Padmé Costume: Corset Construction

Here’s a pic of all the materials I had at this point!

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I had the completed blouse and skirt (with an embroidery hoop and bag of sequins for continued embroidery progress). The headband and hairnets were also complete. I had all my corset supplies- you can see the white silk, cut up pieces of canvas, circle of white plastic boning and embroidery thread. I also got the ribbons while in New York City (I got to go to Padawan’s Guide’s recommended shop in person)! And I had the Wal-Mart curtain for the cape too. That, right there, is pretty much everything I needed to finish the costume.

This will be another technical sort of post. But, my method for drafting the corset pattern is way more straightforward than my method for drafting the blouse! It took a very long time, but it should be easier to explain.

My pattern for the corset was based entirely off of numbers. If you read about the corset on Padawan’s Guide, you’ll see that it is made of 11 panels, with the one in the center being a lot wider. This center panel has all the embroidery on it. So first, I measured how wide I wanted the center panel to be. I wanted it to be about where princess seams are (look it up if you don’t know what princess seams are) so at the bust it was about 7.5 inches wide. At the waist it was about 6 inches. At the lowest part, which was at my hip bones but not my actual hip (in sewing, your hip is defined as the widest part of your figure, and that’s not actually your hip bones) it was 8 inches. And then below that it tapered down to make a point.

The rest was just math. I made my corset using pretty much only 3 measurements- bust, waist and hip. (Still the hip bone here, since the corset did not go down to my actual hip. Would have been more like one of those mermaid-tail dresses if it did!) I figured there were 10 panels left, and they would all be identical widths. So I took each measurement and subtracted the center panel from it, and then divided it by 10. So for example, my bust measurement is 29 inches. (Yeah, I know… not that much bigger than my waist. I’m really flat-chested.) The center panel measurement was 7.5 so I subtracted that from 29, leaving me with 21.5. I divided that by 10 because there are 10 panels, so each panel- not counting seam allowances- was roughly 2.2 inches at the top. I did the same thing to the waist and hip measurements and there you go!

The other complication is that the corset is (lengthwise) very long in the front, very short in the sides and very long in the back again. (This is so you can move your legs in the corset!) To avoid confusion, I labeled all my pattern pieces- the center front was 0, and working from center to the right side I labeled them 1,2,3,4, and 5. Working from center to left I labeled them -1,-2,-3 and so on. This was very helpful. So the 1’s and 5’s were longer and the 3’s were a lot shorter.

I traced the pattern pieces onto tracing paper so I could have an actual pattern, since I had to cut each piece out three times (once on each type of fabric.) This was really helpful as well. After cutting out the canvas and modal pieces, I stitched them all together so that I had a separate canvas layer and a separate modal layer. And then, it was time to do the boning channels. What are boning channels, you may ask? They’re basically pockets that you put your strips of boning in. I wanted mine to be really good, so I was extremely careful in drawing, pinning and stitching the seams.

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I made sure those two lines I drew in pencil were just wide enough for the boning to fit in, and I kept measuring them to make sure they were perfectly the same distance apart. Then I stitched on those two lines, stitching the modal and canvas together only at those points. (Note to self: Never line a corset with modal again. It’s stretchy and keeps getting pulled in weird ways.)

I only did this every other seam, since I’m not all that curvy and don’t need my corset to be too terribly rigid. I wanted to save money on boning.

Here’s a pic of what the corset looked like when I was done with the boning! As you can see, the boning did a good job giving the corset a gently curved shape.

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After that, all I had left to do was attach the decorative silk layer… but before that, I had to do all the embroidery, which is what the next post will be all about!

If you were here, please leave a like or a comment, or follow the blog! I like to see evidence of human contact. ^.^

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