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Draft Your Corset Pattern

1900 dress form

A tape measure for taking your measurements. Not a solid ruler, not a metal tape measure from the toolbox, but a dressmaker's fabric tape measure.

A friend to help you take measurements.

A notebook to write your measurements in.

Sharp pencils (preferably hard pencils such as 2H) and an eraser.

A metre ruler or yardstick. It’s just about possible to draft with a shorter ruler, but not half as easy or as accurate. I struggled for a long time without a metre ruler but was amazed what a godsend mine was when I finally bought one from At the very least, look for something long and very straight that will help you draw accurate long, straight lines, and then measure them with a normal ruler or tape measure. But if you possibly, possibly can - you need the real thing to get it right.

A set square (preferably a big one) or something rigid with an exact right angle at the corner, such as a hardback book. Again, you can buy a real patternmaker’s square at Morplan and again, you really need the right equipment to expect to get a good, accurate draft. If you're watching the pennies the book will do, but it's really no substitute. (A right angle is the angle at the corner of a square.)

A calculator (to prevent brain meltdown). If you’re using inches, you may find the Patternmaking Calculator useful – it’s a calculator that uses fractions! And it’s free!

A Flexicurve (optional) to help you draw smooth curves. Again, you can buy proper curves at Morplan.

A large sheet of paper. If you don’t wish to buy a large roll of patternmaking paper, try using a roll of brown paper or the back of an old roll of gift wrapping paper.

A large, flat working surface. The higher, the better, to save your back!

Scissors. Make sure you use a different pair of scissors for cutting paper and card from your fabric scissors; cutting paper with fabric scissors will blunt them faster.

Sticky tape (eg. sellotape or Scotch tape), for sticking sheets of paper together if necessary.

Tracing paper, both a small piece and a couple of large sheets. You'll need the large sheets to trace, from the draft, a pattern that you can cut up and pin to fabric.

Scrap fabric, which you'll need to make a mock-up of the finished draft. Classically, we use calico or muslin but I recommend cotton drill for mocking up corsets.

Once you have your equipment assembled, it's time to take your measurements.


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
tracey iris  
  :-D i thought id lost this pattern formula!
I downloaded it when it first came out, this is the kind of patterndrafting i was taught so i found it easy to follow.
I did botch it up the first go i had of course, then had to put it aside for other projects and couldnt find it.

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