20th Century Corsetry

When you come from somewhere that looks like this:-


(Bonus points if you can spot my cat in this picture – cheeky little thing :-))

And you wake up to a place that looks like this:-


It sometimes a good thing to remind myself of the reasons that I am very lucky to live in London. One reason is the opportunities that I have to go to places like Morley College which I wouldn’t have if I was back home. Morley college is based in Lambeth North and is an adult education college which offers a massive amount of courses and has a really strong fashion department.

So off I took myself to Morley college at the weekend and completed week 1 of 2 (Saturday and Sunday) of 20th Century Corsetry. I’m really interested in this course because a) I’m obsessed with corsets – did I really need to state the obvious here?? b) I want to learn everything about corsets c) I want to learn more about fitting d) I really want to learn how to make ‘under’ corsets that fit under dresses and give structure to strapless dresses and dresses made from delicate fabrics – in my mind’s eyes, I am determined to still complete Vogue V1174 which to this day has remained a rather irritating UFO…

I was lucky enough to be fitted by our class tutor – who by the way is absolutely amazing! I have learnt so much from her already. I just want to keep doing more and more courses and I would if I didn’t have to pay my bills or need food survive too!

Anyway back to the pattern – We’re using a Simplicity pattern which is relatively easy and straightforward to alter for a large class of students. Simplicity 5006 in case you are wondering. This is my first toile and as the tutor fitted my corset, I am very happy with the fit! We then had to turn to our neighbours and fit their corsets which was great practice.

I should apologise now if you’re not keen on seeing me standing in a corset toile with my underwear on, but hey this is a sewing blog after all and we’re assessing fit!! I’m just glad I had a good bra on that day considering how much I bang on about lingerie 🙂


The basic alteration to this pattern for me is adding 2 cm in length near the waist point. This is based on measuring my actual arm pit to waist and waist to bust apex then comparing the measurements on the pattern pieces. Considering I am 5’10” – a 2cm addition to me feels a bit minimal but it seems to be enough. However the pattern includes a 1.5cm seam allowance at the top and bottom, so I will probably have to add that on when I do toile number 2.

I have also added in a little bit more at the side of the bust to prevent the dreaded ‘side boob’.


The other thing you might notice is that my bra straps are tightened up to the max, the clasp at the back is on its smallest and the straps are even pinned at the top to lift my bust as much as I want it to look in the final corset. Interesting fact that my teacher told us was a lot of bras have straps that are too long.


Plan is for this weekend coming to make our corsets in our actual fabric. So there is lots to do this week and this weekend! I love a good project though, it just makes my heart sing 🙂 Seriously, I can be so cheesy sometimes…

Thoughts on potential fabrics? I’m going to try to use something from my abundant stash and these are my current choices:-

1. A light cotton/silk mix voile bought from ditto fabrics last year


2.  A striped oranges and pinks natural silk (gifted from grandmother)


3. A rather cheeky cotton remnant for £2 from Fabrics Galore


3. Another sale item, this time I think it was from Sew Curvy or Vena Cava – Can’t remember. An orangeish satin backed coutil. It’s definitely more orange in natural light. So much so that I am often wondering how I could dye this to a more blush/ballet pink colour. (However as I am half Dutch, the thought of wearing anything brightly orange does not phase me in the slightest!)


5. Or for something completely different and a bit retro – A Cath Kidston piece I was given as a present – brushed cotton flannel. Although I wonder if I really would wear something like this as it really isn’t my style. So perhaps not a good choice.


At the moment I am leaning between number 1 and 4 the most but as always, I appreciate everyone’s opinions!

4 thoughts on “20th Century Corsetry

    • Freya says:

      If you want to try and make a corset, I would recommend making an underbust corset first – fitting the bust/making bust alterations can be quite tricky. So it’s best to start out making something a little easier. Also pick out a simple pattern such as this one from Laughing Moon: http://www.lafnmoon.com/product_p/p113.htm

      Also various companies like http://www.sewcurvy.com sell corset kits, with all the bits you need to make up a corset.

      There are lots of resources and turorials on the Internet to help guide you in making up corsets. I hope this helps 🙂

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