Yearly Archive: 2015

Reflections on 2015, Looking to 2016

Every year I write a personal post about the accomplishments and challenges of the year, and what I look forward to next year. You’re welcome to read the reflections from 2014, 2013, and 2012.

This year was a big one, as I had spent nearly 2 cumulative months in travel. Additionally, I’ve been making Youtube videos for 5 years now, and have had the blog for 4 years. I admit that in the last two years my frequency in updating the blog has decreased considerably, but I do make an effort to post about the most important topics, some of which I’ll discuss below.

The first few months of this year were spent largely grinding with work, slowly recovering from my car accident from November 2014, and spending some time reading more about small business, productivity, and personal growth. I took a short course with Cathy Hay (of Foundations Revealed) on running a creative business which has revolutionized my perspective and given me the edge I needed to, say, hop on a plane heading halfway around the world with only a few days’ notice and follow my dreams.

 

Business and Website changes

Consultations had returned for the first half of the year, with the new Skype option being highly successful – but this was put on hiatus during the second half of the year due to my international travel and then going back to school. I hope to resume consultations next year on a limited basis during spring, and return to them full time after August with a new option for nutritional coaching once I pass my board exams.

In January the highly successful Before / After page was created, to showcase the success stories of corset wearers and waist trainers of many different shapes and sizes. Next year I plan to add even more stories, and update the success stories from the original contributors. It remains one of my most popular posts on my website today.

black-leather-hourglass-corset

The 2015 hourglass silhouette underbust for Timeless Trends, one of my major redesign projects this year.

In March 2015 I also gave my website a makeover, as well as launching my WooCommerce store. By August, the Hourglass silhouette corsets had been launched and it’s been a wild ride ever since.

This year I also had my name and logo officially trademarked which was an exciting step forward for my business!

Other highlights of this year included making a case study of 3 Wasp Creations corsets, giving an interview with Kitty from girly-girl’s osteotomy blog, doing a walkthrough for a bespoke overbust corset from Dark Garden, and discussing this year’s findings of the anthropological study on how corsets affected the spine and ribcage of impoverished Victorian women.

As always, the Lace Base and the Corsetiere Map continue to grow and improve. The Lace Base has now become a more interactive and easily searchable table, and its corresponding corset dimensions calculator has had more corset brands and styles added to it over the year. The Corsetiere Map has seen some corset makers go out of business this year unfortunately, but the trend is still slowly upward with the total number of makers now at 325 and counting.

 

Youtube videos

I admit that my Youtube channel has been relatively “meh” over 2015. With my accident recovery, my unexpected travelling schedule, and then school starting, videos fell on the back burner and that’s one regret I have this year. However, I completed my goal to upload at least 60 videos this year (in fact, I completed 67 public videos in 2015, for a grand total of 528 videos in the last 5 years!).

Included in this year’s videos were 22 corset reviews, 6 unboxings, and 7 interviews (if you include the written interviews with Rebecca Gibson and Kitty!)

 

Decluttering and confronting materialism

Over the past year and a half I have been indulging in a deep purge.  Even though I had moved house 4 years ago, I had to admit that I hadn’t fully finished unpacking those last few “miscellaneous” boxes, and I probably didn’t miss what was in them! I was one of the many people who jumped the KonMarie bandwagon around February. I read it twice, six months apart – and today I still find items I can discard or donate. To say that I’ve purged at least 25% of my total belongings wouldn’t be an exaggeration!

It was interesting to confront my relationship with material things, and how I value items differently depending on whether I had purchased them vs whether I received them as gifts, regardless of their price. I would say that I reduced my corset collection by at least 25% as well – and I had to admit that my pride of having a very large corset collection was interfering with my mental well-being of being constantly surrounded by just too many corsets. I got rid of a lot of my fabric stash as well – coming to grips with the fact that I am simply no longer interested in finishing certain sewing projects or costumes for which that fabric was originally purchased. I also got rid of a lot of my paper clutter, including the notes of my least favourite courses from high school. By selling my clothing to local consignment shops, I ended up making a few hundred dollars – and when I have fewer items and I spend less on trivial items, I don’t feel bad about upgrading the few things I really do use on a daily basis (like finally getting a new cell phone, after using a broken old one for 3 years).

