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Draft Your Corset Pattern

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Perfectly fitting patterns at last! Muhahaha!

One of the most frustrating challenges in corsetmaking is to get the darn thing to fit properly. Corsets are such unforgiving, tightly fitted garments that a good one must have a perfect fit; there's no room for error.

After getting frustrated with commerical patterns, you're probably starting to wonder how to draft (draw out) your own patterns from a list of measurements. Here's how, in a step-by-step format specially designed for complete beginners.

(You can also play with pattern drafting a basic bodice with our equally simple (and free) Easy Pattern Drafting tutorial at our sister site.)

After giving this method a try, I hope you will start to see the awesome designing and dressmaking power that drafting skills can give you. Taking your measurements and drawing out your own pattern can save a lot of money and a lot of time fiddling with fit.

I've devised these instructions for you based on corset designs of the late 1870s. You'll still need a mock-up to check, but you will be very surprised how well it fits. And furthermore, as you can tell from the photographs below of corsets made using this tutorial, it can easily adapted into a variety of styles.

Thank you very much, the [beginner's corset drafting] tutorial is really wonderful and easy to follow, even for a beginner like me! :)
- "chobap", Livejournal

Corsets made using this tutorial

Corset by Hannah Light Corset by Ivy Rose Designs Corset by Ivy Rose Designs

[Above left photo] This is the first corset I drafted for myself using the above tutorial; I've not used a commercial pattern since! Construction wise it's not great (I've learnt a few things since then) but I'm still pretty happy with the shape I managed to create. Thank you for inspiring me, and enabling me to get creative with corsetry! - Hannah Light, UK

[Above centre and right photographs] Both of these designs started as the FR tutorial... - Rachel Haggerty, Ivy Rose Custom Corsetry

  A really good instruction for me/us who want to advance beyond the ready-to-use patterns.
However, I cannot access the printer-friendly version.
I too cannot access the print friendly version
  I still cannot access the printer friendly version. I am in no mood to use up a ton of toner just to get a hard copy of this article. >:o  
  So sorry, the printer friendly version is now fixed and I've emailed all of you to let you know.  
Pamela Donovan  
  Hello Cathy. I am from Australia and I was wondering if I could purchase a download corset pattern. Please advise. :)  
  I love this!

just a heads up, on the bit where it first says about drafting for the larger bust, it says to turn to page 'XX', instead of the page number :-)
  Oops, sorry Jasmin!! Next time I revise the pdf, I'll make sure I correct that. Thank you!  
  This is fantastic , thank you so much. I have taken my measurements 3x to make sure they are correct and I have re-drawn my graft pattern 3x and still when I get to "p" and "q" (the start of the forth panel from the back) "q" ends up over lapping the previously panel by almost an inch. Any idea as to what's wrong? I've triple checked everything and it turns out the exact same.  
Cathy Hay  
  Hi Thomi, thank you for giving the tutorial a try! You haven't done anything wrong at all - as it says below the diagram on page 30, "the line p-q may cross the line m-n on your pattern - this is fine, you haven't gone wrong."

The pieces you end up with may overlap each other on the draft. When you've finished drafting, you'll just need to trace them onto a new piece of paper to cut them out. This is recommended in any case at the end of the tutorial - then, if you make any changes on your mock-up, you can transfer them back to the original draft and use it again.

Best wishes, Cathy
  Question: Why, when calculating the front and back bust measurements, do you add 10 cm/4" to the underbust? (And for that matter, why do you add that same measurement when preparing the paper?) Does it have something to do with seam allowances or pattern pieces that I haven't looked at yet because I haven't downloaded the drafting directions yet? ;)

It's just a little worrisome that taking my actual side-seam-to-side-seam measurements in a shirt that fits me doesn't give me the same results as that calculation, but maybe that's on purpose?

Thanks much for any clarification. ;D

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