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My First Video Interview – by Radical Redefinition

2012 has been an exciting year for me (so far!), having accomplished so much toward building my site, my Youtube channel, and my corset collection.

As most of you know, I tend to shy away from interviews (especially on national television) as it’s difficult to know if my words might be twisted around or if my passion may be made to look like something from a side show.

But the moment I spoke with Celina Wilde (owner of Radical Redefinition of Having It All), I knew that she would do neither. Her own site revolves around what success and contentment really means to each individual working woman, as opposed to what definition of success has been fed to us.

It was such a pleasure and an honour to speak with Celina, and I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. For anyone curious about following your own passions and dreams, do check out Celina’s site here.

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De-bunking some myths about OTR corsets

As a bit of an addendum to my last post, this article intends to show that not all OTR corsets are equal, but rather come in a spectrum in quality of materials, construction and price. Also, while some of these myths are partially true, I explain why some of these terms aren’t really “all that bad” as nothing in corsetry is totally black and white. Lastly, I give examples of “exceptions” to each myth. So let’s jump right in:

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OTR and Bespoke industries support one another

I might be playing devil’s advocate here. While I will try my best not to say anything inflammatory, this “Kumbaya” article may still cause me to lose favor with some corsetieres. No doubt some are already confused by the fact that I work so hard to purchase from small corset businesses and individual designers, yet still review and promote OTR corsets. (Admittedly, at this point in my corset journey, I don’t purchase OTR corsets for my own benefit, but for my viewers’. I have too many corsets in my personal collection as it is.) But looking at the big picture, both of these industries support one another. Just as The Lingerie Addict had suggested that VS is a gateway to higher-end lingerie, OTR corsets are the gateway to bespoke corsetry.

OTR is an abbreviation of “off-the-rack”, or sometimes called “off-the-peg” or “off-the-shelf”. An OTR corset is a corset that is standard sized and often mass-produced, much like the non-custom-fit clothing that you can find in any fashion or department store. I explain more about different levels of customization for corsets in this video.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a basic list of requirements of what a decent (real) corset should include, plus a softer list of what the best quality corsets include. There are certain corsets out there that I view as not-corsets, and I have owned both mass-produced OTR corsets and custom corsets from individual makers that have seemed to be total garbage. Neither industry is totally perfect, and just one bad experience in either one can permanently sour a customer’s opinion toward corsets in general.

When prompted, I will always tell others that if they can afford to start with a custom corset, then do so. But that’s not to say that OTR serves no purpose. They were my jumping board into bespoke corsetry. If I hadn’t started my corset journey by purchasing an OTR piece, I would have never considered supporting individual makers.

  • When I saw OTR websites which showed young models wearing corsets paired with their street clothes, it helped desensitize me to the idea that a corset could be used in as an “outerwear” fashion accessory.
  • The hassle-free exchange/return policies that came with these standard-sized corsets (which does not exist for custom corsets) gave me the courage to purchase my first corset, since I’m a commitment-phobe when it comes to spending large sums of money.
  • It was by purchasing several brands of corsets that I came understand that not all corsets are constructed the same, and that there existed a relevant price-quality connection.

If OTR corsets had never existed, I would have never been able to justify commissioning a top-quality, truly fitted, non-returnable bespoke piece. I found it just made more sense to “learn to drive on a cheaper car, before springing for the Ferarri.” And I’m not alone in this mode of thinking.

A surprising perspective from invidivual designers

So OTR companies aren’t totally evil, but I don’t worship them either. I do have my limits. I do not condone some OTR companies directly ripping-off the designs of an individual maker. I become extremely upset when the odd viewer comes to me, having purchased one of these replicas, under the impression that the original designer actually had a ridiculous price markup for the same cheap piece, and proceeds to complain about that designer.

But I was even more shocked to discover that some bespoke corsetieres are not all that upset about this, because the vast majority of the people that were fooled into buying the replica didn’t have that same reaction outlined above. Most of their clients had walked the same walk I did – they purchased an OTR replica, experienced for themselves the price-quality connection, and made the decision  in the end to invest in the original piece. These corsetieres explained to me that – while replicas are annoying – OTR companies were to thank for increasing their clientele, not decreasing clientele through competition.

