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Silverado Corset 1 (free article)

Piece of the Silverado pattern

Using a Commercial Pattern vs. Drafting Your Own

Let’s start right at the beginning.  Is it cheating to use a commercial pattern?  Does it make you any less of a corset maker?

If you’re about to open the doors to your very own corset boutique and the contents within consist of rows of corsets from various commercial patterns, then there’s room for some discussion as to the legal and ethical use of such patterns.  But when you’re learning your craft, just want a corset that you can say was made by your own fair hands, then I don’t see the problem, and it certainly doesn’t make your efforts any less valid.  In fact, I’d encourage it. 

Commercial patterns are a fantastic resource:  they remove one of the hardest hurdles of the craft - creating your own patterns.  It’s a whole different skill to learn and like constructing a corset, it’s a huge one.  So take it easy on yourself, focus on one skill and make some headway before muddying the waters with pattern drafting.  I did, I’d never been very successful in drafting patterns for anything.  I knew what I wanted to do but couldn’t translate it onto pattern paper.  The problem was that I didn’t understand the pattern lines beyond where to cut and where to stitch.  By manipulating commercial patterns little by little, I began to understand how each panel related to the corset shape as a whole, as well as the effect on the garment when altering one of the pattern lines in a certain way.  So when the time came to try my hand at drafting my own patterns, I found that I had learnt far more than I realised.

In my opinion the Laughing Moon Silverado corset pattern has gotten some harsh press on the internet.  While some people love it, there are just as many (if not more) people who believe that the pattern is poorly sized and fails to deliver on the promise of flowing curves and great bust support. 

Frequently, people are steered towards an alternative commercial pattern, but I think  the Silverado is one of the best patterns to start out with. Yes, there are some issues, but to be honest these are very quickly turned into huge bonuses that train the mind and push the corset maker to really think about what s/he is doing: How does each panel relate to the others beyond the seam line? What does great support actually look like on a two dimensional pattern? Do you really need to take as many measurements as some articles tell you to?  These are the questions that, when you take the time to answer them, lead you from creating an okay corset to crafting something entirely different: a fantastic corset.  And the difference between the two (in my mind) is everything. 

For me, the key to making a commercial pattern work for you is to measure it yourself.  Don’t rely solely on the sizing provided on the back of the envelope: these are standardised measurements and in my experience one "size 14" does NOT fit all size fourteen women. Why race to make your corset in the fastest time known to man if the result is going to be less than you’re capable of?  You don’t have to spend six weeks with a hundred packs of pencils and your calculator; just slow down and spend a little time getting to know your pattern, your body and then merging the two.  The key here is to see the brown paper contents of your pattern envelope as the starting point.  You’ve got the basics of a corset pattern and now you’re going to tailor that pattern into your corset pattern.

So let’s get started...

Measuring

The first thing to do is to put the sewing instructions away somewhere.   All you need is the pattern pieces and the envelope.

I’ve photocopied my pattern to help with this next part, and to save me should I forget to take a picture at the right moment.  I do all my pattern drafting on card and recommend that you stick your pattern onto some too:  it makes the pattern sturdier so it’s easier to alter and makes it easier to draw accurately around it for the next part.

The first thing we need to do is make sure we have the right measurements.  You’ll find some helpful tips on measuring in my article:  “Fitting: The Secret Skill”. To ensure the accuracy of our measurements, we will be measuring in millimetres.The Horizontal Measurements

1. Upper bust:  This will be the point on your body where you expect the top of your corset to be.  For this corset I’ll be extending the height of the corset as I want the top edge of the corset to be more in line with the top of my bust.   If you are not sure, always go a bit longer than you think, as it is then easier to adjust the pattern.  Trimming a bit off the top is much quicker than cutting and pasting.

2. Bust line.  It will help you immensely if you wear a bra that mimics the shape and curve of the bust that you want the corset to achieve, as you can use these measurements to plot the curve of the bust straight on to the pattern. This will cut down the amount of fiddling around at the toile stage.

3. Under bust.

4. Waist:  What it is, not what you would like it to be.  It’s tempting, I know I’ve tugged hard on the measuring tape myself.  But it does not give an accurate reflection of how much you squish in that area and will lead to discomfort later on.

