Equipment for making a CORSET.

In this tutorial I'll show you what tools and materials you'll need to make a corset.

And again, I added text transcription of the lesson, for those of you, who has difficulty in understanding English speech. You can easily translate text (in GoogleTranslate, for example).

Just click “Read more >>” to see the text transcription.

In this video I would like to show you and explain you what main tools and equipment are required for corset tailoring.

I shall start with some minor things and will gradually go on to the more important aspects.

So, in order to make your working with patterns and fabric cutting convenient you should get hold of a setting triangle ruler like this one. This is a most comfortable triangle ruler with a wooden handle. It’s very handy for working on the surface. There is convenient marking both in centimeters and in angles, in other words - a small protractor. The right angle is very useful. If you can’t find such a device straight away - don’t let this disappoint you; I just want to show you that it exists and its usage is recommended. But if you don’t have one, you can use an ordinary ruler.

You need two types of insulator material for corset making. They are a simple electrician’s tape -preferably white to enable working with white fabric - and a masking tape that is about 0.6 inch wide.

Then you also need some medium-size scissors, they don’t need to be very expensive. A size like this is enough.

Another tool is this pruner. I have bought this one in an electrical equipment store, or an appliance store. This is no garden scissors and no garden pruner; this is a pruner for electricians that cuts wire very easily. And we need it for cutting the boning. So handy.

Speaking about the boning - I am often asked which Rigilene bones are most suitable for our purpose. Please take a look; there are two types of bones sold here: the wide type (0.5 inch wide bones) and the narrow type (0.3 inch or 8 mm wide bones). From your e-mails and feedback I know that there are also some 0.2 inch and 0.4 inch bones available. They can suit too. You should learn from your experience whether they fulfill their desired function or not. Today there are many manufacturers producing these bones. Rigilene bones were originally made in England. But you don’t necessarily have to look for super branded bones. There are also Chinese and Turkish manufacturers today or any other that you can find, so just let yourself use their products.

Why do I use a few types of boning at the same time in my work? I shall explain. Let me begin with the narrow Rigilene bones. Some bones stretch very well and can be assembled this way, which means they can be curved and shaped however you need - that is very useful for working on the inside of the corset. And there are also bones which cannot be assembled like this no matter how you try. But we need these as much. When you’re stitching on the vertical bones you don’t want any threads or fishing line sticking out of the covering. In other words the bones perfect for the quilting of cups and various shaped cut-outs are not suitable for vertical quilting, and vice versa.

The same thing can be said about the wide Rigilene bones. Although they are never assembled or bent they have grooves of varying sizes along which you make a stitch. And again there are wider or narrower grooves. Just use those bones that suit your personal purposes. Well, this is my sewing toolbox.

There are also some additional tools. One of them is a disappearing ink marking pen. I use this pencil made by the brand Prim. When you draw on the fabric, after some time the drawing disappears itself. This pen is very handy for marking on white and see-through fabric. But remember: if you use this pen on colored fabric its tip may also get colored, which can later lead to leaving stains on pure white fabric. This is why I always have two separate pens like this. I mark one of them with sticky tape or band-aid so that I know that this pen is only used for white fabric. I leave the other pen used for dark and colored fabric unmarked.

Now let us talk about feet a little. Any sewing machine as a rule has some additional presser feet. I have an industrial sewing machine with two main feet required for corset tailoring: first of all the basic presser foot and then a one-sided foot with only one ski-shaped part on the right. You will need a specialty foot for stitching on a concealed zipper for skirts or dresses - here is mine - as well as a one-sided foot with the left ski-part. There is another very handy specialty foot but it’s no big deal if you don’t have one at the beginning. It is a step-like presser foot that allows you to stitch on Rigilene boning very evenly. However I will be honest - I have bought this particular foot only a couple months ago. For 20 years I have been sewing corsets using a basic foot. But I got this one when I found out that it existed. It is truly very convenient to use but - I repeat - it is not necessary to have it, it’s enough to be familiar with it.

I recommend having a silk cord for taking measurements of your clients. It should be about as thick as this one here.

And a couple more words about the boning. You cannot do without additional securing of Rigilene bones when producing see-through corsets, corsets with tummy control effect, or big-size corsets. I also use such plastic bones. I know that such bones can be also sold per meter and rolled-up - these are also suitable. Such bones are 6-7 mm wide and 1mm thick. Trust your own opinion; note how flexible a bone is, and how well it holds. It’s enough for me to use the bones of this type in my work. Their length doesn’t really matter. The bones that I use are about 14 inch long but I am not sure they will be sold the same where you live. I am simply demonstrating which bones I use. I would also like to say something about spiral steel bones. I personally do not use them because of the following reasons: firstly - they are expensive, secondly - they make the corset much heavier, and thirdly - high humidity is typical of where I live which cause such bones to rust. So that is somewhat of a historic tradition that only plastic bones are used here in Israel.

