Corset Making Supplies

Corset Making Supplies
A corset can be worn in any way you imagine

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Truly Victorian" created an Edwardian Corset Pattern and this is my project using the pattern.

tvedwardian1600x800.jpg tvedwardiancorset7512x800.jpg
The Truly Victorian “Edwardian” corset pattern is based on historical research on corsets of 1903. It has a low full bust and long hip and creates the “Pigeon Breast” look popular at the time. It does not lend its self well to modern interpretation for fashion. To get this look there is padding required and the patterns for both bum padding and breast padding are included.

The pattern envelope includes pattern pieces for the corset that will fit a chest from 32” to 58”, a waist of 19” – 45” and hip from 32” to 58” as well as bust and hip pad pattern to help create the correct silhouette.

I made this one from “diamond” coutil in a flesh tone and I embellished it with fancy stitches in pale turquoise. It does not fit my mannequin well but I love the shape.

tvedwardiancorset4600x800.jpg tvedwardiancorset2600x800.jpg tvedwardiancorset3600x800.jpg

The sizing of this pattern is unique and I really like the method that Truly Victorian has used; numbers are not used to indicate size, letters are. This means there is no confusion between the “size” of the pattern and the “size” we wear from a retail store AND we can escape the stress that numbers can cause when we think we wear a size 12 but need a size 20 pattern. The size I’ve made is “G”, which according to the chart is for a 32” waist.

I glued the pattern to card stock – something I always do, then cut along the lines indicated for a size “G”. The lines are clearly indicated and the pattern is very professional looking – I almost didn’t want to cut into it because it looked so flawless.

Instructions for this pattern are not extensive but it is not a hard corset to make. I opted not to include a lining and to use just one layer of coutil, I chose a flesh tone diamond brocade coutil.

I embellished the hip gore pieces before sewing them into the corset and I embellished the center backs before putting them together but all the other embellishing occurred after the pieces were put together. Some of my embellishment was as simple as top stitching in a contrast colour.

I used flesh colour bone casing tape to cover the raw seams and used bias strips of the “diamond” coutil to bind the top and bottom edges. I’d been a bit concerned that the coutil bias would be too thick and hard to manage but it worked beautifully and easily.  The links below should take you to the web page where the items are sold - the pattern is also sold on the web site - I just somehow missed listing it.

I made a size “G” which is pretty much the middle of the sizes and I required the following items:
Item Quantity Product# Link to catlog
13" busk 1 pair 91-8550-13 Busks
coutil 1.2 m 74-1130-20 Coutil
lacing 6m 18-7178-04 Lacing
bone casing 1/2" 5m 34-7212-20 Bone Casing
grommets size oo 30 60-8820N-kit Grommet Kits
spring steel bones 36cm 2 50-8308-36 Spring Steel Bones
spring steel bones 34cm 4 50-8308-34
spring steel bones 32cm 4 50-8308-32
spring steel bones 35cm 4 50-8308-35
spring steel bones 33cm 2 50-8308-33

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Grommets vs. Eyelets

"What is the difference between Grommets and Eyelets?"

Well, that depends on the grommets and the eyelets you are comparing. They are basically the same thing. Some people say that eyelets don't have washers but that's not a fact of all eyelets...only of some brands.

Grommets and eyelets at typically made of some type of metal (though plastic do exist), they're typically a circular short tube with a "flange" (flat end). 

sheyelet.jpg I use them primarily for the back of corsets, they strengthen the holes that the lacing goes through. The tube of the grommet or eyelet goes through the hole from the "right side of the fabric", so you'll see the flange on the outside of the garment. 

A washer looks a bit like the "flange" of the grommet or eyelet but without the tube. The washer goes on the "wrong side" of the fabric or on the "inside" of the garment. The washer keeps the grommet or eyelet secure during lacing and inhibits the grommet or eyelet pulling out of the fabric. Using fusible interfacing on the "wrong side" of the fabric also helps. Washers should always be used with grommets and eyelets unless the grommet and eyelet are just decorative.

