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ebook with video

for beginners to
Julia Bremble
of Sew Curvy
Copyright Rainbow Disks Limited 2012
Rainbow Disks Ltd
5 Linden Vale
Howell Road
Exeter EX4 4LF
First published in the UK in 2012
Text and illustrations Julia Bremble
Video Rainbow Disks and Julia Bremble
Video by Trevor Wiggins
Editor: Vivienne Wells
ISBN 978-1-906314-23-1
Julia Bremble has asserted her right to be identifed as author of this work in accor-
dance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retriev-
al system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, by
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission in writing from
the publisher.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBN 978-1-906314-23-1
G .
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Cont ent s
Contents 3
Using this ebook: tips 4
Introduction 5
why make a corset? 6
Brief History 8
How a Corset Works 11
tlps tor ttlng a corset 13
Essential Tools 14
measurlng tools 14
paper ano marklng tools 15
tabrlc cuttlng tools 16
metalwork tools 17
sewlng tools 18
Essential Hardware 20
the busk 20
bonlng 21
eyelets 24
Building a Framework 25
worklng wltb bones 25
inserting the busk 28
vloeo: lnsertlng a busk (loop sloe) 32
vloeo: lnsertlng a busk (stuo sloe) 32
inserting the eyelets 33
vloeo: lnsertlng eyelets 35
Fabrication 36
tabrlcs ano tbe strengtb layer 37
lntertaclng 38
cbannels, tapes, rlbbon, blnolng ano laces 38
notes on tabrlc graln 41
tabrlc preparatlon betore cuttlng 41
supportlng structure 42
vloeo: roll plnnlng 45
Sewing Techniques 46
seams 46
vloeo: maklng a welt seam 50
video: making a lapped seam/inserting
a gusset 51
bone caslngs ano cbannels 52
lnsertlng a walst stay 55
maklng a back mooesty panel 55
nlsblng 56
Vital Underpinnings 60
taking measurements 60
making a toile 62
puttlng on your corset tolle 64
ttlng your corset tolle 65
nal pattern aojustments 68
Making a Corset 69
making a single layer corset:
tbe reo sllk corset 71
worksheet 1: single layer corset
wltbout tasblon tabrlc 80
worksheet 2: single layer corset
wltb tasblon tabrlc 82
making a double layer corset:
tbe wblte coutll corset 84
worksheet 3: double layer corset 90
End Notes 92
books for techniques and inspiration 92
onllne resources 93
Suppllers 93
Glossary 94
Julia Bremble 96
More Rainbow Disks 97
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Usi ng t hi s ebook: t i ps
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I nt roduct i on
The archetypal corset shape, the one everybody
thinks of when the word corset is mentioned, is the
vlctorlan corset. |t sllms tbe walst wblle enbanclng
the roundness of the bosom and the hips, creating
the classic hourglass shape to any figure, regardless
ot slze. Tbls ebook ls an lllustrateo guloe to maklng
a vlctorlan style corset tor tasblon or costume. Tbe
methods and materials are not exclusive to the pe-
riod and can apply to other styles of corset, although
there are probably as many methods as there are
corsets. Tbls ls just tbe beglnnlng.
You oo not bave to be an eperlenceo seamstress. |t
you are comfortable behind a sewing machine, have a
good working knowledge of basic sewing techniques
ano can sew a stralgbt llne, you can bullo a corset. |
say 'bullo' because sewlng ls just part ot tbe process.
There are pieces of hardware to be manipulated us-
ing tools that may be more at home in the garden
sbeo tban tbe sewlng room. 8ut wben all tbe parts
are assembled in the right order, the result will be
a stunning piece of wearable architecture that, with
care, will last and be admired for many years, perhaps
even generations!
Corsetry wlll oevelop your sewlng abllltles very
quickly, and teach you to be patient, dextrous, organ-
lseo ano practlcal. |t sounos a blt llke a job lntervlew!
My alm ln wrltlng tbls ebook (oo reao tbe belptul
Uslng tbls ebook: tlps!) is to pass on the most practi-
cal methods of corset building knowledge, built up
through years of making corsets and researching the
subject ln many oltterent, ano sometlmes baro to tlno,
places. | bope you wlll tlno tbls a gooo beglnner's
grounolng, an lntermeolate's reterence ano a source
ot lnsplratlon. From bere you can eplore turtber
lnto more aovanceo terrltory.
