CORSET TRAINING – Keeping Function In Mind

Fashioning The Shape Of The Body


If you plan to venture into corset creation you’ll need to decide from the off if you’re going to be making the soft lingerie type merry-widow corsets or the real deal – a true corset training corset. A real tight lacing corset is a thing to behold. They have an internal strength layer and actually make the waist smaller – hence the popular term ‘waist training’.


corset training in a victorian corset
Corset Training – a vintage corset sketch


The shape of a proper training corset is completely different to that of any other garment. Constructing one requires turning the normal rules of dressmaking on their head. Normally the body measurements have ease added to them when making underwear or indeed clothing. When working out the pattern for a corset you take away ease rather than adding it. To reiterate; you have minus ease in a corset training corset.

Essentially you’re ‘fashioning the body’ into a different shape. You can manipulate the female form, as did indeed happen with the corset throughout history. The modern corset is no different. The corset allows the wearer to change her form and so the functional and structural side of this garment needs to be considered foremost, before the outer fashion layer.

A little warning though if you or the person you’re making the corset for are planning to waist train in it – you need to ‘break in’ a corset for continual wear. This is true of any corset, regardless of how well it is made or how many layers of fabric it contains. A corset takes time to take on the shape of your body and until it does, over tightening can lead to corset damage like ripped seams. You can also find your newly made corset uncomfortable and stiff. For more reasons why you should break in or ‘season’ your corset see this page I made explaining why you should season your corset.


As for the how, here is an excerpt from an amazing place I’ve found to research corset construction and the art of Corset Training – the Corset Training Blog –

Corset Seasoning – Simple Method

To break in a new waist trainer corset (please don’t corset train in a fashion corset!) you’ll need to find a minimum of three different occasions on which to wear it around the house for at least 2 hours.

  • Put your corset on and very gradually tighten it. Wriggle around in it as you tighten it little by little until it feels snug.
  • As a rule it should feel like a strong hug. It should also be comfortable at all times – discomfort is a sign that your corset is too tight.
  • Wear it for a half hour or so or until it starts to feel loose. Then do the same again; tightening it slowly and having a good wriggle.
  • If you can do this a third time after another half hour or so then do so. Don’t go too far, it needs to feel comfortable and tightening too much now may lead to weakened seams or poped eyelets.
  • Let the corset get used to your body shape, the areas under most pressure should start to stretch ever so slightly.
  • Don’t stay in it longer than 4-5 hours.
  • Repeat this on two more occasions and your corset should be ready to corset train in.

For the full article go to –


This is a very simplified method of breaking in your corset, a sort of ‘bare minimum’ as the website says. For a more advanced/proper method I’ve put together a full guide to breaking in your corset so you can properly wear the corsets you make!