5. Hips

6. Upper bust to bustline

Left Breast

Right Breast

7. Upper bust to underbustThe Vertical Measurements

Left Breast

Right Breast

8. Bustline to underbust

Left Breast

Right Breast

10.  Under bust to waist

Left Breast

Right Breast

11. Waist to hip

12.  Waist to bottom:  This is where you want the bottom of the corset to be at the back.  I personally like a corset to be raised slightly at the back – it makes sitting more comfortable.  So for this corset I have used a shorter line for the bottom of the corset.  If you are not sure, always go a bit longer than you think, as it is easier to shorten the pattern than to lengthen it.

13.  Waist to top:  This where you want the top of the corset to be at the back.  Again, if you are not sure, always go a bit longer than you think.

It helps to put your measurements into a table like this:

Body Position

Actual Measurement (mm)

Upper Bust

1008

Bustline

1046

Under Bust

899

Waist

867

Hip

1107

Upper Bust To Bustline(Left/Right)

134/138

Upper Bust To Under Bust(Left/Right)

221/218

Bustline To Under Bust (Left/Right)

87/80

Under Bust  To Waist (Left/Right)

129/131

Waist To Hip (Left/Right)

231/228

Waist To Bottom

163

Waist To Top

254

Hang on a minute, the envelope only asks for three measurements.  So why are we taking enough measurements to create a 3D map of our torsos?  Well, because that’s exactly what we are aiming to do; that’s what a well-fitting corset should be.

Waist reduction

Next we need to think about reduction.  How much do we reduce the waist by?  Well, there is no easy answer to this.  It depends on the squish factor of the body the corset is intended for.  Most people recommend the standard two inch reduction.  I personally think pulling a number out of thin air and sticking to it is arbitrary nonsense.  I could say “I’m going for six inches all over except for the waist.  I’m shrinking that by 10!”  And I have.  I sized my first corset pretty much like that.  It wasn’t a great success.  Now, when faced with working out the reduction for a client, I have a better model to work from.  For those new to wearing corsets I start with a 50mm reduction everywhere but the waist, where I give a 75mm reduction and let the toile guide me as to where to adjust this figure.  More on that later.

Be realistic and err on the side of caution:  it is much easier to take your toile in than it is to start adding extra bits of fabric all over.  So go for the smaller level of reduction and work your way up during the toile stage.

If your chosen reduction in any area is 75mm or less, compare your bustline, waist and hip measurements with the size guide on the back of the pattern envelope.  To do this we need to convert the measurements into inches. To do this you multiply your measurements by 0.0393700787.  Or if you type “convert 1008mm into inches” in a Google search pane it will give you the answer, alter the number accordingly and it will automatically recalculate the answer.  Technology – brilliant!

Bust Line:  1008 * 0.0393700787 = 39.6850394 = 39¾ inches (rounded to the nearest 1/4 inch) 

Waist:  867 * 0.0393700787 = 34.1338583 = 34¼ inches 

Hips: 1107 * 0.0393700787 = 43.5826772 = 43½ inches  

Now compare this to the size guide.  According to the size guide:

Bust Line:  Is closest to 40 inches so is a size 18

Waist:  is closest to 34 inches so is a size 20

Hips: Is closest to 44 inches so is a size 20

Make a note of this.

 

If your reduction is more than 75mm then it is best to do the next step, then add two inches to your each of your answers in the “New Total” column and then find the guide size on the back of the envelope.  Remember you only need to add two inches to find out the guide size; don’t write this result in the table.

Here follows some maths, it’s not tricky but it is pretty repetitive.  If you scroll down to the last table you will find a formula that will allow you to bypass the majority of the maths.  However, if you use the shortcut method, be certain to read through what follows so you know what I mean about seam allowances and reductions. 

I would recommend having a go using the long method though,  because it’s all too easy to miss something and it will help you when using other patterns.  It's how I finally got my head around working out how to correctly size a corset, whether from a commercial pattern or when I draft my own.

