Tag Archive: case study

Case Study: Sapsford Silver Overbust Corset

This post is a summary of the “‘Case Study: Sapsford Silver Overbust” video, which you can watch on Youtube:

Quick Stats:

Material Two main layers: fashion fabric is a pattern-matched synthetic upholstery fabric with metallic threads interwoven, and it’s already backed onto a twill-like fabric. The lining is white herringbone coutil.
Construction 7 panel pattern (drafted by Scarlett Sapsford). The fashion layer is floating, and the corset is single-boned on the lining side.
Binding Bias strips of matching silver metallic fabric, machine stitched on both outside and inside (stitched in the ditch on the outside).
Waist tape 1 inch wide twill tape sandwiched between the layers.
Modesty panel No back modesty panel, but there is a narrow placket by the busk.
Busk 12 inches long with 6 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. The busk is 1/2 inch on each side, and there are a pair of grommets above that ties at the bustline.
Boning 16 total bones not including busk (8 on each side). 1/4″ wide spirals, single boned on the seams. Two 1/2″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side.
Grommets 34 grommets total, size #00 with a small flange and finished in silver. Set equidistantly, a little more than 1 inch apart.
Laces 1/2″ wide, double-face satin ribbon finished in silver.

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A bonus from yours truly - last month I made this pattern-matched overbust with a complicated asymmetric motif as a challenge to myself. I made this using the techniques in Scarlet Sapsford's Corset Making course (click the photo to learn more about the course).

A bonus from yours truly – last month I made this pattern-matched overbust with a complicated asymmetric motif as a challenge to myself. I made this using the techniques in Scarlet Sapsford’s Corset Making course (click the photo to learn more about the course).

This was a great project that came together in just a few days! Although I’ve known how to make my own corsets for years, it was fun going through Scarlett Sapsford’s Express Corset Making Course, discovering slightly different techniques from my own, and honing my skills by learning from a different angle.

Matching the motifs on this corset was a bit of a challenge, but a fun one. I followed Scarlett Sapsford’s instructions in her complete Corset Making Course, and it turned out (mostly) fabulous. A few things I would do differently:

  • I would have backed the fashion fabric onto interfacing to stabilize it and prevent warping (because warping is bad news when you try to match panels together!)
  • I might have chosen a fabric that has a less bold motif. Although the clear-cut and high-contrast motif made it easy to see where I should be matching the pieces, it also makes it super obvious where the matching wasn’t quite perfect. Yes, I did have to re-cut a panel because it was a few mm off!
  • I might lock-stitch the seams and press the seams open instead of using a top-stitch, because it makes the outside smoother and would prevent the motif from looking “off” when viewed at different angles.

I have a long torso and a low waist, and most OTR overbust corsets are a bit short on me – this is an issue if I want to keep my bust comfortably covered! So I modified Scarlett’s overbust pattern and added an inch of length in the ribcage. I did not make a mockup for this corset before jumping in and creating the final piece; if I had made a mockup, I would have lengthened the pattern even more in the front, and added another 2 inches in the bust to accommodate for my fuller chest.

Of course, this means opportunity to make more corsets in the future, about which I will not complain! 😀

If you’d like to learn how to make your own corset like this one, be sure to check out Scarlett Sapsford’s Express Corset Making Course!