Grommets are available in brass (gold colour), nickel (silver colour) and matte black (gunmetal). washers are included and match the colour of the grommet.

Eyelets are available in brass (gold colour), nickel (silver colour), antique brass, shiny black (made of aluminum), white (made of aluminum) and matte silver (aluminum).  Washers are sold separately and are matte silver (aluminum). Aluminum does not corode when exposed to persperation which makes it a great choice for corsets that are worn alot or exposed to other moister.

It's important to note that grommets and eyelets are not universal in size. Meaning not all grommets listed as size #00 can be set with the same grommet setter. You need to have the grommet setter that was designed and engineered to set the grommet brand you have otherwise you risk a poorly set grommet or worse...a grommet stuck onto your grommet setter, which means your garment is stuck on to!

Setting Grommets a.k.a. Eyelets

Eyelet Setting Instructions

(These instructions are included with the Eyelet Setting Kit #54-8600-kit)

Hammer Setting Eyelets

If you have ever set grommets using a Hammer Setter you will notice that the Eyelet Setter appears to be missing a piece; the base. We actually did call the manufacturer to confirm that all the pieces are here and they insisted there was no base piece to be had.

  1. Make the hole using item #54-8600-cutr and a rubber or rawhide mallet.
  2. Take the eyelet and push the shank into the hole until the eyelet is in place.
  3. Place the eyelet on a solid, hard surface, the floor is best. Your fabric will be on top facing the ceiling with the eyelet underneath, almost hidden from view.
  4. Take a washer and place it over the shank of the eyelet, the eyelet and washer will be shank to shank.
    Press gently until the washer is stable.
  5. Center the Eyelet Setter (#54-8600-set) over the washer hole, the shaped end should fit neatly into the hole of the washer.
  6. Hold the Eyelet Setter steady and bang a few times with the rubber mallet.
    Remove the Eyelet Setter and you are done.

NOTE: If the surface you are working on is not hard the eyelet may not set evenly and you will end up with little eyelet indentations in the surface of your table.

ALWAYS test the process on scrap first.


Eyelet Setting by Machine

Click here for "How to Use the Eyelet Setting Machine"

Grommet Setting Instructions

Using hammer set style tools; kit # 60-8810-kit (for #0 size grommets) or #54-8800-kit (for #00 size grommets).

You must have a rubber or rawhide mallet.

  1. Punch a hole in your fabric using the "hole punch" and rubber mallet.
  2. Place the grommet on the setting base, it should fit neatly in place.
  3. Place you fabric on top of the grommet, being sure that the grommet shaft is coming up through the hole in the fabric.
  4. Take the washer and slip it over the grommet shank, curved side upwards.
  5. Center the setting tool with it’s "nose" going through the holes in washer grommet and base.
  6. Strike with the rubber mallet two or three times
  7. Check the set of the grommet, re-position and strike again if needed.


You cannot remove grommets once they are set or even partially set so be careful.

Grommet Setting

Basic Grommet Setting Tips

  1. Always test your setting technique on scrap of the same fabric and same number of layers.
  2. When hammer setting, always work on a stable surface which will not flex with the pounding of the hammer. The floor is the best surface but can be awkward.
  3. Work slowly and carefully. It is impossible to "unset" a grommet.
  4. The grommet goes on the "right side" or "outside" of the garment and the washer goes on the inside.
  5. Always use a washer!
  6. Only use rubber or rawhide mallets.


Grommet Machines

The grommet machine sets grommets perfectly and with ease. It is however quite large and not to be considered a mobile unit. It requires three screws (not included) in order to be mounted onto a table. As it functions on the principle of leverage it must be mounted on a table in order to work effectively.

The machine and the dies for setting the grommets are sold separately. We stock only size #00 dies but other sizes are available by "Special Order"



A) By Machine

1. Punch hole in fabric
2. Place the washer over the spike in the bottom die. It is slightly concave on one side and this side should face upward. Pretend it has to hold a drop of water.
3. Fit the grommet through the hole in the fabric. Place the grommet and fabric onto the spike of the lower die, fabric side down.
4. Slowly pull the lever down so that the grommet sets evenly.

