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Corset article series by Deanna Dahlsad of Kitsch-Slapped

In 2009, Deanna Dahlsad (aka Pop-Tart) of Kitsch-Slapped wrote this refreshing corset-positive (or in the very least, neutral) article series in 3-parts.

In part 1, she discusses the “so-called medical evidence” against corsets – why their studies were  restricted to subjects of lower social class. (Even though working-class corseted women were seen as more “robust”, they also had less access to healthcare and more exposure to infectious diseases due to their professions.) On top of all this, medical evidence against corsets still may well have been cherry-picked.

In part 2, the sex-appeal of corsets is discussed (and not in the way you might think). Irony: in the early 1900’s, corsets were thought to bring about sexually immoral feelings and behavior in women. Just a few decades earlier, any woman who was seen not wearing a corset was considered to have loose morals.

In part 3, she gives an overview of the suffrage movement and how many of these feminists kept their corsets on by choice. Why? Because they had more important things to think about, and appearances still matter in society. The “Shrieking Sisters” were ridiculed as being loud, masculine, obnoxious activists and many of the more peaceful suffragists were concerned that this radical behavior would hurt their stance more than help. If you saw someone dressed oddly and screaming in the streets, you’d probably think they’re crazy. Dressing well (including the use of corsets) was still a symbol of being a rational, respectable member of society.

Look at all those corseted feminists. Image courtesy of bydewey.com

All three of those articles have lots of links and citations, so you can get lost in a jolly time-warp about corset history. I suggest you read these when you have time to spare! The conclusion left me a bit unsatisfied – if one delves deeper, corsets have more uses than just leading to copulation, but the articles are still extremely well-written overall, and worth a read!

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Using Corsets as part of Scoliosis Correction

I happily stumbled across this fantastic publication today. Published quite recently (early 2012), it is a study on the use of corsets (in conjunction with wearing weighted backpacks and regular physiotherapy/ exercise) to considerably improve the scoliosis in this adult patient.

NB: these results may not be typical (especially since there’s a variation in the severity of scoliosis from the start) and the use of corsets (either standard sized or custom) may not work miracles. But as the author mentioned, corsets or “textile braces” may provide a method of reshaping the ribs (and through this offer some secondary effects such as improved breathing) to a point, which is not normally possible through surgery.

Lumbostat back brace, image from ortotika.cz

Depending on one’s personal situation, a scoliosis patient may find wearing a corset more discreet, more comfortable and more affordable than wearing a rigid brace of hard plastic or steel plates. However, effectiveness in treatment may vary. A skilled corset maker should be able to take measurements of each side of the body and create a special asymmetric corset made to stabilize (and in some cases, as you can read in the article, even possibly correct) the curvature of the spine.

You can view a gallery dedicated to asymmetric corsets here!

Edit: a number of scoliosis patients have confirmed that some medical braces are very similar in shape and form to a corset (medical corset or otherwise). Do click the picture on the right to see more examples of back braces, some of which give up to 5″ reduction in the waist in order to keep the spine immobile.

*Please note that this article is strictly for information purposes and not intended to replace the advice of a licensed medical professional. Please talk to your doctor if you’d like to start wearing a corset for any reason.*

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What Katie Did “Mae Extreme” Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “WKD Mae Extreme Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Front is about 11″ inches long, wasp-waist silhouette. Longline corset, good for average-waisted ladies. Has hip gores/ fluted very comfortable. Will hold in lower tummy pooch, recommended for hourglass and pear-shaped ladies. The Mae Extreme has a further 2 inches reduction compared to the original Mae – for example, a person who can comfortably close a size 26″ Mae around their ribs, waist and hips, should also be able to close a size 24″ Mae Extreme corset with the same comfort around the ribs and hips, with waist 2″ smaller.
Material 3 layers; fashion layer is satin (100% silk brocade with metallic embroidery) and the lining and interlining are both 100% cotton twill.
Construction 6 panel pattern with an additional 2 hip gores per side. External boning channels, and a floating liner (very comfortable). Also has 6 garter tabs.
Binding Black satin bias tape neatly machine stitched on both inside and outside.
Waist tape 1″ wide invisible waist tape between the interlining and lining.
Modesty panel Attached 8″ wide fabric lacing protector on the back; stiffened placket under busk.
Busk Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side) about 10″ long (5 pins), backed with a 1″ wide stiffener on each side, and also has a reinforcing bone on either side of the busk.
Boning 16 steel bones not including busk. 10 spirals (1/4″ wide) in external channels, 4 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets, and another two reinforcing the busk.
Grommets 22 grommets total, size #0 two-part grommets with moderate flange; set equidistantly, no splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets
Laces Strong nylon braided shoe-lace style laces; they’re thick, they grip well and they are long enough. Has some spring to the lace but very difficult to break.
Price The classic version with a satin finish is originally £167 in the UK (about $260 USD), however I bought this December Gold Label edition on sale for £87 ($136) in the lingerie section of the What Katie Did site). (P.S. the sale is still on until the end of August!)

