Dawn's Costume Guide

A Simple Bodice or Corselet

These are popular for the "wench" look at Ren Faires, and for completing your little Snow White or gypsy girlís Halloween costume. Technically, the bodice or corset is the medieval equivalent of the brassiere, and only women of questionable virtue wore one where the public could see it. Although they are worn over the chemise, there would still have been a jacket-like top worn as the outer most layer. That being the case, most of them were made of simple fabrics, needing to be sturdy more than fashionable, and homespun linen was common. Today you can substitute a solid cotton, with muslin for the lining. If you want a showpiece for an event where historical accuracy isnít important, there are many patterned upholstery fabrics which work well and offer some additional support in their stiffness.

This pattern doesnít have real support offered by one with shoulder straps and a lot of boning, so consider it more of a "looks good" item than a replacement for a support bra.

What You Need

You can make one of these with half a yard of fabric, and another half yard for a lining. Youíll also need some boning tape, and either hook and eye tape, or eyelets for closing it in front. If you want to add shoulder straps you'll need about 4 yards of ribbon (to fit an adult figure) or cloth tape.

Fold a square of fabric into quarters.

Take three measurements:

A. chest
B. waist
C. underarm to hip

Mark 1/4 your chest measurement along the top (A) as shown. (It can be right along the edge of the fabric, I show it down a little bit so you can see the line) Measure down the fold according to measurement C, and mark 1/4 your waist measurement (B) as shown.

Draw a line to connect the end of line A with the end of line B.

Cut along line AB.

Open up one piece and cut along line C.

You should have three pieces. Sew them together as shown below.

You now have a long piece of fabric shaped to fit around your body. You can hem all the way around, or repeat the procedure to make a lining. (Sew the lining and bodice together right sides facing, and leave a small hole for turning.) Attach hook and eye tape to the front, or space eyelets for lacing evenly along the seam. Use boning tape along the inside of the front seams, and under the arms for strength and shaping.

To add the shoulder straps cut your ribbon into four 1-yard lengths and attach firmly to the bodice as shown above in red. You want the bottom to slant toward the center front and center back, and go on a slight diagonal toward the shoulders. You might even want to put the bodice on and mark the shoulder placement with a pin or chalk before you add them, so you get it exactly where you are comfortable with it.

Tie the ribbon on your shoulders where it fits best. As I said, this is more of a "looks cute" garment than one which will support your bosom, but the straps add a nice look and a little bit of security.

All text and artwork copyright 1990 - 2001 D. Duperault. NOTHING on this site may be reproduced or distributed by any means without my written permission. This information offered in good faith, and worth only what you paid for it.
Send me e-mail

Help Keep this Site Online