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This post concerns instructions to draft a pattern to make an underbust corset that looks like this:


This post is mainly for my own benefit, but I've decided to put it up here as I'm pretty sure at least two of my fList are interested in the pattern cutting gumph, and other people might also find it useful :)

Disclaimer: This pattern is suitable for very curvy lasses with a narrow ribcage, a slightly squishy waist and very ample hips. I have no idea how well it will work for anyone who doesn't have the same figure as me ;) My dimensions are 29" underbust, 30.5" waist and 40.5" hips, just in case that's useful.

I'm thinking of this as an intuitive method, as it doesn't involve a lot of calculations, and it does involve a bit of guesswork. I never was very scientific with my pattern drafting. Still, this method worked really well for me, and hopefully it will work well for other people.

What I wanted out of this pattern

A small gap at the back.
A lot of reduction at the waist.
No reduction at all on my ribcage and hips.

Acknowledgements: The first stages of this pattern was initially derived from instructions given here and, to a lesser extent, here. They provided a great starting point, and are really useful resources.


My apologies about the quality of the diagrams. Next time I draft a corset pattern, I will take photographs of all the stages, rather than just the final thing. ;)

Previous posts about this corset and many images of the toile and the first complete one from this pattern can be found here, and here.


Before I started, I found it's useful to know these measurements:

True waist
Hips/widest part thereof
True waist to hip
Underarm to true waist
How long you want the front of the corset to be

Seam allowances

This pattern has no integral seam allowances. I generally leave 1.5cm around the outside of the pattern pieces, but you might want to leave more, depending on the method of seam construction you're using. I've been experimenting with the sandwich method, and 1.5cm seems ample for that.



Draw your first two lines:

a. is waist measurement minus the width of the gap you want at the back, divided by two. I went for a 2 inch gap.

I have used the waist measurement as my basic measurement, but this page suggests you use your widest measurement. I can see this being useful for people with narrow hips, or shorter corsets, but as I wanted a very long waspie and I have very wide hips in comparison with my ribcage, I elected to go the long way around and make sure I got everything right for my figure!

If your ribcage is wider than your waist then you might want to use your ribcage measurement. My waist is 1.5 inches larger than my ribcage, which is why I went for the waist.


Make a box:

Divide the box vertically into as many panels as you want one half of the final corset to have. I opted for five. Yours should look a hell of a lot neater than my diagram ;)

Working from CB (centre back, on the left) to CF (centre front, on the right), my first three panels were 3 inches each, the fourth was slightly smaller, and the fifth was the remainder.

I didn't apply great maths to this, I just guessed. There's probably a more scientific way of doing it, and I'm sure that I'll learn it one day :D


Draw in your waist line. Measure on yourself from the highest point you want your corset to reach at CF to your true waist, and draw the line that far down your box.

Work out how much waist reduction you want in total. I took one full inch from each panel at the waist, except the fourth panel (from left, second from right), where I took half an inch from the left seam, and less from the right seam (and the centre back and centre front panels, which are only shaped on one side). This is because I wanted less of a dramatic curve at the front than at the sides.


This bit’s for ladies like me, whose hips are a good bit wider than their waists.

I couldn’t possibly fit the hip section into my first box, so I didn’t bother trying. This is what I did instead:

Number and cut out the panels from the waist up.

Make a box very similar to what you did for step 2, but with your hip measurement as the basis for the width calculation (still has desired front length for the height).


Mark in your waist line, as before, then mark in your hip line, using your waist to hip measurement for guidance.

Divide the box into vertical panels using the same/similar proportions as you did for step 2. I made the first three panels 4 inches, the third slightly smaller, and the fifth took up the remainder.

Stick your panel pieces in the centre of the corresponding panels, lining up the waist lines. Except for the CB and CF panels, which need to be lined up at the waist and the CB/CF.


Mark on your hip to waist shaping.

For mine, I then took the panel pieces out to the hip (my widest measurement), below which I wanted no reduction. Hence, below the hip, there is no shaping whatsoever.

I curved the seam slightly at the hip, but not too much. The pictures of my final pattern pieces (below) should give a better idea of what I did than my rather shoddy diagrams!


The final step is to work out how you want to curve the top and bottom of your corset. I wanted mine to come down quite low in the back, but quite high at the front, and to come down further than the widest point of my hips so that it didn’t squish my flab and give me an unsightly and depressing fat roll!

The pattern pieces will give a better idea about the shaping I gave mine. I didn’t apply any complex maths to it, I just made sure that the underarm to waist was right. Then I cut them out and lay them seam to seam at the top and marked on the curve I wanted for the top, then did the same with the bottom.

The pattern pieces are layed out in the same arrangement as my awful diagrams above, CB on left, CF on front:

Just in case it's useful, I need to note that I reduced the height of the centre-front after taking this photo, but only by a small amount (2cm at most). As you can see in this image, it had to come down a little. The CF pattern piece now looks less steep towards the top right.