    B) With Pliers

    1. Punch hole in fabric with included hole punch. Use rubber mallet.
    2. Place grommet through hole in fabric.
    3. Pliers should be in your hand with the longest center "probe" coming up from the bottom jaw.
    4. Place the fabric and grommet on this with the grommet against the jaw, the fabric upper most and the probe through the grommet hole.
    5. Slowly squeeze the pliers shut to attain an even set.
    NOTE: We have found that the shank of grommet is not always long enough on this kit and that a rough finish can result. This could be uncomfortable next to the skin and a placket may be required to finish the garment.

    C) With Hammer Punch Tool

    Hammer Setting Kits require a rubber or rawhide hammer which is NOT included.
    1. Punch hole in fabric with included hole punch.
    2. Place grommet through the hole in the fabric.
    3. Place grommet and fabric, with grommet on bottom, onto the round metal disk. Grommet should rest in the circular groove found on the top of the disk.
    1. Place washer over grommet with fabric in between.
    2. Place the steel setting tool over the washer with the "probe" entering the grommet and washer hole.
    1. Be sure all pieces are in place and hammer 3-4 times.

    Grommets can be purchased at

    Friday, February 17, 2012

    Hook & Eye Tape Q&A

    I recently received an e-mail with several well put questions about Hook and Eye Tape. I'm posting my response here and hope to write more in the near future and post it in the Tips N Tricks section of the web site.

    I’m interested in using hook and eye tape for a tight bodice and would like to know your perspective on the different kinds.

    Hook & eye tape is not the best choice for corsets so we don't use it much. We sell hook and eye tape to many people and some ballet companies use the alternating tape because it won't come undone when the ballerina arches backwards.

    I’ve checked the web and your blog and haven’t found an opinion on sewn vs riveted hook & eye tape.

    Sewn vs. riveted is a matter of personal choice and is dependent on skill and time - it takes excellent skills to get the hooks and eyes all properly lined up so my assumption is most people who buy the tapes either don't have the skill or don't want to spend the time.

    I expect that larger hooks & eyes would be better than smaller ones.

    "Better" is always difficult to determine. Larger is easier to both sew on and to manage when doing a garment up but they are not always the most suitable as they are bulkier.Speaking of doing the garment up - does the person have to get into the garment without assistance? Is there any stretch fabric involved? A non-stretch garment that is tight(meaning there is no "ease") is almost impossible to get on without assistance when using anykind of hook and eye system.

    The riveted ones seem stronger, but if they break, there’s no repair except replacing the tape.

    The tape needs to sewn onto the garment so that there is stitching supporting the hooks and eyes - stitch along the edges of the tape and between the hook and between the eyes to allow minimal lift - this lessens the chance of the hooks or eyes pulling out. We've never had an e-mail or call bringing our attention to this happening so in 12 years of selling the tape I've never heard of the hooks or eyes pulling out - this does not mean it's never happened but I assume if it has it's been rare.

    Any bending or rusting issues?

    Never heard of any of them rusting and never seen it - a long time ago I soaked all the metal objects we have in water - nothing rusted.If you use the small hooks yes you will get bending out of shape if they are under unreasonable pressure - which can happen when you take off a corset or put one on - and you only have one hook done up - the pressure on the one hook is incredible - think of doing up the zipper on a dress that's too small - you can blow a tooth out of the zipper...but if the dress fits it's not a problem.

    Any issues regarding the metal rivets wearing away the fashion fabric?

    I can't see any reason they would. The tape is sewn to the fabric so there is no friction as there is no movement of rivets against fabric. BUT keep in mind if the garment is tight you need really strong fabric as the foundation or the fabric may rip before the hooks pull out of the tape.

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    NEW COUTIL                                                                                        

    There are 5 new qualities of Coutil at Farthingales!