Now we need to subtract our chosen reduction from the figures that relate to the circumference of the torso.  As luck would have it, these are the first five figures in the table.  For my example I have decided to go with the standard model:  50mm reduction all over, except the waist which will be reduced by 75mm.

Body Position

Actual Measurement (mm)

Reduction Required (mm)

New Total (mm)

Upper Bust

1008

50

958

Bustline

1046

50

996

Under Bust

899

50

849

Waist

867

75

792

Hip

1107

50

1057

Upper Bust To Bustline

(Left/Right)

134/138

0/0

134/138

Upper Bust To Under Bust

(Left/Right)

221/218

0/0

221/218

Bustline To Under Bust (Left/Right)

87/80

0/0

87/80

Under Bust  To Waist (Left/Right)

129/131

0/0

129/131

Waist To Hip

(Left/Right)

231/228

0/0

231/228

Waist To Bottom

163

0

163

Waist To Top

254

0

254

Those familiar with spreadsheets might find it useful to create one to do the math for you.

Lacing Gap or Lace Closed?

Do you want your corset to lace closed or do you want a gap between the two back panels?  A gap at the back will allow you some flexibility should you lose a little weight, which the lacing closed option doesn’t have. If you do not want a gap, skip this part.

I like a gap at the back and so I'll incorporate a 6cm gap into the design. This information must be added into the table. In a new column, subtract the gap size from the New Total – if you’re thinking in inches remember to convert to millimetres!  Again, this only affects the first five figures in the table. Remember, you're subtracting the lacing gap - because you're slowly converting your body measurements into the measurements of the corset.

Body Position

Actual Measurement (mm)

Reduction Required (mm)

New Total (mm)

Deduct 60mm Lacing Gap

Upper Bust

1008

50

958

898

Bustline

1046

50

996

936

Under Bust

899

50

849

789

Waist

867

75

792

732

Hip

1107

50

1057

997

Upper Bust To Bustline

(Left/Right)

134/138

0/0

134/138

134/138

Upper Bust To Under Bust

(Left/Right)

221/218

0/0

221/218

221/218

Bustline To Under Bust (Left/Right)

87/80

0/0

87/80

87/80

Under Bust  To Waist

(Left/Right)

129/131

0/0

129/131

129/131

Waist To Hip

(Left/Right)

231/228

0/0

231/228

231/228

Waist To Bottom

163

0

163

163

Waist To Top

254

0

254

254

 

From Body Measurements to Corset Measurements

A corset is made in two halves, so we need to divide those figures that relate to the circumference of the torso by two:

Body Position

Actual Measurement

Reduction Required

New Total

Deduct 60mm Lacing Gap

Per Corset Half

Upper Bust

1008

50

958

898

449

Bustline

1046

50

996

936

468

Under Bust

899

50

849

789

394.5

Waist

867

75

792

732

366

Hip

1107

50

1057

997

498.5

Upper Bust To Bustline

(Left/Right)

134/138

0/0

134/138

134/138

134/138

Upper Bust To Under Bust

(Left/Right)

221/218

0/0

221/218

221/218

221/218

Bustline To Under Bust (Left/Right)

87/80

0/0

87/80

87/80

87/80

Under Bust  To Waist

(Left/Right)

129/131

0/0

129/131

129/131

129/131

Waist To Hip

(Left/Right)

231/228

0/0

231/228

231/228

231/228

Waist To Bottom

163

0

163

163

163

Waist To Top

254

0

254

254

254

 

Seam Allowances

The last thing we need to add to the table are the seam allowances for the corset.  The Silverado corset has six panels and two gussets per side.  I will be joining the seams using a 16mm seam allowance.  I use a 12mm seam allowance when inserting the busk.  Therefore we need to add the following to our measurements:

Upper Bust & Bust Line:

14*16 = 224mm

(To join the panel pieces and gussets together requires 7 lines of stitching.  Each line of stitching is composed of two pattern pieces.  Each seam is stitched using a 16mm seam allowance.

1*12 = 12mm

Used to insert the busk.  (You only count one because the busk is inserted by joining the top layer to the lining layer, which is not taken into account when calculating circumference - and we're calculating for one side of the corset only).