Black Mesh Corset Case Study

This entry is a summary of the video “Case Study: Homemade Mesh ‘Corset'”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 11″ high, and I drafted this corset to be very curvy: underbust about 32″, closed waist 23″ and hips 34″. The elastic mesh also contributes to the extreme shape and curviness.
Material Heavyweight powernet (quite stretchy) for most of the panels, and black satin coutil for the first and last panels, the boning channels and the diamond waist tape.
Construction Essentially a 6-panel pattern although the last panel is separated into two to make 7 panels. First, the powernet panels were sewn together wrong sides together and flat-felled with the bulk being on the outside of the body. Then I added the center front coutil panels, with the diamond waist basted in front. The diamond extends into a waist tape, which was basted at each seam, then I secured the external channels down on top of it. The back coutil panel went on last, then I added the busk and bones, and lastly serged the top and bottom edges.
Binding There is no binding on this *yet*. I had serged the raw edges to keep them from fraying. This allows the mesh to stretch. Conventional binding would not allow the top and bottom edges of the corset to stretch. However I may later add an elastic or mesh binding.
Waist tape The diamond detail made from satin coutil extends into a waist tape that is slightly more than 1 inch wide, and placed on the external side of the corset, secured down at the boning channels.
Modesty panel I didn’t make a modesty panel for this corset because I designed it to close completely at the back. There is a small modesty placket in the front by the busk.
Busk A standard flexible busk, 1/2” wide on each side, with 5 pins, 9.5″ long. Although it is quite flexible, having 3 layers of satin coutil surrounding the busk makes the front panel quite sturdy.
Boning 20 bones total in this corset (not including the busk). On each side there are eight 1/4″ wide spirals in external channels, then a 1/2″ wide flat steel on the center back edge of the grommet panel, and a 1/4″ steel on the “inner” side of the grommets.
Grommets There are 26 2-part size #00 grommets (13 on each side). I used self-piercing grommets to insert these, placing the grommets closer together than I normally would and making sure the grommets are snug between the two flat bones. So far they have all held up well.
Laces Some old black cotton shoe-lace style. More lightweight than nylon laces but not as strong. I just used whatever I had lying around.
Price This corset was quite time consuming due to the flat-felled seams and external channels and waistband. Also the powernet and satin coutil were both expensive materials. If I were to remake this corset (with a more pristine finish) it would likely start at no less than $280.

Final thoughts:

This is an extremely comfy corset. I also feel that I’m able to very easily cinch down in this corset – I wish I had drafted it to be another inch or two smaller! The powernet is forgiving of curves and makes my asymmetric hips look symmetric, while giving me absolutely zero pinching or discomfort.

The only disappointments I had with this corset was a) the asymmetry in the diamond detail, and b) the rough finish of the serged edges. I may end up adding binding to this corset (either elastic or mesh) although that would somewhat ruin its ability to be worn inconspicuously under clothing, and I’m not sure how even elastic binding would bring back the dreaded muffin top which is currently so nicely avoided.

Overall I think this experiment turned out much nicer than I had anticipated, and I think I will use this as a sleeping corset in the future! However I do need to practice my “finishing” of corsets, even when they’re experiments or prototypes.

“Disco Armadillo” PVC Ribbon Cincher Case Study

This entry is a summary of the video “‘DISCO ARMADILLO’ PVC Ribbon Corset”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

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This was my first attempt at sewing a corset from vinyl. I have to thank Marta “Snowblack” for her wonderful  Foundations Revealed tutorial on sewing leather and vinyl corsetry. Just a few things that I have learned about handling vinyl:

  • The material stretches (so you must back it with coutil) however it does not drape like most other fabrics.
  • It is also not a self-healing fabric, and will show all pinpricks. Therefore you should pin your panels only in the seam allowances.
  • Using a teflon foot (or a piece of tissue between the vinyl and the presser foot) will help the vinyl to feed smoothly without dragging or sticking to the presser foot.
  • Lastly, feed dogs will leave permanent marks into the bottom of the vinyl, especially if it has a metallic foil finish. Putting tissue or masking tape on the underside of your fabric (where your seam line will be) will protect your fabric from the feed dogs digging in.
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Here is the overview of my Disco Armadillo, in typical review form:

