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Papercats Longline Underbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “REVIEW: PaperCats “Longline Cherries” Corset” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 12.5 inches, and princess seam is 9.5 inches, side seam is 10 inches, and center back is 12.5 inches long. The size Small is equivalent to 22″ in the waist. The sizing chart on their website says that the ribcage would be 29″ and low hip 34″ for this corset, but when I measured mine, it was 27.5″ in the ribcage and 33″ in the hips. Conical through the ribs.
Material Two main layers: The fashion fabric is a poly-cotton blend with cherry print, and the lining is black cotton twill.
Construction 7 panel pattern (14 panels total), constructed using the welt-seam method with one bone on each seam.
Binding Made from bias strips of black cotton twill. Machine stitched on the outside and inside. No garter tabs.
Waist tape None.
Modesty panel 6.5 inches wide, unstiffened, finished in matching cherry print fabric and sewn to one side of the corset. There is also a 1-inch wide unstiffened modesty placket in front, also finished in cherry print.
Busk 11 inches long. 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. It is a heavier busk (1 inch wide on each side), with a bit of flexibility.
Boning 16 bones total, not including busk. Single boned on the seams, using 1/4″ wide spiral bones. Beside the grommets, the outer bone is flat while the inner bone is spiral, giving some flexibility to the back.
Grommets 34 two-part grommets, size #X00 (very tiny), with a small flange. Finished in silver, and equidistantly spaced about 0.75″ apart. Small washers in the back; splits in the back but they don’t catch the laces too much.
Laces Standard black nylon shoelace style laces.
Price This particular style is 155 zł (about $52 USD)
The cherry print underbust as seen on Papercats website.
The cherry print underbust as seen on Papercats website.

 

Other Thoughts:

Papercats is the second brand of the “Polish OTR Corset Trifecta” I’m reviewing (along with Restyle and Rebel Madness). Lately Poland has been dominating the niche of curvy budget corsets with pieces that start from less than $50 for certain styles.

While I wouldn’t personally waist train in this corset (there is no waist tape, and the tiny flange around the grommets make me nervous that they might eventually pull out) I think this corset is adorable and much curvier and more comfortable than some other corsets of equal price that you might find on Ebay. Its lightweight construction and flexibility may make it a good “starter corset” for someone who is unsure if they want to dabble in wearing corsets and they don’t want to break the bank.

As of 2017, it seems that Papercats has brought back this particular design! They are always releasing beautiful designs on their main website, and also their newer website reserved just for their limited corset collections as well as their Etsy store.

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$1000 RetroFolie Corset Giveaway on Youtube

Pop Antique makes a stunning front-zip corset integrated into a soft red jersey dress. Model: herself (Victoria Dagger). Photo: Max Johnson.

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!

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Interview with Vollers Corsets (Ian & Corina Voller)

In September of 2015, after attending the Oxford Conference of Corsetry, Ian and Corina Voller (Vollers Corsets) invited me to stay with them for a few days and see their factory in Portsmouth, England. They are the current owners of the longest surviving corset manufacturer in England, and it was incredible to see how their facilities and their company has evolved over time – and what values have stayed the same.

See the interview below, and use the timestamps below the video to jump ahead in the video if certain questions interest you more.

0:55 Tell us how you got started. I understand that Vollers was first launched by Harry and Nelly Voller in 1899 – do you know why they had such an interest in corsets at the turn of the century?

3:50 During wartime or around the 70s and 80s when the corset was less popular, how did your factory stay up and running? Do you manufacture anything else here apart from corsets?

6:50 How have your patterns and styles changed over the years? Do you have any corsets to compare then vs now?

8:20 What do you think about the recent corset revival in the past several years? Have you needed to make any changes to cater to the new clientele, for instance those interested in waist training?

10:05 Since your company has survived for so long and has a long-term view of the corset industry, what do you think will happen next?

11:00 Tell us a bit about your employees and how the construction process is run smoothly. How are tasks assigned?

13:20 How many hours does it take to create a single underbust corset in your factory, and how many hands does it pass through?

15:20 What is your favorite part about working in corsetry? What is your least favorite aspect (the most boring task, or a certain pet peeve about the industry)?

16:25 Who is your target market? Who do you love to sell to?

19:30 Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Huge thanks to Corina and Ian Voller for hosting me for a few days, giving a tour around the factory, and agreeing to sit down for this interview! Readers can learn more about Vollers Corsets on their website.

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Unartig Boutique “Red Poppies” Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “Unartig Boutique “Red Poppies” Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length The measurements of one of Unartig’s standard sized corsets would be: Waist 24″, Underbust 30″, Low hip 37″. (But the corset was made slimmer through the hips to fit my body).
Material The fashion fabric is a fine-weave black cotton canvas, and the lining is black German spot broche.
Construction 8 panel pattern (16 panels total), constructed using the welt-seam method. 4 panels make the front of the corset, and 4 panels makes the back on each side.
Binding Made from bias strips of matching black fine-weave canvas. Machine stitched on the outside, and hand finished on the inside.
Waist tape 1 inch wide invisible waist tape, sandwiched between the panels. Extends from the seam between panels 1-2, back to the seam between panels 7-8.
Modesty panel No back modesty panel (but you may be able to request one in a custom order). The modesty placket in front is half inch wide, unstiffened, and finished in black canvas.
Busk 10.75 inches long. 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. It is a standard flexible busk, and black busks seem to have more flexibility in general compared to other busks – but Lotta reinforced it with 1/2″ flat steels on either side of the busk.
Boning 22 bones total, not including busk. Single boned on the seams, using 1/2″ wide spiral bones. Flat steels are placed in the back by the grommets and also adjacent to the busk.
Grommets 26 two-part grommets, size 5mm Prym brand (very popular amongst European corsetieres), with a medium flange. Finished in black to match the rest of the corset, and set a bit closer together at the waistline. Big washers in the back; all grommets rolled nicely.
Laces Double face satin ribbon in black, 3/8″ wide. It’s long enough, very strong, has no spring, glides through the grommets well. Ribbon hides well under clothing as it’s not thick.
Price This particular style is €400 (Euros), which converts to about $420 USD.

