Today, corsets are traditionally made by manufacturers, or handcrafted by a corset maker. Before the process became streamlined, it was much more complicated. A corsetmaker was an actual profession, and it took a lot of skill to prepare corsets for all the ladies in town. Here’s a look at what the process entailed and how corsets used to be made.1) Usually a corset maker was a man. Most professions were held by men, and they were usually the shop owners. He did usually keep women in the shop, however, to help him with some of the tasks.
2) If you wanted to order a corset, you would first go down to the shop to get your measurements taken. One of the ladies of the shop would probably measure you and write everything down.
3) A pattern would be created from your measurements, usually out of some sort of stiff paper.
4) The pattern would be laid on a layer of material such as coarse linen and cut out once. Then a second layer of muslin fabric for the lining would be cut. Then a third layer of the decorative fabric for the outside would also be cut.
5) These three layers would be tacked together with rough stitching that would later be removed. This was just to hold the layers of fabric together.
6) Marking would be made as to where the boning would be placed. Boning back then usually meant whale bones, which had been cut down into strips.
7) Eyelet holes were punched through the fabric with an awl, and then stitched up with a buttonhole stitch to look pretty.
8) The corset was placed on a dressmaker’s dummy and steamed in order to get the proper shape. The whalebone is also steamed and shaped to the proper measurements.
9) Then the customer was usually invited back to the shop to be sure that the corset was steamed into the proper shape. Sometimes it took two or three visits to get the fit just right.
10) Once the fit was properly determined, the final layer of decorative fabric was put on and all the decorative touches. The fancier the corset, the longer it took.
These days, boning is much more accessible and easier to work with. Corsets can still be custom designed, but it is much easier to purchase one that is right for your measurements. Since we are not in the 1800’s, you can now just shop on our website and you won’t have to wait weeks for the proper fit. Check out our entire selection of corsets today!