Waist tape is twill tape, tailor’s tape, or other sturdy ribbon used to re-enforce the waistline of a corset. It’s not essential, but it does increase the durability of a corset by easing stress on the seams along the the highest stress point – the waist line. I typically use tailor’s tape, also called twill tape, which is a 100% cotton herringbone weave ribbon. It comes in black and white and many different widths, but I typically use 5/8″ wide or 7/8″ wide tape. If the corset has a significant curve at the waist, wider tape will sometimes create a distinct line along the waist, because there is very little stretch to curve with the corset.
There are many different ways to include waist tape in your corset, but it should always follow the waist line with no slack or tension, and should always continue around the front and back edges of the corset.
Most often, waist tape is applied to the inside of the corset where it won’t be visible when worn. If you are using a double-layer core, I recommend applying the waist tape between the two layers before they are sandwiched together. If you are adding a lining at the end of construction, apply the waist tape to the inside and cover it with the lining later.
I typically add waist tape before boning, because the additon of the boning channels will also stitch over the waist tape, further securing it in place. When initially securing the waist tape, if the stitches will be hidden later you can just use normal sturdy stitches. I recommend stitching close to the seam lines, lining up the waist tape with the waistline marks of the panels.
There are two easy ways to prevent visible stitches if sturdy stitches will not be hidden later. In either case, the waist tape MUST be applied before the boning channels, because the boning channels will be the primary means of keeping the waist tape in place.
For the first method, stitch to the seam allowance of the panels, rather than to the body of the corset, as illustrated below.
The second method uses large basting stitches which are removed after the boning channels are in place. Below is an inside and an outside view of basting the waist tape. I recommend using a contrasting thread color, to help with removal later.
If you want to add waist tape to a completed corset, it can also be added to the outside of the corset. If it is for underwear use, it can be tacked with sturdy stitches between the boning. If the corset is outerwear, use a contrasting or complementary colored high-quality ribbon, like double-satin or grosgrain, and apply decorative stitching over the sturdy stitching to give it a finished look.
No matter what, be sure to bring the tape around the leading and following edges of the corset panel, so the waist tape will be as effective as possible.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this information useful.