Final Thoughts:

A year and a half after I filmed the review of the original Mae underbust, I purchased this silk Mae Extreme corset. The extra 2 inches of waist reduction does makes a difference in comfort! For my figure, having more of a reduction is more comfortable because of less pinching or pressure on the ribs and hips. I also feel that it “hooks” under my ribs and stays in place much better. The dramatic shaping of the hips means that the corset barely even touches my iliac crest, which prevents any pinching or numbness I often experience with other cuts or brands. I’d say I recommend the Mae Extreme more than the traditional Mae corset!

The difference in silhouette between the Mae and the Mae Extreme is not that different on my figure (as one can see in the video) but if you see side-by-side pictures of Miss Miranda modeling both on the WKD website, the difference is more evident. The silk brocade of this corset both looks nice (it behaves very well over curves) and feels lovely and it can be worn either overtop or under clothing, since the top and bottom edges are straight across instead pointed like so many other corsets are today, so it doesn’t make any awkward peaks underneath your shirt or dress.

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Black Mesh Corset Case Study

This entry is a summary of the video “Case Study: Homemade Mesh ‘Corset'”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 11″ high, and I drafted this corset to be very curvy: underbust about 32″, closed waist 23″ and hips 34″. The elastic mesh also contributes to the extreme shape and curviness.
Material Heavyweight powernet (quite stretchy) for most of the panels, and black satin coutil for the first and last panels, the boning channels and the diamond waist tape.
Construction Essentially a 6-panel pattern although the last panel is separated into two to make 7 panels. First, the powernet panels were sewn together wrong sides together and flat-felled with the bulk being on the outside of the body. Then I added the center front coutil panels, with the diamond waist basted in front. The diamond extends into a waist tape, which was basted at each seam, then I secured the external channels down on top of it. The back coutil panel went on last, then I added the busk and bones, and lastly serged the top and bottom edges.
Binding There is no binding on this *yet*. I had serged the raw edges to keep them from fraying. This allows the mesh to stretch. Conventional binding would not allow the top and bottom edges of the corset to stretch. However I may later add an elastic or mesh binding.
Waist tape The diamond detail made from satin coutil extends into a waist tape that is slightly more than 1 inch wide, and placed on the external side of the corset, secured down at the boning channels.
Modesty panel I didn’t make a modesty panel for this corset because I designed it to close completely at the back. There is a small modesty placket in the front by the busk.
Busk A standard flexible busk, 1/2” wide on each side, with 5 pins, 9.5″ long. Although it is quite flexible, having 3 layers of satin coutil surrounding the busk makes the front panel quite sturdy.
Boning 20 bones total in this corset (not including the busk). On each side there are eight 1/4″ wide spirals in external channels, then a 1/2″ wide flat steel on the center back edge of the grommet panel, and a 1/4″ steel on the “inner” side of the grommets.
Grommets There are 26 2-part size #00 grommets (13 on each side). I used self-piercing grommets to insert these, placing the grommets closer together than I normally would and making sure the grommets are snug between the two flat bones. So far they have all held up well.
Laces Some old black cotton shoe-lace style. More lightweight than nylon laces but not as strong. I just used whatever I had lying around.
Price This corset was quite time consuming due to the flat-felled seams and external channels and waistband. Also the powernet and satin coutil were both expensive materials. If I were to remake this corset (with a more pristine finish) it would likely start at no less than $280.

Final thoughts:

This is an extremely comfy corset. I also feel that I’m able to very easily cinch down in this corset – I wish I had drafted it to be another inch or two smaller! The powernet is forgiving of curves and makes my asymmetric hips look symmetric, while giving me absolutely zero pinching or discomfort.