 

Travel

This year I did a huge amount of traveling. In March I went to NYC with Mina of L’atelier de LaFleur for the Grand Corset Ball. Getting to meet Melanie Talkington of Lace Embrace, Cathie and Bob Jung (the Guinness World Record holder of the smallest corseted waist on a living person) and model/ activist Kelly Lee Dekay was an amazing experience.

In June I flew to Thailand to work with Timeless Trends on their new hourglass corset line, and to prepare for some future corset styles. Taking in the food and culture in Bangkok was incredibly eye-opening and humbling. It was two weeks of extremely hard work but I loved every moment of it, partially because of Sarah’s wit! Even when absolutely exhausted, everyday was full of laughter. I’m very grateful for Jim and Black’s hospitality and we’re already talking of planning another work trip in the future, and perhaps spend a bit more time to appreciate more of what the beautiful country has to offer.

LovelyRats

With Amber of Lovely Rats Corsetry

In July I spent three weeks in Texas, partially filming videos for TT, partially catching up with old school friends and partially spending time with Amber Welch of Lovely Rats Corsetry. During the couple of weeks with Amber, we filmed an interview, made a corset together and shared our corset construction techniques, and she introduced me to Steven Universe – after which point I became a barnacle on her couch and watched all the available episodes. Amber and I flew straight from Texas to the North American Corsetry and Lingerie Symposium in California, where we met so many amazing corsetieres from across the US, including Sidney Eileen (and did an interview with her here), Jasmine of Sin & Satin, Alisha of The Bad Button, and I saw many friends again including Jessica of Ties that Bynde, and Heidi of Strait-Laced Dame.

Some of the attendees of the North American Lingerie and Corsetry Symposium - photo credit to Heidi of Strait-Laced Dame

Some (sleepy) attendees of the North American Lingerie and Corsetry Symposium. Photo: Heidi of Strait-Laced Dame

 

After the Symposium, I spent a few more days in Los Angeles with model-photographer Zessinna, taking in a few of the things LA had to offer. We spent a day with Puimond (his interview can be found here), we went to Venice beach another day, and we went shopping in Burbank, known as being the shopping area for corsets and pin-up attire. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to Disneyland, but I resolve to go one day!

I returned home for about three weeks in August. During this time I was able to squeeze in a corset commission and register to go back to school. During this time period there were also a few losses – including one of my oldest school friends who passed away after a long battle with cancer. It was a highly emotional time, but I had to push forward.

Hugging a tree somewhere near where Quidditch matches are held, with Joni of Rainbow Curve Corsetry

Hugging a tree somewhere near where Quidditch matches are held, with Joni of Rainbow Curve Corsetry

Later in August I travelled to England to attend the Oxford Conference of Corsetry (for my second year, and their third year running). Highlights of the trip included meeting Mr. Pearl and Immodesty Blaize amongst all the other wonderful corsetieres who attended this year for the first time, and seeing some wonderful people again like Lowana of Vanyanis, Cora of The Lingerie Addict, and Autumn Adamme of Dark Garden (the keynote speaker from the previous year).

After the conference was over, I spent a few days with Katie of What Katie Did which was a joy (see our interview here), and then spent my last few days in England down in Portsmouth with Ian and Corina Voller of Voller’s Corsets where I got to see their factory and interview them as well.

 

Returning to School

Only 4 days after returning home from my England trip in September, school started where I’m studying to become a registered Holistic Nutritionist – and have been studying ever since with a standing average of 98.9 % for the first quarter. While it’s prohibited to give away any specific details about the curriculum, I’ve been absolutely loving the material and coursework and I can’t wait to graduate and combine my new knowledge with my previous skills in this industry.

 

 

Looking to 2016: upcoming projects

In late 2015 I announced my upcoming corset benefits compilation book, which I hope will be ready by spring 2016 (so far, corresponding with 100+ contributors have been like herding cats!).

In 2016 I would again like to create at least 60 Youtube videos, although the majority of my time and energy will be in getting my book out and studying for the first few months this year.

I’m also creating another curvier design for Timeless Trends, which I hope will be in production by May (there’s a special reason that I want it completed by May!) and have ideas for at least 4 other corset designs, and depending on which are approved, some may be produced by the end of 2016.

Later in 2016 I will also be graduating from nutrition school, and I hope to travel more once my studies are completed.

