How to Add Cups to the Parker Corset - Free Sewing Pattern

Posted on August 13, 2021 by Helen Castillo

When our Parker Corset pattern came out earlier this year, our top question about it was: How can cups be added to this project? Today, we're re-releasing our free pattern so you can add cups with ease! Read on to learn how to form cups, insert them into the corset, and even a few easy pattern alterations such as adding a zipper to the center front of your garment!

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NOTE: This post includes instructions about how to create the cups and add them to your corset, as well as how to alter your original pattern to include a center front zipper closure. For full corset instructions, check out the original corset post!

Consider making a muslin fit sample of the cup first and pinning that over an existing sculpted bra you own to select your size for the remainder of the garment, it is easier to make fit adjustments to the bodice at the side seams rather than refitting the cups afterward.

*Pictured top-right I draped a different shape Upper Cup to provide more coverage - I ended up not using this shape for this sample, so please disregard.

When cutting your cup patterns, be sure to cut according to the indicated grainline on each pattern,  I used power mesh here and because the fabric is so lightweight I decided to ‘frame stitch’ the second layer of black to stabilize my fabric.

Frame stitch: when layering two pieces of fabric typically to reinforce, set your machine to a straight stitch setting on its longest length and stitch 1/8" around the full perimeter of the raw edge to join both layers before sewing panels of the garment to one another.

By adding an additional 1/2" seam allowance to the center front panel it allowed for a center front zipper closure:

After you have made any fit adjustments, transfer those to your pattern before cutting your final fabric.

Using power mesh, I decided to do frame stitching to each of the cup pieces and join the lower cup pieces first. Press seam allowance in the same direction you'll be topstitching your bone channeling on the lower bodice. If you used bias tape as decorative bone channeling, (see original ‘Parker Corset’ blog post) you can consider adding bias tape as a decorative detail to cover this seam before attaching the upper cup.

Next attach your upper cup to the top edge of the lower cup with right sides together, aligning notch points. The seam from joining the two lower cup pieces will align to a notch at the bottom edge of the upper cup.

Optional: Topstitch the upper cup seam allowance down towards the lower cups.

Assembling Foam Cup (Optional to use as a stabilizing method)

When cutting your foam cup liner, you will cut the same cup patterns with these modifications: (Consider making a copy of your cup pattern pieces and label as ‘Foam cup patterns’ with the following pattern adjustments) 

  • Lower cups: remove seam allowance from the center and top edges
  • Upper cup: remove seam allowance from the top and bottom edge

With your two bottom pieces, join by having that center edge ‘kiss’ and use a zig-zag stitch to join them. Practice different tension settings and stitch widths. This will be different on most machines.

Optional: If you would like to cover the zig-zag on the inside of the cup, you can cover the bottom cup seam with bias tape before joining to the upper cup, then cover the upper cup zig-zag seam with bias tape as well. OR, you can cut a layer of lining fabric to sandwich in the next step to cover the foam.

Next, attach the upper cup using the same method with the zigzag stitch. Be sure to align your notches. When assembling, respect the curve of this seam and your cup should begin to take shape as you are attaching the top cup this way. With the right side of your self-fabric cup facing the wrong side of your foam cup liner, attach along the top edge with a 1/8" straight stitch. Elongate your stitch at least .5 as this will be a very tight stitch and the density of the foam can cause tension issues and skew the 1/8" amount. It is vital to maintain that distance along the top edge. Removing your seam allowance on the foam cup liner allows for the self fabric to curve over the top edge and create a clean seam finished look. *Ignore the paint on my hands! I have been painting my new studio recently and I have the battle scars to prove it lol.

At this point, if your foam is looking clunky after you fold your self-fabric right side out, use a pressing cloth (clean piece of muslin or any cotton scrap fabric) to layer your cup over a Dress Makers Ham to press nicely along that top edge and sculpt the shape of the cup. 

Align your seams as you would notches and place Wonder Clips or small binder clips to hold the self-fabric in place to meet the raw edge of the cup. Secure that edge with a running stitch 1/8" from the edge.

Join the cup to the bodice cup opening, aligning your bottom cup to the seam of the bodice. I prefer to work from that seam in either direction to keep the alignment precise and then repeat for the opposite direction of the cup attachment. Consider the seam allowance at the center front and side of the bodice where the cup is attaching, as this will need to be turned back to clean finish the top edge of the garment.

Attaching a center front zipper or closure allows for the cups to be inserted with less bulkiness at your machine. The closure will go in after the cups are attached. 

Preparing Your Zipper/Resizing a Zipper with Metal Teeth:

Measure the length of where the zipper will attach and notch that length measuring from the bottom of the zipper up. Resizing a separating (open-ended) zipper requires removing teeth from the top.

After removing the teeth, be sure not to attempt closing your zipper or the zipper head will come off the tape. Either hand tack a new stopper, re-attach the original zipper stoppers, or fold back your tape so the zipper head will hit that and not come off.

Underwire:

Adding bone channeling or bias tape allows for a path for your underwire to be inserted. If you cannot find boning you can remove it from an old bra and utilize that for this project as it will already be a perfect size! Boning is labeled by size and width, the lower point of the underwire is what sits closest to the center front.

With your cup attached, fold back the fabric so the right side of the cup and right side of the bodice are facing each other. With only your cup seam allowance exposed, taking underwire channeling or double-folded bias tape - attach within 1/8" of the original seam that joined the cup to the bodice.

Be sure to give yourself at least a 1” overhang on either end of your trim as it may become tighter once you curve and attach it to this area. Hot top: Press your underwire channeling or bias tape to mimic the shape of your underwire first!

With the right side of your garment facing up, attach your zipper foot and align the edge of the foot with the seam where your cup joins your bodice and do a row of topstitching, this should be catching the underwire channeling to secure it to the garment and allow for your to insert your underwire. If your underwire is too long or tall, you can clip it down with wire-cutters and cap the metal edges with masking tape.

Attach your zipper to the center front and reference your pattern to be sure you are not adding too much distance between the cups at the center front. Typically, there should be a minimum of 1” between your cups. Consider this when purchasing a center front closure option as it may add distance!

Repeat the cup steps for the opposite side and attach the zipper, hem the top and bottom edges, use a hand tack or tight zig-zag to secure the edges of your underwire channeling.

Don't forget to check out the original corset instructions for tips on finishing your garment!

How to Add Cups to the Parker Corset - Free Sewing Pattern - Mood Sewciety
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