Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Corsets accentuate a woman's body. The corset can push up the bust area and pull in stomach and waist, creating or enhancing a flawless hourglass figure. Women usually wear it on top of or attached as the top of a dress for casual, elegant and after-five events. You also can wear a corset as a trendy top with jeans or a skirt for a night out with the girls. Make your own corset top dress and customize with your own style and flair.


Collect pictures of corset tops and dresses from fashion magazines or bridal catalogs that you like. Cut out the pictures and place them on a cardboard backing. Mark the features from each picture that you would like to include in your design. Write any notes about each feature that you think will help you capture the essence of the feature. Use this picture board as a guide in purchasing your fabric and all other accents you want for designing your corset dress, and as inspiration for completing the finished look.

Create a pattern for the corset top portion of the dress. Take your measurements for the corset. Measure your bust, waist and hips. Cut out enough material to accommodate your measurements. The corset should cover from the top of your bust line to the top of your hips. Mark the measurements on the fabric with the sewing chalk, then use the scissors to cut out the corset.

Sew a 1/4 inch hem across the top and bottom of the corset. Then sew a hem in both sides of the corset. This prepares sides to create a lace-up back later. Use your desired sewing kit.

Lay the corset front down on a flat surface. The edges of the two back sides should be flat in front of you. With sewing chalk, draw holes down the edge of one side of the corset. Mark the holes 1/2 inch from the outer edge of the corset and 1/2 inch from the top. Continue to mark out holes every 1/2 inch until you reach the bottom of the corset. Use the scissors to cut the holes open in the fabric. Repeat this process for the other side of the corset. Cut the holes small so that grommets can fit snug into the holes.

Apply grommets to holes in fabric. The grommet has two sides. One side is smooth with a protruding shaft; the second piece is a serrated washer. Insert the top half of the grommet through the hole. This is the side with no teeth and has a piece attached that protrudes from its facing. This is the part that should be inserted through the hole. The facing of the grommet should be visible on the front side of the fabric.

Place the bottom half the the grommet on the inside of fabric, directly on top of the protruded end. Press hard enough for the teeth to clinch the fabric. Spread a thick bath towel on a cemented flat surface with the front of the grommet facing down. Using the rubber mallet, hammer the grommet securely into the fabric. Repeat this process for all the holes. This will give the corset holes a neat, polished look and will make feeding the strings through the holes easier.

Create the pattern for the bottom portion of the dress. Using your hip measurements, mark out a skirt on the fabric with the sewing chalk. Extend both vertical lines straight down the length of the fabric to the desired dress length. This should yield a close fit to the shape of your body from your waistline to the full length of the dress. Leave enough room to easily step in and out of the skirt. Extend the dress length by 1 or 2 inches. You will use this extra material to create a hem in the bottom of the dress.

Cut the pattern so that you have two pieces of fabric to sew together to create a skirt. Sew a 1/4-inch seam to connect the skirton the left side. Fold the skirt so that the seam is on the inside of the fold.

Attach skirt to corset. Lay the corset on a flat surface, front down. The middle section of the inside of the corset should be directly in front of you. Align the top of the seam of the skirt with this middle section of the corset, then sew a 1/4 inch seam across from left to right. This will attach the front portion of the skirt to the front portion of the corset.

Continue attaching the skirt to the corset by sewing from the left seam to the far left. This should extend to the end of the left side of the corset. Next, reposition the fabric so that you can sew the remaining fabric to the right side of the corset. This should close the dress at the bottom and leave the corset ready to apply the lace-up back.

Fold the bottom of the dress into the hem you desire, then sew a 1/4 inch seam across the bottom of the dress.

Insert your lace up material into the corset holes. Start at the top of the corset and feed the end of the string through the top facing of the first hole on the right. Pull the string over to the left and feed through the bottom side of the first hole on the left. Now, pull through and extend upward until both sides are even. Crisscross the strings and feed through the bottom side of the next set of holes accordingly. Continue this process until you lace up all holes. This lacing is similar to lacing up gym shoes. Pull the string tight after each feeding to secure the lacing in the corset. The strings should extend out long enough to tie in a bow of your desired size, so measure and cut accordingly.

Perform a final fitting. Step into the dress and pull the strings as tight as you desire and tie into a bow. If it needs no adjustments, step out of the dress, lay it on a flat surface again then cut off any excess fabric and/or thread. Wear as you desire.


Your sewing kit may consist of a simple needle and thread or a threaded hand or stationary sewing machine.

Use your scissor blades to widen the grommet holes in order to fit around the grommet correctly.

To create the lace up back of the corset, you can substitute the ribbon for any string like material such as cotton, satin, or shoe lace string. The sales associate at your local fabric store can suggest several different options and show you the alternatives available on site.

Add a lace trim onto the bottom of the corset to greater define and accentuate the waist line. You can also attach stones, sequin, and other embellishments to enhance the beauty of the corset and ultimately the dress.

You can add elastic to the waist line or insert a zipper in the skirt for a more snug fit in the skirt portion of the dress.

You may require assistance with getting into the dress as you will need someone to pull the corset strings to suit you.

Add an extra inch to each line you draw out so that you have room to work with if you need t make alterations . You can always cut this off later.

If adjustments are necessary, rip the seams using a single-edged razor blade for more room in an area of the dress. Use straight pins to plot out new lines, then sew again. If you need less room in an, use the straight pins to plot out new lines, then sew again. Sewing over previous stitches during alterations is okay.


Be careful when ripping seams to prevent snagging or tearing in the fabric. The razor blade will help you with precision in cutting the thread while leaving the fabric intact.

About the Author

Toria Renee

Toria Renee has been writing professionally since 2001. She is a former managing editor of Black Youth In Action Quarterly newsletter. Renee's published works have appeared in the New Coalition News & Views Quarterly newsletter, for which she was a writer/junior editor. Renee has a Bachelor of Business Management from Robert Morris College.