Posts Tagged ‘Pattern Drafting’

It has been awhile since my last post, largely because I have spent the last two months working on a new Victorian wardrobe for myself. I have had plans to make an early 1870’s gown and undergarments for a long time and I have finally begun!

info (Source below).

1880’s corset in herringbone woven cotton, trimmed with dark red cotton embroidery and machine embroidered edging. (Source below.)

One of the most important aspects of this new wardrobe was designing and making a corset from this era, as it is needed to provide the correct shape for the outer clothes. I finally decided on a 1880 style of corset that I could use fairly safely for the 1870’s.


I used the pattern drafting tutorial at Foundations Revealed to drafted my own pattern based on my measurements. This tutorial is perfectly suited to creating Victorian style corsets.

A late 1880's corset. From Norah Waugh's "Corsets and Crinolines".

A late 1880’s corset, from Norah Waugh’s “Corsets and Crinolines”.

Norah Waugh’s “Corsets and Crinolines” 1880’s corset pattern provided a guide to panel shapes and placement. There were 5 panel pieces on each side: Front, Side Front, Side, Side Back and Back.

I used two layers of white coutil, with the boning sandwiched between the layers. I added a floating lining of white cotton lawn. I used a combination of spiral steel boning and flat steel boning, with the flat steel being used on either side of the eyelets, behind the split busk pieces at the centre front, and directly next to the busk pieces. I used a straight busk, rather than the spoonbill busk in “Corsets and Crinolines”.

These are my pattern pieces, without seam allowances included,

These are my pattern pieces, without seam allowances included. The front was cut twice with a seam allowance on all edges, and then once with the centre front on the fold. All other pieces were cut 4 times with seam allowances added.

When cutting out the pieces, it is a very good idea to number each panel, mark the waistline, and mark the upper/top edge on each piece.


For the construction of this corset, I closely followed the instructions by Sidney Eileen on making a basic two-layer corset. For that reason I won’t detail all the specifics of what I did, but instead give you a general overview.

Step One: I began by sewing the busk in place. (How to insert a busk – by Sidney Eileen).

Step Two: Making sure I matched the waistline marks, I sewed all the panels together. The coutil lining layer was also attached at this stage. The end result is that you have two halves of a corset, that can be joined by the busk pieces.

The only seams not sewn are the side front seams.

The seams being sewn. The lining is attached to the outer layer on the centre back seams (far left and far right). The side front seams are the next ones to be sewn in this picture.

Step Three: I attached some 1 inch herringbone tape for the waist tape. (How to add waist tape to a corset – by Sidney Eileen.)

The waist tape is being attached to each seam allowance so that no stitching is seen on the outside.

The waist tape is being attached to each seam allowance so that no stitching is seen on the outside.

Step Four: The boning channels were sewn, and I also added some herringbone tape along the centre back edges (in between the layers), to act as a support for the grommets. The bones were also inserted here.

The boning channels have been sewn in.

The boning channels have been sewn in.

Step Five: I corded the front panels, as was often seen in this era. Having tried on the corset beforehand, I now realise that this cording was not just decorative, but provided extra support to the fabric as it holds the bust in place.

1880 corset cording

In order to cord the very tightly woven coutil, I used a large needle and an awl (and two grippy silicone thimbles) to pull the cotton cording through the channels. The cording channels were all handsewn.

Step Six: Next I set the grommets (Size 0) with a grommet setter, and laced the corset using the standard Victorian style of lacing. (How to lace a corset – by Sidney Eileen.)

Grommets and lacing completed

Grommets and lacing completed, the back view of the finished product.

Step Seven: I did some featherstitch embroidery on the boning channels at the sides, and did corset flossing to hold the bones in place. (How to Floss a Corset – by Sidney Eileen.)

The corset flossing detail

The corset flossing detail

Step Eight: The floating lining was pinned in place, with the raw edges at centre front and centre back turned under and handsewn down. The binding was sewn on the outside through all thicknesses and then turned to the inside to be handsewn down.

The lining is pinned down and the binding attached, ready to handsew down.

The lining is pinned down and the binding attached and turned to the inside, ready to handsew down.

The very last thing I did was to handsew some lace, threaded with ribbon, around the top edge of the corset. Very Victorian!

Here are the finished pictures! I can comfortably lace the corset down to 28 inches at the waist, and I have used this measurement for making the rest of my Victorian wardrobe.

The front view

The front view

1880 corset side

The side view

My next garment in my list to make will be my Victorian chemise.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: How to Draft a Corset – Regency Corset

My Regency Journey: Corset Construction

A Victorian Bustle

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Augusta Auctions.

Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh – buy on Amazon

Draft Your Own Corset Pattern – by Foundations Revealed

Corset Making Tutorials – by Sidney Eileen

Cording Tutorial

Feather stitch embroidery – by Rocksea & Sarah

Read Full Post »

The first stop on my Regency Journey is drafting the pattern for my Regency corset. I did a short corset-making course a few years ago, where I learnt the art of moulage in dressmaking, and I will be putting some of those skills to good use!