So we need to add 224 + 12 = 236mm to both the Upper Bust and Bust Line measurements:

Body Position

Per Corset Half

Seam Allowances To Be Added

Final Total

Upper Bust

449

236

685

Bustline

468

236

704

Under Bust

394.5

   

Waist

366

   

Hip

498.5

   

Upper Bust To Bustline

(Left/Right)

134/138

   

Upper Bust To Under Bust

(Left/Right)

221/218

   

Bustline To Under Bust (Left/Right)

87/80

   

Under Bust  To Waist

(Left/Right)

129/131

   

Waist To Hip

(Left/Right)

231/228

   

Waist To Bottom

163

   

Waist To Top

254

   

 

Under Bust, Waist and Hips:

10*16 = 160mm

(To join the 6 panel pieces together requires 5 lines of stitching.  Each line of stitching is composed of two pattern pieces.  Each seam is stitched using a 16mm seam allowance.

1*12 = 12mm

Used to insert the busk.

So we need to add 160 + 12 = 172mm to both the Upper Bust and Bust Line measurements:

Body Position

Per Corset Half

Seam Allowances To Be Added

Final Total

Upper Bust

449

236

685

Bustline

468

236

704

Under Bust

394.5

172

566.5

Waist

366

172

538

Hip

498.5

172

670.5

Upper Bust To Bustline

(Left/Right)

134/138

 

134/138

Upper Bust To Under Bust

(Left/Right)

221/218

 

221/218

Bustline To Under Bust (Left/Right)

87/80

 

87/80

Under Bust  To Waist

(Left/Right)

129/131

 

129/131

Waist To Hip

(Left/Right)

231/228

 

231/228

Waist To Bottom

163

 

163

Waist To Top

254

 

254

 

Those with a keen eye will have noticed that I haven’t included a seam allowance to attach the outside edge of the back panel to the lining.  This is because I cut the back panel so that the outside edge sits on a fold:  it’s a lot less fiddling about and guarantees a straight line.

Your answers in the Final Total Column are the dimensions for one half of your corset at specific positions.  Next we’ll look at the Silverado pattern and compare the measurements we have calculated against the dimensions of the pattern and make any changes necessary.

Shortcuts for Next Time

It’s worth noting that if you are going to use this pattern a lot you can simplify this process by combining the steps.

For instance, whenever I make this pattern I always use the given seam allowances, so I calculate the width of the corset by using the following formula:

Multiply the seam allowance by two to give the total seam allowance for the entire corset.  From this subtract the total reduction.  Add to this the actual body measurement. And then divide the answer by 2.

(((Seam allowance *2) – Total Reduction) + Actual Body Measurement) /2

For the given parameters above I would use the following calculation:

 Body Position

Formula

Upper Bust

(362 + Actual Body Measurement) / 2

Bust Line

(362 + Actual Body Measurement) / 2

Under Bust

(234 + Actual Body Measurement) / 2

Waist

(209 + Actual Body Measurement) / 2

Hips

(234 + Actual Body Measurement) / 2

Before you proceed it’s worth checking your final measurements.  As the saying goes, measure twice, cut once!  If you have chosen to use the same seam allowances and reductions as I have you can use the formula in the table.  If not, use the formula description above the table to create your own.

Comparing Measurements to the Pattern

 

Now (finally), we can move on to the pattern pieces.  Remember the sizes we noted down from the back of the envelope?  We need to plot these on to the Silverado pattern.  Here the waistline is key – the majority of our measurements have been made using the waist line as a reference point.  But when you try to identify the waistline on the pattern you’ll see that it isn’t marked (which isn’t very helpful).  There may be a temptation to use the lengthen/shorten line as your waistline.  Don’t. A quick inspection will show that they don’t easily line up and when we’ve finished you will see just how bad such a decision would have been

Marking the Waistline

Panels 14 and 15 are the easiest to position the waistline, so we’ll start there:

First take panel 15, identify the narrowest point on the right hand side and mark it.

First take panel 14, identify the narrowest point on the right hand side and mark it.

 

The waistline on this panel lies at a 90 degree angle to the grain line, so take a set square and line up one side with the grain line and the other with your narrowest point mark.

