Victorian Corset: Pattern Editing

A lot of pattern drafting, especially something as unique as the panels on a corset means that as the pattern drafter you have a lot of artistic license, and you have to do a lot of eyeballing to get the desired effect and shape.

We are making a five paneled corset, with a front busk that is either 35 cm or 32 cm depending on our models shape.

To begin the pattern editing, the centre front was taken in by 1 cm and the centre back was taken in by 2cm.

Next I decided to bring the top corset line at the back down by 2cm to make sure that it does not cut in to the armpit of my model.


Next two provisional lines were drawn that make up the side panel. These two lines are best placed approximately the same distance from the original side seam from the drafted bodice block.

The side seam dart is then evenly divided over the two new seams. When they are being evenly slit and drawn down to the bottom due to the width of hips usually being larger than shoulder the bottom lines could potentially cross, this will differ from person to person depending on their measurements


The top of the corset and bottom of the corset lines can then be drafted. The corsets during this period generally were longer at the front than the back, and there needs to be enough of a curve at the top of the corset to sufficiently cover the bust of the model.

At this point it is good to check what length the busk will need to be, remembering that about 1 cm needs to be left at the top and bottom of the corset to sufficient space for the binding at the end.

The next step is to draft in the front panels. A large amount of artistic licence and general creativity and imagination is needed.The important parts to remember is that it needed to be curve around the bust as generally this is the curviest part of a body.

The curve on the front panel also needs to be positioned so that it will help to push the bust up, and so that the bust won’t fall down either, it does mean that it looks like there will not be a lot of room for the bust, but this is the fashion of the Victorian corset.

The front panel, which is generally the slimmest panel, also needs to be wide enough to be able to fit a 1.5 cm busk at the centre front as well as a 1 cm bone at the seam.


For the middle of the front dart you have to make sure that the size of the original bust dart is then used in the new two panels.

Then the bottom of the dart can be artfully extended to the bottom corset line that we drew earlier. To get a nice shape to the corset it is a good idea to position the bottom of the front panels a couple of cm apart, rather than touching.

The final panel moving is done at the back of the corset. This is the easiest panel to change. First you draw a preliminary line, and ten the back dart as with other seams is used in the back panel to get the same size out of the pattern. The line is then extended in to a point at the bottom of the new corset line.

Centre Back

In the there will be 2 bones in the middle of the panel. This needs to be kept on the pattern so that it is obvious later when cutting out in fabric.

Next you need to mark in the balance points. For all panels the balance points are the waist line, but on the front two panels a second balance point is places at the bust as well.

Next all lines need to be measured and checked to make sure the lines are all the same length. To check the lines it is best to measure from the waist line up or the waist line down.

If one line is longer than the other it is best at this point in time to only make lines longer and never shorter, as this can be changed during the fitting, but cannot be made longer during the fitting.

The lines can then be blended in to each other.

For the bust balance point it is also good to make sure that they are the same length away from the waist line.

It is also good to check the length of the front of the corset just to make sure that the busk will fit in.

To make sure that all of the bones will fit they can be drawn on to the pattern at this point. The centre back has a bone line, and eyelet line and another bone line, then there is a bone line at all of the other seams.

To help define each panel it is good to use coloured pencils to make it more obvious where one panel begins and ends.


When you are happy the panels can be traced off individually. Before cutting all the way around the patterns it is good to line up the tops of the pattern and check that you are happy with the curve of the corset, and then a similar thing can be done to the bottom to check the curve of the bottom of the corset.

Finally the grain lines can be drawn on. The grain line is at a 90 degree angle to the waist line.

With everything check out the pattern can finally be cut out ready to be used on fabric.



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