If you use this method and make a corset, I'd really love to see pictures of it (and construction photos, and photos of pattern drafting, etc.) :)


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 5th, 2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
WOW...Thank you so much!!!!! I apprecaite the time you took. Excellent work!
Mar. 6th, 2008 01:01 am (UTC)
Thanks for commenting :D I hope it'll be useful for other people!
Jun. 26th, 2010 06:03 am (UTC)
could you write more about it?
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 6th, 2008 01:02 am (UTC)
Thankyou :D I've just received some flat steels and a busk, so I can start work on the next one.
Mar. 6th, 2008 07:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you thank you thank you!!

I needed a pattern for a costume I'm working on and nothing so far had come close. And I suck at drafting my own. Thank you!!
Mar. 24th, 2008 09:38 am (UTC)
I'm really glad you like it :) I hope it does turn out to be helpful for you. I've posted better pictures of the next one I drafted over here (with photos rather than shoddy diagrams!).
Mar. 6th, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC)
Nifty little tutorial and nice product.
Mar. 24th, 2008 09:38 am (UTC)
Thankyou :D
Mar. 25th, 2008 10:18 pm (UTC)
I have a question, on step 3. You said you took an inch off of each panel, but in the picture it shows a half inch, is it an inch or half an inch? By panel I'm guessing it means each piece.

Apr. 1st, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)
Hi, sorry it's taken me a while to get back to you. I've been on holiday for the last week and haven't had Internet access. :)

Ah, I see where I've been unclear, thanks for pointing that out! It should have said one full inch from each panel, except the centre front and centre back. Those have half an inch, as they're only shaped on one edge. For the other panels, I took one full inch from each panel at the waist, measuring half an inch either side of the vertical lines.

There are some better photos in this post, of a pattern I drafted for a friend, which might make it clearer!

I shall go change that now... ;)
Apr. 1st, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
Great! Thank you!
Feb. 15th, 2009 12:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this tutorial! It helped me draft my first Victorian-inspired corset. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your process. Thank you!
Feb. 16th, 2009 08:37 am (UTC)
Wow, that's such a gorgeous shape! Thanks for the link :D

It's so cool to see that this pattern is actually useful for other people and not just me! :D
Jun. 13th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
This was so helpful! I created my first ever corset using this method for my pattern and I am so pleased with it, thank you!
You can see it here and here

Thanks once again for a great, easy to understand pattern method.
Jun. 16th, 2009 09:29 am (UTC)
Hi :D

I'm really glad that people who aren't me are finding this useful :D

Wow, that corset looks gorgeous! (I take it that's you in the photos. I love your hair!)
Oct. 1st, 2009 10:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. I tried sewing my own corset, and here is what I came up with:
Oct. 2nd, 2009 07:20 am (UTC)
Re: Thank you
Hi :D I'm really glad you found it useful. And thankyou for crediting me!

That's a very cool vid. I always love to see other peoples' photo journals :D
Nov. 5th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for posting this pattern drafting method - it's insanely helpful! I used it to draft an underbust corset as part of a costume I made of Glinda from the musical Wicked, here's a link if you're interested: FYI, I've linked to this post in the section where I discuss the corset. Thanks again!
Nov. 5th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC)
Wow, that whole outfit is utterly stunning!

Thanks for crediting :D I'm so pleased you found this useful!

*bookmarks your blog*
Jun. 19th, 2010 01:03 pm (UTC)
Help With Pattern...
Hi there,

I was using your pattern and I know that it is old but I got confused when I got to the shaping bit... I don't understand what you did... Could you explain or lead me to another tutorial? Thank you in advance...

Sorry for the anon screen name but I can't remember mine right now... Not on my own computer.

Ktyn. x
Jun. 19th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Help With Pattern...
Yeah, it's old and I've not looked at it in a while!

If you let me know in greater detail exactly which bit you're unsure of, I'll try to give a more helpful explanation :)
Jul. 20th, 2010 06:39 pm (UTC)
great tutorial, thank you for putting it up. I found it a little confusing at times, being a complete beginner, but managed to make a mock up that looks ok. However I am unsure how to do the boning, does the excess from the seams get made into boning channels (in which case 1.5cm doesn't seem to be enough)or is there something i have missed?
Jul. 20th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
Hi :D Thanks, I'm really glad it helped! I'm also a beginner, so I totally get the confusion :) (also, you haven't missed anything - I haven't posted anything about construction methods because I'm not in any way an expert!)

Re. methods, check out the tags on corsetmakers, as there's so much wonderful advice over there about the various different ways to make boning channels.

As for what I do, I tend to use this method, which can be a bit fiddly, but gives a nice result :)

I hope you find the links helpful. Best of luck :)
Jun. 24th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
Great tutorial! Just what I needed help with. I'm almost done drafting my pattern. My corset will be for a Bellatrix Lestrange costume for the FINAL Harry Potter premiere... I'll post a picture of the completed costume when it's done. Thanks again for the tutorial!
Jun. 25th, 2011 09:41 am (UTC)
I'm glad it was helpful :D Best of luck with the costume, I'd love to see piccies when it's done!
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )


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