Do You Make a Corset Open Fronted or Closed Fronted?

When making a corset training corset or boned bodice you have to decide how you’ll have the front panels. You may choose to have a front closure such as the traditional nobs and loops busk (loops are affixed to a steel corset bone on one side, and on the other knobs are attached) or perhaps laces as your front fastening. You can also opt to sew your corset design front-closed. This is obviously less convenient when putting the corset on but makes for a dressier garment e.g. a beautiful wedding dress or something special for the senior prom!

When you design a corset pattern with a front closure, you still have laces to do up at the back, however you don’t have the trouble of undoing them all the way whenever you take your corset off (you merely loosen them just enough to open the front). This is obviously a massive time saver if your corset training daily. The traditional opening at the front is the busk (or sometimes a second lot of lacing) but there are a couple of other variations and modern options that I have seen utilized for corset making. Industrial strength zippers are a typical one, however they’re no where near as robust as busks. A fastening thats becoming more and more common is the buckle. These are often used as an additional fastening, more of a corset design feature than closure. The buckle attaches on one side of the front opening, the strap with the holes on attaches on the other. But buckles are always used alongside another, stronger fastening like a busk or zip, to offer extra support or simply for fashion.

If you’re not accustomed to sewing a front closed corset or maybe you’ve just purchased your first corset pattern, but are not sure exactly how to construct the front pieces for a closed corset? Well, it could not be easier. Your corset pattern will come as a set of pieces that will make up one side of the corset design. You just cut them all out of your fabric, then flip them all over and cut out the other side of your corset so the two sides mirror each other. When you make a corset closed fronted, you are basically cutting the two panels at the front as one big one. So you just take your front pattern piece and cut it out ‘on the fold’. If you’re not knowledgeable about sewing terms – ‘on the fold’ indicates to take the fabric, fold it in half, then align the pattern piece along that fold so the front edge is up against it. You can then cut round the pattern piece (but don’t cut the folded edge), then when you open it out you get your 2 front pattern pieces come out as one.

When you sew together your closed fronted corset with this double panel at the front, you don’t place boning down the center as you would in the case of a busk, zip or laces because it would not sit right. If you really wanted to however, you could include more boning in the panel, say if the panel was really wide or if it were a plus sized design in need of some extra support. To achieve this it would be best to sew 2 bone channels a small distance in from the pattern piece edges. Do this by eye, making sure they are symmetrical. Place the bones on your front pattern piece and move them in and out from the center to see exactly what position looks right for your corset training or bodice pattern.

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Corset Patterns with Gores

While some corset makers out there will be familiar with this term, there will be a larger number, especially amoungst the beginners, who haven’t a clue what a ‘Gore’ is. This blog post is for you.

It sounds like some sort of horror film genré but in actual fact it’s a type of corset pattern piece. Yes the ‘bust gore’ or the ‘hip gore’ are just triangular inserts of material that allow you when you make a corset, to add extra curve to the top or bottom. They were used more in the Victorian times when waists were smaller but I have seen a number of modern corset patterns with them in. If you make older corsets or are learning how to make a bodice pattern historically accurate, then it’s worth acquainting yourself with them. They can be made into a design feature or discretely incorporated into the corset design. They’re also fine to use in corset training corset sewing patterns and should not affect the strength of the corset when sewn correctly. 

If you’re just starting to learn how to make a corset, I wouldn’t recommend this style of corset design simply because you don’t need the extra difficulty in your first corset sewing pattern. Corset making is complex enough for the beginner without having to work out where your spiral steel boning is going once the seam you’re following forks in two to accomodate a bust gore. I’m not saying corset making is distressingly difficult but easy to follow corset sewing patterns do help somewhat.

Anyway to clarify exactly what a bust gore looks like, heres a close-up of one of my own patterns – the Cupid Corset Pattern, which can be found on the patterns page of this website if you’d like a closer look.

Corset Pattern Gore

Click image to enlarge 

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Corset Pattern Construction

If your learning how to make a corset pattern, or even how to make a bodice pattern with corset boning, then you’ll need a method of drafting your corset design into a pattern.

There are several ways of doing this, but my favourite beginners method is the duct tape corset pattern. You need a second person with you, a tight-fitting vest top that you are happy to cut up, scissors and a roll of duct tape. First put the vest top on over a well fitting bra, now have your friend go round and round you with the masking tape till you are covered from waist to bust – basically the area you want your corset swing pattern to cover. Now have them cut you out straight down the middle front or middle back. You can now draw on the 3D form of your body where you want the corset design to come to around the bottom and top, then draw on your pattern lines and where you want your sprung or spiral steel boning. Now cut the pieces out and transfer them to pattern paper!

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The Visual Effect of Sprung and Spiral Corset Bones

When making your corset training corset you should now know from my last post that steel bones are the way to go. You’ll also know that spiral steels are a lot more flexible and bend in many more directions than sprung steels. What you might not know is that when you make a corset, visually the effect of using the two different steels can give your corset different looks.

Again it’s to do with the bendable nature of the two steels. Sprung steel bends less so will actually give you a sleeker look, holding the original cut of the corset pattern. Where as spiral will conform to your body shape more closely. For example a round tummy will be held flatter by a corset training corset with sprung steels.

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Personalize Your Corset Training Corset

So we’re learning how to make a corset? Then why not have some fun with it and make yourself a corset you can’t get anywhere else?

That sounds difficult, I’m only a beginner Scarlet! Ah but I’m not talking about fancy lacework or intricate design features. You can start with a unique fabric!

If your thinking its going to be difficult or expensive to imprint your personality on your own corset then think again. If your having a corset training corset custom made it quickly becomes expensive, but when your sewing it yourself whats stopping you being more flamboyant? There really are so many beautiful fabrics out there, along with trims and iron on appliqués. When it comes to buying fabric you need so little for a corset that you can go for the expensive luxury stuff. If it doesn’t have a large and obvious pattern for you to match up then a half meter is plenty. I’ve gotten short underbusts out of a quarter meter before! This is about the only aspect of making such a small and somewhat fiddly garment that works in the seamstresses favour.

You really can pick literally anything when it comes to picking a material for the outside of your corset, I recommend you avoid Lycra’s, very thin fabrics and stretch fabrics however, as these can be difficult to sew. I love quilting fabrics myself, but they don’t sit as smoothly as brocades and luxury upholstery fabrics which are more commonly used in corsets and really are perfect for the beginner. If you do go for a light-weight material like quilting cottons, then use an iron on backing fabric for added strength and to stop the wrinkling that occurs with thinner fabrics when used for corsetry.

If your completely new to corsetry and need full instructions check out my Express Corsetry Course which includes illustrated step-by-step instructions, 10 corset patterns and a full video on how to make a corset – it costs about what you’d pay for 2-3 shop bought corset patterns!

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