Overbust corsets are non-conical, non-bra overbust corsets popular for modern wear. Historic periods of use range throughout the Victorian and Edwardian, and include all manner of piecing styles involving panels and gores.
This corset is a bespoke custom commissioned overbust corset. It is made with gored piecing, with burgundy satin cover overlaid with black lace. It is edged with black satin ribbon and has a metal busk, lacing panel, and removable modesty panel.
Black Lace Edwardian Sweetheart
Fabric: Two layers of corset coutil, cover is satin overlaid with black lace, lining 100% cotton broadcloth Edging: Applied lace edging along bottom Bust Panel: Removable bust panel of black satin with black lace overlay and edging Boning: 1/4" and 1/2" flat spring steel bones Piecing: Panels and gores Busk: metal straight busk
A lacing panel is a lightly boned panel that fits underneath corset lacing to provide a fully finished look without skin or undergarments showing down the length of the corset. It is usually a separate piece, but is sometimes sewn to one side of the corset or suspended in the lacing to prevent it from becoming lost. The boning is needed to prevent the panel from collapsing while the corset is tightened, but for the most part it is a low-stress item, so I usually make them with a core of cotton duck. If the corset is not made with a separate cover layer, then I use matching coutil.
There are many different patterns of boning that can be used, and most work equally well. I usually use the pattern in the first illustration below. For smaller figures, ¼” wide bones work well. For larger figures, I advise ½” bones on the sides to help ensure the panel will stay smooth and not buckle vertically. You can also add another bone or two vertically towards the center of the panel.
Another pattern is to create an “X” across the body of the panel. This can work well, but can have a tendency to twist or buckle if the back has very much curve.
The simplest way to ensure the panel stays completely vertical is to place bones vertically along the entire width of the panel.
I have seen other lacing panels created by other corset makers that have very different shapes and boning styles from my own that work just as well. Feel free to experiment, because as long as the panel covers the lacing gap and doesn’t create discomfort, it’s a good lacing panel.
Cutting the Fabric
To determine the size of the core layer, measure the height of the grommetted edge of the corset. This the vertical height of the core layer piece.
If you are placing bones horizontally, the width of the panel will be the length of the horizontal bones plus the widths of the vertical bones. To determine the width of the core fabric when cutting, it is
2(length of horizontal bone + 2(width of vertical bone) + 1/8″ + seam allowance)
If you are using an “X” pattern or a vertical only pattern, I recommend a finished panel width relative to the waist measurement of the corset. It should be at least 5″ wide, and no more than 1/5 of the waist measurement. The width of the core fabric when cutting is twice the finished width, plus twice the seam allowance.
If a cover layer is used, the height of the cover and lining pieces is the same as the core piece. The width of the cover piece is the width of the final panel plus four times the seam allowance. The width of the lining piece is the width of the final panel.
This tutorial describes two different methods for creating a double-busk. The original tutorial describes a minimal pocket for boning. It is found on the second half of this page. The revised tutorial describes creating a full boned panel for behind the busk, the same height as the corset and edged to match.
The first time I made a double-busk for a corset, I was absolutely stunned by the difference in the strength and stability of the busk. A double-busk (also called a backing bone) is quite simply an extra 1/2″ or wider spring steel flat, placed directly behind the busk opening. It serves not only to visually prevent undergarments or skin from peeking through the busk, and also greatly strengthens the busk and helps to prevent the busk from popping open if the wearer is physically active, particularly with more ample figures.
Complete Panel Pocket
The images shown are for a corset with coutil core, herringbone cover, and white muslin lining. The edging in this case is cotton tafetta ribbon, but you will want to use whatever edging is used on the body of the corset. You can also use an alternate strength layer if desired. The backing panel is not under pressure, so it does not require especially sturdy material.
A backing panel can be added to a corset at any time after it is finished, even years later. If you plan to include a backing panel in a new corset, add it after finishing the edging on the corset. The added bulk of the backing panel can prevent edging in the busk area, especially on a home machine.
You will need two layers of core material, (optional) one layer of cover material, and (optional) one layer of lining material. The strips are about 1/2″ longer than the front of the corset and 2.5″ wide. I am using 1/2″ spring steel boning for my backing, and 1/2″ seam allowance. You will want to adjust the width to suit your seam allowance and chosen boning. The formula to determine the width of material is (boning width) + 4x(seam allowance). In my case that is .5" + 4x.5" = .5" + 2" = 2.5"
Any sturdy boning 1/2″ or wider will work well. Spring steel is ideal. Spiral boning will not add any stability, but it will hide garments or skin from peeking through the busk. The bone should ideally be the same length as your busk, but it will still work if it is a little shorter. When your backing bone is shorter orient it towards the bottom of the panel.
Stack your layers wrong side out with the lining and cover sandwiched between the core material. Stitch a seam down the length on one side.
Fold open and press the seam.
Fold the layers back in on the seam, press, and edge-stitch.
Create the boning channel by first stitching at seam allowance, and then again at a width appropriate to your boning.
Fold in the raw edges of the fabric, press, and edge stitch.
Insert and secure the boning. Then line it up with the busk and mark the length of the panel.
Edge stitch inside the marks and trim the ends. I usually curve the edges slightly so the corners are sure to stay hidden behind the corset.
Cut a length of edging material about 2″ longer than the raw edge. Stitch it onto the cover side of the panel at the depth of the edging on your corset. If you are using bias edging, the edge of the bias tape should be flush with the edge of the panel.
Fold the edging to the back and top-stitch it in place from the cover side of the panel. After sewing it should look something like this on the inside.
After finishing the binding at both ends, your backing panel should look something like this.
Take the peg side of your busk and line up the backing panel so it is flush with the top and bottom, and the bone is half-way out from the edge of the busk. Stitch it in place alongside the busk.
Be sure to attach the backing panel to the peg side of the busk. If you attach it to the hook side it will severely interfere with opening and closing the busk.