I also hope to have more giveaway contests in 2016 compared to 2015; I’ve missed giving back so much and I want my followers to feel appreciated for their incredible support over this past half a decade.

Thank you all for sticking by my side – I am thrilled for what 2016 will bring. Do you have any exciting plans for 2016? Let me know in a comment below! <3

Corset Jewellery

The corset has been the inspiration behind iconic photographs, songs, body piercings, and various other art pieces, but I’d like to take a moment and create a gallery to highlight some of the lovely corset-themed jewellery, accessories and adornment. If you have a corset enthusiast in your life and you’re looking for a holiday gift for them, perhaps these will give you a few ideas:

 

Corset Inspired Jewellery

LadyTigerLily modelling the tiny pewter busk earrings by Silent Songbyrd

LadyTigerLily modelling the tiny pewter busk earrings by Silent Songbyrd

Detachable busk earrings by Silent Songbyrd

Detachable busk earrings by Silent Songbyrd, worn as a double piercing in one ear

There are only 5 people in the world who own these tiny detachable busk earrings: Silent SongbyrdLadyTigerLily, RandomCorset, The Steel Boned Baker, and myself. Byrdi was the genius artist who created and cast these earrings in pewter – each miniscule busk peg made from the head of a pin, and each busk being unique so the corresponding half of each earring can only be matched to its partner. They can be worn with the busk half in each ear (as LadyTigerlily shows above), or if you have multiple piercings you can wear them together. Although they’re not available for sale currently, I’ve suggested that Byrdi market these someday, as they would make a lovely gift for corset enthusiasts – if they are eventually made on a larger scale, I suggest wearing them with your hair up! See the earrings modelled by us Youtube Corset Vloggers in our interview at Orchard Corset!

 

Vanyanis Engraved Busk loop Jewellery

Vanyanis Engraved Busk necklace and earrings set, $285 AUD

Another friend of mine, Lowana from Vanyanis, has created these beautiful pendants and earrings fashioned from her new line of laurel engraved busks, which are the only busks of their kind in the world. The busks are originally sourced from German Wissner busks, some of the finest quality busks made today – each busk loop is then individually engraved and the contrast black color set using a modern annealing process in Australia. Lastly, the busk loops are detached from the busk with the greatest of care and a jeweller attaches the busk loop to the jump ring and hung onto a solid sterling silver necklace or earring hooks. I find them to be a beautifully mysterious “understated statement piece”. Those who know what a corset is will almost immediately recognize the busk loops as they are, but those unfamiliar with corsetry will simply consider it an ornate keyplate. Amazingly, this jewellery supports four different artists – the busk maker, the corsetiere/designer, the engraver and the jeweller.

 

Spiral steel structured necklace by Forge Fashion

Spiral steel structured necklace by Forge Fashion

Abbey, the woman behind Forge Fashion in New Zealand, is a corsetiere, costumiere and jeweller who has had her works modelled by celebrities like Lady Gaga. She creates stunning and elegant pieces with extra spiral steel bones, like this necklace. Her Etsy store can be found here.

 

Vollers Corset armcuff

Vollers “Downtown” Corset Armcuff, £325

Vollers corset necklace / choker

Vollers corset necklace / choker, £325

Vollers Corsets have had corset-inspired jewellery for many years, made in silver by a local jeweller exclusively for the oldest corset manufacturer in England. They have busk-themed and lacing-themed bracelets, rings, necklaces and even little busk-loop cufflinks options, and these are not your delicate costume jewellery – these are substantial, as you may derive from the photos! Unfortunately these listings no longer appear to be on the Vollers website, but last summer I spoke at length with Corina regarding their themed jewellery and their availability – if you’re interested in any of these pieces, I would encourage you to contact Vollers via email.

 

Miniature jute corset pendant made by Too Sweet

Miniature jute corset pendant made by Too Sweet – recreation of the original work by Snowblack Corsets

Recreation of RetroFolie's "Mucha" corset - pendant made by Too Sweet

Recreation of RetroFolie’s “Mucha” corset – pendant made by Too Sweet

Too Sweet from Poland is an incredibly talented designer who makes miniature versions of her favourite corsets – featured here are recreations of Snowblack’s “My Secret Garden” corset, and Retrofolie’s pattern matched corset featuring Alfons Mucha’s “Primrose and Feathers” (which I particularly love, as it’s a pendant inspired by a corset inspired by a painting). See more of Too Sweet’s creations here!