Fit, length Center front is 10.5″ high, and I drafted this corset to be very curvy: underbust about 32″, closed waist 24″ and hips 34″.
Material Just two layers; the outer PVC ribbon and the inner coutil.
Construction 5-panel pattern – three vertical panels at front/side/back to hold the bones, and two ribbon panels. I learned how to draft a ribbon corset from Sidney Eileen’s ribbon corset sewing tutorial. The coutil panels aren’t “ribboned” like the outer pieces; rather they are in one piece. Most seams are topstitched as I was afraid that lockstitching would cause the PVC to become too perforated and tear apart. However at the busk, seams were lockstitched nonetheless as it looked better. Some edges of the ribbon were left raw, as folding those edges under would be too bulky.
Binding There is binding at the top and bottom of the vertical panels only; the ribbon panels do not have binding. I also left the inside edge of the binding raw – this is normal with binding made out of leathers or vinyls.
Waist tape Ribbon corsets typically don’t have a waist tape; a horizontal piece of ribbon running around the waist will act like a waist tape anyway.
Modesty panel I didn’t make a modesty panel for this corset because I designed it to close completely at the back.
Busk A standard flexible busk, 1/2” wide on each side, with 5 pins, 9.5″ long. Although it is quite flexible, having 3 layers of PVC ribbon surrounding the busk makes the front panel quite stiff and sturdy.
Boning Only 8 bones total in this corset (not including the busk), only boned on the vertical panels. There are two spring steel bones sandwiching each row of grommets at the back, and an additional two bones on each side panel, all 3/8″ wide.
Grommets There are 20 2-part size #00 grommets (10 on each side). I used self-piercing grommets and a new press to insert these, and they work very well with the PVC. I placed a layer of heavy canvas in the grommet panel to give the grommets more to “grab onto” and to prevent the PVC from stretching. There are no splits and the grommets are holding up quite well with regular use.
Laces I used some 100% nylon purple paracord – it’s extremely strong (holds tension up to 500 lbs) and has no stretch, is resistant to fraying but has a tendancy to twist. You will definitely need a square knot or bow (not a round one) to keep your corset securely tied at the back.
Price Ribbon corsets in general are not particularly difficult but they are time-consuming and require a bit of pre-planning. I would most likely place a typical satin-and-coutil ribbon corset at around $150. However, because the PVC ribbon is extremely challenging to work with and also quite expensive ($10/meter when not on sale, and this corset used 9 meters), I wouldn’t remake this corset for less than $250.

“Waffle Iron” Skeleton Corset

This is a summary of the video “Waffle Iron” Skeleton Corset Experiment. If you’d like more information on how this corset is made and more in-depth explanations, please watch the video available on Youtube here:

I called this corset my “Waffle Iron,” because of the way my skin and flesh pokes through the holes of this skeleton corset prototype, and the lines it leaves afterward. I was inspired to make this due to the recent warming weather and ventilated corsets such as this.

I wanted to push my limits and my knowledge of corsetry, and break down corsetry to its “bare bones” so to speak. To experiment with “corset minimalism” and to get to know the “architecture” of corsets better – to see where the most important lines are.

While I agree that mesh on the open areas would have been more flattering, that wasn’t really the point. Skeleton corsets have existed in the past (with no mesh) and women wore chemises underneath which helped prevent the “oozing”. I still intend to use liners under this corset if/when I wear it in the future.

How this corset was made (please see the video as I did record the steps as I made this):

  1. The “fabric” is the most-densely-weaved twill tape I could find  – this is the only textile I used, other than a bit of canvas to reinforce the grommet area.
  2. I started with a custom-drafted 6-panel corset pattern, then sewed a quick single-layer “corset” from a soft tear-away stabilizer.
  3. I centered the tape on the seams of the stabilizer “corset” and also laid tape on the top/bottom edges and across the waist. (I considered adding another horizontal strip at mid-rib height, but I wanted to see how little I could “get away with.”)
  4. Once I had the outline I wanted, I tore away the stabilizer, laid down another layer of vertical strips to create the bone casings/busk/grommet areas.
  5. I added boning to the channels, folded the top/bottom edges over double to cover the raw bone-casing edges, and added grommets.

Once I put on the corset, I noticed a bit of an “Easter Egg” – I was able to perfectly see and understand my problem areas and my body’s asymmetry within a corset. Only by using a “transparent” corset such as this one would I ever have started to understand these little complications and how they can best be fixed. Let’s see a few pictures:

 In this front view, you can see that my left iliac crest protrudes more than my right one, and also even one side of my body cinches more readily than the other side, which can be measured in hip-spring on each side vs. “rib spring.”

In the profile view,  the bone of the corset is right in front of my iliac crest and pushing back on it slightly. This wouldn’t normally happen in a regular corset, because the fabric would prevent my hip from freely jutting out behind it. Instead, the bone would rest directly on my hipbone and cause discomfort.

Here is a picture of the right side, by comparison. You can see that the right hip doesn’t protrude behind the corset bone in the same way. In the past I would try to alleviate the discomfort on my left hip by simply drafting the hips of my patterns larger and larger, but now I see that I have to completely change my drafting technique and move the panels and bones away from the problem area.