    Two are shown here; black with red dots (dot coutil is the strongest of all coutils and a favorite of many theatres for it's durability), black with red rose brocade coutil which we sold out of quickly the last time we had it (about 3 years ago). These two along with a lavendar rose brocade and two blue/grey coutils ( a herringbone coutil and a matte satin coutil) have limited amounts - we bought all the manufacturer had so if you're interested you may want to order soon. We don't know if or when we'll be able to get them again.

    Farthingales now has close to 30 qualities of coutil. So it's worth
    checking the website for the complete selection.  Click the link for the Farthingales website and more coutil than you imagined existed. You can order a coutil swatch pack of all our coutils so you can feel the quality and see the real colours.

    Corset Supplies

    One of the things I love about pulling orders is seeing all the product for a corset together - somehow it's art even before the corset is made.  Here is black dot coutil with black bone casing tape, black petersham ribbon, black satin lacing ribbon, spiral bones and tips. All I need to add are black grommets and a black busk - but this order did not include those.      Farthingales has a huge selection of coutil with bone casing tap, petersham ribbon and satin ribbon to match some.

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    Elizabethan Corset

    Elizabethan Corset – Pair of Bodies

    Pattern # 00-PATTERN-36 By The Mantua Maker


    Cut out your pattern pieces, you will need a shell and a lining layer. Be very careful where you cut, there are different lines depending on whether you have a front opening corset or back opening corset. There are also lines to accommodate various cup sizes so be sure to mark your cutting lines before you cut the pattern.

    Draw the casing lines onto the right side of the lining layer of fabric, having first marked on seam allowances all around each piece. It is important to draw the lines on the right side of fabric, so that you'll be able to see them when you go to sew them. The bone casing widths are not given in the pattern; we decided on half inch wide bone casings to accommodate 7/16" wide spiral steel bones or 11 mm spring steel bones. We started our bone casings at the center front and center back and boned the whole corset – you may choose to use fewer bones.

    After all bone casings are marked pin center fronts together, using one shell layer with one lining layer - right sides together.

    mantuaelizabethanimage002.jpg Stitch the center fronts seems together, as pinned. Press the stitching. Press the seam open. Fold the pieces back with the wrong sides together and press the center front seam closed. Mark the channel that will hold the grommets, just to hold the space for later. You don’t want to accidentally put a bone in the grommets section. Stitch the strap extensions – be sure they are on correctly – check the pattern.
    mantuaelizabethan3.jpg Stitch side seems to side seams of back panels. Stitch the side seams securely as there is a lot of stress on these seams – particularly at the bottom edge. You now have a loop of fabric pieces as indicated in the photo below.
    Lay the sewn garment flat on the table with center fronts to your left and right. Pin the layers together matching all seems and all edges.
    mantuaelizabethan6.jpg With lining side up stitch your casing lines. This can be mind numbing, but stay focused as it's important the lines are straight and dead on the drawn lines. It will not only look better, but will limit the risk of casings that are too tight to fit bones into.
    mantuaelizabethan7.jpg Trim the bottom edge of your corset to half an inch or quarter-inch to prepare it for binding with biased tape or bias cut fabric. The amount you trim off will be decided by the width of your bias binding and the method you choose to bind the edge.
    mantuaelizabethan9.jpg After trimming the bottom edge, bind it with bias binding.
    For details on how to bind an edge with bias binding, see TIPS AND TRICKS - Binding the edge of a Corset.
    Photograph shows a bound bottom edge with bones in place.
    mantuaelizabethan10.jpg Once you have finished your bottom edge you can slide bones into the casings. Note: bones should be quarter inch shorter than the finished length of the casing. You may have to cut bones to fit. You can see here that some bones were cut and then "U" tips were applied.
    For details on how to apply “U” tips, see TIPS AND TRICKS - Bone Tipping Instructions
    mantuaelizabethan11.jpg Once all bones are in place, it's time to bind the upper edge. Be sure all bones are pushed down as far as possible. Trim the top edge as you did the bottom edge. Use a zipper foot and stitch the bias tape to the shell side of the garment with raw edges aligned. Front edges of bias tape should have been folded back to create a finished edge at center front or center back.
    mantuaelizabethan14.jpg You may wish to add decorative stitching to the shoulder straps. This helps to strengthen them and give the more body
    mantuaelizabethan15.jpg This photo shows a completely bound strap (right) and a partially bound strap (left). Binding the corners where the straps meet the main body can be a challenge - work carefully. This works best when done by hand.
    mantuaelizabethan16.jpg The last step requires the setting of grommets. Grommets have been set here down the center front and in the strap and bodice.