Next place a ruler under the set square and draw a line through the panel.

The waistline on this panel lies at a 90 degree angle to the grain line, so take a set square and line up one side with the grain line and the other with your narrowest point mark. Next place a ruler under the set square and draw a line through the panel. Next place a ruler under the set square and draw a line through the panel.

Repeat the process for panel 14: you will find that the narrowest point is easiest to locate on the left hand side.

Piece 14, Narrowest point The waistline on this panel lies at a 90 degree angle to the grain line, so take a set square and line up one side with the grain line and the other with your narrowest point mark. The marked waistline on piece 14

 

Panel 13 is a bit tricky.  It is the only panel where the waistline is not positioned at a 90 degree angle to the grain line. 

Thankfully, it is easy to locate the narrowest points on both sides of the panel.  So all you need to do is mark each narrow point and draw a line between the two.

Panel 13 is a bit tricky.  It is the only panel where the waistline is not positioned at a 90 degree angle to the grain line.  Thankfully, it is easy to locate the narrowest points on both sides of the panel.  So all you need to do is mark each narrow point and draw a line between the two.

 

 

 

 

 

For panel 16 there is a small problem as the panel narrows above the waistline.  The easiest way to overcome this is to measure the distance between the notch marked “7” and the waistline on panel 15.  Then measure and mark the same distance from the notch marked “7” on panel 16.  Use the set square to line up one edge with the grain line and the other with your marking.  Use a ruler to draw your waistline.

Panel 16, finding the waistline Panel 16, finding the waistline Panel 16, finding the waistline  

  

Panel 12’s waistline does run at a 90 degree angle from the grain line, but there is no visible clue as to where the waistline is because the panel doesn’t significantly narrow in any one place on either side of the panel.  To find the waistline, look at the position of the waistline on panel 13.

On the left hand side (where it will be joined to panel 12) the waist line runs through the notch marked “4”

Panel 12, finding the waistline Panel 12, finding the waistline

So mirror this position on panel 12, and then use the set square and ruler to draw the waistline:

 So mirror this position on panel 12, and then use the set square and ruler to draw the waistline:

 So mirror this position on panel 12, and then use the set square and ruler to draw the waistline:

 

 

 

 

To find the waist line for panel 11, first look at panel 12.  Note the distance between the notch marked “3” and the waistline.  Then measure and mark the same distance from the notch marked “3” on panel 11.  Use the set square to line up one edge with the grain line and the other with your marking.  Use a ruler to draw your waistline.

To find the waist line for panel 11, first look at panel 12. To find the waist line for panel 11, first look at panel 12.  Note the distance between the notch marked “3” and the waistline.  Then measure and mark the same distance from the notch marked “3” on panel 11 Use the set square to line up one edge with the grain line and the other with your marking.  Use a ruler to draw your waistline.

 

So now we have our waistline. From this point we can compare the dimensions of the pattern against the required dimensions of your corset and make adjustments as necessary. 

I find it easiest to do if you lay out the panels so that the waist line of each piece follows a single line.

I start with the measurements that relate to the circumference of the torso (upper bust, under bust, bustline, waist and hip) as these are the same for both sides of the corset.

From this point we can compare the dimensions of the pattern against the required dimensions of your corset and make adjustments as necessary.  I find it easiest to do if you lay out the panels so that the waist line of each piece follows a single line.

 

 

 

Bustline

When measuring the bustline it can be confusing when trying to select the right size gusset.

I find this process helpful:

1. Measure the underbust, then go one size above this, measure at this size all the panel pieces at the bustline.  So if your underbust size is equivalent to a size 20 then measure the bustline using the size 22.

2. Subtract the total width of the panels from the required bustline measurement.

3. Divide the answer by two.  Find the gusset where the widest point is equivalent to this number (you may need to adjust the gusset).

Altering the Vertical Measurements

Next I cut the pattern pieces out and trace around each panel twice, making sure to transfer all notches and markings and clearly label each panel with the panel number and which side of the corset it belongs to.  This way I have a set of panels for the left and right side of the corset and I have the original pattern as a backup.