Let me show you this hand-glass. Why should we need a hand-glass for corset tailoring? It turns out to be a very important tool. When you look at pictures in magazines you often have to look narrowly and examine some seams or decorative elements in detail. And when you look at such pictures through a hand-glass you can even count the amount of beads or rhinestones on the garment that you’ve chosen as reference. I highly recommend this.

I would like to mention a small hammer among the not so frequently used but nevertheless important tools. It should be of about this shape and size. A hammer like this is used to crush beads on the seam allowances of lace fabric to prevent them from getting under the needle.

I highly recommend this fabric glue by Guterman. This glue is needed for corset tailoring in very small amounts, literally in tiny drops. And of course it is simply a must-have for the decoration of corsets, securing of appliqué and drapery.

If you cannot find exactly this glue you can just look for an analogue in hardware or handcraft stores, just make sure this is special purpose fabric glue.

And now let us go on to some iron-on materials that you need to have and use. Iron-on batiste is the most widely used of such materials. Here it is in my hands. I am purposely rumpling it with my hands to show how elastic and thick it is. Maybe you can even see it through a little. Now I am going to place it closer to the camera so you can see its texture. This is the front side and this is the adhesive side. I cannot name the manufacturer because neither I nor the shop assistants know the name. Both sewers and distributors think first of all about the demand and the convenience - we buy a sample, fuse it, apply it and make our opinion of it. If it suits well - we keep on buying, if it doesn’t - we put it aside.

There is also some special stiff iron-on material used for the gluing of cups. I will try to show it closer so that you can see the texture. The grain of fabric is rather thick and pronounced, and the shoot resembles a fine fringe. This is the adhesive side of the material.

And this here is iron-on material produced by Hansel. It looks very similar to the other material I have just shown. Its grain of fabric is also rather thick but this material has better quality and is more expensive. As you can see I cannot pull out a lengthwise thread, it holds very tightly. There is always a Hansel brand stamp on. Here is a lengthwise thread if you can see. The usage of the material is the same. We strengthen cups with this stiff iron-on material for further quilting and forming of the rounded shape.

Along with iron-on materials we need some regular padding polyester. We don’t need much of it and it shouldn’t be too thick. If you buy some rather thick polyester - for example for furniture padding - you can quite easily divide it to get the required thickness. You are going to see how one works with this material in our next tutorials and for now I’m simply telling you about it so that its future usage doesn’t come as surprise.

And now let us go on to some additional equipment that you might have to make yourself - this equipment is necessary for steam-pressing. Our main character here is a press-iron. I am often asked which press-iron is suitable for this purpose. Take a look, this is a semi-professional press-iron, that is to say it is not super powerful and not very expensive. Mine is made by Murphy Richards. But the iron should by all means have a steam-generator and an adjustable steam pressure regulator. Now I have set it at the 3 bar mark. This is an optimal steam pressure for pressing a dome-shaped cup. If the regulator is set at a lower mark, you can use this iron both in household use and in garment production. Using such lower steam pressure you can also press literally every detail of your corset. But I shall repeat: a quilted cup should be pressed using no less than 3 bar steam pressure.

To prevent the iron bottom from sticking to fine or synthetic fabric I recommend buying an extra teflon cap that covers the bottom of the iron. I use it all the time; I’ve taken it off only to show you. My press-iron wears this little clothing both for household use and for sewing purposes. Then I can easily press either stiff iron-on fabric or cotton fabric and at the same time fine chiffon, organza, capron or nets. In other words I don’t need to worry about the temperature being suitable for pressing. Trust me - this saves your time and your money providing great quality.

The next thing is a pressboard, just a regular one. Please take a look, this is an additional small sleeve pressing board - however we need it for pressing corsets and their details during the working process. Now let us go to the most important and interesting part.