In the first picture of the 3/4 view, you can see the “waffle iron” visual effect. The way that fat pads are genetically distributed, many women (and some men) have a little pocket of fat directly under their navel, and it’s no different for me. This is likely why so many skeleton corsets in the past had a diamond-shaped belt (2nd photo, same angle) or waist tape to hold that flesh in. The diamond could be shallow and stop just around the natural waist, or continue up to the sternum.

While I do realize that the “flesh oozing” is undesirable to many people, I have discovered that seeing the bulges is actually useful. I see it as a topographical map telling me how much support/pressure is required in each “grid” of the body – the more oozing in one pocketed area, the more tension and support that area requires. This means I can take more care and attention in shaping those areas in my drafting, while other areas can simply gently cup or lay flat over the flesh without restriction. If I were to put mesh between the panels, I wouldn’t be able to see this “map” quite as well. 

In the future I will make this with coutil instead of twill, as the twill tape is fairly flimsy and makes for wobbly lines. I think I will have the same number of bones (or more) but instead of having “two bones on each seam” like I did here, I’ll likely have one bone on the “seam of the panel” and another bone in the “middle of the panel”. I will also likely add the mid-rib horizontal piece, and widen the area at the waist /make it a diamond shape to hold in more abdominal flesh. Lastly, I’ll make the top/bottom “binding” twice as wide so it will lay flat on the body without rolling and twisting funkily like it is here, and the bones may even extend (at least partway) through that width of the binding just to prevent twisting.

I’m quite excited about how much I’ve learned from this little project, and I’m looking forward to improving upon this first prototype. As they say, “Excelsior!”

“Wrinkly Pig” Corset Case Study

This entry is a summary of the review video “Wrinkly Pig” Corset Case Study”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

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Note: the following are the differences between the “Wrinkly Pig” and the “Tickled Pink” corset in terms of construction:

  Wrinkly Pig Tickled Pink
Fusing Fused the brocade to a layer of woven fusible interfacing, then flatlined that to coutil. Fused the brocade directly to a layer of coutil using “Heat n’ Bond” (fiddly sheet of glue, I don’t recommend it).
Roll-pinning Everything was flat-pinned, not roll-pinned. Some roll-pinning was done on the side panels.
Seams Lock-stitched seams; allowances were not trimmed or clipped at curves. Seams were trimmed and flat-felled.
Boning channels Double-boned at the seams, sandwiched between two layers of coutil. Single boned at the seams, used external boning channels (cuts down on wrinkles slightly)

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And here is my review:

Fit, length Decent curves. Used to be a slightly long-line corset but I later shortened the hips so it is more of a cincher now. Center front is about 11″ long.
Material 4 layers including the interfacing: brocade fashion fabric fused to interfacing, then flatlined to interlining of coutil and another lining of coutil.
Construction 6-panel pattern. Seams were lock-stitched (stitched twice) at the seams, the allowances were pressed open. The brocade/interfacing/coutil flatlined panels were all assembled, then the coutil lining was assembled. The layers were then stitched together at first/last panels, flipped right-side out and stitched in the ditch between panels and also secured at boning channels.  Bones are sandwiched between the two layers of coutil.
Binding The binding at top and bottom are made out of commercial hot pink cotton bias tape, machine stitched on both sides.
Waist tape 1” wide twill tape between the coutil lining and interlining, stitched invisibly so it’s not noticeable.
Modesty panel Suspended modesty panel made from brocade fused to twill, and stiffened with plastic canvas. 7″ wide.
Busk A standard flexible busk, 1/2” wide on each side, with 5 pins, 9.5″ long.
Boning 22 steel bones in this corset not including the busk. The seams between the panels are double-boned (except the seam closest to the grommets with ¼” inch wide spirals, and there are a pair of flats sandwiching each column of grommets.
Grommets There are 30 2-part size #X00 eyelets (15 on each side). They have a medium flange around and are spaced out 3/4 inches apart. No pulling away of fabric yet but they are very small so many types of fat cord is hard to thread through.
Laces 1/2″ wide double-face satin ribbon, baby pink in colour. About 5 meters and not really long enough for my tastes. I think I may change out the laces for some longer ones.
Price If I were to re-make this corset, I would roll-pin the panels and also use wonder-under or stitch-witchery to directly fuse the brocade to a layer of coutil to eliminate wrinkling. Keeping other construction techniques the same, I would likely charge around $260 USD for a corset like this.
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