Using the measurements for the left side of the body, alter the vertical dimensions of the corset (waist to hip, waist to underbust, etc).  I find it easiest to use the cut and paste methods described in the article Fitting The Bustline.

The Toile and Fitting

When you are happy that your panel pieces match as closely as possible the dimensions listed in the Final Total column of the table, you can make your toile to check the fit.  Make sure you clearly label your toile pieces (panel number, left or right side of the corset and all the notches and markings from the pattern).  It’s likely that you will need to make some minor adjustments.  This is normal as we have only guessed at the body’s ability to “squish down”.  There is a lot of advice on fitting a toile in the following articles:

Your Toile must have the busk attached and you need to also plan the positions of your boning channels.  There is also advice on these in the following articles:

If the idea of inserting bust gussets leaves you feeling a little uneasy you might find the article Wrinkle Free Insertion Of Bust Gores And Gussets helpful.

Final Note

On a final note, after fitting your toile, be sure to transfer any alterations made to the toile onto the relevant pattern piece.  There are some ideas on how to do this in the article Planning Out Boning Channels (link above).

In the next article we’ll be looking at how to alter the pattern to fit.

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Gravatar
juliab  
  Hello! what a lot of work you have done making this article! It might be me being dense .. but can I clarify .. are you reducing the entire circumference of the corset - upper bust, bustline, underbust etc., plus extra for the waist from the actual measurements of the person .. and if so, why do you? I know that there is no ease in a corset (obviously) but I would have thought room was needed for the displaced 'squidge' .. have I missed something? When I am drafting corset patterns I use the actual measurements of the body and only reduce the waist which seems to work perfectly .. however, as I say that is from my self drafted patterns so I am wondering if it is different when altering commercial patterns.  
 
Gravatar
lauraloft  
  Hi Juliab,
Yes, the aim is to reduce the circumference of the torso by 50mm, with an additional reduction of 25mm at the waist (75mm in total).
Squidge factor is the amount of reduction possible without causing discomfort or unslightly bulges at the top and bottom of the corset.
The the pressure created by reducing the torso allows you to reshape the figure - such as smoothing out the line of the hips, and to create the appearance of a slimmer figure.
Remember that corsets where used to create the "fashionable" silhouettes of the past. It's no coincidence that the modern silhouettes lack the range and severity demonstrated when corsets were a normal everyday occurence.
 
 
Gravatar
juliab  
  Thanks for clarifying that Laura.  
 
Gravatar
silvers  
  Hi, I was wondering about the bust area. This is all new for me, so excuse a newbie question! I understand the reductions to the torso...but myself, I have a smaller bust and in any *coughs* shop-bought, my bust area gaps dramatically! Would I still continue and reduce the size for the bust area regardless? I know this will be made to fit me perfectly *crosses fingers*, but I was unsure about reducing the bust. I'm itching to get started today on this, but wanted to check first :oD

Thank you!
Hugs!
xXx
 
 
Gravatar
lauraloft  
  Hello Silvers,
I would recommend reducing the bust as per the instructions, should you need to let it out a little you can use excess in the seam allowance during the toile phase. Remember to transfer any changes made during the toile phase to the master pattern!
 
 
Gravatar
lithillify  
  Hi,

Just for those who are using the silverado & dore pattern pack, the panel numbers are different (because it numbers panels for dore and silverado) so the numbers you want are as follows :

(dore & silverado pack panel no. = website panel no.)

20 = 11
21 = 12
22 = 13
23 = 14
24 = 15
25 = 16

Most will probably know this but I'm new to it and it took me a while to figure it out so thought I'd add this for any other newbies :)
 
 
Gravatar
lithillify  
  p.s. 5/8 " seam allowance is included in the dore & silverado pack so no need to factor in seam allowance for those who have it :)  
 
Gravatar
lithillify  
  scratch that, I'm totally showing off my newbieness whistle

ignore my last post, nothing to see here folks

the seam is still needed because it is still on the pattern and so it will add to the measurements. Ho hum...I thought the pattern that's featured here didn't include seam allowance...but now I know it must do...this my first commercial pattern, so that's my excuse tongue
 
 
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