Not all clientele are the same

Through my consultations, I’ve come across clients with all sorts of opinions. Those who turn their noses up at OTR corsets (for what its worth, I supply consultations for custom corsets as well, not just OTR companies), and other people who have had terrible experiences with custom corsetieres, and had decided to stick only to OTR corsets! There are also people from all walks of life, with different body types, different budgets, and wanting to try corsets for different reasons, whether it’s for one weekend during a convention and then never worn again, or as a daily companion for years. It takes all types in this world, and I assure you that there is no shortage of clients for either industry.

My aim is not to convince the anti-OTR people to start supporting these companies, nor to guilt or pressure the anti-bespoke people to reprioritize their purchases. I don’t mean to call anyone a “corset bigot” or force them to change their mind. My aim is to help clientele and makers within the two industries alike, to see both sides of the situation and try to tolerate one another. Because while either industry can certainly survive without the other, they sometimes do better together.

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Puimond PY15 Black Wicked Plunge Overbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Puimond Wicked Plunge Overbust Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is about 13 inches long. From apex of bust to bottom of the corset is 17″ (waist to apex 12″), center back about 13.5″. Unique dramatic wasp-waist (yet comfortable) silhouette. Hips are longline and rounded, while ribcage is more conical. Exaggerated plunge neckline; I recommend using double-sided/ toupee tape if your breasts tend to migrate.
Material Fashion layer is black spot broche, backed onto cotton; lining is cotton coutil.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Top-stitching between panels, sandwiched boning channels (with the use of bone casings), one on each seam and one in the center of each panel. Floating liner (very comfortable).
Binding Black patent leather, machine stitched inside and outside; trimmed short instead of folded under on the inside (typical treatment of leather/ pleather binding)
Waist tape 1″ wide invisible waist tape between the interlining and lining.
Modesty panel None.
Busk None. Closed front with embellishment.
Boning 24 steel bones. Two steel flats in the center front (underneath embellishment), and four flats in the back sandwiching the two rows of grommets. Remaining bones are 1/4″ spiral steel, one placed on each seam and one placed in the center of each panel.
Grommets 26 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets with moderate flange; set equidistantly; high quality – no splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets
Laces Strong nylon braided shoe-lace style laces; they’re thin, they grip well and they are long enough. Very easy to lace up. Almost no spring.
Price The PY15 is advertised as $490 for fabric and $650 for leather/vinyl. You can see the options on his website here.

Final Thoughts:

This is my second Puimond overbust corset. As I had mentioned in my previous Puimond review, this one is constructed differently and is one of my favorite corsets in terms of fit, comfort and sturdiness. It’s a shame that I don’t get to wear it out often enough!

This corset is quite long with a low waistline, and feels as though it were constructed to fit me, even though it’s a standard size. (The bust is actually supposed to be like that!) The quality of the materials and hardware used are also top. If a standard size fits this well, I’d be quite curious to know how a custom one could fit! I’m a huge fan of Puimond and can’t recommend his work highly enough. To see Puimond’s other styles, do visit his website here.

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De-Sensationalizing the Corset

I received a very refreshing and pleasant message from a subscriber the other day, which included this passage (published with permission):

I just wanted to tell you how much I really love your channel, and how pleasing it is to see someone who makes corsetting something that’s empowering, fun and sort of a hobby. I found that before you, there seemed to be two camps of social stigma: Sexy Corseting for the bedroom and nights out, or Grandma Corseting that’s seen as uncomfortable, demeaning and anti-feminist (not to mention a bit utilitarian and unflattering!). What I mean to say here is, thanks for giving it the air of girls chatting together, rather than guys saying “They’re only doing that to look thinner/sexier!”. I think corsets are fun and beautiful, and so do you!

The part of her letter which made me smile the most was what she said about my channel giving the air of girls chatting together. I had never really thought about it that manner, but in a way that’s exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for – educational and demystifying, but also colloquial and relaxed, instead of the focus being on strictly the fetish community or strictly historical re-enactors/ Grandma’s attic. But let’s expand on this topic a bit…

Continue reading De-Sensationalizing the Corset

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“Corset Making” e-book by Julia Bremble

This post is a transcript of the video, “‘Corset Making’ Book (Julia Bremble of Sew Curvy) REVIEW” which you may view here along with a taster of the actual e-book:

Details of the e-book format:

This book was published by Vivebooks.com, a well-established producer of e-books. The table of contents in “Corset Making” has hyperlinks so you can click on any heading and it takes you to where you need to go. Clicking on URLs will take you right to the “Sew Curvy” website for more reading, or to purchase corset supplies if needed. It’s easy to jump around this book.

