Welcome back folks, today we’re talking corselette construction!
Firstly, I need to give a big shout out to Laura Mae at Lilacs and Lace as her post on corselette construction here is absolutely excellent and formed the basis of what I ended up doing. Thank you Laura Mae! There are not many resources out there on corselettes so do read Laura Mae’s very informative post if you are thinking of doing something like this yourself.
I also read Susan Khalje’s “Bridal Couture” from cover to cover (it’s OOP – HOW IS IT OOP???!! – and very expensive online but Clare was kind enough to lend me her copy – and to show me her wonderful wedding dress that she made in person!). This book is highly recommended to anyone thinking of making their own dress as it covers every aspect of construction. Some of the styles are a little dated but the information is brilliant.
Here’s my muslin for the corselette section, which is loosely based on Burda 02/2011 #113, extended to the high hip and with a few other tweaks.
Note that I used an invisible zip here as the least bulky option. I hadn’t heard that you are apparently not supposed to use them in wedding dresses because they are apparently not strong enough (I read that somewhere recently). For what it’s worth, my dress used two invisible zips, one in the corselette and one in the dress itself and they were absolutely fine. Anything other than a concealed zip down the centre back would have ruined the line of the dress, IMO.
Here’s how it looked under the dress muslin – I trimmed away a bit of what was showing through the armholes in the final version.
The corselette itself is made from a very sturdy cotton coutil, which is the stuff used in corsets. It’s brilliant stuff and easy enough to manipulate with steam. It’s also extremely strong, with absolutely zero stretch or give whatsoever.
It has a herringbone pattern to the weave which is lovely.
I cut some foam cups from an old bra to add a bit of support and give a nicer shape.
Here’s how it looks with the foam in – not much different.
I used the same cotton covered plastic boning I put into the underskirt. I added it on every seamline and in some other places too, just to be sure.
For a waist stay, I used some navy ribbon that came on a Christmas present from my (now) mother in law. It also functions as my ‘something blue’!
The waist stay is sewn to the shell of the corselette at several points around the waist line, leaving the ends free.
Here’s how it looked at this point.
You can see I took a wedge out of the back and side pieces after deciding a sway back adjustment was necessary after all for it to fit snugly. Nothing fancy – I just pinched out the excess and sewed it!
The corselette is lined with a special silky poly lining that I had bought for stash but had loads of. The trouble is, the stay has to be on the inside of the lining, but it has to attach to the outer layer of the corselette for strength. I passed it through the lining with a technique I ‘borrowed’ again from Laura Mae – it’s like a bound buttonhole facing.
Cut a scrap of lining and sew the shape of the hole you want.
Cut a slit inside the sewed lines, and cut all the way to each corner.
Flip the scrap through to the lining wrong side and press.
I actually topstitched my lining scrap down to stop it working its way back through the hole, but that’s optional.
And from the right side – so neat!
The next step was to baste the lining to the top and bottom edges of the corselette all the way around.
I also hand sewed it to the zip tape. I bound the lower edge of the corselette with binding made from the lining which finished it off nicely. As an after thought, I added a small skirt made out of the lining fabric, just so that there was something under the expansive underskirt. It’s just a gathered rectangle.
Stand by for post 4, which is about the skirt lining, coming shortly!