How I make my corsets (Waterdress, bonus part 4)

Guys, you won’t believe what happened! Well, thanks to the post’s title you might have guessed it, but I found the progress pictures of my Waterdress’s bodice that I thought I had lost! I had taken them with my digital camera and completely forgotten about them. They had been on its memory card the whole time. 😀

Thrilled with the discovery of them, I’m proud to present you the bonus part 4 on the making of my Waterdress. Today I’m going to take you behind the scenes with how I make the base layer of my corsets!

And by the way, it’s been almost a month since the last post. One of the biggest things to blame for is a computer game called Slime rancher… I’ve kind of developed an addiction to it. If you haven’t heard of it but love cute creatures and exploring new territories, I suggest you google it. My addiction has taken me so far that I even plan on creating fanart based the on gameplay… (Aside from the game, I’ve faced some tragedies in my personal life, which resulted in two weeks of not being able to do anything, not sewing nor blogging. You probably know how intense sorrow takes creativity away.)


Anyhow, the pictures and words I’ve got to share today are really, really late, considering they should have preceded part 1 of Waterdress that was published in April. The reason I think this will be useful to write anyway is that I have made every corset/fitting bodice so far the same way as this one.

The biggest inspiration and teacher on corset making for me has been the great Angela Clayton. What makes this tutorial different from the posts of hers, is that I cut some corners and use zip ties instead of plastic boning. But I still think it’s important to give credits to the ones who have taught you, which is why I had to mention her before I begin.

I like to make three layers to all my corsets: base layer, lining and the front-most layer. My favorite options for base are cotton and linen because they breathe and keep their shape. For the Waterdress I cut the base layer from pink linen (color is due to limited options in my stash).


I also like to press metallic grommets to the back of the corset, which is why I always use the strongest of my fabrics for the back pieces. They’re the blue pieces seen above, it’s upholstery fabric from Ikea ;). To strengthen the pieces even more, I also iron heavy interfacing to them, what makes it hard to put the grommets in place, but bright side is that my grommets have never fallen off, neither has the fabric frayed around them.

I sew the base layer together by machine.


A look from the interior.


I always iron the seams open before I begin sewing on the boning channels. That is because I have found that zip ties give the best support when sewn straight on top of the seams, not in the middle of the pieces. I still have the corset that taught me that lesson, and one day I’m going to write little something on it, too.


Ah, but the boning channels… This is where I start to cut corners.

I make my bias-cut strips sometimes from fabric that’s been cut perpendicular to the selvages. Which is why they shouldn’t be called bias-cut at all… But that way I don’t waste as much fabric, which I think forgives me this horrid crime against the laws of sewing. It’s also faster to make, plus I haven’t found that boning channels would need any stretch at all. (Unless you sew them to curved seams, then the stretch might be useful, but as you will see in a minute, zip ties work great for curved seams that can be pressed flat.)


I cut the boning channels slightly shorter than the bodice. The bottom edge is left open for the zip ties.


A look from the front.


To give the grommets the best support I possibly can, I attach pieces of boning on both sides of the place I plan to press them later on. The outer boning channel is easier to make by folding seam allowances of the back panel inward and securing them with zigzag (straight stitch would be impossible to get exactly on the edge).


As I mentioned before, I replace plastic boning by zip ties. I prefer using them because more easily accessible where I live and they are cheaper but work just as well. There are many sorts of zip ties out there, but the ones I use are ~40 cm long and one centimeter thick.

I also cut the zip ties to be a little shorter than the channels themselves.


The locking mechanism need to be cut off before use, of course.


Like this! Instead of leaving the cut edge as is, I cut the sharp points off, which results in the arrow-like result below. I don’t use any finishing to soften the point, for I have found that when cut this way, zip ties don’t cause any harm to skin (bruises, etc.) Plus, they will be inserted to the channels that prevent any direct contact all the same.


In the Waterdress project, the two longest channels were too long for just one zip tie, so I duct taped little pieces on the longer ones to extend them. I trust the duct tape to hold, but I wouldn’t wash it in a machine… Not that I would wash zip tied corsets in the machine anyway (hand-wash only, yey!).


Also when sewing this base for the Waterdress, I noticed that the front needed more support, which is why I had to add one more boning channel in the middle.

After all the zip ties have been inserted, I stitch the channels shut by machine, careful not to sew over the zip ties of course.


At this point the base of the corset is done. Whether I want to make the corset an independent garment or part of a dress, I make two more layers using the same pattern, one for lining and one for the front-most layer. To see how I attach the two layers, please take a look at this post here, that continues the making of the Waterdress.

I have been writing about dressmaking for so long that the next thing I’m going to blog about is going to be about something else for sure. I have photographed the self-made replica of Padmé’s japor snippet, so it might be its turn next or then the Frozen inspired footstool cover…

Thank you for reading!


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