Tutorial: Shortening a Corset Pattern

Our corset patterns are made for "average" torso lengths (15.5"-16.5" back neck to waist), which means that you may need to alter the length if you're short or long waisted. If you've made your mockup and determined that you need to adjust the height your corset above the waist, or you regularly need to make length adjustments on commercial patterns, read on.

It may be tempting to just alter the top edge of your corset. That can work sometimes, but it is not ideal. Bust shaping and other important details will not shift and that can result in weird fit issues. The goal here is to add or subtract from the distance between the bust and the hips.

For this tutorial I will cover a short waist adjustment only. The same concepts apply for long waist adjustments, you will just spread your pattern apart on the cut line and tape in extra paper, instead of overlapping your pieces. I am showing an 18th Century pattern since that one is trickiest.

Suggested Tools: pencil, clear plastic gridded ruler, French curve, scotch tape, scrap paper, scissors 

Short Waist Adjustment

1. Draw Cut Lines

    The cut line is where you will either spread or shrink the pattern. These lines should be straight, at waist level or above, and should always form a right angle (called "squaring") with the center front (CF), center back (CB), or grain line on each panel. A clear gridded ruler makes it easy to find the necessary right angles. 
    Redtheaded Corset Pattern Shortening Tutorial 1
    For 18th Century, start at the side seam waist notch and continue around towards CF and CB, squaring to grain lines, CF, and CB. On each new piece, start the line at the same height as the previous piece, measuring up from the bottom edge. Because of the way the seams radiate in 18th century corsets, your cut lines will form an arc, ending higher at CF and CB than the waist. That's ok.
    Redthreaded Corset Pattern Shortening Tutorial 2
    For Regency, start your line from the notch at the top of the hip gusset at SF. For Victorian, simply follow your waist tape notches around the corset.

    2. Shorten or Lengthen Pattern

    Determine how much you need to adjust your corset. For the purpose of this demo I am shortening these stays 1", so I draw another line 1" above the first.

    Redthreaded Corset Shortening Tutorial 3

    Cut along the lower lines. Slide the bottom pattern piece up to match the upper line. Be careful to keep your CF, CB, or grain lines even and straight.Tape pieces together.

    3. Re-Draw Seams and Boning

    Your dashed stitch lines no longer match where you made the adjustment. For straight edges such as the SF seam, you can simply draw a straight line from top corner to bottom corner. This is your new stitch line.

    For curved seams, use a French curve to blend the seam line back to original above and below the cut line. Make sure you're following a similar curve to the original pattern.

    Redthreade Corset Tutorial

    Tape in extra paper if necessary and re-draw your seam allowance as well.

    As you can see, bone placement lines that are not on straight of grain will need to be adjusted as well. Mark a new, straight line from top to bottom corners.

    Finally, measure each seam to make sure your pattern pieces still match each other in length. You can true this up at the top edge, blending from one pattern piece to the other (any adjustments will be minor, likely less than 1/4").

    That's it! Don't forget to also shorten other pieces like busk pockets, lacing strips, front facings for Victorian corsets. You'll also need to re-work grommet spacing at center back.





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