The quick, easy, and brilliant, underbust corset

Were you guys getting bored of the post about my corset class in Melbourne being at the top of the blog?  I was!

Be ready to be slightly bored by this post: it’s going to be sticky for the next four days (so scroll down for new content).

But I’m not bored by the idea of the class – I’m super excited about it!  So just in cased you missed it:

I’ll be teaching a corset making workshop at Melbourne’s fabulous craft lounge, Thread Den on Friday the 6th of April!  To read more about the course, check out Thread Den’s class description, and then rush over and book it.

When I mentioned that I was teaching a one-day corset class, a number of you commented on how little time that is to make a corset.  And that’s true!  Which is why I’m so excited about this class, and so proud of myself.

For over two years I’ve been working on a corset pattern and construction method that can be made up quickly, successfully adapted to a whole range of body types, and taught to those with no experience in historical sewing and corsetmaking.

The hot pink sateen underbust corset

Some of my corsets take over 25 hours to construct, multiple fitting sessions, and lots and lots of hand-sewing.  Most clients can’t afford them, and the construction techniques are impractical to teach.  Thus the quest for a quick, affordable, teachable corset.

Hot pink sateen, curlicue lining

The corset in these pictures is one of the many prototypes I’ve worked on in developing this corset.

Multiple boning channels, hot pink topstitching

To develop my sewable in under 5, teachable in 8 corset, I’ve looked at and tried all the different methods of corsetmaking that are used commercially today, as well as historical methods. I’ve even played with a few innovations that I’ve never seen discussed in any book or pattern, but I’m sure other people must have hit upon.

Lacing grommets between bones

I’ve tried some things that worked really well, and those have gone into the ‘keep’ pile.

And I’ve tried some things that well, really, just weren’t that fab.  And my students and clients will be benefiting from those trials too!

The corset shaping

I’ve made underbust corsets over and over again, checking fitting, checking boning, checking binding, and checking my time.

Back lacing

Now I’m finally at a place where I am confident in teaching the corset, and in offering it to clients!

The lining - Mrs C let me steal the fabric from her stash. Awwww...

 

20 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Stefanie says:

    That lining is so pretty!
    Will you be sharing some of your innovations with your blog readers too? ^^

  2. StephC says:

    Your description of the process of developing a class is so so so familiar! I wish I had a chance of going to Melbourne for your class, but it’s beyond me at the moment. :(

    I’m working on a “Dress In A Day” class right now… It’s another one of those things people don’t think can be done in a day, but it can if the teacher knows what she’s doing and cracks the whip. :)

  3. Lynne says:

    How I wish….

  4. Esz says:

    Ah I am so looking forward to this! I appreciate that you took the time to explain how you got to be able to make a corset in a day. The class is going to be great I know it!

    I do have a question for the class…I’ve been hunting fabrics and my idea is to have a cream sateen outer layer with navy trim…With a navy and cream patterned lining – If I can find it…I recall seeing some at a little shop here in Melbourne called L’uccello (do pay a visit if you get the chance, it’s amazing)…And maybe even have some navy lace on the outer….
    Sooo…after that long winded description, my question is, can I use a fabric that has a small amount of stretch in it?
    Because I found some cotton sateen at Clegs but it was I think 5% elastine or something, with just a little stretch. Will that be okay or should I really go for a completely non-stretch cotton?
    Thanks for your time! I could have emailed I know ;-P

    • Ooooh….sounds pretty!

      Normally I’d really advise against a stretch fabric, but I’ve been on your blog and seen your work, and I’m sure you can handle a little extra challenge ;-) If you want to use an outer fashion fabric with a little stretch, get double the amount of your plain inner support fabric, so that you can flat-line the stretch and use the extra layer of support fabric to do the structural work. I’ll talk you through it on the day.

    • Ivory sateen with navy detailing sounds gorgeous. So you’ll have navy fabric for the bias strips (which are your binding)?

      Normally I’d really advise against a stretch fabric, but I’ve been on your blog and seen your work, and I’m sure you can handle a little extra challenge ;-) If you want to use an outer fashion fabric with a little stretch, get double the amount of your plain inner support fabric, so that you can flat-line the stretch and use the extra layer of support fabric to do the structural work. I’ll talk you through it on the day.

      It is important that your sateen isn’t thick & spongy – sometimes stretch fabrics are.

      • Esz says:

        Yep the bias will be navy. Hopefully I find something nice – tried to make some bias out of satin the other day and the damn stuff doesn’t press well at all (boo) – guessing it’s poly and that’s why…so I’m going to see if I can save myself the headache.

        Thanks for the tips on the stretch. The stuff I had in mind isn’t that thick spongy stuff. It barely registers as stretchy, so it should be okay with the extra support fabric :-)

        Yay and thanks for the compliment! I want to get some bigger projects under my belt and corsets have been really fascinating me lately. Not just the sewing element but the whole body modification thing. All super interesting stuff! And I love all the Titanic inspired 1910’s sewing that’s going on around the blogosphere at the moment!

  5. Stella says:

    Wow! I am so impressed! Not just at the corset, but at the time and effort you’ve put into developing it. I salute your R&D excellence.

  6. Kathy P says:

    Your corsets are always lovely. I wish I could be around for one of your classes as I bet it would be as fun as it is interesting.

  7. Carin says:

    Definitively would like to take that course – just a pity a live so far away…

  8. Carin says:

    Definitively would like to take that course – just a pity I live so far away…

  9. Beklet says:

    Sadly, I’m on the other side of the world, so can’t attend the class, though I believe a friend of mine has signed up for it…
    I made my first corset a few weeks ago, and it was done over 2 days – I think total time spent, including pattern drafting, tea drinking, fighting the busk and trying to cut spiral boning with blunt snips was about 10 hours – I was so impressed with how quickly it came together – me and my fellow corset student have now ordered 5 metres of coutil between is, as it’s addictive!
    (The friend who taught us is a costume designer, and she said ‘all you need is to be able to sew in a straight line..’ :D )

    • Corset are addictive aren’t they? As soon as you know the tricks they really are easy! I have taught corsetmaking to absolute beginner sewers – they aren’t a bad starter project at all! Hopefully your friend will enjoy the class. :-D

  10. Stevie says:

    Hey lovely good luck with your corset course!
    I nominated you for a blog award http://beebeesvintagedress.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/versatile-blogger-award.html

  11. Wow, what a brilliant idea! I hope the class went well :)

  12. Helen says:

    So gorgeous! any chance you will be selling a pattern or tutorial?

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Meet the Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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