    The white corset on the left-hand side below has been boned with spring steel bones #50-8511 series. The corset on the right hand side of this page has been boned with wide spiral steel #28-8001-96 and each piece was cut to size and tipped with “U” tips. The spiral steel corset is more flexible and more comfortable, but it is much heavier. The spring steel corset while lighter is more rigid and less comfortable. Both corsets create the shape that is required by the time period. The straps on the white corset have been tied traditionally with laces. The straps on the flesh colored corset have been attached with elastic, leaving the grommets on the straps for design purposes. The lacing allows for more adjustments of the straps but my experience is the laces come undone. The elastic allows comfort of wear, with no risk of lacing coming undone. The white corset has been neatly bound top and bottom as described in the process above. The flesh tone corset has been finished simply with a zigzag stitch to bind the top and bottom edge. This is not as neat a finished edge but it means the whole corset can be sewn by machine with no hand work required. The arm hole was bound for added strength and comfort. If you are going to use the zigzag stitch to finish the bottom of the corset it is easier done before the pieces are sewn together. Note: binding the edge makes for a stronger corset as the binding helps hold the side seams together when under stress.

    mantuaelizabethan17.jpg mantuaelizabethan18.jpg
    Corset boned with spring steel #50-8511-Series This corset has 64 bones! You can make yours with fewer. Corset boned with 7/16” spiral bones #28-8001-96 each piece had to be cut and tipped.
    Two spring steels (50-8511-34) were used down the center front to support the grommets and maintain a nice straight line. This took 9meters (10yds) of 7/16” wide boning and 134 “U” tips!

    NOTE: despite the weight of this when you pick it up, it is surprisingly comfortable and does not feel heavy when on the body.

    To see the products we used for this corset go to the Tips N Tricks section of and check out this article there - scroll to the very bottom of the page for the list. Always remember a pattern is just the starting point - you can decorate it however you want.

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    What is Coutil?

    This is a question I often get so I'm going to answer it here "in a nutshell".

    Coutil is a fabric that is engineered specifically for corset making. It can be a very fine herringbone weave but it can also be a brocade or a satin. What makes coutil coutil is ...a few things. Coutil has a high thread count, which means it's not inclined to stretch and bones are not likely to work holes through it. Coutil is not bulky, it's very fine and this coupled with it's strength make it the ultimate fabric for corset making and for the foundation of evening wear bodices. It is always made from natural fibers, either 100% cotton or a cotton viscose blend so it breathes and absorbs sweat.

     Beautiful brocade coutil means you can make a corset from one layer of fabric and it will be both strong and beautiful. Use a layer of herringbone coutil cut on the crossgrain for the lining and a layer of satin coutil or brocade coutil as the exterior layer and you'll have a corset strong enough for tight-lacing.

    Theaters have learned the value of coutil - a well made corset can last for years with a little care when made from coutil. But...not all coutil is created equal and there are companies selling "coutil" at what may seem amazing prices. Be wary of great priced coutil - high thread count means more threads required and more labour to weave so good coutil is costly. Some companies assume that because a fabric has a herringbone weave it is coutil, but that is not the case.

    Coutil is not just the perfect fabric for corset making it's also used for period boned bodices, doublet foundations, basques to mount multiple layers of net to for a skirt, bust flatteners; anything that requires strong durable and fine fabric.

    Farthingales has an extensive selection of coutil - over 20 qualities and you can order a sample pack.

