Butterick B4254


  • Value For Money 5/5

This set of patterns can be picked up for as little as £7, that’s £7 for all for patterns, often, your local haberdashery, craft or pattern shops can also have half price sales so you can pick it up for even less.  This really is fantastic value on the surface, however, value for money runs far more deeply than simply handing over the money for the item… (and bear with me here) for instance, you see a beautiful top in a higher end store, and it’s £50, You may think about it, and then, as coincidence would have it, you see a similar top in a lower end store, it looks fairly similar, but its only £20.  You buy the £20 one thinking it’s a great deal, it looks kind of the same, not totally, and you *know* it’s not that £50 one you loved.  The first time you put it on, its good, a bit tight in the back maybe, the shoulder seam isn’t quite sitting right and the sleeve join is digging in slightly, but you ‘saved’ £30…You deal yeah?  But by the end of the afternoon the fit is *really* starting to grate on you, you figure it’ll be better after it’s been washed – Ooops – you wash it, but because a cheaper fabric was used, it’s now shrunk or distorted and *Godammit* a button has fallen off, and you can now see a straggly thread on on the hem – STILL worth saving that £30? No, because you’re so annoyed, you’ve just thrown that top in the damn bin in a massive huff (under other things so any significant other doesn’t see it of course), and stuffed a bar of Dairy Milk in your mouth for a shred of comfort and solace. You’ve not only WASTED £20 on that hunk of junk, but you go back to the original store and buy the one for £50, and spend the rest of your day wearing it, cooing at how soft the fabric is on your skin.
That’s similar to what you’re going to get with this set of patterns.  Butterick (and the other ‘Big 4’ companies) by default ADD IN ease to all their patterns, ease is great, you need it in virtually all garments, ease is what allows you to raise your arm and not rip a hole in your sleeve – problems arise because corsets work on the exact opposite principle, they work on negative ease, corsets are basically a compression garment, you *DONT* want it to be moving on you, you dont want it gaping… and herein lies the problem, the sizes on the envelope are not going to be right.

The second problem lies in the the fact they call it the ‘Making History’ range – well, kind of… sort of…no. These patterns are NOT historically accurate.  If you are buying this because you have a fancy dress party coming up and you quite fancy going as a bar wench, then great, go ahead and use this pattern.  If however, you have illusions of going full into historical re-enactment events, please, please *DONT* use these patterns, because at these types of events you find many a historical purist, and they will either attempt to helpfully inform you of your newbie faux pas, laugh point and snort behind your back or just outright tear shreds out of your outfit.  Of course its not your fault, the packet said history right? They know what they are talking about right? Wrong.  They just want to sell you something that looks like it could be, but they leave that hardcore research and accuracy to the folk that you now want to avoid forever! There are other patterns out there that are historically accurate, and a quick internet search ‘Historically accurate corset pattern’ is a great start.

  • Ease of use:  2/5

If you have decided to buy this pattern, you are now going to be confronted and likely engulfed by several HUGE sheets of very thin pattern sheets.  You’ll need to lay these out, iron them (probably) and find the pieces relevant to the corset that you want.  If like me, you dont cut straight from the tissue paper, you’ll now need to wrangle this onto your drafting table to trace your pieces. Nothing different here than most other regular patterns.
If you’ve never attempted a corset before, you could find the instructions quite tricky to understand, This is a pattern that frequently makes the boards in several corsetry groups I’m on with people being confused. If you are a proficient dressmaker, or hobbyist who often uses commercial patterns, then you should be able to work through them. I dont use commercial patterns (I always self draft anything I make, being around a UK 20, the fit of most commercial patterns is just *annoying* and so, these instructions were just silly at times, so I ended up throwing the ‘instructions’ to one side and using my own knowledge to construct it.

  • Shaping & fit: 1/5

Terrible.  I could just end the review here really, but I’ll waffle on a bit more, where was I? oh yes, TERRIBLE.  The sizes on the packet didnt reflect the actual measurements also on the packet, and nor did the toile I made (and here is that ‘easing’ issue rearing its head) The bust area gaped like it was trying to escape, the waist not so much, the hip gaped, and i couldn’t for the life of me get a straight lacing gap at the back.  I made the ‘cupped’ or ‘gored’ corset illustrated top right on the packet.  The cups were an odd shape, and weren’t suitable for my D cups. they also didnt lie in the right place and I needed to extend the pattern slightly so the gores started at the right point on my bust.  The bottom line was also too short for me and also needed extending.  Overall there was a LOT of alterations to take into account, to the point where I didnt actually go any further than the mockup, there was far too much additional altering.

I also tried the corset on the bottom right of the packet, which I made for someone else to use in a photoshoot, this was when I was a relative newbie several years ago and I was so excited! unfortunately, back then I didnt even know about the ‘ease issues’ andreliedonthe packet information.  he corset turned out far too big, with the same gaping bust, gaping hip issues, and ended up not being used in the shoot.

  • Conclusion & Thoughts:

Its a cheap pattern for what you get (which is a lot really) and if you are looking for a corset for a fancy dress party or similar, and have a good base knowledge of sewing patterns, you can muddle your way through this without any major problems, *ALWAYS MAKE A TOILE* and be prepared for some major alterations.  However, avoid this pattern if you want it for:

  • Waist Training
  • Tightlacing
  • Historical re-enactment

There are far better patterns out there that do these jobs much better, and for a few £ more, you’ll save in alterations, frustration and wanting to curl up and die when someone at a re-enactment points out that the Elizabethan Stays you are wearing would have been made with straight seams and boning, and diagonal seams didnt make an appearance until much later. D’oh.