These here are cup pressing moulds. I have them in three sizes - a smaller one, a bigger one and a very large one. These sizes don’t have anything to do directly with the cup sizes. These moulds are used for pressing various corset knots which is why I use three unlike sizes. How can you make such a cup pressing mould? There are many ways; some students even come to buying metallic bowls at IKEA. But it’s better to buy some Styrofoam spheres in a store. Afterwards you cut such a sphere in half, put a layer of foam or padding polyester over it. Or sometimes there are stiff cups like those used for swimsuits in the 60’s. It can be very easily secured with pins all around if you’re using a foam base. And then this form gets wrapped in some iron-on material, in this case - batiste. Other ways of making such moulds include using plastic cups or plastic forms for Christmas decorations or disco balls. They are transparent and consist of two halves. You just take one of the halves, place the bottom part of a CD-box over it, secure it with sticky tape, and cover with padding polyester taping it around with a thread. Then you put some iron-on batiste or a similar material over it. This is the first mould. And here is the second pressing mould. It is almost the same only the semi-diameter of the plastic sphere is bigger. Here a plastic sphere with 6 inch diameter has been used; this one has a 5-5.5 inch diameter and this one here - a 4.3-4.7 inch diameter. It’s no big deal if the bottom of a CD-box goes beyond the diameter. It should not bother you because only the shape itself is important. So, how do we use these moulds? You will see it all later, but I have brought a corset for demonstration. It is very convenient when you put your garment on some additional stand to have it above the pressboard surface. You just put the corset cup onto the pressing mould and press it in circular motions while the edges of the corset are hanging down. If a fancy cut-out needs to be pressed, a larger pressing mould will be required. You should put the cut-out onto it and press it.

There is another important tool used for pressing. It is a pear-shaped mould used for the pressing of side seams. I would like you to note that the beauty of this tool is no deciding factor. The important is the shape. What is this pear made of? Again, it is made of incidental materials. I had bought a maraca-toy for children and turned it into this mould. My students have also used skittles, or cut moulds out a foam-block giving them an oblique shape. The pear-like shape is the most important thing! It doesn’t necessarily have to be round. You always put this pear-shaped mould on the board or the stand and press your side seam. The curve of the side seam should almost always match the shape of the pressing mould. Slight deviations are possible. Please note: you can see the required configuration on the screen now. We need an oblique slope that is slightly rounded from this side.

And the last important pressing tool is a cushion that I have made ages ago. It is stuffed with padding polyester. You could also stuff it with saw dust, river sand or anything else that suits. What is it used for? It is used for sponging, in other words for ridding the garment of extra moisture after wet-heat processing. It is also used for placing under various corset details. This cushion is not only handy for pressing but can also serve as a stand for our pressing moulds.

And now a few word about our main assistant - the mannequin. This is a very basic mannequin that I use in my everyday work. It is made of Styrofoam. It is a usual ex-display mannequin that is normally used in shops for the demonstration of clothes. What is important here? It needs to be easily pinned. Adjustable plastic mannequins with extra screws won’t suit. And you really don’t need a mannequin with detachable arms and shoulders. Your mannequin should be light and convenient. It doesn’t necessarily have to stand on a leg. You would need a leg when sewing long dresses or full skirts. But for working on corsets you just need the torso that you will always spin and turn - that’s why it should be light. For example I place it like this in front of me when working on the drapery. This is our main and favorite assistant.

And now let me speak about the sewing machine. My dear friends you really don’t have to start with some very expensive and professional equipment. Do you have a hand sewing machine, a treadle sewing machine, an electric or an all-purpose one? Well, then just use it. Only when you feel that you are starting to get more professional at this, when you start wanting to save some time or the stitch quality doesn’t satisfy you anymore - then I really recommend you switching to an industrial sewing machine. I am telling you again - do not be carried away by the superelectronics. A regular industrial straight-stitching sewing machine is more than enough. Mine is produced by Brother. When buying a sewing machine please pay attention that it should be calibrated for working with light female clothing. Do not buy a machine calibrated for working with thick fabric. Check the quality and power of the engine. The mechanics can always get calibrated by a serviceman but the engine seems to determine the main power of the machine as well as its price. Consult with a professional before making a purchase and you will receive the necessary explanations.

Dear colleagues I have just made a short review, a short trip around this equipment-world. I wish you the best of luck, enjoy the learning process. You don’t have to use the very same materials and tools that I have demonstrated. I wanted to give you a general impression on what is to be used, but everyone has their own preferences: their own scissors and handy pressing tools. Do create your own working environment!

Our tutorial is now over, I thank you for your attention!

You were learning with Tatyana Kozorovitsky. Remember to subscribe to my channel and the newsfeed of my website

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One comment


Hello, Tatiana, while sewing on my rigilene boning, my sewing machine needle kept getting stuck in the boning, making it very difficult to sew. I think creating a boning channel and slipping the boning into the channel will be a better option than sewing through a rigilene boning. What do you think?

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