Jewellery for your Corsets

"Carmim Passion" adorned cupped overbust, made by Ferrer Corsets in Brazil

“Carmine Passion” adorned cupped overbust, made by Ferrer Corsets in Brazil

Custom cup jewellery for Ferrer's "Carmim Passion" overbust.

Custom cup jewellery for Ferrer’s “Carmine Passion” overbust.

I’m in love with this jewelled corset by Ferrer Corsets. The Carmine Passion corset is a radiant red cupped overbust with gold busk and grommets, and amazing sparkling golden wire “flames” with attached red and clear stones adorning the cups. In the second photo you can see how each piece starts with a curved base similar to the underwire of a bra, with small loops to sew it to the corset. Each one is built up and made to curve smoothly around the cup – and of course, would be made to order to fit the wearer.

 

Detachable corset chain by Institut Corsetologie on Etsy

Detachable corset chain by Institut Corsetologie, £35

Detachable Corset busk charm by Institut Corsetologie on Etsy

Detachable Corset busk charm by Institut Corsetologie, £5

Institut Corsetologie has an Etsy shop that sells one-of-a-kind adorable ornaments to add bling to your corsets, including little hanging tokens that can be hung from your busk, or dangling chains of multiple charms. They are made with your corset in mind, and Miss K ensures that the non-sharp pieces won’t catch on the outer fabric for your corset.

 

Sarah Chrisman, author of "This Victorian Life" and "Victorian Secrets" wearing her Chatelaine

Sarah Chrisman, author of “This Victorian Life” and “Victorian Secrets” wearing her Chatelaine

While not a piece of jewellery specifically for the corset, the chatelaine has a long and rich history amongst Victorian women and have been used to denote the status of the woman wearing it. Indeed, “chatelaine” means “woman of the house” (derived from the French word for a house for nobility, chateau) and the woman was the keeper of all the keys! While at first a glorified keychain, the chatelaine was later used to hold sewing tools, perfume, and other small tokens and notions, sometimes gilded and jewelled. Even if a chatelaine became heavy, the support from a corset would help distribute the weight. There have been a several proponents for bringing back a variation of the chatelaine, allowing people to hang their clutches, wallets and handbags from their corset – with style, of course! See my 2011 video of how I made my own chatelaine, or pick up a copy of Sarah Chrisman’s newest book (where she describes how she made her own chatelaine as well), “This Victorian Life“!

 

Do you know of any other corset jewellery, or do you make your own corset jewellery? Let me know in the comments and it may be added to this list!

There is Still Time to Contribute to the Book!

Kitty Lace Embrace Corset

Remember Kitty? She has scoliosis as well as a ligament disorder that caused her liver to drop. She wears a custom Lace Embrace corset to support her spine and lift her liver up into its correct position, and it accommodates her iliostomy bag. Click photo to read my past interview with her.

In case you missed the announcement on my Youtube channel last year:

I’m writing a book! 

Many of you know that I’ve received hundreds of emails over the past 5 years from corset wearers relaying their personal experiences regarding how corsets have been beneficial to them physically, mentally or emotionally. This was the original inspiration for my Corset Benefits permanent page. While this serves as a decent summary, I know that this can be taken a step further.

This book will be a compilation of first-person true narratives by the people who have been directly affected by corset wear – a collection of uplifting short stories that inspires readers and sometimes softens the heart, similar in sentiment to Chicken Soup for the Soul but only regarding corsets and corset wear. It will include experiences of people who waist train, tight lace, use corsets for medical/ therapeutic use or simply for fashion – it is for all people who enjoy corsets, no matter their context. My dream is that this book will be something that corset enthusiasts will be able to read and relate to, and perhaps be able to give to their loved ones to demystify corsets and remove the stigma.

Our industry has been so harshly attacked by bloggers and national news stations alike. Not least I have been personally attacked, had my content and research stolen without credit, had my photos and videos used on national television without my knowledge or consent and subjected to libel, with stories fabricated around my image. Instead of naming and shaming these naive individuals and corporations, I’m responding with love and compiling the amazing stories of how corsets have contributed to people’s quality of life.

Unfortunately, after not winning the draw for the free custom corsets last week, a couple of previous contributors decided that it was not worth it to them to participate in this project anymore – so I am looking for more contributors to take their place.

