Fabric-Based Ribbon Corset – Part 1

I am currently in the process of making a fabric-based, Edwardian ribbon corset.  It’s made with one or two layers of coutil (depending upon the part of the corset), and silk cover fabric in pink and very light peach.

This first image is the scale drawing for the pattern.  each side will have five panels, with the two ribbon “panels” giving it all the shape.  The front panel will hold the busk, the back panel will hold the grommets, and the side panel will be boned.  The corset’s figure is drawn as though the two last sections will be whole panels, with the locations of the ribbons roughly drawn in.  I also made a note to myself that there should be at least a 1/2″ of overlap, which is something I did not do with the full-scale pattern, but should have.

I drew out the full scale ribbon “panels” on butcher paper and fully defined the visible shapes of the ribbon pieces.  What is shown here are the visible portions of the ribbons, not their full sizes with overlap.

I traced each of the above sillhouettes, and added overlap and seam allowance.  I added 1/2″ seam allowances to the front and back ends of each “ribbon”, a 3/8″ overlap, and a 3/8″ seam allowance on the top and bottom sides of each “ribbon”.  I also marked the overlap point of each piece, its top side and inside (the side that will be sewn to the side panel), and it’s panel number.  “F” stands for “front”, and “B” stands for “back”.

I cut two layers of coutil for the busk panels, back panels, and side panels.  I also cut pink silk cover material.

For the “ribbons”, it was a total of 2 coutil and 2 silk for each piece.  That means each final “ribbon” will consist of one layer of coutil and one layer of silk.

The first step was to assemble the “ribbon” pieces.  With marked sides together (I was careful to mark inside the seam allowances, not on the visible body), I stitched the long sides of each ribbon with a 3/8″ seam allowance.

After sewing all the “ribbons”, I turned them and ironed them flat.  I slightly rolled the pieces so the visible edge of each ribbon would be entirely silk, while a slight peak of coutil on the other side would be hidden in the overlap.  The purpose of this was entirely to ensure the coutil does not peek out when the corset is worn.

After ironing, I edge stitched each “ribbon” to ensure it would lay flat and even, and to help ensure none of the stitches will come loose.

Next I pinned the front ribbons to the side panel, matching the edges (1/2″ seam allowance on both the ribbons and the side panel) and being careful to keep the even overlap that was drafted.

The back side of the pieces pinned to the side panel.

I stitched the seam at 1/2″, removed the pins, and stitched it again to make sure it holds.  Then I pinned the back side ribbons and stitched them into place.

After all the ribbons were secured to the side panel, I stitched several rows to fully secure the ribbons so they will not pull free when the corset is worn.

To finish the side panel, I ironed over the 1/2″ seam allowance of the other coutil layer and cover material.

Then I top-stitched the cover/coutil in place.

In the image above, you can very faintly see a line of white chalk down the center of the panel.  That was my guide for the first boning channel seam.  I double-stitched each seam, working my way to either side of the panel, creating 1/4″ boning channels.

That’s all for tonight.  Next I will be attaching the back panels and busk panels.  The boning will be inserted after all the pieces are assembled.

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