14
May
08

Creating the Corset

I’ve started working on the corset for Bonnie’s White Dress.  I used McCall’s pattern 4109 (view C) as my starting point, primarily because I already owned this pattern.  M4109 is an overbust corset, and of course we had decided to create an underbust corset, but I figured this was fine since regardless of what pattern I started with, I was going to need to alter the top edge so that it matched the pattern pieces for the dress bodice.

I started by selecting the pattern size based on Bonnie’s waist measurement (since the bust part wouldn’t be used in the end), and I traced and cut the pattern pieces in their original shape and size.  I then cut and basted together a quick muslin, using leftover linen from my first 50’s dress (I needed something stiffer than my diaper twill, and this was the strudiest fabric I had on hand already that I could part with).  The result was a loose, baggy, and downright frumpy looking corset.  This is the second time I’ve used this pattern, and it turned out insanely loose the last time as well (though at the time I blamed myself and assumed I had miscalculated the figure modifications I made).  I will remember in the future that the pattern runs larger than I want, and base my sizing on the finished garment measurements rather than the size chart.

In addition to being too large overall, the corset also widened far too high above the hips (which actually makes sense, since Bonnie has a longer torso than most women her size and height).  So, I pulled out the seams and recut my pattern pieces and fabric to a smaller size, and also adjusted a bit for that extra fullness where we didn’t need it.  The result, shown here, was a corset that fit the dress form much better (though not yet perfectly).

I didn’t actually expect to get a perfect fit while the corset still stretched over the bust of my dress form, so I put off more detailed fit modifications until after reshaping the top of the corset.  To get a line that would match up with the dress bodice, I used the final version of our pattern for the black and blue dress and pinned it right on top of the corset, and traced the line right on to my muslin.  Then I picked apart the muslin once again and traced the new lines onto the pattern pieces, checked and double checked that I’d done it right, and recut the pattern pieces and fabric.  I transferred markings from the top part of the pattern pieces to the area below the cut.  And I sewed the whole muslin together a third time!

From there I got into nit picky fit adjustments.  It involved a lot of trial and error.  I sewed a zipper into the back of the corset so I could put it on my dress form correctly.  Then I put it on the dress form and fiddled around with it a bit (pulling the loose areas tighter along one of the pairs of seams or another) to decide where I wanted to take it in.  I took it off the dress form, took in the seams, put it back on, and checked it again.  I ripped out a few of the new seams, tried taking in different spots instead, until I got the fit I wanted.  Also, the original pattern had a very blunt curve to the waist in the front, and we want more of a pointed waistline.  I redrew the pattern front and middle front pieces to come down more, cut new fabric, ripped the old pieces out and sewed the new ones in.  And I altered the pattern a bit more after the point I was at when I took this last photo.  I also decided that I don’t want that front center seam, so I cut away the seam allowance from the pattern piece and marked it to be cut on the fold.

There are probably one or two more tweeks I’ll make to it, once Bonnie comes to try it on, but I believe it’s very nearly ready!  Just for kicks, here’s a comparison of the original pattern, and what I ended up with:

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