Wedding Alterations

So you’ve found the perfect wedding dress, but there’s one problem, it has a zipper back when you envisioned a beautiful corset detail. Don’t worry, because there’s a solution! In this article, we’ll show you how to convert a zipper back to a corset back during alterations. Whether you’re a bride-to-be, a tailor, or an alteration expert, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to achieve that dream corset back. 


What is a corset back?

A corset back is a style of closure commonly found on wedding dresses and formal gowns. Instead of using a traditional zipper or buttons, a corset back is secured with lacing that is threaded through loops or eyelets. This allows for a more adjustable fit and adds a touch of elegance to the garment. Converting a zipper back to a corset back during alterations can breathe new life into a dress and make it more customizable for the wearer.


Advantages of a corset back

There are several advantages to having a corset back on a dress. One of the main benefits is the ability to adjust the fit of the garment. With a corset back, you can tighten or loosen the lacing to achieve the perfect fit, ensuring that the dress hugs your body in all the right places. This is especially beneficial for wedding dresses, as brides may experience weight fluctuations leading up to their big day.

Another advantage is the added flexibility. The lacing on a corset back allows for a greater range of movement compared to a traditional zipper. This is particularly important for formal events where dancing or sitting for long periods of time is involved. The corset back adds comfort and ease of movement, ensuring that you can fully enjoy your special occasion without feeling restricted.

Lastly, the aesthetic appeal of a corset back cannot be overlooked. It adds a touch of romance and elegance to any dress, instantly elevating its overall look. The lacing detail creates a beautiful focal point and can be embellished with ribbons or decorative elements to match the style of the dress. A corset back can truly transform a garment and make it unique to the wearer.


Assessing the garment

Before converting a zipper back to a corset back, it is important to assess the garment and determine if it is suitable for this alteration. Here are a few key steps to follow:

Determine the fabric type

The fabric of the dress plays a crucial role in the success of the corset back alteration. Some fabrics, such as satin or silk, lend themselves well to lacing and can easily withstand the tension created by the corset closure. However, fabrics like tulle or chiffon may not be as structurally sound and could rip or tear under the strain. It is essential to consider the fabric’s durability and consult with a tailor or alteration expert if you are unsure.

Check for existing boning or lacing

Before adding a corset back, it is important to determine if the dress already has boning or lacing in place. Some dresses may have built-in boning, which provides additional support and structure to the bodice. If the dress already has boning, it can make the alteration process easier. Similarly, if there are existing lacing or eyelets, it may save time and effort when converting to a corset back.

Evaluate the zipper

The condition of the zipper is a crucial factor to consider when determining if a zipper back can be converted to a corset back. If the zipper is damaged, stuck, or not functioning properly, it may need to be replaced entirely. Additionally, the placement of the zipper should be assessed to ensure that there is enough space to add the corset lacing without compromising the overall design of the dress.


Gathering the necessary materials

Once you have determined that the dress is suitable for a corset back conversion, it is time to gather the necessary materials for the alteration. Here are the key items you will need:

Corset lacing

Corset lacing is an essential component for creating the corset back. It is typically a strong and durable lacing material that can withstand tension and provide a secure closure. Corset lacing comes in various colors and styles, allowing you to choose the one that matches or complements the dress.


Boning is an important component in creating the structure and shape of the corset back. It is typically made of plastic or steel and is inserted into channels to provide support and shape. Boning can be purchased pre-cut or in bulk, depending on the specific needs of the alteration.


High-quality thread is essential for ensuring the strength and durability of the corset back. Choose a thread that matches the color of the dress and is suitable for the fabric type.


A sturdy needle, appropriate for the fabric type, is necessary for sewing the corset back. Make sure to choose a needle that can handle the thickness of the fabric and the pressure applied during the alteration.


Sharp scissors are essential for cutting the corset lacing, trimming excess fabric, and making precise cuts during the alteration process. Choose a pair of scissors that is comfortable to hold and provides clean and accurate cuts.

Seam ripper

A seam ripper is a handy tool for removing the existing zipper and opening the seam allowance. It allows for precise removal of stitches without damaging the fabric.


Preparing the dress

Before adding the corset back, it is important to prepare the dress by removing the existing zipper and making any necessary adjustments to the fit. Here are the steps to follow:

Remove the zipper

Using a seam ripper, carefully remove the stitches that hold the zipper in place. Take your time to avoid damaging the fabric. Once the stitches are removed, gently pull out the zipper and set it aside.