All the pictures are in color – they’re zoomable so you can see finer detail, and you can print out worksheets if you like. There are also video tutorials incorporated right into the book, so you click the link or photo on a certain page and the video pops up and plays automatically.

Julia’s writing style, and some tips on how corsets differ from other garments:

Julia’s technique is very friendly, she tries not to overwhelm you. Even for absolute beginners, she says, “…if you can sew a straight line, you can build a corset”! She mentions that the corset is like “wearable architecture” and I really love that term.

At the end of the book you have two projects – you can make either a single-layer corset or a double layer corset. Corsets with more than two layers aren’t really covered in this book since construction of those can be more complicated.

Julia describes terms such as negative ease, and how no two corsets look exactly the same on different people, because even when two people have similar measurements, their weight distribution in each dimension may be different. She gives tips on what a corset should do for the wearer when it’s properly made, and how to fit a corset, minimizing the chance of discomfort or unflattering effects

Julia also uses bulleted lists – I LOVE the use of lists, as they’re easy to understand, easy to read and help to not overwhelm the reader with a “wall of text”.

Tools and Materials:

Tools for making your corsets – she is big on the measuring tools because precision is a must in corset making. Patterning tools, marking tools, cutting tools, tools for your bones, tools for your eyelets or grommets, finishing tools. This is quite a large section because she not only tells you what you need, but how to use it and why it’s important. She even tells you what kind of needles you need and what type of thread to buy. This takes all the guesswork out for you.

Next she describes the hardware of the corset, which is basically anything that’s not the textiles. She describes the bones as the scaffolding or the framework of the corset. There are some tips and certain methods to tipping bones that I hadn’t heard of before I read this, so don’t assume you know everything!  She mentions the typical metal bones but also some substitutes – when these substitutes might be used, and what they’re also not good for.

Next is the textile section where she goes through the different types of fabrics for corset-making, including fashion fabrics, lining, several different types of coutil, and substitutes – once again, when substitutes might be used, or why they shouldn’t be used.

Construction Techniques:

Onto actually constructing the corset – this is a treasure trove. Her method of roll-pinning layers makes so

much more sense than my own video. As for assembling the panels, Julia does cover the basic seams for beginners, but her step-by-step instructions for a lapped seam is the best I’ve seen, and really helped me wrap my head around how to make them neat and precise.

She also shows you a really simply way to insert gussets. In her video tutorials, she’s very elegant, and makes the sewing process look so effortless.

There are also techniques for sewing very neat internal and external boning channels, so that the corset looks clean from the outside but still catches all the edges appropriately on the inside. She shows you how to make external boning channels and how to make your own binding, as well as touching on embellishment like adding trim, rhinestones or flossing – although not too much detail, she does give some useful tips as well as shows pictures for inspiration.

Fitting, and two projects:

Front cover of Corsetmaking e-book. Clicking through will take you to the store to be purchased.
Front cover of Corsetmaking e-book. Clicking through will take you to the store to be purchased.

Next comes the section on fitting – it shows you all the important places on your torso that you need to measure for a corset, how you should stand and even how to not hold the measuring tape!

There’s a pretty big section dedicated to fitting and adjusting the mockup, which if you’re familiar with fitting other garments, you’re also probably familiar with slashing or tucking – how to make it smaller or bigger in places – but Julia doesn’t just leave it at that. One important thing she mentioned is that sometimes you don’t have to change the overall circumference, but the distribution of the tension. She shows you how to slash one place and then go back and tuck another – this is how a beautiful fit is achieved. She shows what you generally need to do in order to solve common fitting problems – this section is absolutely invaluable.

Then she gives step-by-step directions on how to make a single layer corset and a double layer corset. Once again, I’m learning new things in this section, such as a really simple tip to get the edges of your binding neat and clean. The method for assembling the double-layer corset is ingenious, and worth the price of the book in itself.

Who is this book for?

It’s mentioned that this book is for the beginner to intermediate, but I think there’s something for everyone in this book. Even if you’ve never stitched a seam in your life, this book will inspire you, and even if you’ve been making corsets for years, there’s still a different or new technique somewhere in here for you. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

You can purchase the book for £15 (about $24) with free worldwide shipping from Sew Curvy, or from Vivebooks.