Julia Bremble
Julia Bremble in her studio.
See overleaf for a video introduction by Julia
The archetypal corset shape is Victorian. It creates an
hourglass shape by compressing the waist while enhancing
the roundness of bosom and hip
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Contrary to popular bellet, corsets are not bao tor
you. Tbey are not palntul or uncomtortable to wear,
oo not squeeze your lntestlnes out ot sbape, or cause
boolly oamage. Tooay, tbey are essentlally a tasblon
ltem wltb benetlts. As long as one ls senslble, tbere ls
no cause tor concern. Tblnk ot a corset ln tbe same
way you woulo tblnk ot a palr ot 'klller beels'. Sucb
heels hurt if you wear them for too long, and a corset
hurts if you lace it too tight, but both make you feel
GRLAT by enbanclng your sbape ano posture. Tbey
make you stano stralgbt ano tberetore tall.
Mlo-bust ano unoer-bust corsets were popular ln tbe
vlctorlan era so patterns tor tbese styles are easy
to tlno. Mooern overbust corsets provloe more ot a
fitting challenge, and patterns that go right over the
bust are scarce. Tbere ls notblng llke a walst clncber,
or waspie (a shorter version of the underbust), for
achieving a flawless hourglass shape underneath a
vrnvo: rwruonccrrow nv jcrra nuvunrv
Corsetry will quickly develop your sewing abilities
oress. Wblcbever style you cboose, a properly tltteo
corset ls totally smootb between corset ano tlesb.
Tbls ls wby 'traoltlonal' corsetry ls preterreo by tasb-
lon oeslgners, celebrltles ano brloes.
However, tbere ls a catcb. Tbe only way to guarantee
a comfortable and professional fit is to wear a corset
that has been hand made to your own measurements
using high quality components; in other words, a be-
spoke corset, wblcb ls very epenslve. Certalnly a be-
spoke corset is beyond the pocket of many people so
the only way to achieve the fit and comfort of such a
garment ls to make one yourselt. Happlly, unllke many
items of couture clothing, making a corset isnt as dif-
ficult as first it may seem!
Maklng a corset ls tun. Let your lmaglnatlon run wllo
by aoolng teatbers or bows, beaos or sparkle. Make
your corset as plain or as fabulous as you like, and
tallor lt to a specltlc outtlt or occaslon. Wear lt wltb
jeans, a sklrt, oress, or trousers. Use one as unoer-
wear or keep lt strlctly ln tbe beoroom.
In short, a corset is sexy, versatile, funky, fun and time-
less. | can almost guarantee tbat once you get starteo,
you wlll soon become aoolcteo. |t you bave any olt-
tlculty tlnolng materlals or supplles, just contact me at
Sew Curvy Corsetry:
www. sewcurvy.com
The only limit is your
imagination. This
multi layer corset has
silver rubber fabric
over coutil
Wltb tbe lnventlon ot elastlc, tbe 1920s
saw stiff boned corsets replaced by soft-
er girdles and bras, which were strategi-
cally boneo wltb tbln splral wlres. |n tbe
40s ano 50s, tbe non-elastlcateo corset
made a brief comeback in the form of the
'wasple' useo to create tbe tlny walst tor
Dlor's 'New Look' tasblons ot tbe tlme.
Our attachment to corset technology re-
malns strong tooay. |t ls trequently useo
in the world of haute couture and on the
catwalk. Ano tbe corset bas become tasb-
ionable as outerwear once again in sub-
cultures such as fetish, goth, steampunk,
ano burlesque.
Corsetry has become fashionable
as outerwear
By the 1950s, stays were made from elasticated net
To make a successful corset, it helps
to know how the corset works, both
in relation to the body, and as a pat-
tern. |n most oressmaklng ano tallor-
lng projects, a 'wearlng ease' ls aooeo
to the pattern to give space between
tbe booy ano tbe garment. As a result,
the wearer can move comfortably
without feeling restricted, and there
ls no stralnlng on tbe tabrlc.