A moulage is essentially a mould of an individual’s upper body, obtained by their body measurements. An adjustable dressmakers dummy works well as a moulage (however the vertical dimensions of the dummy are not usually adjustable). The moulage can then be used to form a sloper, which is basically a two-dimensional pattern of this body shape, designed to fit the body like a glove. The sloper can then be used to draft practically any pattern by merely changing the design features.

For instance, once you know how big the waist is and how far above the hip line it sits, you can make a skirt with any feature (pockets, thick waistband, full-skirted, etc…) to fit these body dimensions, merely by changing the design of the pattern.

Using some of these techniques, I will be drafting a Regency corset pattern to fit me! The benefit of this is that the resulting garment is very comfortable and should fit soundly.

Whilst I have completed a short-course in corset-making, I am unfortunately no expert in the area of drafting patterns. One day I would love to learn the art of pattern drafting more thoroughly.

Steps to Drafting a Corset Pattern

Step One: Take your circumference measurements (of bust, waist and hips). Also take the vertical measurements, i.e. how far apart your bust line is from your waistline and your hipline. I also took my under-bust measurement. A bust separation measurement (the distance between the nipples) is also useful to help with the bust gusset placement.

Image Source: Readers Digest – Complete Guide to Sewing

Step Two: Mark them out on a sheet of paper. You will have three horizontal lines representing the position of your bust, waist and hips. The lines should be the same distance apart vertically that they are on your body. (But the length of these lines are irrelevant, i.e. the length of the line representing the waist should not be the circumference of the waist. Instead, just make them long.)

My three measurements (red horizontal lines): Bust, Waist, Hips.

Step Three: Begin to draw your pattern. I have conveniently skipped over the making-a-sloper part, and moved straight to the pattern drafting! At this point, it is important to determine the particular design features of your corset. An eighteenth century corset looks different to a nineteenth century one, so look carefully at the design features you want to include.

My pattern design (blue outline)

Some Regency design features of this pattern include: gussets to enable a breast cup, hip gussets, a busk in centre front (to increase rigidity), and shoulder straps (not shown). The actual gussets (which are triangular-shaped pieces designed to be inserted to give shape to a garment) are not shown here, but the vertical slits where they will be inserted are. I decided to partially make my corset and fit the gussets and straps once I could try it on.

Some tips in sketching out your pattern:

  • Patterns are usually drawn without seam allowances first, and then these are added later.
  • They are also usually drawn next to each other in the way they will be sewn.
  • Divide your circumference measurements (of bust, waist and hips) in half (as the pattern will only deal with half of your body). Use these halved numbers to help you make the pattern fit your body. For instance, if you add up the waist measurements of each pattern piece, they should add up to your halved waist circumference to fit correctly because you usually cut two of each piece.
  • For this particular pattern, the gussets in both the hipline and bustline change the measurements required. I allowed for two 5cm breast gussets on each side (so I subtracted 10cm from my halved bust measurement), and one 10cm hip gusset on each side (a subtraction of 10cm from my halved hip measurement).

You can use this method with any corset design. This is a Regency corset (1815), but I have also used this same procedure with a Rococo corset (1750) and a Victorian corset (mid-1800’s).

Step Four: Once your pattern is drawn accurately and matches your body measurements, overlay another piece of paper on top and trace the pattern pieces. Add the seam allowances (1.5cm is fairly standard).  Add the grainline, which is usually perpendicular to the waistline, unless you are cutting pieces on the bias. If you are cutting a piece on the bias, the grainline will run 45 degrees from the waistline. You could also add notches or some other guide to help you position the pieces correctly for sewing (I didn’t do this).

Tip: Use a dressmaker’s dummy to place your pattern pieces against to double check your measurements. I found this very useful for armhole placement (and to give myself the confidence that I had done it right!). The downside to this is that sometimes the dummy does not have the correct vertical body measurements.

Step Five: Cut out your pattern pieces, pin them on your material and you are ready to cut it out and begin your fabric work!

My pattern pieces pinned down, with seam allowances added.

The next step on My Regency Journey is constructing the corset!

Go to My Regency Journey to view all of my posts in order.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: In the beginning…

How to Make a Regency Poke Bonnet in Ten Steps

Relevant Links

History of Corsets – This site contains many corset designs from different eras

Achieving a proper fit with Regency stays – by Oregon Regency Society

Examples and pictures of Regency era underwear – Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion

An example of Using moulage to draft a Regency corset pattern – Sempstress

Draft Your Own Corset Pattern – by Foundations Revealed (The topic is Victorian corsets, but the same principles apply.)

Jane Austen Festival – website

Read Full Post »