Corset Design: Pattern Draping, the 3D Method
Here are some photos to illustrate nicely the three dimensional method of corset designing: Pattern Draping (as apposed to the 2D flat corset pattern drafting method). I’m lucky enough to have an old-school dress form that’s a great shape for corset design with it’s tiny waist. I then took the pattern in a little at the waist afterwards, but as it already has an unnaturally small waist it’s ideal. If you don’t have a corseted mannequin you can use a normal one then bring in the waist later on the flat paper pattern. I found mine, it was discarded in my art studios at university if you can believe that! I gave it a loving home and a new lease of life. I keep meaning to cover it but it’s quite nice rough.
Anyway, moving on from my deep personal relationship with my dress forms! The pictures are pretty self explanatory but a note on preparing your lightweight, non-stretch cotton for draping. Cut a manageable piece for the area you’re draping and make sure you have the grain straight by pulling a single thread from the top cut edge. (One close to the left or right cut edge). This will cause the fabric to pucker along the line of the thread, so you can see it and cut along that line. Lay the fabric piece out on your ironing board and pull it about until that line is straight and the fabric is flat then give it a press. You now have a perfectly prepared piece of draping fabric, you’ll want to be mindful of the grain line as you drape so you can mark it on the pattern if you happen to, for example, drape a hip gore on the bias.
I started by marking the front centre and back centre lines with pins and thread (ideal if you don’t have draper’s tape). I then proceeded to drape material where I wanted each pattern piece to go, keeping the grain straight at centre front and back. Each piece was first pinned to the edge of its predecessor and trimmed along the edge.
I used a thin felt-tip pen to draw on the edges of each pattern piece after pinning it in place, before trimming excess fabric away. For each piece you drape, you want to keep the grain line running straight up and down. I pinned each piece in place on the dress form one by one in the same way.
I then added marks (or ‘notches’) to the corset pattern where the pieces joined so I could line the pieces up correctly later. You’ll also want to number your pattern pieces before unpinning, then lay them on a table flat, pull them about to get the grain line straight again and transfer to paper, simples!
If you don’t have a dress form but do have a corset that you like the shape of, then try stuffing it so it holds its shape, then use this as your mannequin. So now you know how, you can get cracking and design your own corset!
This is the Angel underbust corset pattern by the way so click to see the finished corset design as well as my other corset patterns.