Overbust Corset - Historical



Having completed my under bust corset I'm a lot more confident with the materials and methods so I'm moving on to a full length version. If it turns out ok I'll primarily use it with my Una costume and I have some victorian dresses planned which need to be fitted over an 1860-90s style corset like this.

The main challenges are that this will be much harder to fit than the under bust and it will be a two layer corset, so some different techniques from my single layer under bust.

Sephirayne posted on 11 January, 2013 - 05:01
Loved your progress on the underbust corset. Looking forward to seeing your progress on this. Great choice of pattern. Its the one I mainly use for most of my corset work.

Sephirayne posted on 30 July, 2014 - 00:23
The finished corset looks great.

Amy-Lou posted on 1 August, 2014 - 14:06
Thank you! It is a good pattern, will have to chat about tips :)

Metamorphica Cosplay posted on 10 August, 2014 - 23:25
Love the shape of it, especially how it works over your hips. Lovely fit.

25th July 2014


The final fit! Really pleased with how it's turned out, feeling a lot more confident about tackling Elizabeth later. Note: I haven't laced the corset properly (with the loops at the waist) as this lacing is for another project and I wanted to try it on quickly :D

24th July 2014


Finally trim off the edges and cover them with bias binding for a neat finish. As this is meant to be an undergarment I just machine stitched it down in one go, so the front is neat, but the inside is out of line. For anything meant to be visible I'd take the time to apply it properly. I keep forgetting that there's no hemming on corsets and several times nearly made it too long.

24th July 2014

Nearly There

Once the bones are in, sew along the top to trap them in place (careful not to sew into a bone).

24th July 2014

Steel Bones

Measure the boning channels and pick suitable lengths to go in each channel. I bought pre-cut and tipped boning from VenaCava as the cost difference is tiny unless you make a lot of corsets and after all those eyelets my hands appreciate the break! I used straight steels for the lacing and spiral steels for everything else (spirals have to be used in channels that curve sideways, but otherwise you can use whichever you prefer).

23rd July 2014

Securing the Lining

Now is the fiddly part of matching up the lining to the coutil. Pin down the seams and along the top and bottom edges. The lining is likely to be a flimsier fabric, so being slightly off on one seam could result in a lot of bagging further along, you might need to pull areas flat to see where it sits best. Sew along the bottom edge and then you can sew your boning channels from bottom to top (this stops the lining pulling away from the edge). You could also use boning tape if the lining's too flimsy, but this method is free!

23rd July 2014


Sew in the remaining pieces of lining to make a tube, iron the seams down and then flip the whole thing inside out to get your final corset halves.

22nd July 2014

Waist Tape

While it's a good thing for a curvy corset to settle into your shape over time, you want the waist to stay the size you set and this is done with a waist tape for reinforcement. I used grosgrain ribbon, you can also use prussian/twill tape. If you've marked the waistline on your fabric it's as easy as lining the tape up with this and sewing it down from the busk to the eyelets, securing at each seam on the way. Make sure the tape is level on either side of the busk/eyelets, I found it helpful to pin the far end as I worked along the seams to stop it shifting off line, but check the length per panel when sewing it down or it could end up too loose to be useful.

22nd July 2014


Same as before, but this time you can pop some boning into the channels round the lacing, the busk in the front and the strong coutil fabric, so you can try out any waist reduction you've added into the pattern. Most likely there will only be minor tweaks at this point, unless you've made a real tight lacer, in which case the golden rule might come into play. I just had to smooth out one of the hip seams and let out the back at the top a little, nice and simple.

22nd July 2014


Tuck the lining pieces out of the way and sew in the rest of the coutil panels. Now you're ready for another fitting, incase your final fabric behaves slightly differently to your mock-up. Note: This particular pattern says to iron the seams out to either side. I can't help feeling this is a weakness in the corset to just rely on the stitches despite all this strong fabric, so I sewed each seam twice. Especially suspicious after the under bust pressed them to one side, reinforcing the structure. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

21st July 2014

Back Lacing

Sew the back panel coutil to the lining, creating the boning channels for the lacing. Decide how far apart you want your eyelets and mark the centres on the fabric. I used 4mm eyelets with washers and the pattern suggested 3/8" apart. For even tension you'll want them regularly spaced. Note: It's really important to get eyelets with washers so they won't pop out under tension or cut into the fabric. Using an awl, make holes big enough for the eyelets without breaking the threads. If anyone knows any tips for minimising warping around the eyelets from putting them so close and between the boning channels I'd love to hear them. Eventually I found folding along the channel so I could keep tension on both sides got the best results, but it's still visible. Finally sacrifice your hands to the inevitable crippling of pressing all those eyelets!

21st July 2014

Inserting a Busk

On a layered corset you sew the busk between the coutil and the lining, no facings needed. Trace round the hooks and sew in between them to make the first casing, then use a zipper foot to sew closely along the back of the sandwiched busk. Once that's secure you can line the hook side up with the remaining front piece and mark inside each hook for the post placement. Then it's a matter of poking an awl through the coutil layer to make holes for the posts without cutting any of the fabric so it won't fray apart under the tension of being worn. Finally use the zipper foot again to trap the post busk in place.

3rd February 2013

Tiny waists? Not so.

Found this really interesting blog on dress sizes in Victorian times - The same as they are now really :) http://thepragmaticcostumer.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/va-va-voom-victorians-historical-costuming-in-the-xl/

13th January 2013

Cutting Coutil

I sewed in the two changes and added cheap plastic boning to stop it folding up as I'm checking the fit. This showed that the back panel was too straight cut over the hips. Once that was fixed I could transfer all those adjustments to the paper pattern. I used the tweaked pattern to cut the final corset panels. I'm using coutil with a cotton lining, just two layers as I don't need a fancy fabric on the outside, but if you were using another fabric just sew it flat to the coutil in the seam allowance and treat them as one piece. There are pencil markings all over these pieces, but they don't show up in the photo so well. Handy tip: when pinning the coutil try to keep the pins in the seam allowances as the tightly woven fabric can end up with visible pin holes.

10th January 2013

Mock Up

The link in the previous entry is 100% correct about the adjustments needed for this particular pattern! I cut this first fitting to their suggested size and it's a pretty close match, just needed pinning in two places. This mockup was made from bull denim, but anything that doesn't stretch will do. Basic fitting rules: - Pin it in where it's too loose. - Let it out where it's too tight. - Don't be afraid to rip apart tight seam areas and pin in extra fabric if it's more than your seam allowance. - Don't be tempted to pull on one seam to take in the slack further round, just pin each seam flush. The golden rule: When you reduce your waist that flesh has to go somewhere (like squeezing a balloon), so don't be surprised if you need to make the hips or bust larger than your standard measurements. If you're getting any bulges around the top or bottom, let that end of the corset out until everything matches again. Interestingly this has the effect of making your waist look even smaller by comparison. If you don't have any lacing tape (I really want to pick some up with my next order, looks super handy), you need to add an inch to each back panel of the mock-up to account for the two inch lacing gap on a finished corset. I marked the real panel edge and wrote FITTING GAP down the extra material and I still found myself wondering why panel 5 wouldn't match the pattern a few times >.<

9th January 2013


I'm using Laughing Moon #100 and starting with the Dore as it's the simpler of the two styles included. Handy note to anyone using this pattern - The sizes marked on the packaging are relative to the B cup pattern only, for accurate sizes and advice on which cup size to choose from people who've actually made up the pattern see this page: http://trulyvictorian.com/LM100.html

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