Open the seam allowance

With the zipper removed, open the seam allowance on both sides of the back bodice. This will create space for the boning channels and the corset lacing. Be mindful not to cut into the fabric or disturb any existing boning or lacing if it is present.

Remove any excess fabric if needed

If the dress is too loose or tight in certain areas, this is the time to make any necessary alterations. Carefully pin or baste the excess fabric to achieve the desired fit. Once you are satisfied with the fit, trim away any excess fabric, making sure to leave enough seam allowance for sewing the corset back.


Adding the corset back

With the dress prepared, it is time to add the corset back. This involves creating boning channels, inserting the boning, and attaching the corset lacing. Here is a step-by-step guide:

Add boning channels

Using a needle and thread, create channels for the boning. These channels are typically sewn vertically along the seam allowance on both sides of the back bodice. Make sure to secure the stitches properly to prevent the boning from shifting or poking through the fabric.

Insert the boning

Once the channels are created, carefully insert the boning into each channel. Start from the top and work your way down, gently sliding the boning into place. Make sure the boning is fully inserted and extends to the desired length of the corset back.

Create the lacing loops or eyelets

Depending on the design of the dress, you can either create loops for the lacing or insert eyelets. Loops can be made by folding and sewing small fabric strips, while eyelets can be added using a special tool. The number of loops or eyelets depends on the specific dress and the desired lacing pattern.

Attach the corset lacing

Once the loops or eyelets are in place, it is time to attach the corset lacing. Start from the top and thread the lacing through the loops or eyelets, crisscrossing the laces as you go down. Adjust the tension of the lacing to achieve the desired fit and tie a secure bow at the bottom.


Adjusting the fit

After the corset back is added, it is important to fit the dress on the client to ensure a proper fit and make any necessary alterations. Here are the steps to follow:

Fitting the dress on the client

Have the client try on the dress with the corset back fully laced. Check the fit and assess if any adjustments need to be made. Pay attention to the tightness or looseness around the bust, waist, and hips. The client should be able to comfortably breathe and move while wearing the dress.

Making necessary alterations

If the dress requires further alterations, such as taking in or letting out certain areas, make the necessary adjustments. Pin or baste the fabric as needed, ensuring a snug yet comfortable fit. Take note of the client’s feedback and make any fine-tuning adjustments before proceeding.

Final adjustments

Once the necessary alterations are made, have the client try on the dress again to ensure a perfect fit. Check the lacing tension and make any final adjustments before securing the laces in place.


Sewing the corset back

To ensure the durability and longevity of the corset back, it is essential to properly sew and reinforce the necessary areas. Here are the steps to follow:

Securing the boning channels

Using a needle and thread, secure the boning channels by stitching along the edges. This will prevent the boning from shifting or poking through the fabric. Make sure the stitches are secure and tight to ensure the longevity of the corset back.

Finishing the edges

To give the corset back a clean and polished look, finish the edges of the fabric where the boning channels and loops or eyelets are attached. This can be done through various methods such as folding the fabric over and stitching it down or using bias tape.

Reinforcing stress points

Certain areas of the corset back may experience more tension and stress than others, such as the top and bottom of the lacing. To reinforce these stress points, sew additional stitches or add extra fabric to provide added strength and support.


Adding finishing touches

Once the corset back is securely sewn and the dress is properly fitted, it is time to add the finishing touches. These final steps will ensure the dress looks polished and ready to wear. Here are the last details to take care of:

Pressing the dress

Using a garment steamer or iron, gently press the dress to remove any wrinkles or creases that may have occurred during the alteration process. Pay attention to the corset back and ensure all the fabric lies flat and smooth.

Trimming excess threads

Inspect the dress for any excess threads and carefully trim them with scissors. This will give the dress a neat and tidy appearance, eliminating any loose or dangling threads that may detract from the overall look.



Converting a zipper back to a corset back during alterations is a fantastic way to breathe new life into a dress and make it more customizable for the wearer. With the ability to adjust the fit, add flexibility, and enhance the aesthetic appeal, a corset back can transform a garment from ordinary to extraordinary. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully convert a zipper back to a corset back and create a stunning and unique dress that is tailored to perfection.