worth it. Very few modern corsets seem to have it, due to the time and materials it requires. However, due to its lack of use it provides a truly authentic feel.
Usually, piping is added to the external layer only: Once the decorative fabric has been pad-stitched to the Coutil (see two-layer construction technique), rows of top-stitching roughly 0.5cm apart are then stitched through the two pieces, creating small channels to accommodate cording or piping (3mm polyester). The polyester piping is then secured to the end of a blunt needle and thread and pushed into an open end of the piping channel. The piping is then fed through the channel until it appears on the other side. This step is repeated until all of the piping channels are filled.
EXTERNAL BONING CHANNELS:
External boning channels are used as an alternative to internal boning channels and are topstitched to the decorative fabric on the external layer of the corset. An external boning channel is also used as a decorative feature and is placed either on the panel itself or over a seam to conceal it. Boning channels are made from bias-cut strips of Coutil or strong pre-made bias binding. Strips of spiral steel boning are inserted into the channels to provide structural support to the corset. External boning channels are sometimes prone to tearing at the tip of each piece of boning, since the bones tend to move up and down within the channel, eroding the material. A strong close weave material should be used to make the boning channels and prevent quick wear and tear. Originally, flossing, which is a method of decorative embroidery or stitching around the ends of the corset bones, was used to strengthen these weak points. However, it is a time consuming job and requires great skill to get a nice result.
COUTIL, HERINGBONE WEAVE AND COTTON DRILL:
There are various types of herringbone twills that can be used in corset construction and those with the tightest or smallest herringbone weave are the best - densely woven and with the least inclination to stretch. Coutil has been designed specifically for corset construction. Unfortunately, it can be quite expensive but it is by far the best choice. Due to corset patterns being based on standard sizes, some adjustment to fit your particular shape is a must. Therefore, for initial toiling, a replica material such as cotton drill or less expensive looser weave herringbone twill is useful. However, it is recommended to make the final sample from Coutil.
Eyelets, or grommets, with lacing are used to close the back of your corset. Zips are sometimes used but are far weaker and, due to the stress put on the corset, will break almost immediately. Eyelets should be used with a washer to reduce the risk of them popping out of the corset when lacing.
Some eyelet kits that you can buy from haberdashers come with a cutting dye. We do not recommend cutting a hole through your material to insert your eyelet. This hole will stretch over time and cause the eyelet to pop out. A better technique is to insert the tip of an awl through your material and ease the fibres of the material apart. Take your time and be careful not to tear the Coutil. This technique will make your eyelet insertion stronger as, once the eyelet is inserted, the stretched Coutil will tighten around the eyelet holding it in place longer. If you are serious about corsetry construction then invest in a professional setting press, a pair of dye sets and a bag of high quality aluminium eyelets.
SPIRAL STEEL BONING:
Spiral steel boning is by far the best boning to use in corsetry construction. Not only is it incredibly strong but the spiral structure allows it to move in a variety of directions without losing strength. Most importantly, its lateral movement (side to side) allows it to be used in boning channels that are not straight but instead curve from side to side. Spiral steel boning is available in a variety of widths - the wider the boning the stronger it is. However, a wide boning channel, in my opinion, is less attractive than a finer channel. Therefore, all of our boning channels are marked for 0.6cm wide spiral steel boning. If necessary, you can adjust the widths of your boning channels to accommodate larger sizes. Spiral steel boning usually comes on the roll and does not come in pre-tipped cut-to-size lengths, which means you will need a pair of sturdy wire cutters and some matching metal tips (usually sold with the boning). Attaching these tips can be tricky as they require pressing with two pairs of pliers. There are numerous tutorials on how to do this online. TUTORIAL LINK?
Other boning types, such as Rigelene, flat steel or plastic boning, are available - many articles and comparisons on their use and possible benefits can be found online. Try this link to find out more: https://corsetmaking.com/category/boning-information.html