I made a lot of progress on the corset Sunday. The body is now fully assembled, and all the cording has been inserted.
The first task of the evening was to reinforce the points of the bust gores with hand stitching. I used an up-down buttonhole stitch, which is also what I am planning to use on the few eyelets I stitch by hand. I’ll post about the specific hand stitch later, along with illustrations.
I then turned my attention to finishing the assembly of the body of the corset. The back panel is attached to the side panel in exactly the same way the side panel is attached to the front panel with one very minor difference.
When you bone, cord, or reed a corset, some width is lost due to the minute amount of fabric that travels out and then back in around the boning. With a lightly boned corset this difference is too small to worry about, as the lacing gap compensates nicely. However, when you have a corset with a lot of boning channels it can add up to a great amount of difference. The difference will vary depending upon the precise boning used, but on average I have found that I loose about 1/4″ of width for every 20 channels. Since there are a lot of cording channels in this corset, I wanted to add some fabric width to compensate for the fabric width lost to channels. It didn’t need to be much, so I stitched the side panel / back panel seam at 3/8″ instead of 1/2″, effectively adding back 1/4″ of width at the back of the armpit.
I then smoothed out the two layers of the panel and pinned the outer edge.
I made the first stitch (to stabilize the two layers) at the outer boundary of what will be the grommet line. I left only 1/2″ seam allowance over the edge. In hindsight, I should have made it about 1.5″ wide so it would fold back far enough to reinforce the grommets, but it’s too late for that.
After securing the layers, I folded under the raw edge and stitched the cording channel. It will have two channels to the outside of the grommets. The raw edge of the panel will be covered by the lining later.
To give the back panel some strength and help prevent buckling at the grommets, there are seven cording channels inside the grommet line. I also stitched two more cord channels alongside the seam.
I attached the shoulder straps before inserting the cording so the bulk would not cause any interference. If your cording pattern includes cording that ends at the shoulder strap, it should be attached after cording.
In the above photo, both layers of the shoulder strap are lined up, wrong sides out, like was done with the seams between the body panels.
Unlike with the body panels, I slightly trimmed the inner layers of fabric so they will lay more smoothly against the shoulder.
I then turned out the shoulder straps and top-stitched to hold them in place.
I also at this point finished sewing together all the panel pieces of the lining, but I did not take a picture. It’s normal garment assembly because there is only one layer of material. The only difference is that I stitched the side panel / back panel seam at 3/8″ rather than 1/2″ so it will match up to the outer body layers. I would rather have a little extra give in the lining than too little.
After that I turned my attention to another item which will need pre-washing, the padding for the shoulder straps. The recipient of the corset requested extra padding to help make the shoulder straps more comfortable. Ideally I would have used 100% wool felt, but I could not find any at two different fabric stores. Instead, I went with the economy option, felt crafting squares. They are 100% polyester, so they won’t hold up in a washing machine on their own merit. Thus, I created the quilted pads before pre-washing, and I will cut them to size once they are pre-shrunk.
The above photo shows three layers of felt, staggered so it’s thicker in the middle than the outside. The felt is then sandwiched between muslin scraps.
The below photo shows the layers quilted with large zig-zag stitching, and then roughly trimmed. I will be pre-washing this in hot water along with some cotton taffeta ribbon for the edging. That way I know for sure if it can survive washing, and can cut it out to fit the shoulder straps after shrinking.
I then put away the sewing machine and inserted the cording into the back panels. This is how the corset looks right now. It still needs the busk pocket, edging, grommeting, and to finish the shoulder straps.
Project: Regency Corset