Corset Pattern Drafting – 1869 Corset

Ever wanted to sew a corset just for yourself? Maybe you are going to costume ball, or a fair, or maybe you are just awesome and like to sew.

You’ll need to start with a pattern, and I’m not talking about those ones online that you have to pay for…nope, completely free. The pattern is an original from a website called Tudor Links. They have been kind enough to upload these patterns from original articles that were published in the 19th and early 20th centuries (1800s – early 1900s). These are the real deal.

The corset pattern was produced in the late 1860s. Think full skirts, crinolines, bonnets, and lace (lots of lace).

Ball Gowns Victorian Corset

Click here to get the pattern

 Drafting the Pattern

Next, I got out a graph paper book. I purchased mine from Office Depot. You will also need a fabric measuring tape.

  1. Take your waist measurement, upper hip, and mid-bust and divide all by 2
  2. Label the measurements as waist/2 = W, hip/2 = H, and bust/2 = B
  3. Chest to hip is the black line
  4. W is the red line
  5. Desired length in back is the green line
  6. Measure armpit to waist. This line is blue.
  7. Measure from bust to waist. This line is orange.
  8. Measure from bust to armpit. The purple line is the curve that hits that armpit mark. The blue line also marks the joint of the front and back of the corset. Keep in mind that you are looking at one side of the corset here.
  9. Next find B – W. This value is how much the gussets combined must equate to. So if you are lacking 4 inches, you can have 4 one-inch gussets.
  10. Find H – W. Similar to above, this is how much the gussets combined must equate to. You can distribute the amount how you’d like.
  11. The waist gaps represent how much your waist will be taken in divided by 2. If you want to take in your waist 2 inches, you will need to distribute that inch across the gaps.
  12. Keep seam allowances in mind.
  13. Draw your shapes. (My images are rather rough for this step.)


I actually did sew a rough draft this corset. I certainly learned a lot and discovered that I had made a few math mistakes for my first draft (corrected above). The result was a very curvy and tight corset.

1869 Corset Draft

The Great Thrifting Challenge


I can’t quite recall when or how I came up with this. I think I watched a little too much Clothes Encounters in their earlier days when thrifting was common and exciting. The only thrifting locations that really turned up anything for me were Plato’s Closets, but the clothing is usually geared towards teens more than young adults. I did find a lot of nice clothes during my first thrifting challenge. I believe I went around six months without buying new.

Now that I’m in a city just overflowing with style and thrift stores, I think I want to give this another try. Austin has really everything I want, and I found a thrift-ish store the other day that I honestly think can take me the distance. The Closets in town are lack-luster in my opinion, but they are still options.

The Rules

The Thrifting Challenge will last one year, starting today October 26, 2014. The rules are as follows:

  • Clothing must be purchased from a thrift store/trading store
  • Clothing can be sewn from fabrics/other clothes
  • Undergarments/lounge wear is not included in the challenge
  • The rules do not apply if I am on vacation (you never know what you’ll find)

And that’s it!

5 Great Reasons to Participate

  1. Thrifting is good for your wallet! Dresses that would normally run in the $50 range can be purchased for a little under $20. Shirts can be purchased under $10 easily. You can even trade in your clothes for in-store credit. Which I love!
  2. You can find great quality items for a low price. Thrift stores carry plenty of high-dollar names. I love looking for staple items in the thrift store that are clearly on the newer side. These will last years and won’t go out of style for a long time.
  3. Thrifting is far more fun! You have a TON to look at, from the totally casual to the off the wall…all in the same space. You never know what you’ll find.
  4. You focus more on your own personal style. Mall stores all have a different flavor. You may walk into one store in the mall thinking you want to be completely polished and purchase black trousers. Then, next door you see a frilly pink shirt surrounded by bohemian looks, and well you just sorta get caught up in the mannequin’s style and buy the shirt. Because there is such a wide range of styles in a thrift store, you really have to ask yourself what you do like and what makes those garments stand out for you. Shopping will be a lot quicker when you know that you “can’t stand bright prints” or “hate black”…or if you know you want something with a collar.
  5. Thrifting is better for the environment. When you thrift, you cut out the resources to grow the cotton, create fabric, sew the clothing, transport the clothing across an ocean, and package the clothing for shipment. You are left with the resources that transported the clothing from its previous owner to the store. There are resources that go into running the store, but that ties with any other store. The point is not to be perfect but to take steps in the right direction.