In this tutorial I discuss how to fit and take out a dart at the bust to reduce the bust size on a corset. In the example corset shown, I removed a little more than one cup size from the bust. The bust is a low-stress area of a corset, so darts can easily be removed without damaging the durability and strength of most corsets. Keep in mind that sometimes, depending upon the corset and the intended reduction, this modification may not be possible. Check carefully before cutting into your corset.
The first concern when taking in the bust of a corset is to determine where to place darts, and how many to use. It will depend upon the cut of the corset, the amount of space available between bones, and the amount of fabric that is to be taken out. While wearing the corset, pinch out and secure un-boned fabric around the bust until you achieve a good fit. Make sure the darts match on both sides of the corset. I like using binder clips, but long traditional pins work as well. You can also test the alteration by removing the corset, basting the dart by hand, and trying it back on. Be sure to mark the lowest point of the dart.
After removing the corset, mark the darts with chalk or pencil and then remove the binder clips or pins. Check both sides of the corset to make sure the darts are in identical positions relative to the boning. Move your marks so they match, but retain the size of the darts. Stitch your final marks with small stitches. Pay particular attention that the stitches at the bottom of the dart are strong (backstitch). You don’t want any layers of the corset to pull free while working with the dart.
Mark a center line in each dart, and stitch a close “V” around that center line. These stitches will keep all the layers together while you are working on the corset. If your dart is particularly wide and you intend to trim down the inside, stitch at the intended trim depth. I recommend leaving between 1/4″ and 1/2″ un-trimmed.
Slash the dart down the center and trim if desired. Leave at least 1/4″ of fabric where possible.
Line up the edges of the darts, overlapping the two sides. Carefully pin or baste them together, and then stitch through all layers. Where the dart has very little overlap, I recommend a wide zig-zag stitch, as it will involve more fabric in the seam and help to prevent later pulling.
Do the same thing to all darts, and you have reduced the bust. Try it on to make certain of the fit and adjust if necessary.
Now what is left is to hide the ugly overlap. Exactly how you want to do this will depend upon the look of your corset. In this case, the corset already had some ribbon embroidery, so I decided to cover the overlap with wide ribbon and adorn it with some more embroidery. The other advantage to covering it with ribbon is added strength to the area.
With the raw edge up, I stitched down the ribbon below the dart. This way it could be folded up and hide the raw edge.
I stitched down both sides of the ribbon along the length, and duplicated the process on the inside of the corset.
The next image shows the outside of the corset after the ribbon has been applied in and out. It’s not very pretty at this point, but I intended to cover it from the beginning, so I wasn’t concerned that the stitches line up exactly.
When the decorations are complete, the modification looks like an originally intended part of the corset’s design.
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