Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Sewing With Mother: The Sophia Underbust Corset - Roll Pinning & Flatlining

Hello! Well after the great start I had catching up with my corset posting things went a bit awry. Life has a terrible habit of creeping up on me at the moment and expecting me to do other things. So, finally today I am going to talk a little bit about what I did with my pattern pieces once I had cut them out.

Just to back track a bit I had adjusted the fit of my toile to take into account the fact that I needed more room. Once I had made all the changes I tried it on again and it was so big that I could have taken out the last panel. Just shows you how much bloat I can gain or lose over the course of a few days, so back it went to the original size. So now I am making this up as the same straight size as the pattern with no adjustments (for now).

Firstly, I had decided that I was going to make a double layer corset consisting of the outer shell fabric (which I interfaced but I am not counting that), the inner strength layer of cotton herringbone coutil (recycled from my toile) and an inner "floating" lining (also not counting) which I will make out of a fancy patterned quilting cotton, kind of my trademark. The cotton coutil has a smooth side and a herringbone weave side as you can see in the photo above. Not that it matters for me as I covered it but the herringbone side will be used on the outside. The stripes are handy as I lined up the grain markings with them. I pressed the coutil with lots of steam before I cut out my pieces and all pieces are cut with the grain parallel to the selvedge.

I cut the pattern pieces out of a red/cobalt blue shot silk dupion and a medium weight fusible interfacing. You should really preshrink this by soaking it in hot water until it goes cold and then hanging up to dry. Then there is no surprises. If you don't do this and you then steam your corset later on then then you take the chance that it will look a bit bubbly instead of the smooth surface that you are looking for, just don't ask me how I know this. I had also pressed the silk with a lot of steam before I cut out my pieces. There is a lot of pressing in a corset. Remember to iron your interfacing on with a dry iron and no steam.

Just to be on the safe side when you are interfacing your pieces lay them out in front of you and make sure that they are a) the right side up and b) that they are the mirror image of each other. I like to use an interfacing as it provides a subtle extra layer of strength and support to the thin silk fabric and helps with cutting out any wrinkling of my outer fabric. 

So now I had a pile of interfaced silk pieces and my coutil pieces. I joined them together in a process called flatlining where they are attached to each other then treated as one piece. I did this by laying the silk pieces over the corresponding coutil pieces and carefully sewing round the outside close to the edge inside of the seam allowance. It doesn't have to be neat as it will be hidden in the seam.

However, if you just lay them totally flat and stitch them together like that then when you put your corset on finally then you are more likely to get wrinkles as the outer fabric will be stressed as it is getting stretched more than the inner fabric. How come you ask? Well, much as we would like we are not flat and to follow the curve of your body then the outer curve will be longer than the inner curve to cover the same distance, add into this the room that your fabric takes up, the turn of cloth, further stressing your outer fabric. To combat this before I started my flatlining I lined up the pattern pieces and pinned them in the upper seam allowance in the middle over a firm curved surface. Some people use a tailor's ham for this but you don't have to buy anything special, a towel rolled into a tube does fine. Then I smoothed out my pieces over the curve from the middle to the edges. Pinning them to keep them in place in the seam allowance and then stitched. My pieces didn't overlap completely by this point. This is okay and will be hidden in the seam allowance anyway. This technique is called roll pining and it will make all the difference in the look of my final corset.

The photo above shows my pieces after they had been roll pinned. They are lying on a table and you can see that they don't lie completely flat, they have a very slight curve to them.

So at the end of this process you should be left with a big thick pile of your pattern pieces. They will feel pretty stiff with all the layers but this will be a good thing as they will need to stand up to a lot of pressure and not stretch out or tear.

This has taken me loosely to about point 6 in the pattern instructions. Now I needed to sew in the busk and add in the grommets to the back of the corset and baste it together for yet another fitting but more on that next time. Hope that this makes some sense. 

Have you ever had a misadventure with interfacing? Or have a better way to get the wrinkles out of your corsets. I would love to hear all about it!

Have a great week, Lovelies. 

K xx


  1. Great post! I haven't done anything further on my corset...I have had a lot on my plate lately.

    1. Hi Marike, I know how you feel. I am not as far along as I would like but I am hoping to get it finished next week when I am off. They are quite time-consuming to make. Xx

  2. God - this is a whole new language for me, Kelly but I'm learning lots!

    Can't wait to see the finished product.

    Have a great week


    1. Thanks Veronica, there is lots of sewing jargon isn't there? I hope that you are having a lovely holiday. I am off just now so it will be action stations here and hopefully I will get to catch up. Xx

  3. Kelly, this post was a joy to read. I feel like I'm learning something every time you publish a sewing blog. You explain your techniques in such a clear way, you ought to write a book. xxx

    1. Awww thanks, Vix. I am really glad to hear that. There is so much jargon and stuff out there that doesn't get explained clearly and most of it is really simple too. I think writing instructions for science things at work must be paying off. Xx