The only disappointments I had with this corset was a) the asymmetry in the diamond detail, and b) the rough finish of the serged edges. I may end up adding binding to this corset (either elastic or mesh) although that would somewhat ruin its ability to be worn inconspicuously under clothing, and I’m not sure how even elastic binding would bring back the dreaded muffin top which is currently so nicely avoided.

Overall I think this experiment turned out much nicer than I had anticipated, and I think I will use this as a sleeping corset in the future! However I do need to practice my “finishing” of corsets, even when they’re experiments or prototypes.

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Storing your Corset

Chances are if you don’t wear your corset 24/7, or if you have more than one corset, you will need to find a place for your corset during the times you’re not wearing it. In this article I explain some different ways to store your corset away safely protected from dust and light.

Do note that after you take off your corset and before storing it away, it’s a good idea to leave it laid flat or draped over a chair with the lining side up for a few hours (or overnight) to air out, so moisture and odor can escape and so the fibers in the fabric can settle after the strain of tightlacing.

What not to do: DON’T just roll, crumple or stuff your corset into a random small space, or simply throw it on the floor. While your corset is probably not “fragile”, it is still a special and expensive garment. If you wouldn’t carelessly stuff your good suit or your prom dress into a drawer, then why would you treat your corset that way?

Hang it

I have about 40 corsets, and the easiest way to store the the majority of them is just to hang them up in a designated spot in my closet. I use skirt or trouser hangers (the one with little hinged clips) and I hang the corset upside-down and inside-out. If the corset has specific hanging loops , you can hang it from those as well. If you don’t have skirt hangers, then simply hang the corset by the laces over the bar of the hanger, so that each half is balanced on each side. After hanging them up, you may cover them with a bag if you wish to prevent dust. To see a demonstration of this, click on the video below.

Bag it

Corset bags are great because they can keep the corset nicely folded and untangled from the laces, they can protect the corset from light (which can fade some fabrics over time) and dirt, and they can be either stacked in a drawer or can be hung in a closet. Some places that sell corset bags are What Katie Did (drawstring bag; £5-£7), Axfords corsets (bag with an overhanging lip, free with every purchased corset), Corset Heaven (drawstring bag, £17.50) and Timeless Trends (zippered bag; $19-$21 USD). To see each of these bags, click on the video below.

Display it

Although not the most space-saving option (or the best option for protecting it against light and dust), many people like to keep their corsets on display when they’re not wearing them by lacing the corsets around a pillow, a mannequin, or a chicken-wire form. The wire form is particularly interesting because it still allows exposure of the lining.

Please see the corresponding video to see examples of using hangers and bags to store your corsets:

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Timeless Trends Overbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Timeless Trends Emerald Silk Overbust Corset Review which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Front is about 14 inches high; the highest part (from the apex of the bust) is 15 inches. Gives a gentle hourglass silhouette. Appropriate for average torso length. Includes adjustable hip ties; gives good hipspring (no pinching!). It is slightly longline (well, a little longer over the hip compared to their underbust corsets). I model a size 24L, which has a 24″ closed waist and accommodates cup sizes D-DD. Bust sizes come in Small, Medium and Large for all waist sizes of the overbust corsets.
Material 3 layers; fashion layer is an emerald silk satin and brocade in alternating panels. The lining and interlining are both 100% black cotton twill.
Construction 5 panel pattern. Panels are assembled via lock-stitching and pressing seams open; bones are sandwiched between the interlining and lining. Also has 4 garter tabs.
Binding Emerald satin bias binding machine stitched on both outside and inside.
Waist tape 1″ wide invisible waist tape between the interlining and lining, secured down at boning channels.
Modesty panel Attached 7″ wide fabric lacing protector on the back made of 2 layers of black twill; no placket beneath the busk.
Busk Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side) about 13″ long (6 pins), Also has a flat steel bone on either side of the busk for reinforcement.
Boning 24 steel bones not including busk. 18 spirals (1/4″ wide) sandwiched between interlining and lining – some on the seams, others in the middle of the panel which help to distribute the tension more evenly than in corsets that are simply double-boned on the seams. 4 flats (3/8″ wide on the inner side, 1/2″ wide on the back edge) sandwiching the grommets, also two 3/8″ flats beside the busk.
Grommets 28 grommets total, size #0 two-part grommets with moderate flange; finished in antique brass; set equidistantly, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets
Laces 1/2″ wide single-faced satin ribbon in matching emerald; they grip well and they are definitely long enough. No springiness, and surprisingly strong. The laces at the hips are 1/4″ wide but same colour and quality.
Price Most of their overbust styles start at $150 USD. However do check their clearance section since many of those corsets are up to 25% off!

