May Day Corset



Jillian Donnellan


(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

I was originally inspired to create this for the 2021 competition, based on the novel The Secret Garden, but ultimately abandoned the project for something less ambitious. So, when the theme was announced for this time around, and I realised this idea could still work, I jumped on the chance to return to it. I love embroidery, though I'm very much a beginner at it, so I knew I wanted to incorporate that into the design from the get go. I think it is such a nice, subtle touch that can breath life into a complex garment without taking too much attention away from the difficulty of making something like a corset. Particularly as someone who suffers from depression, I always look forward to the spring time – longer days, warmer weather – to bring me out of my inevitable Winter Funk™, and that's what inspires me: rebirth, growth, a time to explore, to try new things. And that's exactly what I did in making this corset. I tried a lot of new things, and was pleasantly surprised with the end result; and, much like the Spring, it has brought a lovely light, a joy, back into my life.

Outline the construction…

I started working on this corset over two years ago, but I got very frustrated with it and changed projects last minute. After a break from sewing, I've found my love of it again and was determined to make this little guy good enough to submit. I drafted the pattern based on an article for an 1870's corset I found on here (because I am helpless with commercial patterns!) I used cotton canvas as the primary fabric because it is sturdy, fairly user-friend, and cheap – and I still don't believe myself/my hobbies to be a worthy investment. (We're working on it!) I used bias tape to create boning channels, as well as to finish the top and bottom. I got a busk, grommets, and some steel bones from etsy and I prayed... and it kind of worked! I used cotton embroidery floss to add lilies-of-the-valley (my favourite flowers) and decided my embroidery skills were decent enough to add more than that. I liked the idea of dandelions blowing in the wind – quintessential springtime, so I rolled with it. I used interfacing to lock the embroidery in place, and to stiffen the overall garment. As a last touch, I embellished (I use that term so lightly) the top with the fringe of an old curtain I had sitting in my fabric bin: it's floral, it's fun, and the scalloping almost feels like clouds hanging over the flowers.




  1. Avatar Angela Karl on May 4, 2023 at 7:53 pm

    Great work on the corset and it is really satisfying to finish something you have spent so much time and effort on.

  2. Avatar Anna-Catherine Sendgikoski on May 7, 2023 at 6:44 pm

    Such a lovely corset! Quite pretty and well put together!

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