Columbia Bustier

It's not as hard as you think! It's just a little labor-intensive. Even if you're looking to cover an existing bustier "off the rack" some of these tips might be helpful. But first, you need: The Fabric. Larry usually has it in stock and sells it in whole yard increments.

The easiest part is that you can adapt almost any commercial bustier patterns with minor alterations (like deepening the cleavage). I like McCall's 3674 (Moulin Rouge). If you're using Larry's sequin fabric, you'll want a black bustier foundation because it will show through the gaps between the sequin fabric. But if you're aiming for screen accuracy, you'll have to add white to the inside. For this, I spray-glue a black fabric onto a white lining and then treat the fabric as one for the rest of the pattern. I recommend using a cotton or cotton blend fabric that isn't too hot. I actually use a jersey cotton with a little bit of stretch in it for comfort and a more forgiving fit (just remember if you choose something stretchy you'll probably have to cut out a smaller size in your pattern).

Bustier (In Progress) 2

Your complete list of supplies then:
1 yd Sequin Fabric (more for larger sizes)
bustier pattern
black fabric
white lining (optional)
black double fold bias tape
black single fold bias tape
poly boning, hook & loop tape (or separating zipper)
spray glue (optional)

Bustier (In Progress) 1

Cut out and assemble your bustier per the pattern's instructions up until you have all the pieces assembled. Test-fit your bodice before proceeding - now is the easiest time to make alterations. Trim your seam allowances and press open. Apply your single fold bias tape over all seams - this is the casing for your boning.

Bustier Casing

Trim your boning about 3/4" shorter than your casing - and I recommend rounding off the edges of the boning when you cut. Insert the boning into the casings. You should have enough room at both ends to apply your trim later without sewing over the boning (not good!)

Bustier (Inserting Boning)

Now you're ready to overlay the sequin fabric and bind it to the bodice. Cover a dress form (or willing participant) with garbage bags for protection and the put the bustier on them (pin bustier closed in back). Spray the bustier with your choice of spray-glue (they have some made just for fabric!) and then manipulate the sequin fabric onto the bustier around all the curves. The sequin fabric is very forgiving and can be stretched over curves somewhat.

Bustier (Applying Glue)

Once you've got the sequin fabric smoothed over, lay your bustier on a flat working surface (and release your friend from the garbage bags). Trim off the excess sequin fabric to match the bustier pattern.

Bustier Trimming

You're now ready to apply the top and bottom trim - it will secure the sequin fabric to the bustier and also prevent chaffing. Going slowly (to avoid breaking needles) apply the double fold bias tape to the top (sequin) side of the bustier across the top and bottom. Careful to allow enough trim to manipulate around curves. This will also close the boning casings.

Bustier (Top Trim)

Next you'll turn the double fold bias tape up and over the edges to the back side. You can machine stitch it, but for a neater job I recommend hand-sewing it.

Bustier (Double Fold)

And finally you're ready to close up the center back with some hook & eye tape (or a separating zipper). Just keep in mind that zippers are not designed to withstand pressure pulling from the sides.

Bustier (Hook Tape)

Bustier (Back)

Bustier (Front)


  1. you make it sound so easy! I even love that you took into consideration the anal retentive ones of us who want it movie accurate, bravo.

  2. how much did making the whole thing cost?

  3. The sequin fabric is $50/yard from Larry (I think!), the 2 packages of bias tape are probably $2-something each? The boning is maybe $4 or so. The hook & eye tape is ridiculously expensive though, and I'm desperate to find a better source. I think it's $22/yd (you need less than half a yard though). The lining isn't expensive, maybe $5 for half a yard? So all together, I'd budget $75 to make it yourself.

  4. the cost of the pattern unless you draft it yourself.

  5. How easy do you think it would be to draft out my own pattern? I'm pretty competent in working with patterns and such...

  6. It's a pretty easy draft. It's a basic bodice with zero ease (no negative ease like a corset). It's fitted/tight but not figure-altering. The flex boning of a bustier should give you all the support it needs.

  7. Where did you buy the bustier itself? :)