If you have an amazing corset-related experience and you’d like to be part of this project, please contact me via email and briefly let me know what you would like to write about. You’re absolutely welcome to talk about corsetry in whatever context fits your life.

What kinds of true stories are accepted for the book?

Here are some examples of true stories that may become part of the book:

  • Corsets as a driving force in finding one’s joie de vivre after menopause
  • The corset as a symbol of a woman’s independence and self-reliance after escaping an abusive relationship where her partner wouldn’t grant her essentials like clothing or food.
  • A corsetiere’s perspective about how unique the corset community is in their mutual support, compared to more cut-throat niches in the fashion industry.
  • Corsets used to correct PoTS and help stabilize low blood pressure
  • Corsets being used to correct pelvic tilt, which in turn corrected the writer’s knee and ankle alignment, allowing them to stand and walk again without pain
  • Several stories about how corsets have saved their wearers from injury in car accidents and against violent aggressors
  • Many stories about scoliosis correction, and soothing depression and anxiety related to grief, PTSD or autism/ Asperger’s.

More unique experiences (e.g. “my corset did more for me than my previous lap-band surgery ever did” or “a stranger punched me and broke his hand on my corset”) will have a higher chance of being accepted for the book – I have been deluged with stories of back pain relief already, although if you have more rare causes of back pain and curvature like Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Polio, etc. these unique stories are welcome.

(For those on the front page of my website, click the “Read More” button below to get more detailed info about the book!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Corset Giveaway Shortlist (and Winners!)

After nearly a week of spending every waking (and non-school) hour reading over 1000 entries for the giveaway, here is the shortlist (top 50) from which the winners for the Retrofolie corsets will be chosen (after the photo). The winners will be randomly chosen from this group of 50 tomorrow (Sunday) and announced on Youtube!

There were many tears in the process of choosing this shortlist, because there were hundreds that truly need and deserve to win. While there was no particular science to who got chosen, here are a few points:

  • both people who have previously owned corsets and who haven’t owned a real corset were chosen
  • if the contestant did own a corset previously, the people who wore their corset often were chosen over those who said that they owned 10 corsets but rarely wore any of them
  • on average, those that were chosen had a tendency to write a little more (at least a few sentences) than those who wrote very brief, 1-sentence entries or sentence fragments. It allowed me to “get to know” the person better and more fully understand their circumstances. Their first language didn’t play a factor; there are many on this list whose first language isn’t English
  • race, gender, and country of residence were irrelevant (this contest was open worldwide)
  • those who have been subscribed to my channel longer had a better chance of being chosen compared to those who only subscribed for the contest
  • those who struggled financially were more likely to be chosen over those who mentioned that they were more affluent

RetroGalaxy corset by Retrofolie

The Top 50 Entrants:

Abby F
Alicia McD
Amanda Hv
Andrea M.
Angela O.
Annie S
Ash N
Cassie D
Catalina S
Deathless Cat
Devon M
Dorothy G
Elissa H
Gabii W
Gabrielle M.
Kerrigan
Imogen M
James M
Jesse S
Juno L
Kari S
Kat McC
Krista B
Kuroe J
Laurdania
Lorraine B
Mandith
Marha C
Marisa S
Marjo K
MayMo
Melisa R
Natacha L
Pixie Hunt
Renee P
Rocker0For0Life
ChaoticCorrupt
Smallbizlawyer
Stephanie E
Suny P
Tara C
Thao P
these trails
v1c4r10u5
Vega C.
Vern H
Verum Terror
Wendy M.
Zak K
Zarian V

 

Update: the winners have been chosen! Congratulations to those who won – the draw can be viewed in the video below:

$1000 RetroFolie Corset Giveaway on Youtube

If you are already subscribed to my Youtube channel, you will already know about the massive corset giveaway launched this past Monday. Julianne of RetroFolie (a fellow Canadian corsetiere) and I have collaborated to arrange a giveaway – three lucky winners will receive a custom fit and custom designed RetroCouture underbust corset, together valued at over $1000 USD!  This is to celebrate my upcoming 5 year anniversary of making videos on Youtube, and recently reaching over 75 000 subscribers!

Additionally, if you feel that corsets have granted you a better quality of life, you have the opportunity to make history and contribute to a very special compilation book that you can share with loved ones and associates to help demystify and destigmatize corsetry.

