After my interview with Foundations Revealed was released, I received several questions from people wanting me to clarify and expand on my answers, particularly this one I had given in my interview:
I have a lengthy checklist of requirements when buying corsets! My structured corset reviews basically outline this list, although I’m more lenient in some aspects than others. For example, I have worn corsets without a waist tape that cinched much more and lasted longer than some other corsets with waist tape. Some of my off-the-rack corsets have impeccable stitching which can only be achieved by someone who has sewn the same corset over and over for months or years, but the quality of the materials or the fit of the corset aren’t up to my standards – conversely, in some of my higher-end corsets I may see a wobbly seam or a pucker, but the corset overall is a beautiful example of artistry. I try to purchase and review corsets from all points on the quality/price spectrum, as I know that my viewers all have different expendable incomes, have different body types and use corsets for different reasons. Having so many corsets also helps me understand why some corsets are priced the way they are.
On waist tape
Indeed some of my purchased corsets don’t include a waist tape but they gave an amazing reduction and I didn’t feel that it was going to break. One was a corset made by an ex-engineer who argued that all fabric stretches somewhat, including waist tape. I have also seen the inside of a leather corset made by the respectable Bizarre Design that doesn’t have a waist tape. I believe he knows what he’s doing and if he has engineered a strong corset that finds waist tapes superfluous, then that’s great. But I will still go on using my waist tape in my own designs!
Some people will take a magnifying glass to a corset and make sure that there is not one stitch skipped or out of place (my boyfriend is like this with his tailored suits, and will also point it out in my homemade corsets). I can understand if someone is paying many hundreds of dollars for a corset, they may expect “perfection”. However, I’m not that scrutinous. When I was starting my corset reviews, I did go into detail about the stitching – how long the stitches were, whether there were any wobbles or skipped stitches, etc. Now, as long as there are no glaring errors or asymmetry in the corset, a wobble here and there in my purchased corsets doesn’t phase me. In my own sewing, I do try to keep my seams straight within 2mm, meaning that if I’m off by 3mm or more, I rip out the seam and do it again (and if I’m working on external boning channels, around 1mm). But I’m *slightly* less scrutinous with purchased corsets.
On finishing (binding, embellishments)
“Finishing” is one of my weak points. I have made a corset that is symmetric in width and height within 3mm, and then messed it all up with the binding. I have spent more hours on binding than I have assembling the panels on some corsets, because I am so terrible at it that I often have to do it three times over. I’ve never tried lace overlay and the few times I did flossing, it turned out abysmal. But with my purchased corsets, I have some that have several funky corners on the binding, or a flossed motif that’s a few mm off. I don’t have a cow about it. Actually, it almost endears the corset because I know that it was made by a human being. Some of the corsets I bought from Corsets-UK had flawless stitching and finishing, but does that mean the worker has incredible attention to quality, or does that mean it was assembled by a mindless drone who’s been making the same corset every day for years? Is it admirable, or is it… boring? It all depends on who you are and what purpose your corset will serve.
That is why whenever possible I try to give completely objective reviews, simply stating the facts and statistics, and let you, the reader or viewer, decide whether you like it. Some consider grommets with large flange a sign of quality and security, while others consider it ugly and cheap-looking. I have my own opinions but I try to allow you to think for yourself let you form your own opinions.
Which parts of a corset do I observe with the most scrutiny?
Strength fabric – Most of my owned corsets have twill or canvas/duck as the strength fabric, and I find it *okay*. Not unacceptable, but I won’t be doing a happy dance. Brownie points if they use coutil. If they simply use interfacing to strengthen the corset, I’m not going to be pleased.
Bones – I’m not one who believes that the more bones, the better necessarily – however if the corset has fewer than 1 bone per two inches at the waistline (that is, fewer than 12-14 bones in one of my standard 24″ corsets), it’s my experience that the corset will buckle and wrinkle (unless it’s a ribbon corset). The corsets I wear most often have about 1 bone per inch around the waist, and are ALWAYS steel. I prefer having spirals on the sides of my corset, although it’s not a deal-breaker if the maker uses all flats.
Grommets – I like the last panel of my corsets to be reinforced so that grommets don’t pop out. Sometimes if the grommets are split and the laces catch, it irks me, but this (for the most part) hasn’t done damage to the corset or me, and I know how to repair this. I like the look of #00 grommets with a moderate flange, although I will also use #0 grommets with a larger flange. It’s been my experience that the smaller the difference between the shank and flange of a grommet, the higher the risk of the grommet pulling out (unless a lacing bone is used). A popped grommet within the seasoning period (first month of wearing) is a deal-breaker for me, even when I can replace grommets myself.
Comfort/ Shape – If a corset is uncomfortable/ painful, I’m never going to wear it and it’s a waste of money. This goes for corsets that are too tubular, corsets that are too extreme and corsets that have odd or unrealistic dimensions/ length. Corsets that twist on me is unfortunately common as my hips are not aligned and I cinch more readily on one side of my body compared to the other, but when I’m doing reviews for others I try not to take this into account as there are buyers who are more symmetric than I am. Whenever possible I recommend certain style corsets for people of certain heights, torso lengths and body shapes, depending on what I believe would fit them most comfortably and what would be most flattering.
In the near future I will write about some of my positive and negative experiences as an unofficial-official corset reviewer.