Assembling the Panels
When assembling the panels to each other, I always start at Panel 1.
Place your first pins matching the waist dots and the top and bottom edges at seam depth.
After those first three pins are in place, ease the curves of the two panels together and pin as frequently as needed to keep the edges even.
Set your machine to a very small stitch width. I typically use a “2”. Stitch your seam, going very slowly down the entire length of the seam. It is much easier to sew precisely around all curves at a slow speed. Stitch very slowly and wait until the last possible moment to remove the pins so the fabric will shift as little as possible.
If you intend to iron open your seams, or if you just want to make your corset extra strong, lock-stitch after pulling the pins. Lock stitching is when you stitch back over a seam that has already been sewn, further securing the seam and the first layer of stitching.
I almost never iron open my seams. Instead, I fold the seam allowance to one side, and stitch it in place using a top stitch about 1/8″ from the main seam. This places the pressure of the garment on the grain of the fabric, rather than on a stitched seam.
If you are using open seams (not the folded seams shown below), iron them open with a hot, dry iron.
If you are folding the seams, iron them to the side before top-stitching. This ensures the seam allowance doesn’t curl or bunch up under the seam. If you do find that some of your seam allowance is bunched under the seam, pull the stitches, re-iron, and top stitch it again.
After the first Panel 1,2 seam has been sewn, attach the second Panel 2 and fold its seam allowance in the same direction as the first. It is critical that all seam allowances for each half be folded in the same direction so that the bulk of the seam allowances do not end up on the same side of the seam.
To test this, when your panel looks like the one below fold it at the center of Panel 1 where the grommeted edge will be. Line up both Panel 1,2 seams. If they were both folded in the same direction with the panels laid out flat, once they are lined up one of them will face the back edge, and the other will face forward.
Stitch together Panels 1 and 2 for the other half of the corset.
Only after all four pieces of each panel have been sewn to the growing corset halves should the next set of panels be added. This helps to save confusion regarding which panel has been sewn to which, where, and when. There are few things as frustrating to the beginning corset-maker as staring at a mixed up pile of very similar-looking panels and not knowing where they belong.
As you go along, be sure to use as many pins as needed to keep the edges of the two panels even. If a curve is very sharp, you will need more pins. If one piece has a sharp curve and the other is nearly straight, you will need a lot of pins. There are times when I place a pin every 1/4″ or so before sewing the seam.
Don’t forget to stitch the seam allowances so they all fold in the same direction.