All the necessary information is available in the video below! Be sure to open the Youtube video in a new window and comment under the Youtube video, not under this blog post.

 

 

The contest is open worldwide, and contest closes November 2, 2015 at 23:59 EST (UTC−05:00).

If you are interested in contributing to the compilation book but do not want to enter the giveaway contest, you have until the end of November to email me your first draft. More information about the book will be coming after the contest is closed. <3

Good luck to all entrants, and thank you for an amazing 5 years, over 500 videos, and 75000 subscribers!

Corsets and Skeletal Deformities: Anthropological Study

Venus de Milo vs Victorian corseted woman. *sigh* Not this again.

Comparison of the Venus de Milo vs Victorian corseted woman. How accurate is this illustrator’s representation?

In September 2015, The Canadian Student Journal of Anthropology (Nexus) included an anthropological study of women’s skeletons from England and France in the 1800s, when corsets were at their height in fashion. In this research study, PhD candidate Rebecca Gibson aimed to find any correlation between skeletal morphology (shape and relative position of the bones) and lifespan.

She documented how the ribcages and spines of corset wearers were modified from a lifetime of corset wear, and she gives us a window into how these women may have lived in order for their bones to have been shaped to the extent that they were. Gibson states that despite the fact that nearly all women in England and France wore stays between 1700 – 1900, this was a fashion perpetuated by women, for women.

Women themselves used, championed, and criticized corseting, and men often interpreted and disseminated the literature regarding the practice. What this view lacked, and this study seeks to rectify, is two-fold. Firstly, impoverished women’s voices are missing, both from the modern studies and from the written accounts. Secondly, the extant evidence that corseting was inherently harmful comes completely from hyperbolic and unreliable doctors’ accounts and as such it cannot be verified using the literature alone. ~ Gibson, pg 48

What Gibson explains (in addition to Norah Waugh, Valerie Steele and several other authorities on historical corsetry) is that men wrote publicly and extensively about their distaste for the corset; often comparing the (then modern) small-waisted woman to the statue of Venus de Milo. Dr. O’Followell himself (if you remember my previous discussion of his 1908 X-rays of corseted women) made the argument that the Venus is universally and objectively considered beautiful, and through a game of logical hopscotch he concluded that anything not-Venusian (i.e. a nude small-waisted Victorian woman), therefore cannot be beautiful.

Gibson found however that 50 years prior to O’Followell’s study, in his 1868 book Freaks of Fashion: The Corset and the Crinoline, William Berry Lord wrote that “No fallacy can be greater than to apply the rules of ancient art to modern costume.”

Lucy’s note: The apparent volleying of subtle sass between writers during this era pleases me.

If you wish to skip over Gibson’s anthropological study itself, the conclusion is that she showed plastic deformation of the ribcage into a more circular shape as compared to the broad, ovoid flaring of a “control” modern ribcage, and also noted some downward bending and overlapping of the spinous processes in the thoracic spine. However, these deformations were not seen to correlate with a shorter lifespan of the subjects, and on the contrary the subjects reached or exceeded their life expectancy at birth.

Layperson’s explanation: The skeletons of 19th century corseted women were studied to see how their ribcages were flexibly bent into a more tapered shape from the corset. From the photos, you can see literal ‘bends’ in the ribs where the pressure from the corset formed the ribs into the shape of a circle. Also, the spinous processes seemed to be affected too: spinous processes are the small “spikes” humans have on their vertebrae; they look like spikes down a lizard’s back, but in humans these are small and one can occasionally see or feel them as the ‘bumps’ along one’s back. In the skeletons that showed rib shaping from a corset, these same skeletons also had “spikes” in the upper back that bent downward and overlapped like snaggleteeth. Despite this finding, the age at death for these subjects were average or older than the national life expectancy at the time, even correcting for infant/childhood mortality. Therefore, even though corsets have been shown to deform the skeletons of these subjects (and the reasons why will be discussed later), it didn’t affect how long they lived.

Below you’ll find my summary of the study, Rebecca Gibson’s answers to my questions concerning the study, and my thoughts on how this affects what we know about modern body modification through corsetry.

Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with Katie Thomas of What Katie Did

In August and September 2015, I attended the Oxford Conference of Corsetry and met Katie Thomas (What Katie Did) in person. I’ve been emailing with Katie for close to 5 years so it was amazing to finally have the opportunity to meet someone you admire in the corset industry face-to-face. Directly following the conference, I spent a few days at Katie’s house and we visited Basilton Park, and Katie gave me a tour of her London Boutique and headquarters.

Skip ahead in the video to hear her answers to the following questions:

0:30 How did you become interested in retro fashion?

0:55 How did you start your business and why did you choose the name What Katie Did?

1:50 After starting your business selling stockings, shapewear, etc, how did you become interested in corsets, and how did you start incorporating corsets into your business?

2:35 You’ve been in this industry for 15 years now, so how have you seen the corset and retro lingerie industry change?

3:10 What do you think of the waist training trend, and how do you think your products fit into this trend?

3:55 Would you say that your corsets are suitable for waist training now?

4:30 You’ve found a niche with higher-end, ready-to-wear corsets that are better quality than the budget OTR corsets, but not quite as high as bespoke corsets offered by independent corsetieres. Was it a deliberate decision to settle your business at this niche?

5:20 You had mentioned that you once considered reducing your prices, but when you were looking for areas to cut, you weren’t willing to make those sacrifices to the quality of your products. Tell us a bit more about that.

6:00 You were the first person I saw in this industry who showed full transparency regarding the working conditions of your factory in India. Can you comment on why you decided to be so transparent about this, and why you decided against manufacturing your corsets in England?

8:00 When I first stumbled upon your site, I thought that you mainly catered to the burlesque and pin-up communities. Do you think this is true? Who is your main client base?

Thanks to Katie for sitting down with me for this interview! Click here to see What Katie Did’s website.

Silk WKD Morticia

WKD Morticia corset in Claret silk, in size 22″, modelled by me (Lucy)

See my many reviews of WKD corsets here:

Link to WKD website is an affiliate link (but links to reviews are not). Affiliate links help support Lucy and keep this site online!

Timeless Trends Hourglass Longline Corset Review

Full disclosure: The hourglass longline corset featured in this review is one of the four new designs I helped create for Timeless Trends in 2015, along with the hourglass standard corsets, hourglass cinchers, and the newest Gemini corset.

This entry is a summary of the video “Timeless Trends Hourglass Longline (Comparison/ Overview)” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This style is standard sized 24″: Center front is about 13 inches high, from underbust to lap is 11 inches, and the center back is 13.5 inches. Waist in this corset is 24″, ribcage is 30.5″ (6.5 inch rib spring), upper hip is 31″ (7 inch high hip spring), and lower hip is 36″ (12 inch low hip spring), with the hip ties closed. (You can expand the hips for more room.)
Material Three layers of fabric. The fashion fabric is emerald brocade laminated to cotton twill, and it’s lined in black cotton twill as well.
Construction 6 panel pattern, constructed using the sandwich method. The roundness of the ribs can be found primarily in pattern pieces 2, 3 and 4, while the curve over the hips and bum are in panels 3, 4 and 5.
Binding Matching green satin bias binding, machine-stitched on both sides. Also has 6 garter tabs (the slim silhouette corsets only have 4 garter tabs).
Waist tape 1 inch wide invisible waist tap, sandwiched between the panels. Full waist tape, from center front to center back.
Modesty panel Modesty panels are not included in with the corsets, because unstiffened panels are somewhat unpopular amongst many customers. However, stiffened, boned modesty panels are now available for separate purchase, and can be suspended on the laces.
All hourglass corsets have front modesty plackets in matching fashion fabric.
Busk 21 inches long. 6 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. It is a standard flexible busk, but it is reinforced with flat steels on either side of the busk.
Boning 26 bones total, not including busk. On each side, there are ten 1/4″ wide spirals, two flat steels by the grommets, and one flat steel by the busk.
Grommets 28 two-part grommets, size #0, with a small to medium flange. Finished in dark silver and equidistantly spaced. Big washers, most grommets rolled nicely. There are some splits, but they don’t catch much on the laces.
Laces Single face satin ribbon in matching green, 1/2″ wide. It’s relatively long and has no stretch, but single face satin is not quite as strong as double-face satin. I often add free shoelace for those who purchase longline corsets ($6 value) for customers who prefer it.
Price This particular style is $119 USD; other fabrics like leather or styles with swinghooks may be slightly more.
emerald-long-hourglass-corset

The emerald hourglass longline corset as it appears in the product image.

