Satin Ribbon Corset – Part 1

I am currently working on a tight-lacing, double-satin Edwardian ribbon corset.  Unlike the previous corset, this one is actually made from a spool of 2.25″ wide ribbon.  Coutil will still be used for the busk, grommet pannel, and side panels.  When finished, the corset will also feature a removable bow at the top of the busk.

This corset started out with the same scale patterning as the previous fabric-based ribbon corset.

Unlike the fabric-based corset, the width of the ribbon strips is determined by the ribbon, as is the overlap to a large extent.

Each coutil panel is marked with a dot where it should match up with the edge of a ribbon.  The ribbon “panels” are marked with the upper and lower edges of each piece of ribbon.  On the back, that’s B1, B2, B3, B4, and B5.  On the front, that’s F1, F2, F3, F4, and F5.  The centerline is also marked.

The first thing I did was cut the coutil pieces.  That was one busk panel on the fold, one busk panel with seam allowance, four side panels, and two back panels on the fold.

I marked each piece with the center (noted with a dash) and the ribbon bounding marks.  For the center panel, I marked both sides of two of the pieces so I can more easily reference the marks when lining up the ribbons.  I also marked the top end of each panel to help keep from confusing them.

When creating a corset in this style, make as many written notes on these panels as you need to in order to keep them clear for yourself.  The pieces are all so similar that it is VERY easy to confuse which is which, and what is up and down.

After cutting out the coutil, I cut the ribbon strips.

I strongly recommend cutting and marking all ribbons at the same time.  They are very easily confused, and even moreso when one part is fully assembled and then you try to make the mirror side.  Trust me on this.  I made one quarter first (as a test) and then made the rest of the ribbon pieces.  I ended up making a duplicate of the back panel (instead of a mirror) and waisting about two hours of work.

As you cut the pieces for each ribbon “panel”, stack them separately so you don’t confuse them before sewing them together.

Cut each strip of ribbon with extra length equal to the width of the adjoining coutil panels.  Mark them with the edges and edges of any overlapping ribbon strips.  I also marked each strip with its identifying letter-number on the end that will sew to the side panel.  Whether you mark them this way or not, be sure that you will know which way is up and which end is the front or back.

All the pieces for one back ribbon panel.

For those of you who read the blog about the fabric-based ribbon corset, I highly recommend using the following technique when assembling any ribbon corset. When I was prparing to sew this corset, I had a bit on epiphany/DOH! moment. It’s such a simple change, and makes construction infinitely easier. The only thing I’m upset about is that I didn’t think of it sooner.

Arrange the strips together as a single panel…

…and pin them.

After pinning the ribbons together at the marks (and comparing the panel to your paper patter – it should match exactly), sew along the chalk so you can treat the ribbon strips like one single piece.

Arrange and sew one side, and then the other.  Compare them before stitching the second half, and make sure the are reverses of each other.  That is, with the chalk marks facing up (because both halves were marked from the same pattern), one shoud be stacked with the center ribbon on top.  The second should be stacked with the center ribbon on bottom.

Draw your seam allowance distance on the coutil panel (back panel shown here).  Match the center marks, and line up the stitches on the ribbon panel with the line on the coutil.  Pin to the edges, lining up the stitching with the seam allowance line.

Stitch directly on top of the stitches holding together the ribbons.  Remove the pins.

Fold over the coutil so the seam allowance and the loose ends of the ribbon go across the panel.  Hold the coutil panel tight against the seam and top-stitch to secure.  Try to keep the coutil panel as straight as possible.  Adjust the ribbons as needed so they lay smoothly across the coutil.

Keeping the coutil as straight as possible, quilt down the ribbons across the width of the panel.

Trim the escess and stitch along the edges of the ribbons.  These stitches will prevent the boning from trying to go between the ribbons later on.  If you plan to use boning tape, these stitches are not necessary.

Be careful to keep everything oriented the same direction and pin the center panel to the ribbon panel.  Use the same proceedure as for sewing to the back panel.  Pay very close attention to your front and back sides, up and down orientation, and waistline marks.  Use the extra marks to make sure you are lining everything up properly.  It should all match.

If the curve at the center is too great to allow for the center ribbon strip to lay down flat across the side panel, cut it straight down the middle.  Do not cut all the way to the seam.  Stop about 1/8″-1/4″ from the seam.

Quilt down the ribbon just like with the other panel, taking care to keep the coutil panel straight and adjust the ribbons as needed so they will lay flat.

With the sewn parts of the corset facing up, set the front panel so its back edge is to the center panel.  Make sure the ribbon panel is oriented vertically the same way as the sewn portion, and that it is also facing up.  Double and triple check to make sure both ribbon panels match and are oriented identically.

Pin and check again.

Slash if needed, and quilt to the coutil as before.

NOTE: Do not automatically trim the loose ribbon at the top and bottom of each panel.  Most of the time you will want to fold it over, otherwise the edge of the ribbon will be too short to hold into the coutil.  By folding it over, it won’t pull free.

When I stopped tonight, both halves of the corset were to this stage.  The ribbon is sewn into the back panels and the side panels.

The next WIP will show attaching to the busk panel, which is slightly different from the other panels.  It will probably be next week before I update with more progress on this corset.

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