Saturday, February 26, 2011

Corset Back Dress

A very common alteration request is to replace the back zipper  on prom and wedding gowns with a corset back.   While this is not   my personal style, it has been pretty popular for a few years.  If a dress is too tight, corseting the back can give you a few precious inches!

You will need:
     Fashion Fabric
     Small piece of medium weight interfacing (not fusible)
     Air soluble pen

Measure from the top of the dress to where you want the lacing to stop.  Mark with pins.  The measurement for this dress would be 5 inches.

Unpick the zipper from the top of the dress to about 1 or 2 inches  past the bottom pins.  If the dress is lined, open up the lining all around the zipper.

Make some skinny cording.    If you don't know how to do this, look for a tutorial next week.  

Cut two pieces of interfacing 2-3 inches wide and the length of your first measurement plus two inches.
With the soluble pen, draw two parallel lines 3/8" apart (you can narrow this to 1/4" if you don't want much of the loop to show).  Now put a perpendicular mark 1" from the each end.  Divide the space between the two lines according to how you want your loops to look. I usually mark every 1 inch.  Here's what it will look like:

Make the loops by placing the cording between the marks with the curve against the top line and the raw edges at least 1/2" below the bottom line.  Pin the loops in place.  It will look something like this:

Stitch along the bottom line.

Remove the pins.  Fold the interfacing back on itself and serge or zigzag about 1/2" from the fold.  (I serge if there is not a lining in the dress so that it will look nicely finished.  This dress is lined so looks aren't as important.)

Open up the seam allowance of the dress, pin one set of loops on each side and stitch along the seam line.
                  Cut off the excess zipper and add a stop.  Sew the zipper back in up to the end of the loops and continue to top stitch up to the top of the dress.

                  Stitch lining back in place and add a hook and eye at the top of the zipper.

                  Wow, that is not pretty sewing on the hook and eye!!
                  Finally..., make a long tie.  The finished width can be as skinny or wide as you like.  The one for this dress is about 5/8"

                  Here's the finished product:

                  Here's another dress with the same alteration--a totally different look!

                  A modesty panel can be added under the lacing if you want a little more coverage.  I'll do a tutorial on that soon.
                  Modesty Panel Tutorial


                  1. Oh wow! You are talented! I love corset backs... although that looks a little too difficult for me right now ;)

                  2. I just recently made a corset back on my daughter-in-law's wedding dress. It turned out super! Thanks for sharing.
                    Suzie @

                  3. Looks great. I don't know if I'm for such a project but you did an amazing job.


                  4. Wow, you are very skilled lady! It looks great!

                  5. this is cool! :)

                  6. wow! what a beautiful dress!

                  7. I must say, you are very skilled at what you do. I am doing a tutorial of adding a corset back panel ,loops, and ties on a prom dress. But, what caught my attention here is that it looks like you are sewing on top of the beads on the wedding gown. You made it look effortless. Is there a trick?

                  8. OK - I tried it on a recital gown and it worked brilliantly! Took about 2 hours, including making the pattern, and $8.56 in supplies.

                    Thank you!

                  9. I'm so glad it worked out so well!!

                  10. I found a simple solution. It only took 20 minutes to sew into my dress. I was very happy with it.

                  11. As an experienced sewer I appreciate your simple solution to adding a corset back to a dress. I will be putting this tutorial to good use to make a Prom Dress for a wonderful friend of the family!!!

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                  14. Hello! I found this post about adding a corset. My problem is we have a dress that has a corsett, but its too big. Tightening it up really doesn't help. The lace is thin and after tightening it still falls down. So my thought is to add an eyelet to the back to try to hold it tighter so it doesn't slip. Do you think that will work or do you have another better suggestion? Thanks for any help you can give. Tina

                    1. I would take the dress in a little on the sides.

                  15. Ok thank you. I'm a bit afraid to do that as I'm better at sewing from patterns rather than altering, but I will take a look. It does have a zippered side but I've seen your tutorial on removing zipper and it looks simple enough and has plenty of beading as well. I did also replaced the cording with a stronger one as the existing one was very thin and kinda slipped apart after it was tied.

                    Thanks again.

                  16. If you don't want to take in the zipper, you could take in , or add seams to the back of the dress.

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                  52. I just had a call to see about increasing a bridesmaid gown for a gal who became pregnant after she was measured for the gown in February. She is coming in a couple of days so I can assess the situation. The gown is needed for Sept. 9 and I am thinking this may be a great solution. Do you have any other suggestions or pointers I should be on the lookout for? Thanks so much.

                    1. This works well for pregnant brides! You may need to add a modesty panel under the corset since you will need extra room through the waist as well as the top. Good luck! Let me know if you have questions after you assess the situation.

                  53. I am soooooo thrilled to find this tutorial. I can sew, but just looking at corset backs wasn't helping me figure out how to put one in and how to end the zipper. My daughter and I are on a tight budget, and being able to upsize a formal gown for Prom or Homecoming she finds at a thrift shop is an amazing solution if we don't find the perfect fit otherwise. It seems like a much easier process than adding gussets in the side. Thank you so much for sharing.

                  54. Hi. I need to add a corset back for a dress for a work event. Do you have the link to the cording tutorial? Thanks!


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