In contrast, a corset shapes by com-
presslon. |t bas 'negatlve ease', l.e. lt
ls smaller tban tbe wearer's booy ln
oroer to restrlct. Wben maoe prop-
erly, a corset actually gains strength
from the even and constant pressure
eerteo by tbe restrlcteo booy lnsloe.
In spite of this restriction, a corset
should not cause pain by pinching or
putting strain on the wrong parts of
tbe booy. Tbe skllleo corsetlere un-
derstands the pressure points of the
body, and how these and the corset
will interact for the best looking and
most comfortable result, bearing fully
in mind the particular physical at-
trlbutes ot eacb wearer. Lven a small
amount of knowledge of traditional
flat pattern cutting will help when
maklng ano tlttlng a corset.
8ecause a corset ls worn lmmeolately
next to the skin, your choice of fab-
rlc ls very lmportant. Syntbetlc tlbres
clasped around your torso will soon
become sweaty, uncomtortable, olrty ano smelly. Nat-
ural fibres are best because they breathe and, pref-
erably, wlck tbe molsture away trom tbe booy.
Llke many tblngs, tbe look ano teel ot a corset ls a
personal preterence. Some people llke a llgbt control,
otbers llke a very constrlcteo tlgbtlaceo ettect. Note
that it takes years of training by a corset wearer to
acbleve serlous tlgbtlaclng, wbere more tban 10
13cm (45ln) ls taken ott tbe natural walst slze. Don't
attempt a reouctlon ot more tban 7.510cm (34ln)
untll your booy ls accustomeo to regular corsettlng.
Wben constructlng a corset, trom your own or a
commercial pattern, the most important, compli-
cateo, ano olttlcult proceoure ls tlttlng. You must oe-
termlne tbe borlzontal clrcumterence ot certaln key
points on the torso, the precise vertical measure-
ments ano wbere tbey are, tbe oeslreo walst slze, ano
tbe tlnlsbeo 'look'. Tbere ls no maglc tormula tor tbls
How a Corset Works
A well made corset should be smooth, without any wrinkles and should not
cause pain by pinching or putting strain on the wrong part of the body
Essent i al Tool s
8etore startlng make sure you bave all tbe requlreo tools to bano. Tbere
are some quite challenging aspects to corsetry, which are difficult, if
not lmposslble, wltbout tbe rlgbt lmplements. Here ls a llst ot tbe baslc
tools you neeo. Detalleo lnstructlons on bow to use tbem appear ln tbe
tollowlng cbapters.
mvzsuniwc roots
Good measuring tools are a must There are no half measures in cor-
setry. Lverytblng must be absolutely preclse. [ust a tew mllllmetres 'out'
ano tbe wbole corset wlll cbange.
Tape measure, tor measurlng your booy.
Clear ruler, preterably a graoer's set square, a tasblon curve wltb
stralgbt eoge, or a stralgbt qullter's ruler. Tbls ls tor measurlng preclse
distances on your pattern if you need to, such as when making altera-
tlons or aojustments. Also tor cuttlng accurate blas strlps trom tabrlc lt
you wlsb to 'selt blno' your corset or make your own bonlng tape.
Seam gauge, tor measurlng small preclse olstances
Measuring tools: tape measure,
French curve/ruler, seam gauge tools
Suitable hand and machine needles
Fabri cat i on
Make your corset as tllrty, arty, compllcateo, plaln or slm-
ply elegant as you wlsb. No two corsets tbat you make
for yourself will be the same because you will build your
skills as you make each one, and as you work
you will have a thousand different ideas for your
net creatlon. Tbe many oltterent tabrlcs, colours
and textures to choose from does allow the im-
agination to run riot there really are no limits!
Meolum welgbt sllks, tatteta ano sultlng tabrlcs
are partlcularly gorgeous optlons.
However, because corsets have metal compo-
nents and are designed to be placed under a
considerable amount of strain, we need to think
carefully about the fabrics we use and how we
treat tbem. Wltb tbe eceptlon ot very sott,
floaty and sheer fabrics, such as chiffon and some
types ot organza, tbere are tew tabrlcs tbat are
entirely unsuitable because most fabrics can be
strengtbeneo as oescrlbeo ln tbls cbapter.
