Tuesday, 2 April 2013

10 panel corset for Monster High

I finished this corset.

*takes deep breath* 
A ten panel corset, laced and lined, for Monster High.

These are some words I never thought I'd use in the same sentence - except maybe a sentence like "It's impossible to sew a lined corset for MH" ;)

It all started with a piece of lace trim
I bought to make a choker (which I never wore) that had a fake leather ribbon threaded through it. I replaced the leather with velvet and put it away for future projects. So this 50cm piece of paper-thin shiny black leather was in my sight for two years every time I opened my box of ribbon scraps. It was just about 1cm wide and the edges were folded underneath to make the 0,5cm insert in the original lace. Like this:

This is the thinnest fake leather I've ever seen. I searched the fabric stores in vain for something similar. I fancied making some doll shoes out of it, but the folds wouldn't straighten and I couldn't think of a design that incorporated them. I just stared at the ribbon. Then, a few days ago, I stared again and thought to myself, "it kind of looks like corset panels, if only I can be crazy enough to..."

I can. And I be.

I mean, what did I have to lose? Well, except my only piece of thin leather-like fabric (and some sanity along the way). While the idea was fresh, I grabbed a piece of plastic wrap and masking tape and chose my victim. Wrapping a doll to make a pattern isn't rocket science; I didn't take pictures because my coffee table at night makes a surprisingly bad photo setting. Instead, I'll point to this tutorial.

I set for an underbust for MH in order to use the least amount of material. It turned out to be the only possible choice. This is all that's left after sewing the corset:

I gauged the pattern pieces after my ribbon width and so I ended up with ten thin panels with enough seam allowance. I traced them, making sure they were in the right order, with the right side up and properly numbered. I cut the ribbon into rectangular bits, not worrying about the shape of the seam allowance. This is where the easy part ended.

I threaded the needle and realized I had a problem. The shiny leathery surface meant I could't pin the pieces together without leaving holes everywhere and I had no idea how to match the seam lines. At last, I started exactly in the corners of the two pieces to be connected, tied the knot, pierced the first piece on the traced line, then gently poked under the second piece with the needle until it came out on the line as well. Repeat till the end of the line... and then for 8 more seams. Then sleep.

After I was done sewing, I trimmed the irregular seam allowances. This fabric can't be ironed so, to flatten the seams, I folded them back and glued with universal glue (the kind that is clear, rubbery and stinky). It worked well and gave some structure to the corset - pretty much like actual boning, although the glue is really flexible. I measured on the doll and glued down the side edges, too.

At this point the corset looked a little too short. I needed to add a bit of length while also solving the ragged upper and lower edges. I weighed different options, and in the end cut a thin strip of the same ribbon I used for the corset itself, and started sewing it on just to see if it's possible. It was brilliant. The existing fold hugged the unfinished edge neatly and the fabric was so thin, I could easily sew through three and even four layers!

After doing the upper edge, I stopped and looked. The inside of the garment was a royal mess of glue and pen marks. I decided to stretch some pantihose over that and so the lining was born...
It was at this point that I finally understood I was getting somewhere, so I snapped a picture:

I did the lower edge the same way. In the evening I set the eyelets with hubby watching me with great interest. I'll write about eyelets in a different post.

I put the corset on a doll, measured the necessary length of the lacing, tied the top and bottom holes together and let it sit like that for a few days. I did it because the top and bottom were too tight and I hoped to pull them looser.

Yesterday I added the final touches: some silver crimp beads for fake buttons and 3mm satin ribbon for lacing. 

The ribbon is recycled from a different project because I couldn't find my good one. The corset fits like a dream now. The buttons even out the width difference between the front panels. I'm really proud of myself.

This thing is so tiny, it doesn't even fit on my finger. Check it out on the doll though! I didn't make an undershirt yet, so please excuse the nudity:

It's ok, Arina, I don't even have nipples

The back...

I hope you enjoyed my corset story. My sewing stories rarely have a happy ending, but this time I had some fantastic fabric to play with. I didn't know what would come out of this experiment and my only regret is that I didn't take pictures along the way. I promise that my next projects will be more documented!

Edit: Although this was an experiment, I decided to include the pattern "as is", after all. Be advised, if your fabric has even a little stretch, the corset may end up too large. I highly recommend not using the last two pieces (#5 on both sides). The pattern doesn't have seam allowance! You can fold the fabric at the straight edge of #1 to have a single panel at the front. Good luck!

What about you, did you ever make something you thought was impossible?


  1. that was more difficult than I imagined :)

  2. Yeah, they are so small anything you make for them is tiny. It turned out amazing though.

  3. I was googling in hopes someone somewhere had successfully managed to make a MH fitted corset. I'm so happy to have found this! It brings me hope :)
    Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

    1. I'm glad you found it useful! I updated the post with the pattern I used for this corset, it's not perfect but it may be a guide. My next crazy idea is to make a mesh doll corset and I swear I'll figure out how..

  4. This looks amazing, but I have one question: why do you say "I highly recommend not using the last two pieces (#5 on both sides)"?

    1. Because every fabric stretches and it's better to have a small corset with a gap in the back than a tube bigger than the doll's waist which defeats the purpose of a corset. It only worked for me in the end because of the bulk in the seams. I should probably make a different pattern with less panels but I really wanted to use that shiny ribbon.

  5. Love your end result, especially the upper and lower edges looks really good, can't wait to see the mesh one, have you thought about trying stabilizer or chiffon bias for the seams, what size eyelets did you use? Thanks for posting this, will have to try it

    1. Thank you! I completely forgot about the mesh project, thanks for reminding me! I used these exact eyelets: http://www.eyeletoutlet.com/tiny-eyelets.html They are about 3mm with a 1mm hole. I used screwdrivers and a hammer to split them.
      I'll think about stabilizer, I have no sewing knowledge whatsoever and so far my stabilizer experiments have been unsuccessful.


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