Final Thoughts:
I adore the fashion fabric of this corset! I had featured my underbust corset in the same emerald silk brocade finish in several of my older videos, and when I bought this overbust I just decided to get the same finish because that particular underbust had been gifted to Jody some months back. (Which proves how much I like Jody, because I probably wouldn’t have parted with that corset otherwise!)
I’m pleased with the construction of corset – I’ve always considered that this brand has one of the best quality/price ratio of standard corsets available today, but the changes they had made to their overbusts compared to their underbust styles were still a definite improvement – these changes include side ties for a better adjustment on the hips; a wider/ stiffer flat steel bone on the center back (which was almost too stiff when first breaking it in, but I suspect it can be bent gently by hand to follow the curve of the back a little better), and alternating the placement of the spirals on the seams and the middle of the panels to better distribute the vertical tension. Timeless Trends was also the first brand I had seen to include small, medium and large bust sizes to the same style corset. (What Katie Did also currently has bust size options for their Laurie and Sophia corsets). The choice of different bust sizes and the hip ties together make this corset a good option for hard-to-fit bodies.
The only thing I wish were different about this corset is the height from the waist to the top edge (as I said in the video, it’s the curse of the long torso!). I’d be so much more comfortable if the top line extended up about two inches and curved over the top of the bust. Overall though, I’m happy with this purchase.

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Bad Attitude Boutique “Lady Jane” Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Bad Attitude Boutique ‘Lady Jane’ Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Front is about 13.5″ inches high; the highest part (from the apex of the bust) is 15.5 inches high. Moderate hourglass silhouette. Good for average torso length; not a longline corset. No hip gores. Bust area fits up to about a C cup in my opinion. Fit is very similar to WKD Tempest corset.
Material 3 layers; fashion layer is turquoise and gold silk brocade, the interlining is a white cotton canvas and the lining is black twill.
Construction 7 panel pattern, no hip gores – but the first and last panels are rectangular, so theoretically the pattern can have 5 panels. Internal boning channels, floating fashion layer. Also has 4 garter tabs.
Binding Matching silk brocade binding neatly machine stitched on both inside and outside.
Waist tape 1″ wide invisible waist tape between the interlining and lining.
Modesty panel Attached 6.5″ wide fabric lacing protector on the back made of matching brocade and twill; an unboned placket under busk.
Busk Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side) about 10″ long (5 pins) and the center front has 3 pairs of grommets at the top to make another 3 inches above the busk.
Boning 20 steel bones not including busk. 16 spirals (1/4″ wide) in external channels, 4 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 20 grommets total, size #0 two-part grommets with large flange; set equidistantly, no splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets
Laces Strong nylon braided shoe-lace style laces; they’re thick, they grip well and they are long enough. A little frayed but it doesn’t affect the strength – however I’ll probably replace it with matching ribbon instead.
Price Depending on the fashion fabric, price starts at $289 on the website, although mine was from Etsy for about half price.

Final Thoughts:

This is one of the reasons that I love studying corset construction! A floating fashion layer that doesn’t wrinkle? Crazysauce! Perhaps I’m easily amused but I find it a bit incredible. Even thought the cut/ silhouette of the corset is very similar to the WKD Tempest corset, the construction and the materials used are totally different. Though I like how the pattern is cut to curve up and over the bust, I wish it didn’t curve back so dramatically – it would look nice on someone with a shorter torso and a smaller bust, but not on me unfortunately. However it’s still pretty comfortable and I’m able to wear it for hours with my only small complaint being that the metallic thread in the binding part starting to make my skin a bit itchy after awhile. This wouldn’t be a problem for the other types of fabrics.

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The Corset Gap: What does it mean?

This entry is a summary of the review video “Shape of your Corset Gap – What does it mean?” which you can watch on YouTube here:

 Shape/ meaning

Brands to avoid for your body type

Brands to consider for your body type

A shape

The A Shape
The A shape

This means that your hips are too wide for this corset pattern. This type of gap is common for women who are naturally a pear shape. Do NOT try to force the hips smaller because then you may get an odd bump at the lower edge of the corset, and it can also make your hips go numb.