Medium weight silk dupion and taffeta and
(below) suiting fabric, often used in corsetry
A corset does not have to be lined, but a lining serves
a number ot purposes. |t makes tbe lnsloe ot tbe cor-
set look nlce ano smootb. Also, oepenolng on tbe
fabric used, it can wick away moisture from the skin,
making the corset much more comfortable to wear,
especlally ln warm conoltlons.
Corset llnlngs can be part ot tbe corset ltselt, jolneo
onto tbe corset at all seams. Or, tbey can be 'tloat-
lng', wblcb means tbat tbey only joln tbe corset at
the edges, giving a lovely smooth finish on the in-
side (preferable when wearing the corset next to the
skln). Any llgbt/meolum tabrlc can be useo as a tab-
ric lining, the most popular being soft quilting-weight
cotton or llnen.
Fashion fabric, turn of cloth and roll pinning
Wben tasblon tabrlc ls useo as tbe outer layer ot tbe
corset in partnership with coutil or another strong,
close woven fabric, it must be attached to the strength
layer either by bonding or by a process called roll
plnnlng', because ot an lssue calleo 'turn ot clotb'.
Most corset lnstructlon books ano patterns oo not
mention roll pinning or turn of cloth, but it is of the
upmost importance if you want to achieve a smooth
ano long lastlng tlnlsb. |n corsetry, turn ot clotb ls
built in after all of the fabric pieces are cut and before
tbe corset ls assembleo.
To demonstrate turn of cloth and the reason for roll
plnnlng, take two rectangles ot tabrlc, about 13 15cm
(6 5ln). One sboulo be a stltt tabrlc (coutll or orlll)
tbe otber a sotter tabrlc (sllk or llgbt cotton). Place
these rectangles together with the light fabric on top
on top, ano sew along botb long eoges. Now tolo tbe
stltcbeo eoges unoer by 1.5cm (ln), stltcb oown
agaln, ano press tbe plece tlat.
You wlll notlce tbat lt wlll not press tlat. No amount
of smoothing or ironing will persuade your little
rectangle to lie flat, and, if you get the outside (soft
fabric) to look smooth, you will notice that the stiff
tabrlc on tbe unoersloe puckers. Tbls ls because tbe
top fabric has become smaller than the bottom fabric
wbere you bave toloeo over tbe eoges. |n tbe tlnlsbeo
corset tbls causes unslgbtly rloges ln tbe coutll.
To prevent this happening, we incorporate turn of
clotb, uslng tbe roll plnnlng tecbnlque. On tbe net
pages ls a step by step guloe to borlzontal roll plnnlng
your corset pleces betore tbey are sewn togetber.
Although this corset is beautiful it has not had a turn of
cloth allowance built in. You can clearly see puckering
underneath the silk over the hip, where the coutil strength
layer is straining against the silk outer layer
nowv czsiwcs zwn cnzwwvts
The minimum requirement of a corset is to have
bonlng cbannels at every seam. Tbe cbannels can be
tormeo ln oltterent ways. Tbe most popular metboos
are: using the seam allowances to make channels, add-
ing boning tape casings on the inside, adding decora-
tive boning casings on the outside, or sandwiching
the channels through all layers of a corset (when the
corset bas 2 or more layers). Wben stltcblng bone
caslngs, you must always work ln only one olrectlon.
If you sew from opposite ends you may end up with
unslgbtly rucblng ano wrlnkllng.
See: 8onlng, Worklng wltb bones, Cbannels, tapes,
ribbon, binding and laces, Seams.
Sandwiched bone channels
This is the easiest way to sew boning channels into
your corset, but it cannot be used on a single layer
corset. Qulte slmply, you stltcb approprlately slzeo
channels through two or more layers of your corset
tabrlc once tbe corset ls assembleo. |t belps to know
the exact dimensions of your presser feet or employ
tbe belp ot a qulltlng bar.
These external boning channels are made of a shiny version of the
matt fabric used for the corset panels
Once your corset is bound at the top and bottom
edges, you can then decorate it further with lace,
teatbers, rblnestones, or wbatever takes your tancy.
