Before I found the courage to finally make a corset of my own, I spent hours and days and weeks and months online, surfing the web for simple corset patterns. As many of you know it isn’t an easy task to find instructions that a) don’t require a PhD in corsetry before attempting to follow them, b) won’t leave you weeping after having ruined all your fabric and discovered that you need a more standard body.

Based on extensive online research, I came up with some basic guidelines for drafting your first corset. It couldn’t be easier!

First you need to determine the lowest and the highest point of the corset and note them down on your body (pins in your t-shirt, body paint, …). Measure the vertical distance between them: this will be the length of your corset.

Then measure yourself with a measuring tape and note down the results:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – circumference of your body at the hight of the highest marker (1) and the lowest marker (5), across (2) and under (3) your boobs and at waistline (4). Don’t forget to note exactly where you measured which circumference (pins or body paint, again). Measure the vertical distance between these points (6, 7, 8, 9).

Sketch a corset and mark your numbers on it.

Then find a ruler, a pencil and lots of paper, because now you are going to draw some geometrical shapes and it probably won’t come out right at first try. Keep a calculator at hand, you will need it to distribute your measurements between all these different pieces that your corset will be made of.

Your first calculation will be to subtract however many centimeters you want to subtract from your body circumferences, i.e. if you want to squeeze your waist in by 4in, subtract 4in from number 4. Sketch another corset to note down these new measurements.

To draft the pattern, you need to draw out the shapes of the pattern pieces that you will be using for sewing. I recommend scaling the pattern down, for example by dividing everything by 10. Try many different combinations of proportions until you find the perfect pattern.

An example: let’s assume that your waistline measures 32in and you want to be able to squeeze it down by 4in to 28in. Also let’s assume that you want to leave more allowance – subtract another 2in. It will create a sexy uncovered gap under the back lacing where your skin or shirt will show. The remaining 26in must be divided in 9 parts (1x front piece, 2x front flanking pieces, 2x side pieces, 2x back pieces, 2x back lacing pieces). These parts will not be equal. For example you might want the width of the side to be 3in and the front to be twice the side (6in); It leaves you 26-(2x3in+6in)=14in to be divided between the side flanks and the back pieces. To find the right combination, experiment.