Avoid any corsets that say “modern slim” silhouette or “gentle curves.” This may include any of the “Level 1” corsets from Orchard Corset, or the underbust corsets from Corsets-UK. For those who have a larger hipspring, look for corsets for vintage figures: What Katie Did or Isabella Corsetry are good choices. They have a hipspring of more than 12-14 inches.

V shape

The V shape
The V shape

This means that your ribcage or shoulders are too broad or fleshy for the corset. While it is possible to train down your ribcage, it’s unlikely that you can train it right from the very top edge.  This often occurs in swimmers or in men who wear women’s corsets.

Corsets that have a relatively narrow ribcage, which include some WKD underbusts. For standard corsets with a larger ribcage, try Timeless Trends and the CS-426 from Orchard Corset.

() shape

The () shape
The () shape

This is when you have gaping at the waist – the bones in the back are either too flexible, or the waist is too small than you’re ready for. This CAN ruin the corset because it’s forcing the bones to twist in their channels. It can even make the bones kink outward or inward into your back, which is quite uncomfortable.

Avoid corset patterns that are curvier than you are ready for. If you have a very “unyielding” figure, you may have to train down before buying corsets like WKD or Isabella.  I’d recommend you start with a larger corset size, or go for a corset that makes more gentle/ natural hourglass or slim silhouettes like Timeless Trends.

)( shape

The )( shape
The )( shape

This is when your body is more of an hourglass shape than the corset itself! The corset doesn’t have enough curve in it. BEWARE of this common trick on websites! They will use models who are naturally quite curvy and this will make their corsets curvier. A corset that is modelled with a gap like this in the back will likely look more tubular when it’s laced straight.

Avoid any corsets that say “modern slim” silhouette or “gentle curves.” This may include any of the “Level 1” corsets from Orchard Corset, the underbust corsets from Corsets-UK. Try What Katie Did Morticia corset, the Curvy Girl corset from Azrael’s Accomplice, or several options available from Isabella Corsetry or Ms Martha’s corset shop.

//

Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 2.33.47 AM
The // shape

A diagonal but fairly parallel gap means that the corset fits your ribcage, waist and hips reasonably well but it is twisting on the body. There are several reasons why this may be happening: 1. If the corset is made with twill and all of the panels have the twill running in the same direction. Twill, while strong, has an asymmetric weave so stretches more on one bias than another. To test if your corset has stretched differently on either side, measure the ½ circumference on each side of your corset at ribcage, waist and hips. See if both sides are equal. 2. It may just have been how you put the corset on that day! Always lace in front of a mirror to avoid tying it skewed. If you notice your corset is twisted, take it off immediately and put it on again straight. It is possible for a corset to season into a permanent twisted shape! 3. It may not be the corset, but rather your body that is asymmetric. If you have any of the following then this can make a symmetric corset look asymmetric:

  • scoliosis
  • a previously broken rib
  • one leg longer than the other
  • some other skeletal or muscular asymmetry
In the first situation, I recommend not buying corsets made with twill – or if they are made with twill, make sure the corsetiere is experienced enough to sew it perfectly on grain, and to flip every other panel so that the bias of all panels don’t run in the same direction.Also, as bad as it sounds, avoid “risky investments.” Ensure that your corsetiere is scrutinous about making each half of the corset the same way, and to specification (whether symmetric or asymmetric). In the last situation (physical asymmetry), I strongly suggest finding an experienced corsetiere who can fit you with an asymmetric corset, which will then end up looking symmetric on you!

 ||

This is the coveted vertical parallel gap! Some people prefer to have no space in the back, while others like about 2 inches of space so the back edges don’t touch the spine. Either way, your corset fits you well. Congratulations!

 Make sure that your corset is not too big for you; when the corset is closed there shouldn’t be any significant gaping between your ribcage and the top edge of the corset, or your hips and the bottom edge of your corset.  You’re very lucky, my friend! If  You’ve found an off-the-rack corset that fits you nearly as well as a custom corset. If it makes you look good and feel good, then take it and run!

Final Thoughts: Many people have no problem with the shape of their corset gap (after all, the wearer doesn’t have to see it!). If this is you, then continue rocking your corset just the way you like it. However if you, like me, are a little more conscientious about achieving the vertical parallel lines of a well-fit corset, I hope these suggestions can help you choose a better off-the-rack corset for next time – and if all else fails, go custom! If you enjoyed this article, or even if you need clarification, you may also like my “Addendum to Corset Gaps: Troubleshooting More Fitting Issues