Corset Franken patterned in haste!

This post follows the debut of Princess’ corseted dress and how to construct the corset for a dress – its generally agreed the corset for a dress is constructed a little differently to a stand alone corset.

The first thing I did to design the corseted dress was to draft a moulage because if you have 3 weeks to go and no idea how you’re going to get there, you should start with pencil, paper and numbers right?!

For this draft I used Helen Joseph Armstrong’s Patternmaking book, available here and here. I luuurve this book, thank you G for spotting it in the second hand shoppe – at $35 it was a bargain! I’ve used only 2 methods of drafting bodice blocks  – Aldrich and Armstrong, HJA had the least excessive ease I’ve ever encountered in a dress block – yay, just what I needed.

Quick side note: I cannot recommend the Rundschau system enough for the accuracy in it’s jacket block, I was introduced to this system by Brita Hirsch and whipped up a toile from it last weekend – the fit is almost perfect! Interesting discussion from an Austrian lady on the Rundschau books here.

A block for a close fitting garment like a corset should be, need I say? Very close Fitting! That’s where a moulage differs from a block. Moulage means moulded in french, it’s designed with no ease, in order to mimic the body as closely as possible. It wouldn’t be advisable to design a shirt off a moulage for instance, you’d probably be advised to derive a secondary block with some wearing ease first. That’s my understanding and I’d love you to let me know in the comments if you have a different impression. Couturiers draft moulages for every client and then use them to pad out their dummies – like a non stretch swimsuit. This method of dressing the dummy is really common and makes me wonder why I’ve never done it. Possibly because my dummy’s proportions require purging rather than padding – must get a slimmer dummy!

Talking to my classmates who have all completed the couture portion of the course at fashion college – they mostly despise calico for close fitting blocks – it stretches, one prefers cheap poly/cotton.


Moulage #2 – getting close



#3 looking pretty great actually, stressed seams? what stressed seams?!


So I sketched my design lines where they made aesthetic/fitting sense and transferred the fitting darts. On the moulage, I sketched the length and position of the underwire in Princess’ bra having accurately located the apex. I started cutting up the pattern and toiled the first one. It was pretty good, but there was more darting to come out by which time I had a god awful mess and proceeded to a catatonia! I’d completely lost my bearings and that’s when I dialed the college. “Quick, it’s an emergency, I need a private lesson with a patternmaker/couture teacher please”!


The patternmaking teacher thought I’d got pretty close, just go ahead and close the darts – you’ll be fine. “Sure, yes, no problem”, except I got home and had a complete meltdown – 2.5 weeks to go.

Princess to the rescue, “Mum, just use that free bra pattern I downloaded for the cups…”.  The Maya bra pattern is a free offering from AFI Atelier and it had just the style lines we were looking for. You could very easily use a longline bra pattern like the Sophie  from Closet Case Files. If you need more guidance on making any bra ‘long line’ then the Fairy Bra Mother has a tutorial here. Only 2 bra cup toiles later and I had an almost perfect fit in the cup, now to marry the cup pattern with the the moulage and thank the gods I had sketched in the position of Princess’ breast, so knew the cups were in the right place.

Below – the Franken patterned Maya cup to moulage – toile #6 by this stage! You’ll need at least one measurement that is certain. For us, it was the CF cradle to waist measurement. You’re essentially creating a very long line bra, it must hit the smallest part of the waist – where the boning will be supported.


Some coutil, bits of calico  and underwires purloined from a well fitting but ‘hasbeen’ bra – just shoved the underwires down the seamlines sewn together for the purpose. You’d think my Princess would be throwing herself out the window by now cos’ it looked horrendous – but no, she could see the potential!  The calico has stretched a bit here, the coutil is a trooper!

Crikey, this looks ENORMOUS!
Crikey, this looks ENORMOUS!


If you do this, make sure all your seam allowances are the same. I use 1cm, but bra patterns usually use less. It’s really important that whatever pattern you use is designed for the shape of underwire you have to hand. On her right as worn, the 1cm seam allowance 1cm was sewed together to accommodate an underwire slipped in for ‘try on’. The bias binding method on her left was much better and allowed me to place the bias inside the bust cup shape, resulting in a minimizing effect.

The cups were taken in, ever so slightly because we were after more ‘push up’. It was obvious if you want the girls to sit high, you don’t give ’em a sofa to rest down into eh?! By taking a bit off the lower centre cup seams, the breast tissue moved upwards.

Its pretty amazing how awful the toile looked compared to the finished product, which really seemed to make her bust look ‘minimized’! Hope this has been helpful to someone, if you have any questions – please do ask but I refer you to the Fairy Bramother’s longline bra tutorial first and foremost!

Princess and her best buddy – such gorgeous girls!





Add yours →

  1. What a lucky daughter and talented mother! Amazing dress and she looks stunning in it.

  2. Hi HeroMum
    No, no questions (just very very grateful I didn’t have to!)

    Yes, gorgeous girls indeed!

  3. Brilliant post – still giggling about the ‘give them a sofa’ comment. Hilarious! Lots of work proved to be well worthwhile in that fabulous dress 😃

  4. This is an incredibly informative and helpful post. Thanks so much for sharing all the steps and links.

  5. Well, I said it before, a true labour of love! But the thing that jumps out at me, apart for the enormous amount of painstaking work involved, is how a garment is transformed simply by changing the fabric. The girls look fabulous. X

  6. Wow! this is amazing, so much work and so useful information! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing. You’re a trooper xx 🙂

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