January 11, 2012

1911 - sewing the mock-up

Before we start sewing make sure the pieces are pressed and that pins, a ruler, scissors, and a pencil or chalk are nearby. Also, I realized when I said one spool of thread in the supply list that was for the finished corset only, you'll need more than one spool to sew both the mock-up and the finished corset.

Start assembling the mock-up by pinning the center front pieces together, face to face, and marking a point 10 inches from the top on the center front seam line. If you added an inch to the top edge make a mark 11 down. Sew the pieces together at the center front with a 1 inch seam allowance, stitching from the top down, using a long stitch length, and stop at the mark you made.

Press the seam allowances open. You should have something that looks like this.

Sew each allowance in place 5/8 inch from the center front seam, all the way to the bottom edge.

Then sew across the seam allowance at the point you marked earlier. Two 1/2 inch wide bones will be slid into these openings during fitting to substitute for the boning at the busk, but don't put them in until everything is assembled. This is just to show you where they'll fit.

If you are sewing post Edwardian pattern you just take the next piece, match the seam allowance at the ends like this.

Match the notches together and pin, and then pin the rest of the seam together at as many points as needed. With curves the seam allowances won't always lay flat together. Once side might be ruffly, like this.

That's OK. What matters is that the fabric meets evenly at the seam. If you press your fingers together with one on each of the seam it should feel smooth. Sew the pieces together, one after the other, always with a 1 inch seam allowance and always from the top of the corset to the bottom. I like to complete one side of the corset then sew other side, but if you prefer to sew both piece 2s, then both piece 3s, etc., that's OK too. Also, if you traced the pattern then added the seam allowance you'll have a nice line telling you exactly where the seam is. You can see it in the picture above helping me know exactly how deep to pin. It also makes sewing your seams easier since you can just follow the line.

If you are sewing Norah Waugh's Corsets and Crinolines pattern construction is exactly the same, except you'll add the hip gores.

When all the pieces are sewn together press the seam allowances open. A tailor's ham helps when pressing those curved seams.

You're done for the day! If you are a beginner don't worry if it's not perfect. This is a warm up before moving on to the final fabric. Don't get in the habit of sewing over pins, sew slowly and remove them before they hit your presser foot. Take your time and just keep sewing. Tomorrow I'll show how to make lacing strips for those that need them, then we'll finish the mock-up on Friday.


  1. I got the 9" busk because I'm short and short-waisted. Should I make my mark 9" from the top, or still do it at 10"?

  2. When I have a pattern that I suspect will need a lot of adjusting I usually sew the seams with the fabric wrong sides together on the first mock up so that the allowances are on the outside rather than the inside. It makes it easier to get to the allowance fabric for the adjusting, but I've not used such a large allowance before, so this should be interesting.

  3. Anonymous, since we'll be dropping the 1/2 inch wide bones in for fitting, and they are 10 inches, go ahead and make the mark at 10 inches.

    Tristage, we will do the fitting with the seams to the outside. I find that with 1/2 inch allowances if I need to add to a panel it is almost impossible to pin with just an 1/8 inch of seam allowance left. So I make them giant just in case.

  4. I had no puckers, I heart your notches ;)

    1. I'm so glad to hear that! I always feel like I'm prattling on forever about notches, but they make such a difference.