 

Although at first glance this corset may look relatively simple as a (mostly) black underbust, it is actually a “first” in my collection in several ways. The gorgeous poppy motif was embroidered on each panel and then carefully matched at each panel (the poppy theme was chosen by Lotte, as I gave her creative license in designing this piece). Subtle, elegant piping also accents some of the seams.

It is also my first corset made with a strength fabric of German spot broche, which I’ve come to learn is very strong. The corset is very posture-corrective and has an extremely strong, flat front for those who prefer slightly more rigid corsets. Having an 8-panel pattern (16 panels total) it is highly customizable to fit around most any curve.

The corset also has a unique and flattering cut to the upper edge: along the front of the corset, it closely follows a similar path as the underwire of my bra, which may support and push forward the breasts – but at the side seam, the top binding sweeps back down again to allow space under my arms for full range of motion and not dig into my armpits.

While Lotte can make this corset in a standard size or completely custom, I believe in this situation my measurements were close enough that it was “semi-custom” to fit me. The center front is 11 inches long, and the princess seam is 10 inches long. 6 of those inches is from the waist to the underbust, while 4 inches were from waist to the lap bottom, so it would fit my long torso/low waist comfortably.

To learn more about Lotte and her Unartig boutique, visit her website here.

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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.

Continue reading Corsets and Skeletal Deformities: Anthropological Study

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Castle Corsetry “Marvel Comics” Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “Castle Corsetry Marvel Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This corset is a sample (not made to my measurements) but when you order your corset, this corset will be made to your measurements. Silhouette-wise, the ribcage is softly rounded and the hips are rounded as well. This is a longline style with a relatively flat front.
The measurements of the standard sized sample: Waist 20.5″, Underbust 28″, High Hip 28″, Low hip 34″. The center front is 12 inches long, and the princess seam is 10.5 inches long. 5.5 of those inches is from the waist to the bottom, which is a bit long for me (my comfortable waist-to-lap measurement is about 4.5 inches).
Material Three layers of fabric. The fashion fabric is a cotton-based Marvel comic print, the interlining is bull denim or cotton twill, and the lining is black cotton twill.
Construction 5 panel pattern, constructed using the sandwich method. Curve of the hip is distributed between panels 2-3-4. Double boned on the seams, and faux black external boning channels break up the busyness of the Marvel print.
Binding Commercially purchased black cotton tape (same with the faux boning channels).
Waist tape 1 inch wide invisible waist tape, sandwiched between the panels. Full waist tape, from center front to center back.
Modesty panel None (but you may be able to request one in a custom order). No modesty placket in front, but the Marvel comic print is matched nicely in the center front with no visible gaps or breaks.
Busk 11 inches long. 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. It is a standard flexible busk, and it is reinforced with 1/2″ wide flat steels on either side of the busk. The bones between panels 1-2 are also flat steels, which further help keep the front flat.
Boning 22 bones total, not including busk. On each side, there are six 1/4″ wide spirals (mostly double boned on the seams on the sides of the corset). Flat steel bones are beside the busk, in the seam between panels 1-2, and two flat steels by the grommets.
Grommets 26 two-part grommets, size #00, with a medium flange. Finished in black to match the rest of the corset, and set a bit closer together at the waistline. Big washers, all grommets rolled nicely.
Laces Single face satin ribbon in black, 3/8″ wide. It’s long enough, has no spring, glides through the grommets well. Ribbon hides well under clothing as it’s not thick. Single-faced
Price This particular style is $250 USD in their Etsy shop and can be made to measure. But cinchers and other styles may start from as little as $175 USD.

 

Final Thoughts:

“Final Frontier” Star Trek themed waist cincher, starting at $175 USD with option for custom fit. Picture courtesy of Etsy Affiliates.

I’ve been a long-time fan of Castle Corsetry’s fun, cosplay-themed corsets and costumes; the corsetiere Lauren is highly active in conventions and offers everything from Harry Potter themed corsets, to Ghost Busters themed corsets, to Retro Super Mario themed corsets and more!

So naturally I was thrilled when Lauren asked if I would be willing to review a corset from her shop. I got a sample corset on loan, and unfortunately it was a bit small for me (my fault for gaining a bit of weight through 2015) but it still gave me a beautiful silhouette, even when worn with a larger gap in the back. I loved the comfortable, gently rounded ribcage with the sharp nip in the waistline, as well as the dramatic hip that offered a 14-inch (lower) hip spring.

To see more of Lauren’s fandom-based collection, head over to the Castle Corsetry Etsy shop here.