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Puimond PY06 Iridescent Pearl Plunge Overbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Sparklewren Couture Overbust Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Front is about 12 inches long, back is 13″ long. From waist to underbust is 4-5″, waist to peak of bust is about 10″. Unique silhouette in which the ribcage follows the natural contours but nips in dramatically at the waist for an extreme hourglass shape. Hips are cut high; not a problem for pear shapes. Recommended for extreme hourglass ladies. Exaggerated plunge neckline; I recommend using double-sided/ toupee tape if your breasts tend to migrate.
Material Fashion layer is pearlescent vinyl; backed onto cotton; lining is cotton coutil.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Lock-stitching between panels, external boning channels in the middle of the panels, and a floating liner (very comfortable). 6 garter tabs.
Binding Matching pearl vinyl, machine stitched inside and outside; trimmed short instead of folded under on the inside (typical treatment of leather/ pleather binding)
Waist tape 1″ wide invisible waist tape between the interlining and lining.
Modesty panel None.
Busk Heavy-duty wide busk (1″ wide on each side) about 11″ long (5 pins).
Boning 10 steel bones not including busk. On each side, there are 3 bones in the middle of the panels (feels like spiral) and another two steel flats sandwiching the grommets at the back.
Grommets 26 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets with moderate flange; set equidistantly; high quality – no splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets
Laces Strong cotton braided shoe-lace style laces; they’re thin, they grip well and they are long enough. Very easy to lace up. Zero spring.
Price The PY06 is advertised as $450 for fabric and $570 for leather/vinyl. You can see the options on his website here.

Final Thoughts:

This was my first couture corset purchase back around February of 2011. I have since purchased another Puimond overbust (PY15) which is constructed differently, and fits totally differently as well. For anyone who may have gotten the impression that I was complaining about the fit of this corset, please note that Puimond is not at any fault – he is a very well-respected designer in this field.

I’m more upset that my torso length doesn’t fit the corset, as opposed to the corset not fitting me. This particular corset was not made to my particular measurements; it has been around for many years and been worn by at least 4-5 different people. It’s held up surprisingly well over time, all things considered. I’m very excited to review my second Puimond corset in the future, as it shows how Puimond alters his construction techniques based on fabrics used and silhouette he’s going for – not all “Puimonds” are the same!

To see Puimond’s other styles, do visit his website here.

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Preventing your belly from “oozing” out your corset

Plenty of people have written me in the past, asking if there’s anything that can be done on getting rid of “muffin top” or otherwise spilling of one’s flesh out of the ends of the corset, especially if they are a little on the fluffier side. I had already addressed muffin top in a previous video where I featured the Genie Bra (note: I now use the Genie bra as a night bra as it lost elasticity after about two months, but using a sports bra or longline bra with the same shape in the back still helps to minimize my own muffin top).

In this particular video I cover the other side: how to prevent the lower belly pooch from “oozing” out the bottom edge of the corset:

*

One simple tip that my aunt had come up with with to solve the “apron” or “kangaroo pouch” problem:
Before tightening up your corset, pull down on it and make sure that the waist of the corset is sitting at your skeletal waist (the squishy bit under your ribs, and above your iliac crest) instead of your “apparent” waist (which is the smallest part of your waist – this may appear higher up on the ribs especially on people who carry a bit more weight around the middle). Once your corset is positioned correctly, start tightening your corset a little bit. Stop halfway through and put one hand down into your corset (under the front of your corset, so your hand/arm is between the corset and you). With that hand, pull up on the skin of your abdomen while with your other hand pull down on the bottom edge of your corset. Since your corset is half-tightened, then the mild tension of the corset should keep your belly in place while you finish tightening up.

When I explain this tip to others (often grandmothers and also apple-shaped ladies with pendulous abdomens), it solves the problem 8 times out of 10. This works best with longline corsets (especially those with a spoon busk), although not so well with very short cinchers.

Spencer Underbelt, 1947
Roger K, a writer for Corsetiere.net has kindly provided this link to an article about underbelts, which looks like

a sturdy pad fastened over the pelvis and were specifically designed to prevent that “belly ooze” from coming out the bottom of the corset. These were manufactured by companies such as Spencer and Spirella from the 1920’s until discontinuation around the 1970’s. It’s (sadly?) comforting to know that reverse muffin top is an issue that not only modern corsetees face!

Please let me know if this tip has helped you – or if you have any other tips on preventing muffin top or “belly ooze”, do let me know in the comments either here or on Youtube!