After finishing all the cording on your front panel, it is time to attach the side panels.
Sandwich the front panel between the two layers of the side panel, right sides together. Pin all layers together along the seam before stitching.
Note: Before stitching any side seams you have an opportunity to check for fabric width lost to cording. If you put in a lot of vertical cording on the front panel, but didn’t add to your pattern to account for that, compare your finished panel with your pattern piece. If there is a significant difference, make your seam allowance slightly smaller. Shrinking your seam allowance by 1/8″ will give you 1/4″ of added width per side, or 1/2″ of added width total. This should give you any extra width if you need it.
To help ensure the seam is strong, I lock stitched. That is, after sewing the seam I went back along the exact same seam with another line of stitches. While not technically necessary, it does add to the durability of the corset, so I highly recommend doing this. It’s only a problem if you find later you need to pull your stitches for some reason.
Press both layers of the side panel away from the front panel. If possible, ease the seam allowance into the curve using your iron, but if there is a lot of curve you may need to snip the seam allowance so it lays smooth. Top stitch to hold the layers in place. To retain visual consistency, I recommend stitching at the same distance as your channel width. The presence of additional layers (the seam allowance) will create a quilted look similar to the cording. It will also make this area a little stiffer.
Mark your cording design. I decided to use just vertical cording channels here. The pencil marks along the waist are a guideline for cording placement. Since this corset is plus-sized I am fully cording the side to ensure it does not buckle when worn. In many extant corsets there is very little, if any cording on the side.
Pin and stitch your first channels so the layers stay together and even. In this case, I stitched the three channels closest to the open side first.
I also stitched three channels parallel to the front/side panel seam, creating a balanced design across the panel. I wanted the rest of the channels to travel straight down the center of the panel, so the ruler marks the first seam for those cording channels.
The back panel is attached to the side panel in exactly the same way the side panel is attached to the front panel.
Note: I had not added width to the pattern to account for cording, so I added it at this seam by making the seam allowance 1/8″ smaller. That gave me a total added circumference of 1/2″, just about the amount I lost to cording. If you need to, you can also compensate and add width on this seam.
Press out the back panel and top-stitch to secure it in place and add stiffness along the seam.
Smooth out the two layers of the panel and pin the outer edge.
Pin and make the first stitch row (to stabilize the two layers) at the outer boundary of what will be the grommet area.
Note: I left only 1/2″ seam allowance over the back 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 was too late for that on this corset.
Fold under the raw edge by the seam allowance and stitch the cording channels or boning channel (if you are using boning here). I did not press the fabric first, but feel free to do so if that will help you. I decided to make two channels to the outside of the grommets. The raw edge 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. Create as many cording channels as you like. Many extant corsets have very little cording on the back panel, while others are heavily decorated and corded.