Friday, August 7, 2015

Sewing In the Gussets and Busk

After a quiet and rainy week and a few other sewing projects to finish up I finally had a chance to sit down today and work on my new corset. It wasn't terribly exciting; gussets and busks aren't the most interesting things but for me they are some of the most tedious things to sew.

Not that they are hard, either. They aren't. It's just that, well, they're tedious. Because they are so exact. And when sewing in a busk, at least, one is in danger of breaking the machine needle. (I have lost many that way. Even when using a zipper foot.)

I just did the gussets on the front parts of the corset today. The corset is extremely simple in cut being only in two front and two back pieces. The rest of the shaping is achieved through the use of gussets, which widen the main pieces in necessary areas - the bust and the front and back hips.

First, I pressed down the seam allowance to the inside of my main fabric pieces.
Bust gusset slits!
Hip gusset opening

Then, overlapping the gusset slits onto the gussets, pinned them in place.

Stitching extremely close to the fold, the gusset was sewn into the front corset. This is the part that takes the longest for me. I take one stitch at a time and go pretty slow. It's so easy to veer even a little out of line and then the look of the corset is ruined. And gussets look horrible when you have to rip them out and resew them! So I try to get them in right the first time.
Finished bust gussets!
Finished hip gusset
They aren't perfect, but don't need to be ripped out, either! Yay!

Aaaaand, the other side was sewn the same way. I did not put gussets in the corset lining since I plan on this being a double layer corset with single layer gussets. It's how I've made my last few corsets and has worked out well.

So, putting in the busk was easier and quicker than doing the gussets. Sew lining to front, right sides together, leaving openings to slide in the clasps:

Finished seam.

Press seam open and flat. I like to topstitch down the front of the seam.

Slide in the busk, and pin in place.

Then stitch around it neatly with a zipper foot.

The other side is done the same way, except instead of a seam with openings, little holes are marked and worked on the front of the corset so you can insert the studs of the busk.

Then, the busk is stitched around to hold it in place as well.

To finish the lining, I pressed under the seam allowance on the gusset slits and pinned them to cover the seam allowance of the gussets.

I slip stitched the lining in place...

and gave everything a quick press and now its starting to look like a corset!

I'm super relieved that this part is done. The fun part will be doing the boning and especially the cording! Due to some huge life changes and shifting of priorities and schedules and lack of "me" sewing time I haven't made a corset for almost two years, I was really worried I couldn't make a corset anymore. I don't know why - sewing is one of those things you don't forget, right? - but I was sure it would be really hard to make another one. It's nice to ease back into projects you used to enjoy and find it isn't so hard to try to pick up where you left off! Gotta build up my confidence again on projects like this. 

Happy weekend!



  1. This post has coincided with yet another attempt on my part to finish an 1860's corset that I started three years ago. I was going to say "thanks" for the inspiration that this has provided, but then I noticed that your sidebar has your archives listed again! So instead, I'm going to say a huge THANK YOU for restoring the awesomely informative resources that you've created over the years. This totally made my week!

  2. Question: do gusseted corsets have to have spiral metal boning? Or would plain spring steel boning work?
    I'm working on my 2nd corset at the moment; it's only gored, but I've been thinking I should branch out at some point and try gussets.

    1. This particular gusseted corset pattern has a kit available for it, and that kit does come with spiral steel bones. However, I used that kit for my first corset from this pattern and found that the support was very very minimal. Some of my earliest corsets were the gored type, and I did use spiral steels in all curved boning channels but found the support wanting.

      As far as I know, spiral steels weren't used in corsets til later than the mid 19th century period. For the 1860's period, straight steels and whaleboning and cording were used for support. If your gored corset pattern calls for curved boning placement, a great alternative (and this is just my opinion based on my own experience) is zip ties. They approximate the flexibility that made whalebone so popular since they flex front to back and also side to side. So, you can use them in curved boning channels. Plus they are super cheap and readily available and can be cut to whatever length you need.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!