Or you can leave lt plaln. Tbere are no rules. Some-
times a particular trim requires insertion before sew-
ing down the binding, but that is an individual case for
assessment as approprlate. |n most cases, embelllsb-
ing your corset offers the opportunity for hand fin-
ishing, one of the features that will set it apart from
a garment tbat ls 'ott tbe peg' or 'reaoy to wear'.
Braid, ribbon and beaded trims
If the binding is not a particular feature of your cor-
set, you may wish to sew a braid, ribbon, feathers or
beaoeo trlm to tbe regular blnolng. Agaln, tbls ls very
much a personal choice and the method of attach-
ment depends on the type of trim chosen and the
oeslreo look ano teel ot tbe garment. However, lt ls
almost always necessary to sew tbls part by bano.
Lace overlays and motifs
A lace overlay can be sewn over all or some of your
tasblon tabrlc pleces betore tbe corset ls assembleo.
Or you can use lace motifs or edging attached to
your corset as a binding trim or an applique, what-
ever sults your lace. Tbls ls usually sewn on uslng a
tlny stab or tell stltcb every tew mllllmetres.
The green corset has black lace appliqu motif and black
ossing at the bottom of the bone channels. The white
corset has a lace trim attached to the binding, plus gold
ossing with rhinestones. On the black panels are samples
of ossing stitches in different colours. Also shown are some
gold ribbon and a matching bow
Maki ng a Corset
The TV110 corset from Truly Victorian
In this chapter we go through the process of making
three actual corsets from start to finish, using some
of the techniques, tool and materials outlined in pre-
vlous cbapters. | eplaln bow to put all tbe compo-
nents together in the right order, and how keep your
work organised so the whole process is as easy as
posslble tor beglnners. Tbere are llnks to relevant ln-
tormatlon ln earller sectlons ot tbls ebook.
| bave baseo tbese corsets on tbe popular 'Tv110'
corset pattern which is made by Truly vlctorlan but
tbe tecbnlques ano metboos are gooo tor any vlcto-
rlan-style corset pattern.
Tbe Tv110 pattern ls trom an orlglnal pattern pub-
llsbeo ln laoles' magazlnes arouno tbe year 1886. Tru-
ly vlctorlan bave mooltleo lt to lncorporate mooern
tlgure cbaracterlstlcs (ano cup slzes) but lt retalns lts
orlglnal style ano proportlons. |t bas a bullt-ln walst
reouctlon ot 7.5cm (3ln). To buy tbe pattern, go to:
A quick reference worksheet is included for each
project. Use tbls wblle you work to keep yourselt
organlseo ano tocusseo. Tbe sbeets can be prlnteo
ott, ano/or copleo ano customlseo tor otber projects.
Tv110 bas 6 pattern pleces, talrly stanoaro ln vlctorl-
an corsetry. Tbe lnstructlons glven ln tbe pattern en-
velope make a double layered corset (like the Wblte
Coutll Corset). However, tor tbe Reo Sllk Corset I
have converted the instructions to make a single layer
corset, by aoolng taclngs at tbe back ano tront. | bave
also aooeo a tront mooesty panel to botb verslons.

See over for an image of the TV110 pattern.
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Here we are making a single layer corset using fash-
ion fabric (silk) flatlined to a coutil layer. Tbls ls a ba-
slc metboo ot corset constructlon. (For a more ba-
slc constructlon, you coulo use just coutll wltbout a
fashion fabric, in which case simply ignore the parts
of these instructions that deal with the silk, and fol-
low Worksbeet 1.)
Faclngs are aooeo to tbe pattern because tbls ls es-
sentlally a slngle layer metboo so tbere ls no llnlng.
8one caslngs are sewn to the inside of the corset
over the seams and stitched through all layers (the
silk is too delicate to take bones sandwiched be-
tween lt ano tbe coutll).
The instructions here assume that you have made a
toile of the corset beforehand, to ascertain fit and
alter tbe pattern lt necessary.
Print out Worksbeet 2. Use it to organise your work.