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Regency Corset - Instructions based on pattern by The Mantua Maker

    Regency Corset Pattern 1800-1820

    Farthingales now stocks a Regency Corset Pattern and a Regency Corset Kit. The pattern is produced by "The Mantua Maker". Sizes 2 through 24 come in one pattern envelope and fit bust sizes 30inch (76cm) through 53inch (135cm). This pattern and kit is NOT for the novice sewer. To have success with this pattern you should have experience with sewing gussets and with binding right angle edges.
    I did not sew this sample up myself as my time is becoming limited. I hired an experienced costume seamstress who has excellent skills and it took her in excess of 15 hours in sewing time by following the instructions. We both believe this time could be shaved down to about 10 hours or less by someone with experience who is using the instructions only as a guide. The pattern pieces fit together beautifully! And we were very happy with the end result however my seamstress found the instructions incomplete, the writer assumes the sewer has basic construction knowledge. We always approach testing a pattern as if we know very little and if this is the case then you will have difficulty. We recommend that you read the instructions over carefully and make notations, there are lots of extra bits of historic information included and the illustrations are quite good. We also suggest that you rely on your own experience and understanding of the fabrics you are using to adapt techniques and not always follow the instructions to the "T". Sizing of this pattern like any other should be checked against your body measurements before the pattern is traced off or cut out. We built a size 14, which is supposed to fit a 41 inch bust, however the finished bust measurement is 29". We do not make any alterations to the patterns we test and we make all patterns in size 14, this pattern tends to fit well in the front but be very narrow in the back which would not be a difficult alteration to make consider the seam placements. A four inch gap between the two centre backs is an acceptable gap for this time period. Illustrations in the instruction sheets suggest the centre backs will meet, this was done to illustrate the lacing technique not to indicate fit. The illustrations also suggest the shoulder straps will fit over the shoulder much like a bra strap would, this would not have been the case. Fashions at the time revealed a great deal of neck and shoulder and the corset is cut to accommodate the fashion. The shoulder straps will splay out over the shoulder crest. Overall we like the finished result but it was a struggle to get there when approaching it from a novice perspective. This corset pattern should be attempted only if you have at least 15 hours or more of sewing time available. Always make a "mock-up" in scrap fabric for any corset you are making for the first time in order to test fit.

    Regency Corset 1800-1820

    We built the "Riding Corset" version of the Regency Corset

    Using 90-1150-01 satin coutil as the shell fabric and #74-1141-01 inside with an interlining of padding #05-T710-S1 to minimize the visibility of bones on the satin. We wanted a more interesting look so we trimmed the corset with black satin, black eyelets and black corset lacing. We followed the instructions for single cord lacing and agree with the designer that this is a very difficult lacing technique and we would likely never use it due to extreme inconvenience. Note the wrinkles happening in front, we used bones only in the in the back and in the two side-front seams. Decorative stitching was often used to help support the front of corsets of this time period, you can add this detail or you may wish to add extra boning. The effect may be less obvious on a human body, foam breasts can only be shifted a limited amount.
    * notice the width of bare shoulder
    As usual we did modify some of the methods of construction.We did not include padding in the gussets. Bust gusset openings were marked with a tracing wheel and stay stitched before cutting. Meaning we stitched along the tracing wheel marks, then we clipped to the corners, folded the seam allowance back along the stitching line and pressed the seam allowances to the inside. Pinned the gussets into place and topstitched close to the pressed edges. It's hard to make this make sense without the pieces in front of you but it's important to be aware to pay close attention to this part. The laced hip gussets also require consideration and patience. Instructions for these are very limited as are the instructions for binding the various corners and angles of which the laced hip gusset is the biggest challenge and requires good hand work skill. Bias binding needs to be 2inches wide.
    This is our first pattern by "The Mantua Maker" and we will be testing others in the not too distant future. Patterns are printed on heavy blueprint paper so they are durable. Pieces are well drafted and fit together without difficulty, only concern I had was with the fit but perhaps I should follow my own advice and always measure the pattern first….not after! And as with all Historic patterns - the fit is different from modern day garments. If you are an experienced seamstress you likely do little more than glance through the instructions if even that, you will not have a problem provided you do understand gussets and binding.

    There's more information on our website about other patterns and projects Check out