A self-drafted corset dress with layered skirt

Courtesy of Butterick B5797

corset dress with layered skirt front view1

 

So, first of all, I have been away for a week, and even though I came back with a massive cold, it was absolutely lovely. I went to Magaluf for HTID in the Sun. Not only was this my first time going to a holiday resort, it was also one of the best experiences regarding hardcore events. There is definitely something to be said for spending some time with your other half, lazing about in the sunshine all day and stomping about to your favourite music at night. As we don’t live in the UK, we don’t get to go to hardcore events very often, so this was a huge treat for us.

Also, I think this might have been the first time I brought exclusively self-made clothes anywhere on holiday! Yey! I can’t believe I managed that. Granted, one of them was only a refashion of a kaftan. But since that involved making an actual dress out of what can only be described as a fabric square, it’s basically self-made. 😉

In the last week before this holiday, I went a bit barmy and made three dresses to take with me. This is one of them. It was a complete spur-of-the-moment idea and I made it out of scraps I had had for years, and in a timeframe of three days. Unfortunately, the time in my “suitcase”, which is actually just a rucksack (I love to travel with hand luggage – no waiting around for baggage at airports), didn’t do it terribly well. The boning is now a bit wonky, as I am sure can be seen in the images, and hasn’t retained the same shape as before.

I’m a huge fan of rigilene as boning, as it’s quite flexible and while I like corset-shaped bodices, I don’t necessarily want to dance around in something with steel bones. And when I say dancing, I mean hardcore raver stomping, so it’s more like exercise really (but very very fun exercise). And I can’t do exercise in a steel-boned corset, although I am sure some people can…

 

corset dress with layered skirt close up front

 

Idea & Construction

As stated above, this was mostly an idea I had about 4 days before going on holiday. It’s always just before a holiday that I have a tonne of ideas for new dresses… I wanted something a bit fairy-like, elegant, form-fitting and cute at the same time. This patterned fabric had been catching my eye every time I came across it in my fabric stash. I knew I didn’t have quite enough for a whole dress, although there was more than I thought in the end, but was willing to make a bodice out of it.

I started making the bodice with the only corset-pattern I own: B5797. I know this is not a popular pattern, but I’ve had good results using it before and find it very useful for projects involving “fashion” corsets. I shortened the pattern considerably to make sure it only went to my waist and also lowered the back to make it look more like a bodice and less like a corset.

For the boning I went for a very simple solution: I overlocked the raw edges and then sewed the seam allowances either to one side, or in the case of the side seams and back seam, to both sides. This gave me boning channels that are not even visible on the inside of the garment.

 

corset dress inside with hidden boning

 

I think I might have already mentioned this in my last post, but I have never actually used a skirt pattern. Originally, I was going to finish the skirt simply with the black lining fabric and some tulle on top, but as it turned out that I only had enough black tulle for one layer and I still had some of the patterned fabric, I made another cute, scalloped layer out of that.

Since this is made of scraps, it is made up of four panels, each containing only two scallops. The black underskirt is made of 4 panels also, whereas the tulle layer is a lightly scalloped circle skirt cut in one go.

 

corset dress with layered skirt top view1

 

The finishing touches were made by adding an exposed zip at the front, bindable straps at the top and bias binding around the top edge of the corset. I used a rolled hem on all other exposed edges. Even though I think I could have done better, given a bit more time and a sturdier boning, I still really love this dress and am incredibly proud of it.

I have had the feeling lately that my sewing has massively improved since last year and that I can actually realise my ideas in a way that is pretty close to the original thought. This came out almost exactly the way I imagined it, which makes me so happy.

 

corset dress with layered skirt back view1

The corset pattern that no one likes: Butterick B5797

 

corset B5797 on me

Butterick B5797 is not a very popular pattern. It is a so-called “fashion corset”, which will NOT give the support or desired waist-cinching effect of a real corset. It definitely offers some support though.

However, I was looking for something I could wear out dancing (currently preparing for Uproar in the Dam), something that would give me the look of a corset, while also offering light support. Most importantly, I didn’t want to deal with grommets or clasps. I wanted something I could whip up and then close with a zip.

Seeing the pattern, I thought it was perfect for me. I really liked the option to put shoulder straps on, although I ended up not doing it, as I found it supported itself nicely (with a bit of additional boning) and stayed up without any problems.

Sizing

The sizing on Butterick patterns is relatively confusing to me. I tend to go for a US size 14, which would put me at a UK 16. Famously, there is usually some ease calculated into the pattern size one is meant to choose. If I went by their sizing chart, I would end up at a size 20, which I would absolutely swim in. As B5797 is only available in size 6-14 or 14-22, I thought I’d rather take in something that is too big, so I went for the bigger one.

I made the size 14, but graded the chest area up to a 16. It fit pretty ok when I made a muslin, but it was very hard to see the final form before putting the bones in. Once I had done that, I ended up taking the back and front seam in by about 1 cm each.

I must say though, I am pretty glad I got away with using the size 14. There is almost no pattern I can use in just one size without either grading it down in the waist or grading it up in the bust and hips, but I find Butterick especially difficult and often find significant sizing differences between their patterns.

Fabric

I used black duchess satin for the outside of the corset and lined it with a purple owl print cotton. The satin is quite thick and a lovely quality. However, I overlocked all the edges on it, as it frays terribly.

The owl print is so cute, I could wear the corset inside out. It is possible, although closing and opening a zip from the inside is quite hard. Also, unfortunately, the lining has some wrinkling issues.

B5797 lining front

This is the wonky looking lining. As this was my first time putting in a floating lining, I underestimated how precisely it had to match the outside to lay flat.

Boning

The boning I used was Rigilene. It is very lightweight, but gave exactly the support I want. Contrary to the pattern, I added boning channels on the outside of all the seams (except the front seam) by making my own binding out of the satin I used. I also added additional boning by putting two more boning channels on the inside of either side of the garment, as well as two boning channels next to the zip.

Rigilene can be sewn through. It feels a bit like cheating, but it was the only way I could get additional boning in, as I decided to do that quite late. Some of the boning channels cross, so with steel or even “normal”plastic boning, that would have been a much more difficult task. In addition, once I did the topstitching, I could just sew over the ends of the boning to secure it.

B5797 stitch detail

You can see the boning channels I added to the outside, as well as one of the ones I stitched on the inside of the corset shell.

Making corsets is fun

I very much enjoyed making this and will probably make it again. I really like the look it gives me without being uncomfortably tight. I plan on wearing this with a colourful tulle skirt, which I am also currently working on, but I am sure it would also look good with jeans or a circle skirt and petticoat.

I know it is not perfect. There is an amount of rippling in the fabric that any corsetmaker would snuff at, my topstitching is never entirely straight and the lining has all sorts of wrinkling problems. For my very first corset, I thought it was a great project though.

 

B5797 back

B5797 corset flat

B5797 side detail

B 5797 front 2