Tracing and altering the patern
Ascertaln your slze trom tbe pattern envelope, trace
the pattern pieces accordingly then add the extra
pieces (facings and front modesty panel) required to
make tbe corset lnto a slngle layer constructlon.
To make tbe tront ano back taclngs, cut 4 rectangular
pleces ot tasblon tabrlc ano coutll (8 pleces ln total)
on tbe stralgbt graln. Tbe rectangles sboulo be tbe
same length as the centre front/centre back edges
ot tbe corset, ano 70cm (27ln) wloe. Tbls lncluoes
seam allowances. For tbe tront mooesty panel, cut a
plece 3.5cm (appro 1ln) wloe, ano tbe same lengtb
as the centre front/centre back edges of the corset
(see instructions on busk insertion).
|t you are maklng one ot tbe larger slzes, you may
need extra bone channels running down the centre
ot pleces 3, 4 ano 5 (tbe wloest pleces). Mark tbem
on tbe pattern perpenolcular to tbe walst llne.
Make a toile from calico or other cheap but sturdy
tabrlc. Flt your tolle ano note any tlttlng lssues. Con-
firm that any extra bone channels are in the right
places. Mark any alteratlons on botb your master
pattern ano your traceo pattern. Wben you are abso-
lutely bappy wltb tbe tlt, ano bave maoe aojustments
lt necessary, lt ls tlme to cut ano mark tbe tabrlc.
The single layer corset, made of red silk atlined to coutil
End Not es
If I could convey only one piece of knowledge
about the art of corsetry, it would be that cor-
set maklng ls very mucb an lnolvloual's journey.
All corset makers professional or otherwise
have their own ways of doing things, devel-
oped through their particular experience and
No two corset makers work ln tbe same way,
or use all tbe same tecbnlques. |t lsn't about
competition; its simply about what works
best tor tbe makers ano tbelr prooucts. Tbere
are no rules, only guloes.
8e lnsplreo by otbers, but never be atralo to
eplore ano eperlment. Use my tavourlte re-
sources glven bere to epano your borlzons!
nooxs von rvcnwiquvs zwn iwsvinzriow
Corsets and Crinolines, Norab Waugb (Routleoge, 1954)
Waisted Efforts: An Illustrated Guide to Corset Making, Robert Doyle (Sartorlal Press, 1997)
Corsets: A Cultural History, valerle Steele (Yale Unlverslty press, 2003)
Corsets: Historic Patterns & Techniques, [lll Salen (8atstoro, 2008)
Pattern Cutting for Lingerie, Beachwear and Leisurewear, Ann Hagar ([obn Wlley, 2004)
Corsets: A Modern Girls Guide, veloa Lauoer (A & C 8lack, 2010)
Underwear Fashion in Detail, Llerl Lynn (v&A, 2010)
Foundations of Fashion, The Symington Corsetry Collection, 18601990, Pbllllp Warren (Lelces-
tersblre Museums, 2001)
The Fashionable Lady in the 19th Century, Cbarles H Glbbs-Smltb (v&A, 1960)
Forties Fashion and the New Look, Colln McDowell (8loomsbury, 1997)
Bound to Please: A history of the Victorian Corset, Lelgb Summers (8erg, 2001)
J ul i a Brembl e
Julia owns and runs the popular online shop
Sew Curvy Corsetry. Here sbe sells corset
making and sewing supplies for the home
corsetiere and crafter and provides free
aovlce on bow to make a corset.
[ulla 8remble ls also tbe oeslgner
behind MarmalaoeKlss, the be-
spoke corsetry servlce.
Trained in pattern cutting for
fashion, Julia is a self taught cor-
setiere who has applied a study
of anthropometrics to her unique
brand of corsetry in order to
create exceptionally well fitted
and comfortable corsets for the
mooern woman.
Specialising in, but not limited to
corsetry, Julia works alone from
her home studio in Oxfordshire,
UK. 8y nature a pertectlonlst, sbe
works locally and further afield,
creating corsets or outfits for any
Julia teaches corsetry and dress-
maklng ln Otorosblre, UK ano
writes a sewing blog recording
her professional and recreational
sewing pursuits, including pattern
cuttlng ano oressmaklng.
Read all about it at The House of