The ribcage is more rounded compared to the more conical “slim” longline corset. The hips are also more cupped as well, and provide for ample adjustment. We specifically chose to draft this corset with the upper hips nearly the same size as the rounded ribcage, so it can fit both men and women. Even if you have square-shaped hips where your upper hip is the same size (or larger) than your lower hips, you can open up the top part of the hip ties and tighten the lower part of the hip ties to have it fit just to your body.

The corset was also designed to curve around a broader ribcage, and accommodate some lumbar curve for a more comfortable fit.

Comparing the length of other longline corset brands to this one: the Timeless Trends longline has the most distribution from the waist up (suitable for those with a low waist); Orchard Corset’s CS-426 is more equally balanced in the length distribution from the waist up vs waist down, and Mystic City’s corsets tend to be drafted more for those with a high waist, as much of the length is distributed from the waist down.

If you’d like to learn more about the hourglass longline corset, I’m incredibly proud to say that they are available here in my shop.

Interview and Chat with Sidney Eileen

Some may remember back in early 2013, I launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for Sidney Eileen to be properly diagnosed and treated for a 6-year-long anaplasma phagocytophilum infection (what we originally thought was Lyme disease) which left Sidney disabled, unable to walk long distances, unable to continue her artwork due to weakness and tremors in her hands, and suffering from seizures due to inflammation of the brain.

2 years later, in August of 2015, I finally had the opportunity to meet Sidney for the first time and we caught up on how she’s feeling after the treatment and the daily realities of chronic illness – we also talked about her contribution to the corset making community and her hopes for the future.

1:05 How are you feeling now that you’ve completed the antibiotic treatment for your anaplasma infection?

1:40 Are your symptoms expected to completely disappear, or are you looking at some permanent damage from your chronic infection?

2:15 How did you become interested in making corsets in the first place?

4:10 What is the value in being self-taught and having a community of other corsetieres to share different techniques with?

5:10 What about corset making do you specifically enjoy?

5:55 What is your favorite step of the corset making process?

6:10 What is your least favorite step about corset making?

7:30 What drew you towards teaching art and corset making, as opposed to only making corsets or taking commissions?

9:15 What are your future aspirations, now that you have a fresh start?

11:15 For other people who are just getting started with making corsets (or any other type of art), what words of encouragement would you offer to them?

You can find Sidney Eileen’s artwork and free corset tutorials on her website, sidneyeileen.com

Photo from the North American Lingerie and Corsetry Symposium in California, 2015. From left to right: Me (Lucy), Zessinna, Amber (Lovely Rats Corsetry), and Sidney Eileen.

Photo from the North American Lingerie and Corsetry Symposium in California, 2015. From left to right: Me (Lucy), Zessinna, Amber (Lovely Rats Corsetry), and Sidney Eileen.

Hourglass Corsets have Arrived!

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 9.12.25 PM

I’m proud to announce that the hourglass silhouette corsets are now up in the shop!

Back in June, myself and Sarah (Administrator for Timeless Trends, beside me in the first picture) travelled to Bangkok, Thailand to redesign the Timeless Trends and Black Iris corset patterns.

The corsets still have their “essence” (they are still immediately recognizable as Timeless Trends) but they all now feature a larger rib spring and hip spring (so the waist can be cinched further), comfortable cupped ribs, and a neutral lumbar curve – these corset patterns were draped on a human body, so they are surprisingly comfortable.

We’ve also added extra features such as an extra pair of garter tabs (now 6 instead of 4) and front modesty placket under the busk. Stiffened and suspendable back modesty panels are available for separate purchase in white and black, with other colors possible in future.

Lucy in hourglass longline underbust, in emerald brocade

Lucy in hourglass longline underbust, in emerald brocade

Timeless Trends and I worked hard over the past several months to consider every element of the construction process of these corsets so we can preserve their lifetime warranty, and I’m extremely proud of the results.

Next week, I’ll be uploading an overview of the new hourglass longline underbust, as well as a highlights video of my experience working in the factory in Thailand to my Youtube channel.

In the meantime, you are welcome to ask any questions about details of the corsets, the redesign process, the factory conditions, or my Thailand adventures in general.

You’ll find the new hourglass silhouette corsets for sale here in my corset shop.

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