Because my modern 18th century recycled denim stays turned out so comfy I made another DIY corset top! 😀 This time I used handwoven fabric in blue and white for my corset top. The corset top laces up the back and is closed with hooks and eyes at the center front. It’s constructed using lapped seams and the old German stitch (also known as baseball stitch), and it’s unboned except for the two necessary bones at the back.
For my DIY corset top, I wove my own fabric! 😀 I only used cotton weaving yarn from my stash: Strong cotton twine for the warp and softer ordinary cotton yarn for the weft.
A couple of years ago I dyed half of the cotton twine that I now used for the warp royal blue while I dyed the other half of the cotton twine with natural red cabbage dye. The red cabbage dyed yarn has now faded to pale blue which appears almost white in combination with the royal blue. That’s why blue dominates in one of the handwoven fabric pieces while white (or rather pale blue) dominates in the other. Also, the royal blue of my royal blue dyed yarn and the store-bought royal blue yarn don’t match but I like this mottled effect for my handwoven corset top!
I wove two pieces of fabric: after washing one of the handwoven fabric pieces was 10 x 108cm (4 x 43″) and the other 12 x 100cm (5 x 40″). The pieces were almost not enough for the corset top: So I pieced the fabric together at the sides.
Corset Top Pattern
The pattern for my corset top is self-drafted: It’s based on my handwoven dress bodice, my modern 18th century denim stays and my unboned Victorian peasant stays.
Related: Modern 18th Century Denim Stays & Victorian Peasant Stays
Lapped Seams & Old German Stitch
In contrast to my handwoven dress, I used lapped seams for my handwoven corset top. Lapped seams are the traditional seams of antique corsets because they’re a strong and tidy seam finish. They also help to stiffen a corset so you can use less boning.
Related: Old German Stitch, Lapped Seam & 32 Other Seam Types
And where two selvedges met I used the old German seam stitch. The old German stitch is a very old stitch: it was popular when fabrics were still handwoven. The old German stitch is today also known as baseball stitch.
Related: DIY Recycled Denim Baseball – Tutorial & Free Pattern
After sewing the fabric pieces together, I finished the raw edges at the top and bottom of my DIY corset top with cotton bias tape. For the boning channels I used cotton twill tape.
Unlike historical corsets, modern corset tops are usually just lightly boned or even unboned. Because of the strong cotton twine and lapped seams my handwoven corset top is already very stiff on its own. Therefore I decided to make an almost unboned corset top. There are only two German plastic bones at the edges at the center back. These are necessary so that the fabric of the corset top doesn’t warp when you lace it.
Lace Up Back Corset Top
All my other corsets and stays have handstitched eyelets or metal grommets. But for my lace up back corset top I made lacing loops for the first time. I used cotton twill tape for the DIY lacing loops.
Braided Shoulder Straps & Corset Laces
For the shoulder straps and corset laces I used the same blue and white cotton yarn. At first I thought about making woven shoulder straps. But then I decided to make braided shoulder straps and corset laces.
The shoulder straps are 8-strand braids with five different braiding patterns. To make the pattern with the white stripe in the middle and blue at the sides, I used a medieval fingerloop technique: color linking aka turning twice. However, my braid is no fingerloop braid: it’s just an ordinary 8-strand braid. And for the corset laces I made a long 4-strand braid.
In these photos I’m wearing my handwoven corset top with my latest refashioned denim skirt: