The School of Making DIY MLK Corset


“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

In continuing our celebration this week of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his philosophy and teachings, we sought to create something sustainable that could share this hopeful message that stemmed from the American Civil Rights Movement.

I have always found this quote inspiring, and have applied its message in my own life time and time again: reminding myself each day that it is just about showing up and doing what you can do—today. It seems appropriate, in this new year of new beginnings, to create a reminder (and testament) to this continued commitment to moving forward. Step by step.

Make this corset by following the instructions from page 144 of Alabama Stitch Book. (The pattern is included on the pattern sheet at the back of the book.) We made our version with medium-weight organic cotton jersey fabric, but it could easily be made using recycled t-shirts, as well. This technique can also be used to embellish other patterns or existing garments with scooped necklines.


Sharpie or fabric marker
Embroidery floss
Embroidery scissors
Hand-sewing needle

Once you have constructed your corset following the instructions from Alabama Stitch Book, carefully freehand the quote around the neckline of the corset, using a fabric-safe marker. (Note: You might want to practice writing the quote on paper a few times to get sizing and spacing correct. We also recommend placing a piece of cardboard or a notebook inside the garment for support before you begin to write on the fabric.)

Using a chain stitch, stitch along the quote, knotting off with a double knot when necessary. Continue around the front neckline of the corset until you have stitched each word. Repeat around the back neckline.

*While we used a chain stitch on our corset, you could easily customize your own project with a variety of embroidery stitches.


Fabric weight –100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color – Natural
Button Craft thread – Cream #256
Embroidery floss – Black
Embroidery technique – Chain stitch
Seams – Inside Felled
Binding stitch – Cretan


16 comments on “DIY MLK CORSET

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  1. Sandra Cardew

    What gives the “ruffle” effect…..that shows below the corset???? Is there a longer “fitted top” underneath??? The two lengths look wonderful together.

    1. Mary

      I was wondering the same thing. I thought perhaps it was the baby doll top from the latest AC sewing book but I’m not sure.

    2. Alabama

      Hi Sandra,

      Yes, there is a longer top underneath the corset. It is a piece from our new collection, which is launching on Monday. Check back then for more details…

      P.S. The skirt is also a new collection piece.

  2. Donna

    I try to apply this quote to my life and have also added, “even if you fall flat on your face at least you’re still moving forward”. The corset is beautiful!

    1. Alabama

      Hi Nicole,

      The layer underneath is a top from our new collection, which launches on Monday. Check back then for more information…

      P.S. The skirt featured here is also a new collection piece.

  3. Pingback: Featured Item – Alabama Chanin | Eco Fashion Talk

  4. Catie

    I have recently stumbled across your work and I’m just blown away. I absolutely adore what you create. Beautiful works of art. I am so inspired by you. Cannot wait to get your books 🙂

    Take care

  5. Susan Desprez

    Just lovely. Wondering how you used the embroidery floss….doubled? split into two threads then doubled? etc.

  6. Louisa

    I feel like I’m late coming to the conversation but this corset it is absolutely beautiful! This quote by Dr. King means so much more to me because I have MS. I can no longer run and I am slowly losing the ability to walk. I used to sew and I’m very craft oriented but my right hand has also a part of my disability now. If you have these items for sale or know someone who would be willing to make them for price I would love to have the information!

    Thank you for taking Dr. Kings words and making them into something beyond just letters on paper! Being able to wear inspiration every day and share it with others is an incredible testament!

    Please contact me if you have any information regarding these beautiful, fashionable items!