Slanted Corset Pt.1 (pattern drafting)

Ever since the Insect Wing corset I’ve been kind of obsessed with modifying a corset pattern to make a design out of different fabric sections. So this is round 2 of me making life harder for myself.

Step 1: The Design

A sketch of the corset
Drawing was never my forte.

After sketching a few ideas involving complicated patterns of stripes and weird angular edges I actually settled on something simpler. Four or five slanted sections layered horizontally. I initially intended to use a dragon-print fabric for some of the parts (that’s what the scraggly lines are, don’t judge my drawing abilities). But after having another look at the fabric the fit did not seem great for this design. And I’d always wanted to work with mesh, so this was the perfect excuse. Replace dragons with mesh, replace the other sections with… oh hey I have some beautiful faux leather left over from my bag project *cough* which I swear I will finish some time this millenium *cough*. And also since clothes with lights in them are better than clothes without lights in them and I have some electroluminescent(EL) wire lying around ‘in case I need it’, let’s run a light-up trim along the horizontal lines. I saw some tutorials in which they hand-stitch it down but that seems like a nightmare, so I think I’ll sew it into some translucent or netted fabric and then sew that in as a trim. No idea if it will work. It’s a first time for a lot of things.

Step 2: A normal pattern

I started out making a fresh normal corset pattern. Partially because I figured that by reducing the number of panels from 6 to 5 per side (compared to the previous project) would be easier, and because I wanted to fine-tune my method of adapting historical patterns to my own size. I based it on a victorian pattern in Norah Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines. I opened a scan of the page on my computer to more easily draw on it and measure in pixels rather than holding my ruler up to the page. I marked the bust, waist and hip line and basically calculated what portion of each of those measurements was in each half of each pattern piece. This captures the general shape of the pieces. I then used those proportions to scale it to my own measurements. This is not an exact science because all bodies are different. For example you are scaling a pattern that was originally meant for a lady with a large chest, a lot of the bust measurement will end up on the panels that are in the front of the corset, while on a skinnier person the total measurement would be more evenly distributed. So after doing the math I moved a few seam lines to make a more sensible pattern.

Step 3: A slanted pattern

I then stitched together a mock-up out of some cotton canvas and after checking and altering the fit slightly I drew on the lines for the sections. On the Insect Wing corset I would have then cut up the mock up and traced it, but here, because the lines need to connect very precisely I instead simply measured the distance from the top at every seam and marked them on my paper pattern. To make sure the parts form a smooth line, I lined up the pieces and temporarily held them together with some removable tape while drawing one long line through all of them. Because the pieces are curved and fit together differently in different parts of the corset, I would then unstick them and tape a different part together for the next line.

Here you can also see that some parts that were separate before can now be joined together. For example the top half of panel 3 and 4 are straight lines, and with the bottom half cut off to form another section, they can be taped together and treated as one piece without losing any of the shape. By doing this I was able to reduce the number of total pattern pieces quite a lot.

After cutting all the original panels up and sticking some of the pieces together into new sections, ths was the pattern I was left with. I made another mock-up to double check whether everything works. This was probably not entirely necessary because I knew the original pattern fit and nothing had changed about the shape and I only rearranged the seams. It did give me some practice in putting this together and it allowed me to test whether the top section was uhh…covering me appropriately (I did end up adding ~4cm to the top to be able to safely raise my arms, so the effort was not wasted).

I ran through some of this process on a livestream that you can still view from my Facebook page:

Corset pattern drafting

Posted by Maybe This Will Work on Sunday, 26 January 2020

With the pattern ready, it is now time to start making the real deal, but that will be another story for another post.

EDIT: Part 2 is now up!