Handmade Wedding Dress: Part 3 - Creating the Corslette Toile

Aside from sewing up Arlen’s suit, I think the area I had the least confidence in tackling was creating the under structure for my wedding dress. I had only negative experiences working on corsets in the past - primarily due to my lack of knowledge surrounding the subject - so I am unsure what possessed me to want to create such a structured garment for a day that would be so heavily photographed. Why didn’t I just opt for a safer choice, like a cowl neck or a wrap style dress?

Luckily, @Kat.makes came to the rescue with her blog and her direct wisdom via IG DM (thank you Kat for walking me through everything and answering all my questions!). With her guidance, I was able to get an idea on how I might go about constructing the corslette for my dress.

Originally, I thought it would be brilliant to take apart an older wedding dress that had been donated to me a while ago and use that as the basis for my own dress. It felt like so many steps would be saved in using something that already fit me decently well. I even documented the process in my IG stories from the beginning of this year! 

However, upon coming back to this project and back to the OG toile crafted from that torn apart dress, I realized it was causing me more headache trying to get the fit just right. Things weren’t lining up and weird wedges of fabric were needing to be taken out to make the corslette fit close enough to my body to provide me with support, so I scrapped the entire thing. All I would wind up using the original wedding dress for would be to give me an idea for boning and underwire placement (which wound up having to change for different reasons, but that’s for another day!)

Once I realized that the original pattern pieces weren’t going to work for me, I set about trying to find either a) a pattern that I could work from or b) drafting an entire understructure from scratch. The former led me to procrastinate in the name of “research” by scouring Pinterest and Google for a pattern that looked kind of like what I wanted. It also added to my confusion and overall indecisiveness regarding my dress style as I was bombarded with images of things I thought were pretty. 

For a hot second, I completely re-drafted (in my mind and a little bit in muslin form) what I wanted the bodice of my dress to look like, even though I knew in my gut it wouldn’t work with the fabric I had.. At least not without loads of fighting it into submission. Plus, the style was something I knew Arlen was not a fan of, so luckily, I came to my senses and went back to my original idea. 

Absolutely stunning, but not Arlen’s favorite and a bit too revealing for me and my personal comfort zone. 

I tried my hand at drafting two seperate toiles, neither of which worked out for me.

I was about to resign myself to going back to the torn apart wedding dress to see if I could salvage it in some way when I remembered I had an entire book on crafting wedding dresses, complete with patterns! (It’s currently listed in my Destash sale.)

As a last ditch effort, I pulled out the pattern pieces, traced them out (so as not to ruin the original), and sewed up what would be my fourth or fifth corslette toile. 

Guess what? It fit like a freaking glove! And it was the most basic shape I could have asked for, which was perfect because I could then go in and tweak it until I loved it. 

It was such a relief to see this corslette finally fitting me seemingly right out the gate! I could really begin to focus my efforts on tweaking the pattern rather than struggling against it. The first step would be to dive right in making my first round of cuts and adjusting as I saw fit. Be prepared, there are LOADS of fit images below as I slowly worked my way to my ideal silhouette. 

My first round of cuts, giving me a lower back and more of a form fitted shape around the upper bust. 


I decided to go ahead and add the boning in to place at this point to ensure I was seeing the most accurate representation of this bodice as I possibly could. I reused the boning from the torn apart wedding dress and basted it into place (following the original pattern I had made) using a zig-zag stitch. I then tried the bodice on again to see what needed adjustments. 


Oh, and I also added a bit of underwire to see roughly where it should go. I picked the wrong spot entirely! My breasts look incredibly… odd? I am not sure of the right word, but they definitely didn't look like they normally do on the daily. 

 

To make my first round of adjustments, I flipped the corslette to the wrong side so that I could easily pin and mark the seams that were being corrected. For this round of alterations, those points were right along the princess seam of the upper bust and the upper side seam. 

I adjusted those two seams and removed the underwire. I then tried my toile back on, this time taping the underwire into the correct place once my corslette was on my body. This seemed to solve the bust issues I saw earlier. 

My taping job was terrible, but it held up just enough for me to remark where the underwire should go. 


Once I had my boning underwire channel marked, I sewed those bits in and put the corslette back on for a final round of adjustments. These included:

  • Taking in the CF seam 
  • Lowering the back (again)

 

I also was just, on the whole, making sure that the corslette was structured enough to stand up without straps and didn’t have any gaping around the upper bust. I can't deny, I have popped multiple garment straps in my life and if that were to happen on this day (from busting out my dance moves or someone stepping on my dress as I lunged for macarons), I wanted to make sure my entire dress wouldn’t come tumbling down. 



As soon as I felt happy with the fit of my corslette, I took my toile apart and transferred everything to my pattern paper. Then, it was back to doing it all again! I cut out a new toile, sewed it all together, added in my boning and underwire and tried everything on once more! This time, I sewed “proper” channels, just to make sure everything would fit as I had placed it. 

There were only two final alterations I needed to make before transferring everything to it’s final pattern form.

The first was, I noticed that when I put my straps in place, the back of my bodice was riding up, creating a sort of U-shape around my lower back. After investigating further, it appeared to be an issue with the side seam not being fitted enough near the bottom. 

So, I pinned the side seam out and Voila! The back magically sat right where it was supposed to sit!

It’s very challenging getting photos of the backside of this garment.

The second alteration I realized I had forgotten from the very beginning was the length of the corslette itself. Kat had mentioned to me very early on that she wished she had made her corslette a little longer, stopping right around the high hip. For my dress especially, with its soon-to-be form fitted skirt (i’ll tell you more about that soon!), I definitely needed my corslette to be a tad longer. I added that to my mental note of things to do and got to work committing my final pattern pieces to paper!

Here is what I came up with for the corslette in the end. 

As you can see, I forgot my mental note until a few days later and had to tape 2” (5 cm) to the bottom edge of my pattern pieces. 

Whew! With all that went into getting my corslette juuussstttt right, I was really hoping things would start coming together as I had envisioned, even though that vision had been constantly changing! The next step would be to head right in to Part 4: Creating the Skirt Toile. Once both parts had been completed, perhaps I would have a better idea of what the heck it was I was doing!









Leave a comment